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590 scholars release statement upholding Church teaching on contraception

Attendees listen to the release at the Catholic University of America of the statement reaffirming 'Humanae Vitae' (CNS)

Nearly six hundred Catholic scholars, including the papal theologian, have signed a statement supporting the Church’s teaching on contraception.

The statement, released yesterday by the Catholic University in America, affirms “that the Catholic Church’s teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage, and on contraception are true and defensible on many grounds, among them the truths of reason and revelation concerning the dignity of the human person.”

It comes after the Wijngaards Institute released a statement, signed by 149 academics, claiming that “there are no grounds, either from the Bible or from nature, to support current Catholic teaching” on contraception.

In response, around 590 Catholic academics, plus a few authors, diocesan officials and heads of Catholic institutions, mostly in America, have affirmed “that the Church’s teaching on contraception is true and defensible on the basis of Scripture and reason.“

The signatories argue that the Wijngaards statement ignores the depth of Catholic thought on this teaching, especially the reflection that has followed Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which restated the Church’s teaching.

The 590 or so signatories include the “Pope’s theologian”, Fr Wojciech Giertych OP, who has been Theologian of the Papal Household since his appointment by Benedict XVI in 2005.

Several heads of universities have also signed, including John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, and the presidents of Northeast Catholic College, Wyoming Catholic College, Thomas More College and John Paul the Great Catholic University.

The well-known authors George Weigel and Scott Hahn are also among the signatories.

From Britain, five members of St Mary’s University including the economist Professor Phillip Booth and Dr Stephen Bullivant, a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald, have signed.

So have two members of the School of the Annunication in Buckfast and two fellows of Birmingham’s Maryvale Institute.

The statement, which can be read in full online, says: “During the past half century, there has been an enormous amount of creative scholarly thinking around the Church’s teaching on contraception, thinking that includes profound reflections on the Theology of the Body, personalism, and natural law.

“In addition, there has been extensive research on and analysis of the negative impact of contraception on individuals, relationships, and culture.”

It affirms 11 points, beginning with “God is Love”, and going on to argue that the teaching against contraception is God-given It praises St john Paul II’s Theology of the Body as “a powerful defence of the view that contraception is not in accord with the understanding of the human person as conveyed by Scripture and sacred Catholic Tradition”.

A fuller statement is promised on the site CatholicContraceptionStatement.com, to be accompanied by a list of resources.