The Catholic bishops of Poland have been distinguishing themselves at the Synod of the Family. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki’s address was a doctrinal rebuttal of those in favour of giving Holy Communion to the divorced and civily “remarried” – to adulterers. Archbishop Henryk Hoser’s address given on Saturday October 10th, 2015 in the Synod aula focused on life issues: on abortion, contraception and the failure of the Instrumentum Laboris to adequately address theses issues, and to appreciate and use the magisterial teachings of Bl. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.
(Toronto Catholic Witness provides a full translation of his address. If you re-publish, you must credit us)
Holy Father, Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,
One very important issue is only briefly mentioned in the Synod’s Instrument Laboris, yet the issue of fertility within marriage is a very complex reality that is associated with human sexuality since the creation of the world. Rightly the document underscored the need to “discover the message of Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI” and “its wealth and wisdom”, however, in reality, there was no development of this subject. Published in 1968, it was badly received, rejected and relativized by the clergy, and then consequently by the faithful. This truly prophetic encyclical began the post-conciliar crisis, which resulted in a systematic questioning of the teaching Magisterium of the Church.
Yet the encyclical came from an integral vision of the human person, the person’s spiritual and physical dimensions. It predicted the consequences of the separation of sexuality and human fertility, which today has become even more more radical, as a consequence of the increasingly widespread use of contraception. We read: “the adoption of measures and methods of artificial birth control to limit […] open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. […] Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection. Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. […] It would allow state authorities to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of the spouses” (Humanae Vitae, 17). These predictions, unfortunately, in most cases came true.
Contraception and the related issue of abortion have not been given sufficient attention and highlighted enough. Meanwhile, it is one of the greatest problems that destabilizes the unity of marriage and the family. Human fertility – that gives reality to the person – is systematically abused and destroyed, leading eventually to the breakdown of marriages. The proper and important alternative is knowledge of fertility (fertility awareness) and the ability to use it in accordance with the requirements of responsible parenthood. The so-called international community spends $ 8.1 billion USD on contraceptive programs in 69 of the least developed nations. Yet in return, very few organizations promote the so-called natural methods of discerning the fertility cycle. The African Federation of Family Action (Fédération Africaine de l’Action Familiale), the European Institute of Family Education (Institut Europeen d’Education Familial) – survive thanks to the drops of financial aid from a few benefactors who understand the matter, such as Aid to the Church in Need.
Pope John Paul II left us pervading and true analysis of anthropological differences, as well as the moral differences that exist between contraception and the use of the fertility method. “In the light of the experience of many couples and of the data provided by the different human sciences, theological reflection is able to perceive and is called to study further the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle: it is a difference which is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self- control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never “used” as an “object” that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person”. (Familiaris Consortio 32).
This is a magisterial presentation that people of good will must seek to understand. May wisdom accompany us always and everywhere!