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We affirm Humanae Vitae’s noble vision

SIR – In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued a re-affirmation of central aspects of the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality. The encyclical Humanae Vitae affirmed, in harmony with the Church’s traditional teaching, the purity and beauty of the spousal act, always open to procreation and always unitive.

Humanae Vitae predicted that if artificial contraception became widespread and commonly accepted by society then we would lose our proper understanding of marriage, the family, the dignity of the child and of women, and even a proper appreciation of our bodies and the gift of male and female. The Holy Father warned that governments would begin to utilise coercive methods to control what is most private and intimate. At the time of the publication of Humanae Vitae many rejected its message and its warnings. Many found the teaching that the use of contraception was in all cases “absolutely excluded” and “intrinsically wrong” difficult to accept and challenging to proclaim. Fifty years later so much has unfolded in our society that has been to the detriment of human life and love. Many have come to appreciate again the wisdom of the Church’s teaching.

As priests we desire to affirm on this 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae the noble vision of procreative love as the Catholic Church has always taught and understood it. We believe a proper “human ecology”, a rediscovery of the way of nature and respect for human dignity, is essential for the future of our people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. We propose discovering anew the message of Humanae Vitae, not only in fidelity to the Gospel, but as a key to the healing and true development of our society.

Fr Robert Farrell, Fr Timothy Finigan, Fr David Marsden, Fr Francis Marsden, Fr John Saward, Fr David Palmer, Fr Andrew Pinsent, Mgr Gordon Read, Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Fr Michael Woodgate and 452 others priests (see catholicherald.co.uk for the full list of signatories)

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