Much has already been said about the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, but this piece is a must-read from one of the giants of moral theology. In "Humanae Vitae 25 years Later" Richard McCormick, S.J., looked at the "uneasy silence" that followed the release of the encylical, and what to do about the "present impasse."
I view the matter of the church’s teaching on birth regulation as dominantly an authority problem. By that I mean that any analysis, conclusion or process that challenges or threatens previous authoritative statements is by that very fact rejected. Any modification of past authority is viewed as an attack on present authority. Behind such an attitude is an unacknowledged and historically unsupportable triumphalism, the idea that the official teaching authority of the church is always right, never errs, is always totally adequate in its formulations. Vatican II radically axed this idea in many ways, but nowhere more explicitly than in its November 1964 "Decree on Ecumenism": "Therefore, if the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipline, or even in the formulation of doctrine (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself), these should be appropriately rectified at the proper moment" (my emphasis, No.6).
On the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae it is important to point out...that there are abiding substantial values that all disputants share and want to protect: the holiness of marriage, generous and responsible openness to life, the human character of the expression of married love, the fidelity and stability of marriage and respect for life. If these get lost in debates about the means of birth regulation, as I fear they may have, then to the malaise of polarization will have been added the tragedy of irrelevance.
Read the whole article here.