Norman W. Lower
A.D. November 2003
The Church will not be renewed without the renewal of family life. And the family cannot be renewed without a return to the truth taught in Humanae vitae. Ignoring this issue cannot be an option. In the long run the cost is too high. Therefore we should make every effort to better understand the importance of Church teaching in this regard, and witness to it boldly and with confidence.
- Archbishop Charles Chaput,
Objective of this essay
In this essay I
express my numerous misgivings concerning paragraph 26 of the
I am a 69-year-old
unmarried layman and retired teacher from an
As soon as the
encyclical was published there arose within some quarters of the
Catholic Church - among both clergy and laity - an explosion of
dissent against the teaching of the encyclical, a rebellion which
persists to this day. This prompted me as a faithful
Catholic to study in depth the Church
Counselors may meet others who, accepting the teaching of the Holy Father, find that, because of particular circumstances they are involved in, what seems to them a clear conflict of duties, e.g., the reconciling of conjugal love and responsible parenthood with the education of children already born or with the health of the mother. In accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him, does so in good conscience.
I am unable be reconcile paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement with the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. I shall explain why but first I wish to point out two important truths: a) contraception is intrinsically evil, and b) the teaching of Humanae vitae is set forth infallibly.
a) Contraception is intrinsically evil
The Magisterium affirms that all forms of artificial birth regulation, including direct sterilization, are intrinsically illicit:
Our mouth proclaims anew: any user whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with guilt of a grave sin.(1)
"(E)very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.(2)
Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infertile and so is intrinsically wrong could be made right by a fertile conjugal life considered as a whole.(3)
The Church is consistent when she considers recourse to the infertile times to be permissible, while condemning as being always wrong the use of means directly contrary to fertilization, even if such use is inspired by reasons that can appear upright and serious.(4)
It is clear that the ban on artificial contraception is a divine ban. The prohibition against contraception is a moral absolute.
b) Infallible teaching
The doctrine of the Catholic Church on artificial
contraception has never been taught with an act which is defining
whereby "a truth is solemnly defined by an ex
cathedra pronouncement by the Roman pontiff or by the
action of an ecumenical council."(5) This is also the
case for the vast majority of the Church
In the case of a non-defining act, a doctrine is taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the bishops dispersed throughout the world who are in communion with the successor of Peter..... Consequently, when there has not been a judgment on a doctrine in the solemn form of a definition, but this doctrine, belonging to the inheritance of the depositum fidei (the deposit of faith), is taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, which necessarily includes the pope, such a doctrine is to be understood as having been set forth infallibly.(6)
(1) Pope Pius XI, encyclical Casti connubii, 1930, n.56.
(2) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, n.2370, quotation from Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae, no.14.
(3) Humanae vitae, n.14.
(4) Ibid., n.16.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Commentary on
Profession of Faith
(6) Ibid., n.9, emphasis in the original.
Because the teaching of the church on contraception fully meets
the above criteria, it is taught infallibly. This, of
course, includes Humanae vitae which bans all forms of
artificial birth regulation. "Furthermore, Christ
instituted His Church as
I shall now discuss in the following 24 items the reasons why I am unable to reconcile paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement with the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.
1) No legitimate exceptions
The Church teaches that contraception is an intrinsic evil. The ban on artificial contraception is a divine ban. Pope John Paul II affirms: "When it is a matter of moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or deceptions for anyone." (8)
The Pope affirms further: "Contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful, as never to be, for any reason justified. To think or say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God." (9)
Thus, by allowing exceptions to the absolute prohibition of
contraception paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in
contradiction to the Pope
One bishop, Most Rev. Glennon P. Flavin (retired,
2) Circumstances and intrinsic evil
John Paul II affirms: "No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church." (11)
By allowing exceptions to the divine ban on contraception
"because of particular circumstances they are involved
in," paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in
contradiction to the Pope
The Pope teaches further: "Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is correctly recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids."(12)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declaration Persona
(8) Encyclical letter The Splendor of Truth Veritatis splendor, 1993. n.96.
(10) A Pastoral Letter to Catholic Couples and Physicians on the issue of Artificial Contraception, Oct. 11/91.
(11) Encyclical letter The Gospel of Life Evangelium vitae, 1995, n. 62.
(12) Veritatis splendor, n.67.
3) "Subjective defense"
Pope John Paul II affirms: "Consequently,
circumstances or intentions can never transform an act
intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act
Again, by allowing exceptions to the divine ban on contraception
by means of a subjective defense of the use of
contraception - "because of particular
circumstances...whoever honestly chooses that course which seems
right to him does so in good conscience" - paragraph 26 of
the Winnipeg Statement is in contradiction to the Pope
Subjective criteria can not make what is illicit licit. "But
as she justified her actions," writes novelist Linda
Nichols, "she could hear her mama
Indeed, how far can one go with the idea of "subjective defense"? Can the intrinsically illicit acts of adultery, abortion, homosexual activity, etc. be subjectively defended "because of particular circumstances" or intentions and then be practiced "in good conscience"? Furthermore, what are the "accepted principles of moral theology" (paragraph 26) that allow a subjective defense of committing an objectively immoral action "in good conscience"? One can begin to see the dire consequences of making exceptions to divine law. In short, paragraph 26 advocates moral relativism and situational ethics. The phrase "Whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience" is an attack on objective morality.
4) Pope John Paul II and dissent
"Opposition to the teaching of the Church
In 1987 in his address to the bishops of the
By opening the door to "dissent from the Magisterium",
paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in conflict with the
5) A self-contradiction
Is paragraph 26 itself an oxymoron? How can a believing Catholic, "accepting the teaching of the Holy Father," do an about-face and practice "in good conscience" that which the Holy Father condemns as being intrinsically evil?
(12) Veritatis splendor, n.67.
(13) Ibid., n.81.
(14) Ibid., n.113.
Quoted in Bishop Glennon Flavin, A Pastoral Letter to Catholic
Couples and Physicians on the issue of Artificial Contraception,
6) A second self-contradiction
At the Plenary Assembly of Canadian Bishops on
7) A third self-contradiction
In 1973 the Canadian bishops published an excellent document entitled Statement on the Formation of Conscience. They clearly affirm:
A believer has the absolute obligation of conforming his conduct first and foremost to what the Church teaches...(n.39).
"To follow one
By allowing exceptions to the divine ban on contraception because of "my" views, paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in conflict with the above statements.
8) Use of evil means
Pope Paul VI teaches that "it is not permissible, not even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom (cf. Rm 3:8). One may not, in other words, make into the object of a positive act of the will something that is intrinsically disordered and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social goods."(16)
By allowing the practice of "something that is intrinsically disordered" - contraception - paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in conflict with the teaching of Scripture and Pope Paul VI.
9) Weakening moral truth
Concerning the Winnipeg Statement Alexander Carter, President of
the Canadian Bishops
(16) Humanae vitae, n.14.
Furthermore, to yield to the forces of "widespread dissent
from some points of his (the Pope
10) Pastoral application
11) Contraception and abortion
Paragraph 26 makes no distinction between abortifacient and non-abortifacient contraceptives. When the former are used, the evil of contraception can be compounded by the evil of abortion. "Throughout the world, an estimated 250 million abortions are caused by the IUD and pill each year."(21)
When the Winnipeg Statement was written in 1968, the contraceptive mentality in the West was quickly picking up steam and so was the abortion mentality. The disastrous Roe vs Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court - legalizing abortion on demand - appeared five years later in 1973. The link between contraception and abortion has, since 1968, been undisputedly established, that "the contraceptive mentality is not the cure, but the cause of the abortion mentality."(22) Fr. Paul Marx of Human Life International has noted that in the very many countries he has visited, without exception once the contraceptive mentality has been established, pro-abortion legislation follows on its heels. (See John Paul II, encyclical Evangelium vitae, n.13.)
(18) Veritatis splendor, no.95.
(19) Ibid., n.113, emphasis in the original
Pastoral Letter to Catholic Couples and Physicians on the issue
of Artificial Contraception,
(21) Faith and Facts, Emmaus Road Publishing, 1999, p.114.
Demarco, The Contraceptive Mentality, Life Ethics Centre, 1982,
p.9. In 1982 Dr. DeMarco was Professor of Philosophy at
By permitting exceptions to the divine ban on contraception paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is contributing to the anti-life mentality.
Paragraph 26 fosters disobedience to papal teaching. Vatican II teaches: "This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him...".(23)
Vatican II affirms: "For the bishops and heralds of the faith...are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people assigned to them, the faith which is destined to inform their thinking and direct their conduct...and with watchfulness they ward off whatever errors threaten their flock (cf. 2 Tim 4:14.)."(24)
I commend our Canadian bishops in being faithful to this mandate. It is most unfortunate that paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement, in allowing an exception to the divine ban on contraception, is in contradiction to: "with watchfulness they ward off whatever errors threaten their flock."
Pope John Paul II teaches: "As Bishops, we have the
grave obligation to be personally vigilant that the
14) "Proper interpretation"
What, then, is the "proper interpretation",
particularly of paragraph 26? To my knowledge it has never
been supplied by the bishops ("Nothing could be gained...to
rephrase our Winnipeg Statement"). If words mean what
they say, paragraph 26 cannot be reconciled with the Church
15) Greatest evil in the Church
In 1992 at a St. Louis, Missouri, conference sponsored by Human
Life International on Humanae vitae (the writer of this
essay was present), keynote speaker Most Rev. Glennon Flavin
(quoted earlier) said that the gravest evil in the Catholic
Church today is contraception and that the only way this evil can
be rooted out is through prayer and fasting. Fr. Alphonse
de Valk, c.s.b., editor of Catholic Insight (
(23) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, n.25.
(24) Ibid. n.25.
(25) Veritatis splendor, n.116, emphasis in the original.
(26) Catholic Insight, October 2001, p.18.
Statistical evidence points to the alarming fact the Canadian Catholics are contracepting at about the same rate as non-Catholics. Ralph Martin, noted American Catholic evangelist, supplies these disturbing facts:
In 1963 only 18 percent of U.S. Catholics disagreed with the
In conjunction with the Pope
Among Catholics in
This situation is a major impediment to the Church
Sadly there continues to exist a virtual "silence from the
pulpit" on the issue of contraception and the promotion of
natural family planning. Pro-life activist Father Ted
Colleton, C.S.Sp. (
is the binding force of the
"None," writes Msgr. Vincent Foy. "National hierarchies cannot constitute a parallel Magisterium anymore than can theologians. The Winnipeg Statement was therefore not a magisterial one. Nor is the Statement a collegial act, for collegiality supposes unity with the Holy Father. By withholding assent to the doctrine of the encyclical, the bishops lost the right to be heard (cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, par.22)."(32)
17) Veritatis splendor
Pope John Paul II addressed his 1993 encyclical letter Veritatis splendor to his brother bishops. He stated his purpose in writing the encyclical:
Ralph Martin, The Catholic Church at the End of an Age (Ignatius
Press, 1994), p.36. Source of statistics: Time,
Ibid., p.36. Source of statistics:
Ibid., pp.39-40. Source of statistics: MacLeans,
Quoted in Msgr. Vincent N. Foy, "Tragedy at
Quoted in the "Forward" to Msgr. Vincent Foy, From
Humanae vitae to Veritatis splendor (
Msgr. Foy, "Tragedy at
In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian
community itself, which has experienced the spread of
numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological,
social and cultural, religious and even properly theological
nature, with regard to the Church
It appears to the writer of this essay that the above statements by the Pope can be applied to paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement as well as to the statement made by Bishop Alexander Carter in 1968 (quoted earlier): "We faced the necessity of making a Statement which many felt could not be a simple Amen, a total and formal endorsement of the doctrine of the encyclical."
The Church consists of a divine element and a human element.
The latter can be a stumbling block to the truth at the local
level in the Church. An essential condition for the
faithful to be "obliged to submit to their bishop
John Paul II urges: "I address myself to you,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, who share with me the
responsibility of safeguarding
The late Cardinal Emmett Carter (
Foy, "Contraception and abortion: the
(34) Veritatis splendor, n.5, emphasis in the original
(35) From a
private letter dated
19) Philippine and Austrian bishops
In a 1990 pastoral letter, the bishops of the
Is this not precisely what paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is doing: abandoning Canadian Catholics to their "confused and lonely consciences"?
The Austrian bishops, recognizing the negative consequences of their 1968 Statement on Humanae vitae, announced its withdrawal of March 29th of 1988.
20) "Cannot Fly"
The Winnipeg Statement was written a long time ago - 35 years.
At that time there undoubtedly wasn
In the light of present knowledge and particularly in the light
of recent papal teaching - notably Veritatis splendor -
the writer of this essay is convinced that paragraph 26 of
the Winnipeg Statement simply "cannot fly". It is
in serious contradiction with the authentic Church teaching.
Msgr. Vincent Fly has written extensively about the negative
effects of the Winnipeg Statement within the Catholic Church:
the corruption of many texts and marriage preparation courses,
the increase in the tolerance for dissent, erroneous confessional
directives, a corrosion of the respect for the Canadian bishops,
that the widespread practice of contraception among Catholics
leads to suicidal birth rates that leave the Church without
adequate vocations to the priesthood and religious life, etc.
Fr. Alphonse de Valk (quoted earlier) writes: "At 87
years of age, Msgr. Vincent Foy of
21) "Guilty silence"?
If it is indeed true that paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement is in serious contradiction with authentic Church teaching, and if the Canadian bishops take no corrective action, what then? Could the stern warning of Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii (1930) find application here? Concerning the matter of contraception he taught (n.57):
We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves
(37) Quoted in Janet E. Smith, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, February 1996, p.71.
(38) Catholic Insight, October 2003, p.20.
immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit" (Mt 15:14).
Does not paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement "allow the faithful ...to err regarding this most grave law of God"?
22) Disappointing response
In 1993, the 25th anniversary of the publication of Humanae vitae, the writer of this essay wrote to every bishop (active and retired) listed in the 1993 calendar of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. I spoke about the evil of contraception of the Catholic Church and encouraged the bishops to speak out against contraception and to actively promote natural family planning. The response was most disappointing. Only 17 per cent of all the bishops I wrote to acknowledged my letter and of these answers some were non-committal.
How else can I perceive this poor response but as a malaise among the Canadian bishops concerning the issue of contraception?
By way of interest I have attached a copy of a very touching
reply I received in 1994 from the late Archbishop Joseph Wilhelm
23) Lack of incentive for Catholics to defend the truth
The following is from a submission (concerning same-sex union legislation) made in July, 2003, by Brian Moccia, President of the Precious Blood & Life Apostolate (Toronto) to Tom Reilly, General Secretary for the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Precious Blood & Life Apostolate maintains that contraception
is the worm in the Catholic apple. We
It is PBL
24) Rejection of the sufficiency of grace
The statements in paragraph 26: "because of
particular circumstances they are involved in" and "if
these persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue
in line of conduct in keeping with the given directives" are
in contradiction to the Church
Paragraph 26 refers to the teaching of Humanae vitae as
"directives." They are not mere directives but
divine natural law which, being a universal norm, it possible of
observance by everyone through God
To sum up: an appeal to the Canadian bishops
The bishops are to be highly commended for their
I respectively appeal to the Canadian bishops, as shepherds of the faithful and guardians of the truth, to:
- Recall the Winnipeg Statement because its continued presence -
particularly paragraph 26 - can only be sword of Damocles
undermining the bishops
- Patiently but firmly oppose the voices of dissent against Humanae vitae (cf. Rm -18) and actively proclaim the truth of the encyclical. (I suggest that unconditional acceptance of Humanae vitae is a valid litmus test for identifying the orthodoxy of Catholic theologians and for hiring professors in seminaries.)
- Promote natural family planning according to the teaching and instructions of John Paul II:
(I)t is part of the
With regard to the question of lawful birth regulation, the ecclesial community at the present time must take on the task of instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way.(40)
Christian Family in the Modern World Familiaris
(40) Ibid. n.35.
I concur with Msgr. Vincent Foy: "We ought to pray for
our bishops, by divine providence successors to the Apostles and
guardians and transmitters of the Truth of Christ. The
great majority of living Canadian bishops had nothing to do with
the Winnipeg Statement. May God strengthen them to reject
it. Catholics justly beg that the Truth of Humanae vitae
be taught in
Postscript concerning the laity
It is not the role of the laity to establish Church doctrine in matters of faith and morals. This role belongs exclusively to the Magisterium.(42) Meanwhile, if it should happen that some layperson has good and serious reasons for believing that a particular bishop or group of bishops are not teaching "in communion with the Roman Pontiff" (Lumen gentium, n.25) on some issue - as is the case with the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre - then that person should respectfully communicate his or her concerns to the bishops (s) in question. They [the laity] have the right, indeed at times the duty, to the in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church (Canon 212, New Code).
Should the misgivings of the layperson be unfounded, then the bishops, who are our shepherds and teachers, can supply any necessary corrections.
This essay is a consequence of my sincere belief that I have an obligation to speak up concerning the Winnipeg Statement. If any of my observations or misgivings concerning paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement are inaccurate, I respectfully request and welcome from any bishop the required corrections.
I am reminded of what British novelist P.D. James wrote: "I do believe we have to search for (the truth) however unwelcome it may be when we find it" (Death in Holy Orders).
(41) Msgr. Vincent Foy, "Fifty reasons why the Winnipeg Statement should be recalled, "Catholic Insight, October 2003, p.25.
(42) "But the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Divine Revelation Dei verbum, n.10).
The Infallible teaching of Humanae vitae
On pages 5 and 6 we discussed the fact that the teaching of Humanae vitae is set forth infallibly. In 1991 address Msgr. William Smith, American moral theologian, discusses the infallibility of that teaching(43):
The core teaching
of Humanae vitae, namely on the intrinsic evil of
artificial contraception, is in fact the formal and solemn
teaching of the Catholic Church, and has been since the year
"one". More recently, Casti connubii in
1930 said and taught the same thing. That same formal
teaching comes up verbatim in Humanae vitae (in 1968).
Of interest is the later 1998 statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (quoted on page 5) which clearly confirms what Msgr. Smith says. We repeat that quote in part:
Consequently, when there has not been a judgment on a doctrine in the solemn form of a definition, but this doctrine, belonging to the inheritance of the depositum fidei (the deposit of faith), is taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, which necessarily includes the pope, such a doctrine is to be understood as having been set forth infallibly.(44)
transcript from an address "Dissent, Humanae vitae, and
infallibility" delivered by Msgr. Smith
in April, 1991, at a conference in
on Profession of Faith
Pope Paul VI approve the
The principal argument for claiming that Pope Paul VI approved
the Winnipeg Statement is a letter dated
Delegation promptly transmitted to the Holy See a copy of the
declaration made by the Bishops of Canada during their general
assembly at Saint Boniface (
Now I am happy to notify Your Excellency that His Eminence, Amletto Cardinal Cicognani, Secretary of State to his Holiness, has just communicated to the Delegation that the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, has taken cognizance of the document with satisfaction.
With every best wish, I am
Sincerely Yours in Our Lord
+ E. Clarizio
What are we to make of this letter? Can it be used as conclusive evidence that Paul VI approved the Winnipeg Statement? But more generally, did the Pope actually approve the Statement? Msgr. Vincent Foy has published an in-depth essay concerning this issue.(45) The following excerpts from his essay concern his conclusions:
We do not know what the Pope said to the Secretary of State (Cicognani). We do not even know what the Secretary of State said to Archbishop Clarizio. We have only the letter of Archbishop Clarizio concerning a letter he received from the Secretary of State.(46)
The ambiguity of the phrase "has taken cognizance of the document with satisfaction," the fact that we do not know what the Pope said, and concomitant circumstances yet to be addressed, lead one to the inevitable conclusion that the not was one of diplomacy without doctrinal implications. This was the opinion of some bishops and many others with whom I have spoken.(47)
To sum up, according to a letter from the Apostolic Delegate (Clarizio), the Holy Father acknowledged receipt of the Canadian Statement with "satisfaction." This letter was based on a letter from the Secretary of State (Cicognani). According to the same Secretary of State, the Holy Father received my critique, which strongly condemned the Canadian Statement, with "gratitude" and "appreciation." Does not this indicate that the former was a more diplomatic acknowledgment?(48)
I think it
significant that Cardinal Cicognani
"Did Pope Paul IV Approve the
Msgr. Foy points out - and I agree - that any official
If in my essay my misgivings over the Winnipeg Statement are founded, then it is inconceivable that Pope Paul VI could have approved the Statement because, as Msgr. Foy points out in his essay, "If Pope Paul VI had approved the Winnipeg Statement, he would have been guilty of the ultimate dissent - dissent from himself."(52)
(48) Ibid., p.35.
(49) Ibid., p.37.
(50) Ibid., p.47.
(51) Ibid., p.22.
(52) Ibid., p.14.
The absolute necessity of preserving unity with the successor of Peter
The Second Vatican Council teaches:
The college or body
of bishops has for all that no authority unless united with the
Roman Pontiff, Peter
Bishops who teach
in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as
witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their
part, are obliged to submit to their bishop
Thus, all the faithful - clergy, religious, laity - must preserve
a bond of unity with the successor of Peter. An essential
condition for the laity to be "obliged to submit to their
Ironically, Bishop Carter appeared to have difficulties himself with papal teaching on contraception and issued directives at odds with Church doctrine. This is described in the following excerpts from an article "Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter 1912-2003."(55) Please note that this is not an indictment of the Cardinal but a statement of apparent fact:
Long before the
encyclical Humanae vitae was issued on
(53) Lumen gentium, n.22.
n.25. Concerning obedience to religious leaders, see Jesus
(55) Catholic Insight Staff, Catholic Insight, May 2003, p.14.
Not too surprisingly then, Bishop Carter considered Humanae vitae a "tragedy", to use his own words. His reaction on first reading the encyclical was: "We felt that this was going to be a major problem."...
It was a spirit of
dissent and rebellion which gave
We have previously discussed Cardinal Carter
Dear Mr. Lower:
Your letter and enclosure of almost a month ago, has been awaiting a reply or even an acknowledgment, for overtime I meant to get to it, something happened to intervene -including the death of my sole surviving sister miles from here...
Your treatment of the
As a retired Bishop of advanced years, I do not have the opportunity of preaching or teaching or even doing much on these matters, except to encourage worthy efforts such as yours and to assure them of my prayers for the success of their efforts.
Be assured then, of my sincere good wishes and congratulations on the efforts you are making to point out and correct this anti-natal philosophy which has taken such hold on most people, with the result that they feel it is their right to use any means to carry out their own desires...
Yours In Our Lord,
Archbishop Emeritus of