OTTAWA, March 18, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the 40th anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s July 25, 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae approaches, a group of Catholics is challenging Canada’s Catholic bishops to revisit their official position on the document as it pertains to contraception. The encyclical, which wrote of the Church’s prohibition on contraception, predicting accurately that it would lead to treatment of women as objects of use, was at the time rejected by many within the Catholic Church.
In 1990 the Philippine Bishops issued an apology to the nation’s Catholics for having failed to encourage their flock to adhere to Humanae Vitae. They wrote: “Afflicted with doubts about alternatives to contraceptive technology, we abandoned you to your confused and lonely consciences with a lame excuse: ‘follow what your conscience tells you.’ How little we realized that it was our consciences that needed to be formed first.”
The Rosarium of the Blessed Virgin Mary has collected approximately 1000 signatures on a petition to formally ask the Canadian Catholic Bishops to retract the pastoral document written nearly 40 years ago on September 27, 1968 – the Winnipeg Statement.
The letter accompanying the petition challenges the bishops to reflect on their own role in the complete moral and social collapse that has befallen Canada. It states in part: “Once contraceptive sex was accepted in principle, it led the way to all of the other sexual abominations our country is currently experiencing, not the least of which is same-sex ‘marriage’ – which, at its core, is merely contraception in its final form. Contraception blurred the distinction between men and women by robbing women of their femininity and subverting their fertility. The psychological effects of this over 40 years came to fruition with the normalization of same-sex unions. A sterilized woman is, in one fundamental respect, another man.”
The letter adds: “We can no longer sit idly by as a Church and pretend that our actions – or lack of them – in word or in deed have not contributed to this situation. For forty years we have walked the desert of this culture of death because for forty years, we have refused to submit to the entire truth of Humanae Vitae. As faithful Catholics, therefore, we are humbly asking the bishops of Canada to reflect on how their teaching (or lack thereof) regarding contraception these past 40 years has contributed to Canada’s social and moral collapse. In particular, we are once again drawing your attention to the Winnipeg Statement, one of the most destructive documents ever to be released on the subject of contraception.”
The controversial document in question, commonly referred to as the Winnipeg Statement, has been long considered a dissent against Rome’s absolute prohibition on contraceptive acts.
The most controversial section of the document states: “Counsellors 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.”
John Pacheco, a director of The Rosarium and a Catholic political and social activist, remarked that the time has come for the Bishops to reconsider the Winnipeg Statement.
“We are approaching the 40 year anniversary of the legalization of both contraception and abortion in Canada in 2009,” Pacheco told LifeSiteNews.com. “We can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that contraception has not played an enormous role in the break down of the family unit these past forty years. It’s not a coincidence that once contraception was legalized with abortion in May 1969, the precipitous fall of the family followed thereafter. It’s time for all Catholics to reflect on how the Church was right and the Culture was wrong. For lay Catholics, that means tossing the condoms and the pills and for the Canadian bishops it means repenting of a treacherous document.”
In addition to calling for the retraction of the Winnipeg Statement, the group is asking the Bishops to strongly re-affirm Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical prohibiting abortion and contraception, on the 40th anniversary of its publication on July 25. It is also encouraging the bishops to become more involved in active opposition to abortion.
“We will never defeat abortion in Canada until the question of contraception is addressed. And contraception in Canada will never be addressed sufficiently until the bishops acknowledge the great harm that the Winnipeg Statement has caused. It’s time for all of us to repent and move on. Canada needs a new beginning. That starts with the retraction of the Winnipeg Statement”, Pacheco said.