Magazine article Commonweal

It Still Doesn't Scan

Magazine article Commonweal

It Still Doesn't Scan

Article excerpt

In his article in this issue [pp. 14-18] expounding the strengths of Humanae vitae, Paul Murray writes with a certain authority not available to the author of the encyclical. He is emphatically not a celibate. He and his wife have lived and taught the regimen, natural family planning, that he proposes as the way to achieve the ideals of married love set forth by Paul VI. Thus he can write about sex with knowledgeable passion, and that's a large plus. Another is his irenic tone, a welcome contrast to the prosecutorial approach so often in play on this topic.

On matters of substance, Murray is right that Humanae vitae shows real appreciation for the goodness of marital sexual communion. Both Pauls are right in contending that the most-used methods of birth control make sinning against chastity easier (in a way that NFP does not); and that widespread unchastity has corrosive effects, spiritual and social. And they are right to condemn the "contraceptive ethic," if by that is meant a hedonistically inspired rejection of the deep and truly natural connection between making love and making babies.

On other points, we are not persuaded. First, has the spread of contraception fostered disrespect for women, as Pope Paul said it would? Maybe so, in individual cases. But, though the cause of women's rights still has a long way to go, not least in the Catholic church, the global reality is that more women today claim the respect due to them, and more men support their claim, than was the case when Paul wrote. …

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