In a recent article in "Homiletic and Pastoral Review" (January 2002), well-known Catholic author K. D. Whitehead noted that:
"A large majority of American Catholic theologians [in 1968] publicly dissented from Paul VI's encyclical; not a few of them have continued to dissent from this and other Church teachings down to the present day, in spite of the fact that the Church's Magisterium has not failed to reaffirm the truth of "Humanae Vitae" repeatedly... The massive and continuing theologiacl dissent from this encyclical and from some other Church teachings have created a climate in which the very credibility of the Church's Magisterium was called into question."
As he further noted, the Church's historic claim to be the "Teacher of Truth" is openly flouted by theological dissenters as they continue to burrow in their caves in Catholic academia.
For their exposition and defense of Catholic doctrine, Catholic theologians, catechists, writers, and informed laity find indispensable such reference works as:
- "The Teaching of The Catholic Church" (Neuner and Roos);
- "The Church Teaches" (Jesuit Fathers of St. Mary's College);
- "La Fe de la Iglesia Catolica" (Justo Collantes, S.I.);
- "La Foi Catholique" (Gervais Dumeige); and
- "The Christian Faith: Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church" (ed. by J. Neuner, S.J., and J. Dupuis, S.J.).
The "Seventh Revised and Enlarged Edition" (2001) of this last work containing the key documents of the Magisterium is edited by Jacques Dupuis and published by Alba House.
Fr. Jacques Dupuis, S.J., has received recently a great deal of publicity in view of the February 26, 2001 "Notification" issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which censured "ambiguities" in his book "Toward a Theology of Religious Pluralism" published in 1997. As the Notification declared:
"These points concerned the interpretation of the sole and universal mediation of Christ, the unicity and completeness of Christ's Revelation, the universal salvific action of the Holy Spirit, the orientation of all people to the Church, and the value and significance of the salvific function of other religions."
Fr. Dupuis has spent 36 years of scholarship in India as well as 16 years at the Gregorian University, and served as an adviser to the Pontifical Council for lnterreligious Dialog. He is now professor emeritus at the Pontifical Gregorian University and is also director of its famous periodical "Gregorianum". It is interesting, therefore, to see how this important theologian has viewed "Humanae Vitae" in the consecutive volumes detailing the documents of the Magisterium.
In the fourth edition edited by Neuner and Dupuis, section n. 12 of 'Humanae Vitae' is quoted, but not n. 11 and n. 14 which are even stronger in condemning a contraceptive act as intrinsically immoral. In the fifth revised and expanded edition, there is a long introductory note which quotes n. 11 of 'Humanae Vitae' declaring that "each and every marriage act" (quilibet matrimonii usus) must be open to the transmission of life. The authors further note that :
"Contraception and direct sterilization are an intrinsic disorder, while recourse to infecund periods is always licit. The principle of totality according to which a conjugal act in which conception is voluntarily prevented could be considered lawful in the context of the totality of a fecund marital life is declared erroneous."
If the reader might be happily inclined to think (for the quotation from n. 14 is also given in the text) that any behavioral dissent from the Church's irreformable (and indeed infallible) teaching on contraception was thereby clearly prohibited, he had only to read further:
"Though the encyclical is a clear papal statement, commanding a corresponding assent, it is not an infallible document. While explaining it, several national hierarchies have introduced nuances in its teaching and made suggestions for its pastoral application. Thus, the French bishops do not exclude a recourse to other means, considered as a lesser evil, when periodic continence is not possible and a person is in a 'perplexed conscience' or faced with a conflict of duties."
For this latest (and the most complete) "Seventh Revised and Enlarged Edition" (2001) of his "The Christian Faith...", Fr. Jacques Dupuis has written a special introduction expressing the hope:
"that it may do to teachers and students of the beginning of the third Millennium the same service as its predecessors have done for the last 30 years to those that went before them."
On pp. 985-986, however, is found exactly the same identical material as that in the above fifth English edition which gives unwarranted legitimacy to the opinion of the French and other dissenting national hierarchies daring to challenge the doctrinal judgment of the Chair of Peter.
It should be mentioned here that each of the different editions of "The Christian Faith..." bears an "Imprimatur". If theological dissent from the Catholic Church's teaching on the intrinsic immorality of contraception has become institutionalized in the "American Church" to seriously damage Catholic family life, the moral fabric of American society, and the Church's evangelizing mission, it is surely because erring theologians have not sufficiently been called to account by bishops who have the grace of state to safeguard the faith and morals of Christ's true Church.
A War on Terror to safeguard and protect the freedom of the American people has been declared by President George W. Bush. As one surveys the scene of an "American Church" in serious disarray, is it not time for a "War Against Dissent" to be declared to free the Church from theological terrorists who from important academic positions in the Church's own structure continue to sanctify sinful contraception as well as other moral evils?
- Pope John Paul II -