SYDNEY, Australia, NOV. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Australian bishops’ conference is re-releasing a pastoral letter highlighting the benefit of natural fertility methods for married couples.
The letter, titled “God’s Gift of Life and Love,” was first published in 1995 by the conference’s Committee for the Family and for Life.
Last year, the bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life decided to mark the 40th anniversary of “Humane Vitae” by embarking on a project to update the pastoral letter with a new format. The letter was just re-released, a conference communiqué announced today.
The document noted that in the past 40 years, “a number of marvelous developments have occurred,” refining natural fertility methods “to a high degree of reliability.”
The letter also acknowledged the “emergence of movements and organizations of married couples who in various ways are exploring the intricacies of married love and assisting each other in the journey of married life.”
It stated the goal of drawing attention to these developments and” to the experience of those couples who have discovered for themselves the benefits of natural fertility methods.”
In the letter’s introduction, the commission’s chairman, Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin, called all Catholics in Australia to “a renewed appreciation of the sacredness of married love and of the great sign of love and life which our couples witness to us.”
He explained, “For it is only within the context of a deeper understanding of the meaning of married love that we can fully appreciate the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life.”
A married couple, Ron and Mavis Pirola, co-chairs of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council and former members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, expressed their “delight” with this initiative, the conference press release reported.
A statement from the couple affirmed: “The Church has a great vision for marriage. It helps us to recognize that our marriage is a sexual sacrament and sexual intercourse is part of the sacred language of the body.”
The letter concludes with an appeal to all the faithful to “do all that is within their means to affirm the life-giving nature of married love and to foster a climate which will give credence to the Church’s teaching on the sacredness of married love and its openness to the transmission of life.”
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