Bishops Urged to Support NaProTechnology

Father Morris: Priests Are Loving «Humanae Vitae»

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By Karna Swanson

OMAHA, Nebraska, SEPT. 3, 2010 ( Bishops who support the work of the Paul VI Institute will not regret the time, money and energy spent doing so, says the retired archbishop of Omaha, a longtime supporter of the institute.

Archbishop Elden Curtiss spoke Thursday at an international conference in Omaha on the pastoral directives of «Humanae Vitae.» He reflected on the appeal to bishops found in Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical.

The conference kicks off the four-day «Celebration of Love and Life» seminar organized by the Pope Paul VI Institute to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The Paul VI Institute, founded by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, aims to build a culture of life in women’s health care. Among other accomplishments, it has developed a method of natural family planning called the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology.

«It was 1985 when I was bishop in Helena, Montana, and I received notice about a new institute in Omaha named in honor of Pope Paul VI,» the archbishop recalled. «I was impressed that a relatively young doctor had read the encyclical, and that he decided that it was a pivotal document not only for the Church, but for all of society.»

«The Pope asked the medical and scientific communities around the world to undertake research that would be necessary to support the teaching of the encyclical,» the archbishop stated. «Dr. Hilgers took the Pope’s challenge seriously. And I thought that was very refreshing.»

Archbishop Curtiss explained that many in the Church believed that the «fresh winds» of the Second Vatican Council «would help the Church overcome her ‘preoccupation’ with the sacredness of all human life and all human sexuality. That she would make some accommodation to the desire of people who wanted to have more freedom in deciding about contraception and abortion and end of life issues.»

«There was strong support among liberal theologians to examine the circumstances surrounding modern contraceptive procedures, and pressures leading to abortion, and the unreasonable kinds of prolongations of human life that were out there,» he continued. «They called into question the existence of objective moral principles that always applied to human acts. 

«And this helped unleash a relativism that has rocked the foundation of Catholicism for many people in our world, unfortunately.»

The archbishop noted that «Humanae Vitae» was a «bombshell for progressives» who believed the Pope was teaching a «morality that was unacceptable to modern people.»

«Because of the initial negative reaction to ‘Humanae Vitae,'» he added, «many Church leaders hunkered down and waited to see what the long-term effect of the encyclical would be. In my opinion, a clear defense of ‘Humanae Vitae’ and support for Paul VI was weak, weak on the part of many leaders in the Church both clerical and lay.»

Up until recently, he lamented, there has been «little actual support for natural family planning and the research necessary to promote it.»

Pope John Paul II, however, continually insisted on the need to develop natural family planning methods that respected human sexuality, and provided the Paul VI Institute with moral and financial support. The archbishop revealed that John Paul II told him that the institute «gave him much hope for the future.»

«Dr. Hilgers was a pioneer in this new technology, even when it was not appreciated and not supported by many in the Church,» he added.

«I urge bishops everywhere in the nation and throughout the world to familiarize themselves with the solid medical and scientific base that undergirds NaProTechnology,» he continued. «I ask bishops to give Dr. Hilgers and the institute the kind of support they need to continue and expand their mission in the world.»

«We will never be sorry for the attention we give to this ministry. Its fruit will impact generations to come in positive and healthy ways. It will help people everywhere to appreciate the wisdom and vision of Pope Paul VI, and the strong leadership that Pope John Paul II has given us, helping us to keep focused on the truths contained in ‘Humane Vitae.'»

Archbishop Curtiss then thanked Hilgers for «25 years of fearless, selfless, professional dedication, to the inspirational message that you heard and received from Pope Paul VI. You, Dr. Hilgers, are one of the few doctors in the world who dedicated you professional and personal life to implement the teaching of ‘Humanae Vitae.’ 

«Thank you for your stubborn single-mindedness, and your total dedication to the truth about human sexuality.»

Pay off

Father Jonathon Morris, who is a Fox News contributor and analyst, said that after more than 30 years since the publication of «Humanae Vitae,» the work of those who promoted its teachings is finally «paying off.»

«The priests who are being ordained today,» he explained, «are priests that are dedicated, and believing, and understand to a great extent the teaching of the Church, and the authority of the Church, and embrace the fact that ‘Humanae Vitae’ has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.»

«This is very good news,» he stated. «The priests of today are embracing the teaching of the Catholic Church, and they are loving it, and they are happy to be priests, and are spreading it.»

Father Morris gave three suggestions for everyone to promote the teachings of the encyclical. He suggested first of all to «give reasons for believing.»

«The Church isn’t against contraception because it’s against contraception,» he explained. «The Church is against contraception because [the Church is] pro-family, and pro-love, and pro-responsibility, and pro-relationship, and pro-self-giving.

«And until our young people today come to not only believe, but to experience relationships, and love and self-giving, and until they come to experience family, they will never be against contraception, and they shouldn’t be. Let’s give reasons for believing.»

His second suggestion was to «build community.» The priest explained that «reasons for believing don’t exist without community,» and added that it starts in the parish.

«Do whatever you have to do, and don’t wait for your priest to do it,» he stated. «Build community, even if it’s with three families, or five families, or 10 families. There are no reasons for believing if there is no community.»

The third suggestion was to «create unity» within the diocese, parish and in families, bringing those who reject the teachings of «Humanae Vitae» along «in unity and love.»

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