Pope Francis’s Choice for the JP2 Institute Defends Humanae Vitae

Pope Francis’s Choice for the JP2 Institute Defends Humanae Vitae May 15, 2018
John Paul II Institute Logo From atop their about page in Italian (Fair use)
John Paul II Institute Logo From atop their about page (Fair use)

Pope Francis appointed Msgr. PierAngelo Sequeri 2 years ago to head the refounded pontifical John Paul II theological institute for matrimonial and family science. Recently he gave a talk on Humanae Vitae which was published in Avvenire (official newspaper of the Italian Bishops).

Sequeri began with a little background.

The aspect of Humanae Vitae regarding wisdom, which was loyally entrusted by the magisterium so there can be an intelligent deepening of all the “experts of humanity” in the Church. These experts include not only theologians, philosophers, and scientists, in their fields; but also the whole people of God with their the experience and reflection on the conjugal-family condition, and their situation as believers-churchmembers… The text focuses on “responsible parenthood”, the integration of the couple is in the line of a logical evolution of the substance of teaching, all aimed at assimilating the unitive meaning, and therefore the deliberate understanding, which must completely encompass the sexual intimacy and filial generation.

He moves on to cite Gaudium et Spes from the Second Vatican Council as a source of Church teaching.

By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown. Thus a man and a woman, who by their compact of conjugal love “are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19), render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and of their actions.

Then Sequeri elaborates on the need for both procreative and unitive aspects in every marital act.

The responsibility of mutual love and that of filial generation are inherently united: they are understood in their correlation, they are defined in their harmonization, they support each other in their covenant. Far from sacrificing each other, they must exalt themselves in the dynamics of their family history… Here the generative vocation is the unifying principle of affection that articulates the whole conjugal-family history, justifying its beauty and blessing.

Msgr. PierAngelo Sequeri also makes a clear moral judgment.

The integrity of this union pertains to the symbolic structure of the conjugal act: it preserves the natural meaning of conjugal affection, even independently of the procreative effect, which the natural rhythms of its conditions do not automatically impose. In this context, the practice of conjugal intimacy that recognizes and supports the natural suspension of the generative effect appears justifiable (honest, licit, coherent). While the practice that procures and imposes an artificial sterilization of the conjugal act is unjustifiable.

You can read the rest of his talk on Humanae Vitae in Avvenire.

This is a valuable contribution to the defense of the Church’s teaching on contraception. Francis really transcends our categories of liberal and conservative to be Catholic above all else. (See my recent article on his paradigm in this regard.)

Note on translation: I have chosen simpler English over a strict translation. (Bold emphasis in original, underlining added.)


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