Does “Beans” @MassimoFaggioli undermine ‘Humanae vitae’?

The war on the teaching of Humanae vitae continued today with an offering at ultra-liberal Commonweal by Massimo “Beans” Faggioli.   Beans spends a lot of time on Twitter throwing out one inflammatory tweet after another as click bait.

Faggioli takes his starting point from the release of a new book, in Italian, by Gilfredo Marengo about how Humanae vitae came to be promulgated.   What he is really up to, however, is sowing doubt about the dependability of the content of Humanae vitae under the guise of making it is genesis understandable.

Beans doesn’t indicate that he adheres to Humanae vitae even though he teaches at a Catholic university and he should, therefore, have a mandatum.

First, note his title:

‘Humanae Vitae’ Was a Rewrite

If he and others can show that its development was contentious, then maybe you don’t have to adhere to it.

Then, inter alia, look at his numbers game:

Another important fact revealed in Marengo’s book has to do with Paul VI’s request to the bishops gathered at the synod of October 1967 that they send him suggestions about a magisterial document on the regulation of fertility. Of the more than two hundred members of the synod, only twenty-six replied between October 1967 and May 1968—and only seven of these twenty-six recommended that Paul VI confirm Pius XI’s prohibition of contraception. Among the bishops in favor of a shift in teaching away from Pius XI’s Casti connubii were not only well-known European progressives like Suenens (Brussels), Döpfner (Munich), and Legér (Montreal), but also the U.S. prelates Dearden (Detroit) [spectacularly liberal], Krol (Philadelphia) [a social liberal who covered up sex abuse], Shehan (Baltimore) [spectacularly liberal], and Wright (Pittsburgh) [supporter of Charles Curran].

Two hundred members of the synod, of which 26 replied, of whom 19 (of 200) wanted the Church’s perennial teaching to be overturned.   And that is a big deal.

Moreover, a whole bunch of bishops – the majority – didn’t respond: Qui tacet consentire videtur.

Beans might read Humanae vitae 6.  Paul VI (and the drafters) explicitly acknowledged the division in the commission that had studied the question.  HV recognized that a way of thinking emerged in the commission that was not consistent with Catholic moral reasoning.

In other words, both those who drafted the text and the Pope who made the text unequivocally his own by signing and promulgating it his own were deeply aware of the dissenters’ position. They didn’t agree with it.

This is how dissenters typically roll.

They assert that if you disagree with them, you are ignoring them.

For liberals, “dialogue” means that you need to agree with them.

Pope Paul knew about the dissent.  Pope Paul didn’t agree with it.  Pope Paul published something that adhered to the Church’s teaching.

How Humanae vitae came to be promulgated is, in fact, interesting.  I look forward to looking at this new book… for the sake of history, etc., but not to undermine the encyclical.

When we discuss Humanae vitae we discuss the promulgated text, and not some previous draft.

And now for some of the actually text of Humanae vitae:

Special Studies

5. The consciousness of the same responsibility induced Us to confirm and expand the commission set up by Our predecessor Pope John XXIII, of happy memory, in March, 1963. This commission included married couples as well as many experts in the various fields pertinent to these questions. Its task was to examine views and opinions concerning married life, and especially on the correct regulation of births; and it was also to provide the teaching authority of the Church [Paul] with such evidence as would enable it to give an apt reply in this matter, which not only the faithful but also the rest of the world were waiting for.

When the evidence of the experts had been received, as well as the opinions and advice of a considerable number of Our brethren in the episcopate—some of whom sent their views spontaneously, while others were requested by Us to do so—We were in a position to weigh with more precision all the aspects of this complex subject. Hence We are deeply grateful to all those concerned.

The Magisterium’s Reply

6. However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions.

And that put to rest what the Not Popes opined.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Malta says:

    Paul VI was extremely brave in issuing Humanae Vitae: he stood alone against his council of Cardinals opposing artificial contraception. Contraception means “free sex for all!” In the 1970’s that was a big deal. But contraception degrades both the man and the woman, making each into an object to be used, and not the person made in the image and likeness of God. I was part of Right to Life of New Mexico; and Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts only goes to show how evil the pro-abortion industry is. If people could just adhere to God’s plan for His creation, we wouldn’t be having this discourse on contraception–I mean it’s always existed; in Roman Times they used sheep intestines. Very gross. You go into a convenience store and you can get a rubber for two quarters. It reduces the human being into a piece of meat. So, libs and feminists should see that men are using women not as the beautiful beings God created them to be, but as objects for self-satisfaction.

  2. Ariseyedead says:

    If I were the tweeting type, I would go with:
    “Casti Connubii was never abrogated.”

  3. richiedel says:

    This is an old story, one which has previously been told as a testament to Paul VI’s courage to buck the trend. Who cares if it were a rewrite? What matters is what the version which Bl. Paul VI signed was. That’s what makes it an encyclical, RIGHT?? Otherwise, we’d have to concede that any old committee document floating around out there should be just as good as any encyclical. It’s the Pope’s authority which makes it an encyclical, not the fact that it resulted from the consensus of a committee.

    It’s worth applying Beans’s reasoning to the history behind the writing of Eucharistic Prayer II as we have it, which was purportedly a rush job in a cafe on the morning of the day it was due for review. Are we to suggest that because the painstaking labors of a committee did not produce it, the Eucharist confected by the prayer thereof is any less valid?

  4. stephen c says:

    As an exercise in thought, I sometimes try and imagine what a better version of Humanae Vitae would look like, in a world where the writer had been less influenced by existential Germanic and Parisian 20th century theology (at its best, granted) and more influenced by a better, older theology

    I agree with the outcome of Humanae Vitae but, as a human and a Christian, I am a little offended by the slightly cold existentialism therein…. Can you imagine if Garrigou-Lagrange had edited it, how much better and more human it might sound? The question answers itself.

    Housman (in England) and other classical scholars (there have been five or six in the last couple of centuries who understood the ancient languages almost perfectly) probably often imagined what the texts of Vergil and Horace and that crowd would have looked like, as fresh as a pancake off the griddle, when the poets in question first wrote their works, instead of how they look like, long centuries later, transmitted through dusty texts …. if I were more interested in theology I would spend more time imagining what a better-written Humanae Vitae would be, in a better world ….

    Anyhow …. I appreciate what Paul VI did promulgating Humanae Vitae (although I don’t consider that he did anything the least little bit brave promulgating it – Paul VI may have been a very brave man but promulgating Humanae Vitae was, let’s not be flatterers here, not an act of bravery at all, it was just simple faithfulness to the truth, a truth so clear that it took no real bravery to stand up for it)

  5. Arthur McGowan says:

    Imagine the effect on Church history, indeed, world history, if Paul VI had deposed all the bishops who failed to answer in the affirmative.

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  7. mharden says:

    “Marengo”? Where is Napoleon when you need him? ;-)

  8. rbbadger says:

    Cardinal Shehan of Baltimore may have been spectacularly liberal, but he did make an important contribution in an article he wrote in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review in which he criticized Raymond E. Brown’s book on the priesthood.

    So many bishops have lauded his work. At his funeral Mass, which was celebrated by then-Archbishop Levada, there were a number of bishops present, some of whom were quite effusive in their praise.

    In this instance, Cardinal Shehan did what he was supposed to have done and rightly criticized Brown on his theories of priesthood and apostolic succession.

  9. TomG says:

    rbbadger: Maybe, but he did a miserable job of keeping his clergy in line after the release of Humanae Vitae – in direct contrast to that of Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington DC. Without mentioning Cardinal Shehan, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford (then a priest of that archdiocese) has written about the disgusting response of the majority of Baltimore’s priests.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    And then there’s the sensus fidelium. Even if the overwhelming majority of Catholic reject one of the ideals promoted by HV, there is still much to be learned from it, most importantly the equality of the two meanings of marriage.

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