50 years after Humanae Vitae

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Looking back at the loss and gain since 1968, I believe that within the Church we have an obligation to make it possible for all couples to live according to God’s plan for the transmission of human life. Otherwise we are like those lawyers in the Gospels, denounced by Our Lord for putting burdens on people’s shoulders while doing nothing to lift them.

Time to get serious as a Church

The teaching of Humanae Vitae is binding. On that principle there can be no compromise. But we need to do everything possible to help couples live according to the teaching of Blessed Paul VI and Saint John Paul II. We need true pastors, compassionate pastoral agents and expert teachers, courageous men and women to lead family ministry.

The “authentic alternative” offers us the only pastoral way forward. We must widely promote the natural spacing of childbirths, imperfectly described as “natural family planning”. In my opinion, until there is a trained teacher of these natural methods in every parish, we are not being serious about the prophetic teaching of Blessed Paul VI, his liberating message of life and love.

Bishop Peter Elliott is an Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Between 1987 and 1997 he was an Official of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. He was the Director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne.