of B XVI's encyclical. From our "friends" at Reuters: (my comments in bold)
Encouraged by Pope Benedict's encyclical on love, a Roman Catholic bishop and a group of Christian intellectuals in France are urging the Vatican to reopen the debate on its ban on artificial birth control.
Bishop Francis Deniau told the Catholic magazine Le Pelerin this week that Benedict's first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), which was widely praised for the positive way it spoke about sexual love, was a hopeful sign for possible change.
Sociologist Catherine Gremion noted the encyclical -- the highest form of papal writing -- did not condemn Catholic couples "who do not manage to live out their love in strict respect for Church teachings."
"That's an important sign," said Gremion, one of the co-authors of a book by Christian intellectuals entitled "The Church and Contraception -- the Urgent Need to Change."
Um, OK. So it didn't condemn couples who "do not manage to live out their love in strict respect for Church teaching." It just basically said that if you don't live it in regards to Church teaching, then you're cheapening it and taking away the sacred character. But that's not a condemnation, or anything.
Benedict made clear last November he was not considering any change in the contraception ban and that family planning was only allowed by the "rhythm method" of abstinence from sex during a woman's fertile period.
Pope Paul VI banned contraception in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, arguing that sexual intercourse was meant for procreation and any artificial method to block a pregnancy went against the nature of the act.
That encyclical prompted Catholics to leave the Church in droves and undercut papal authority. Many practicing Catholics now simply ignore the ban and some say it weakens the Church's message on other moral issues such as abortion and bioethics.
In his encyclical last month, Benedict wrote that the Church was long seen as being "opposed to the body" but it actually believed that erotic love and selfless love were both important aspects of the same phenomenon.
The document was widely praised for its positive tone, which was somewhat surprising because of the stern conservative stand the pope took in his previous post as top Vatican doctrinal expert.
A "positive tone" on love is one thing, a radical change in policy is another. Both JP II and B XVI see human love as a awonderful thing--so wonderful and so important that it deserves the highest respect and careful treatment. Birth control does not allow for the full expression of selfless love between members of the couple and does not allow the couple to be open to God's will for them; in fact, birth control shuts off that outlet for God's grace. And why is "conservative" always aligned with "prudish" or bad sexual tones? Conservatives treat sex with more respect than liberals do, that's for sure. And why not? It's only slightly important.
Deniau, bishop of Nevers in eastern France, noted that a papal commission had advised in 1966 to allow it, but Pope Paul ignored their recommendation after consulting several cardinals, including the future Pope John Paul.
"The analyses made by the first commission in 1966, which did not condemn contraception, are worth being reviewed and debated," Deniau said. He said many Catholics found they could not follow the "rhythm method" of family planning.
"It's important that these things are not seen in a rigid fashion," he said.
ah, the great liberal word--'ridgid'. You know, if Moses came down the mountain today in Nevers, France (incidentially the place where Bernadette is buried), this bishop would probably say he's being too 'ridgid'. Sheesh.