ORGAN OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM
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Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, P.O. Box 13230, St. Louis, MO 63157, USA
|No. 12||Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program||July 1987|
The Pontifical Academy of the Immaculata - by Brian W. Harrison
E. Lio, Humanae Vitae and Infallibility - reviewed by Brian W. Harrison
by Brian W. Harrison
Q. Father Pompei, during this Marian Year in particular, many Catholics will be interested to know that there exists a Pontifical Academy dedicated to Our Lady under the title of her unique privilege - the Immaculate Conception. Is the Academy a recently created organization?
As we enter more fully into the Marian Year 1987-1988, an organization is being spoken of around Rome which will be unfamiliar to most of our readers - and indeed, unfamiliar in recent years even to many in Rome who are well acquainted with Church affairs. This is the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculata, which made the news recently when it was announced that the Holy Father John Paul II had named his compatriot, Cardinal Andrea Maria Deskur, as the Academy's new President. After the Pope himself, Cardinal Deskur is the highest-ranking Polish official in the Holy See, and was formerly head of the Vatican's Council for Social Communications. In order to find out more about this recently-publicized Marian initiative, Living Tradition's associate editor, Fr. Brian Harrison, interviewed the Vice-Secretary of the Pontifical Academy, Fr. Alfonso Pompei, a priest of the Conventual Franciscan Order.
BOOK REVIEW: Humanae Vitae e Infallibilità: il Concilio, Paolo VI e Giovanni Paolo II,
Reviewed by Brian W. Harrison
reconfirms ... the immutable and perennial nature of the doctrine regarding the intrinsic evil of contraception. ... Catholic moral truth in its immutability and perennial validity, lives, not only through dogmatic definitions, or other pronouncements given in the modus definitorius, but also through other affirmations of truth - and these indeed are the majority - which, even when they are not clearly formulated in that mode, cannot be regarded as changeable. [present writer's translation from the Italian.]Indeed, at a higher level of magisterial authority, Cardinal Charles Journet had already written in L'Osservatore Romano that even though Humanae Vitae did not solemnly define the immorality of contraception "as contained in the revealed deposit," it nevertheless gives a decision about contraception which can be known with certainty to be true:
The Pope manifestly has the intention of settling a controversy (ha evidentemente l'intenzione di dirimere una controversia) which places in doubt the traditional teaching of centuries approved by the Magisterium. ... The theologian who reflects on the gravity of this case, on the level of light which has been brought to bear on it, and on the precision and certainty (precisione e certezza) with which the response has been given, can even draw the conclusion - in our personal opinion - that we are confronted here by a point of moral doctrine which is definable at a further level (ulteriormente definibile) - one which could in future be convalidated by the assent of divine faith. Whatever about this last point, the teaching of the Encyclical brings with it certitude (è apportatore di certezza). (L'Osservatore Romano, 3 October 1968, pp. 1-2, present writer's translation.)More fundamentally important than commentaries on the Encyclical, of course, are the Pope's own words. Fr. Lio points out that Paul VI's manifest intention of giving a certain, final judgment on this issue emerges, not merely from an examination of Humanae Vitae itself, but also from other statements and interventions which the Pope made during the crucial period of controversy.
Wherefore, having carefully pondered all the documentation placed before Us, having most diligently examined the question with all Our mental and spiritual powers, and after having raised assiduous prayers to God, We now resolve to give Our reply - by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ - to these grave questions.If this is not a manifest intention of speaking "decisively," it might well be asked, then what sort of language would we require to be convinced of that intention?
To the Rev. Fr. Ermenegildo Lio, O.F.M., with deep thanks for the presentation of your volume Humanae Vitae e Infallibilità, and with warm appreciation for the sentiments of sincere adherence to the Magisterium of the Church which have always guided your activity of research and teaching: I impart to you from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of continuing heavenly assistance towards a fervent perseverance in the love of Truth and the service of souls.Those words from the Successor of Peter should certainly give a much firmer impetus to study Fr. Lio's book than anything which might be said by this reviewer.
From the Vatican, 31 July 1986.
(Signed) John Paul PP. II.