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Friday, October 3, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 3 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Message to Msgr. Livio Melina, president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, for the occasion of a congress organised by the institute in association with the Sacred Heart Catholic University to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae".

  That important document, writes Pope Benedict, "deals with one of the essential aspects of the vocation of marriage, and of the specific path to sanctity deriving therefrom. In fact, the married couple, having received the gift of love, are called in their turn to give themselves to one another unreservedly".

  "The possibility of procreating a new human life is inherent to the complete giving of the spouses", observes the Holy Father. "To exclude this communicative dimension by acts that seek to impede procreation means to deny the intimate truth of married love". Forty years after the publication of the Encyclical we are better able to understand "how decisive it was to our understanding of the great 'yes' implicit in conjugal love", he writes.

  In the light of the Encyclical "children are not seen as the aim of a human project but are recognised as an authentic gift, to be welcomed with an attitude of responsible generosity towards God, Who is the primary source of human life".

  Benedict XVI recalls how "during a couple's life serious situations may arise that make it prudent to separate the births of children or even suspend them altogether. It is here that a knowledge of the natural rhythms of a woman's fertility become important".

  "Methods of observation that enable a couple to determine periods of fertility", he continues, "allow them to administer what the Creator wisely inscribed in human nature without disturbing the integral meaning of sexual relations. In this way the spouses, while respecting the full truth of their love, can modulate the expression thereof in accordance with these rhythms. ... Clearly this requires a maturity in love, ... and mutual respect and dialogue".

  The Pope then goes on to thank the Sacred Heart Catholic University for the support it gives the "Paulus VI International Scientific Research Institute on Human Fertility and Infertility for a Responsible Procreation", an organisation that seeks to "increase knowledge of methods for the natural regulation of human fertility and for the natural treatment of infertility".

  In this context he notes how "many researchers are engaged in the fight against sterility. While fully safeguarding the dignity of human procreation, some have achieved results which previously seemed unattainable. Scientists therefore are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing the causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born".

  The Holy Father then goes on to ask why the world today, including many faithful, "find it so difficult to understand the Church's message, which explains and defends the beauty of conjugal love in its natural expression". And he observes that, although "technological solutions to the great human problems often seem the easiest, in reality they hide the basic problem which concerns the meaning of human sexuality and the need for responsibility so that its exercise may be an expression of personal love".

  "Technology cannot substitute ... freedom, when love is at stake Indeed, as we well know, not even reason is enough. ... Only the eyes of the heart can perceive the requirements of a great love capable of embracing the entire truth of human beings".

  The Pope concludes his Message by expressing the hope that the congress to commemorate "Humanae vitae" may bring "abundant fruits and contribute to helping spouses hold their course with ever greater wisdom and awareness, encouraging them in their mission to be credible witnesses of the beauty of love before the world".

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