Did Pope Paul VI approve the Winnipeg statement? A search for the truth.
REVIEWED BY JOSEPH THOMPSON
This review is being written on the feast of the Presentation of our Lord, (Feb. 2), in which the prophet Malachi says, "Who can endure the day of his coming?.. He is like a refiner's fire.. he will purify the descendants of Levi.." (MI 3:2-3). The other thing Msgr. Foy's book reminded me of was the prophet Elisha, who, in 2 Kings 5:8, says to the King, "Why did you tear your garments? Let him (Naaman) come to me, and he will find that there is a prophet in Israel."
Naaman was a pagan army commander, but he had leprosy, and was sent by his own king to the king of Israel on the ground that the latter could cure him, which he could not. The prophet Elisha said, "Send him to me."
In 1968 Canadian culture had caught the leprosy of hedonism, made terminal a year earlier by the legalization, under Pierre Trudeau, of contraception. (A year later would see the legalization of prenatal infanticide).
Msgr. Vincent Foy's book is the first promise that that leprosy will be healed. Elisha was as good as his word, and Naaman was healed. Elisha went directly after the problem, the leprosy, and it was cured. Msgr. Foy points out that the bishops in 1968 did not attack the problem; they and their advisors in the CCCB focussed their attention on what they thought people wanted to hear; namely, that contraception was permissible, not seeming to realize that it was the cause of the ever-worsening leprous state of society.
But what did they say in this so-called Winnipeg Statement? "[W]hoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience."
And what did Pope Paul VI say in Humanae vitae? "Each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life." (#11).
Msgr. Foy's thesis is that the well-being of the Church in Canada--and the well-being of Canada--depends on the Canadian bishops' retracting their 1968 statement (changing Pope Paul's teaching in Humanae vitae) and subscribing, explicitly, to what Pope Paul VI said.
First of all, the saints obeyed the Pope even when they were given a wrong-headed order. The CCCB ought to have obeyed a most wise and reasonable one. And why did they not see this, at the end of #10?
In the task of transmitting life, therefore, they (the husband and wife) are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church.
The Winnipeg Statement is not an interpretation of the above, as some claim; it is a contradiction of it. This without mentioning that the Statement itself is at best a tautology, and at worst an endorsement of solipsism. For an example of how far the latter mental disease has reached into the chambers of the mighty, hear the majority decision of the U. S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define for oneself one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
There is no objective reality. You can have a seer without anything to see: as nice a definition of solipsism as one could ask for. What inspired the above statement? The Court's firm resolve to nullify any restrictions on prenatal infanticide.
In Canada we have Judge Mark MacGuigan using "conscience" to argue that it would be wrong to outlaw the anti-life measures of the culture of death. Fr. Ron Rolheiser (he is one of sixteen children) wrote in The Catholic Register a while back that his mother "couldn't say no enough." Is it conscience that tells one that too many people (let alone too many brothers and sisters) is a valid concept? The same Register editorialized (week of Jan. 27, 1997):
Population growth is worrying; an extra three billion people are expected on top of the current six billion by the year 2030. Another green revolution in agricultural technology might be too much to hope for.
Msgr. Foy cites text after official text in pointing up contraception as intrinsically evil. He might have said that it is the slippery slope not just to sterility but to blasphemy.
If the Winnipeg Statement is pastoral, it is pastoral without being prophetic, and the pastoral divorced from the prophetic is another name for irenicism, a word Pope Paul VI used to designate the false peace that is based on injustice. For it is unjust to turn people into things to be used instead of persons to be loved. Pope Paul VI knew that, and knew that contraception could do nothing else.
Msgr. Foy has written a book which does not divorce the prophetic from the pastoral. His book is deft, even understated, but it burns with a refiner's fire, cleansing, illuminating, unifying. He moves in good company, the likes of Malachi, Elisha, St. John of the Cross.
Like them, he has identified the real problem. Morality is of a piece with itself and everything else. We have not been able to outlaw the killing of babies and its galloping train of evils because this marauding monster, contraception, has been permitted to roam the country, its teeth dripping with the blood of the innocent. Meantime, even the economy stagnates under our culture of deliberate sterility with its 1 1/2 children per family. Msgr. Foy knows the St. George who can slay that dragon, the one who said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||May 1, 1997|
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