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Dr. Gerald Barney wrote Global 2000 for the Carter administration, a report on the economic, demographic and environmental future of the world. He has just finished updating the report, Global 2000 Revisited: What Shall We Do?, to present at the Parliament of World Religions conference, to be held in Chicago from Aug. 28 through Sept. 5.

Barney argues that the world is heading toward a population Armagedon (pages 16-17).

Barney's paper likely will spark an interfaith discussion about the exploding human population, further isolating the Catholic episcopacy.

Twenty-five years after Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul's encyclical reaffirming the church's artificial birth-control ban, we are still assessing its monumental consequences. Last week, for example, I read a talk (Origins, April 22) delivered by Jesuit Father Avery Dulles, one he delivered to U.S. bishops who assembled last February in Dallas for an ethics conference sponsored by the Pope John XXIII Medical-moral Research and Educational Center.

Dulles, who firmly upholds the encyclical, laments it has divided the church, Christ's sign of unity to the human family." Said the noted theologian: "the widespread disregard for official church teaching in this area is a serious matter in itself and one that has a ripple effect in many other areas of Catholic life."

Among the "deleterious" consequences he listed were the following: It is inhibiting further lay consultation of matters of marriage and family; placing priests in difficult positions as preachers and confessors; adding to confusion about the authority of the magisterium; causing greater strain between bishops and theologians; blackballing good priests from becoming bishops; and undermining the growth of episcopal conferences viewed by Rome in some instances as having been "ambivalent" about the teaching.

Dulles makes a plea to supporters and dissenters alike to recognize "that public dissent by- its very nature impairs the authority of the magisterium." He calls upon all Catholics to respect the intelligence and sincerity of those with whom they may disagree on the issue.

He asks that encyclical support no longer be viewed as a litmus test for sensitive church appointments, but rather that officials "take account of the candidates' general fidelity to Catholic doctrine." He suggests the contraception issue be placed in the context of more general questions about family life and procreation.

Finally he says Catholics should "promote common witness among all who oppose a merely hedonistic or recreational view of sex and who seek to discern the true meaning of sexuality in the framework of God's creative designs."

With church bishops and laity at sharp odds on birth control, the subject is unlikely to go away. Dulles' civility guidelines, then, are welcomed and make good sense.
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Title Annotation:Catholic birth control restrictions
Author:Fox, Tom
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 7, 1993
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