VATICAN CITY – The church must find ways to help Catholic couples see the beauty of respecting the true design of procreation and avoid artificial reproduction and contraception, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Pope Benedict asked why is it that the world and many Catholics still have a difficult time understanding the church’s teachings 40 years after Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on human life and birth control.
The encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), “illustrates and defends the beauty of conjugal love” while respecting the divine laws of nature, he said in a written message addressed Oct. 3 to participants of an international congress dedicated to the encyclical.
The Oct. 3-4 congress in Rome was sponsored by Rome’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. The Vatican released a copy of the message Oct. 3.
Pope Benedict said technical responses to “the great human questions” such as life and death often seem to offer the easier solution.
“But in reality (a technical solution such as artificial contraception) obscures the underlying question concerning the meaning of human sexuality” and the need for couples to exercise “responsible control” over their sexual desires so that the expression of those desires may become expressions of self-giving, “personal love,” he said.
When talking about love between two people, technical responses cannot replace “a maturation of freedom,” the pope said.
Reason is not enough for understanding the true meaning of conjugal love, he said, as “the eyes of the heart” also are needed to grasp the demands of true love and “embrace the totality of the human being.”
The church, in its teachings and pastoral programs concerning marriage and the family, “must know how to guide couples to understand with their hearts the wonderful plan God has inscribed in the human body.”
Pope Benedict also praised and encouraged the work of Catholic research institutes for their efforts in helping couples overcome infertility through natural methods that fully safeguard the dignity of human procreation.
“The possibility of procreating a new human life is included in the full giving” of husband and wife, he wrote.
By creating life, the expression of conjugal love not only “resembles, but takes part in the love of God who wants to express himself by calling people” to be open to life, he said.
Excluding the possibility of bringing new life into the world denies “the intimate truth of nuptial love,” he said.