10/03/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

Pope: Church must advance understanding of its message on marriage and procreation

Benedict XVI, recalling the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, reiterates its central message, that the love between spouses embraces the generation of children, and that there are "absolute limits" that science must recognize.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Church must "lead couples to understand in their hearts the marvelous plan that God has inscribed in the human body", that "the possibility of bringing about a new human life is included in the complete self-donation of the spouses", and that in this manner, conjugal love "does not only resemble, but also participates in the love of God, who wants to communicate himself by calling human persons to life". This is the responsibility that Benedict XVI entrusts to the Church, in the face of the "many difficulties" that "the world, and also many of the faithful" encounter in understanding the message of marriage and procreation.

These are the comments of Benedict XVi in a message to the international conference - organized jointly by the pontifical institute "John Paul II" for the study of marriage and the family, and by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart - which, 40 years after the publication of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical by Paul VI on family and responsible procreation, is addressing "the relevance and prophetic nature of an encyclical".

"The possibility of bringing a new human life into being", the Pope writes, "is included in the complete self-donation of the spouses. If, in fact, every form of love tends to extend outward its own fullness, then conjugal love has its own unique way of communicating itself: the generation of children. In this way, it not only resembles, but it also participates in the love of God, who wants to communicate himself by calling human persons to life. Excluding this communicative dimension through an action aimed at blocking procreation means denying the true intimacy of spousal love, through which the divine gift is communicated". Benedict XVI cites in this regard a passage from the encyclical (no. 17), which states that "unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions - limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed".

The pope is aware that "the world", and even the faithful, experience "difficulty" in understanding this message. "Of course, the technological solution often seems easier even in the great human questions, but in reality it conceals the deeper question, which concerns the meaning of human sexuality and the necessity of responsible self-control, so that its exercise may become the expression of personal love. Technology cannot substitute for the maturation of freedom, when what is at stake is love. On the contrary, as we know well, not even reason is enough: the heart must understand. Only the eyes of the heart are able to grasp the demands that must be met in attaining great love, capable of embracing the totality of the human being. For this reason, the service that the Church offers in its pastoral care for marriage and the family must lead couples to understand in their hearts the marvelous plan that God has inscribed in the human body, helping them to accept that which is part of an authentic journey of maturation".

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