Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell joined Church leaders in releasing a statement affirming the Church’s teachings on contraception this week, in the wake of a controversial new document from dissident theologians presented at the United Nations on Tuesday. The dissenting document, which was presented in response to the upcoming 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s landmark Humanae Vitae encyclical, contains conclusions that misrepresent the Church’s teachings on contraception and human sexuality.
“We, the undersigned scholars, affirm that the Catholic Church’s teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage, and on contraception are true and defensible on many grounds, among them the truths of reason and revelation concerning the dignity of the human person,” reads the affirming statement, titled “Affirmation of the Church’s Teaching on the Gift of Sexuality.”
O’Donnell, along with Fr. Wojciech Giertych, theologian of the Papal Household, Dr. Janet Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics, and George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, all friends of Christendom College, signed the affirming statement, which features the signatures of over five hundred Catholic intellectuals.
The statement is a direct response to the “On the Ethics of Using Contraceptives” report, released by the dissident Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research at the United Nations. Responding to Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, which spoke against contraception and the distorted view of human sexuality that comes with it, the report claims that the Church does not have the authority to teach definitively on the use of contraceptives, and denies the inherent connection between the sexual act and procreation.
The “Affirmation” statement rebuts the report through contemporary developments in theology, such as St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, as well as traditional understandings of human sexuality and love that the Church has held since its inception.
“The Wijngaards Statement seriously misrepresents the authentic position of the Catholic Church. Among the most erroneous claims made by the Wijngaards Statement is that neither Scripture nor natural law offers any support for the Church’s teaching that contraception is never compatible with God’s plan for sexuality and marriage. During the past half century, there has been an enormous amount of creative scholarly thinking around the Church’s teaching on contraception, thinking that includes profound reflections on the Theology of the Body, personalism, and natural law. In addition, there has been extensive research on and analysis of the negative impact of contraception on individuals, relationships, and culture,” reads the statement.
To read the full statement and see the full list of signees, please visit here.