Long live Benedict XVI!
VATICAN CITY, 10 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress being promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Encyclical "Humanae vitae".
Recalling that the Encyclical was published by Pope Paul VI on 25 July 1968, the Pope highlighted how "the document soon became a sign of contradiction", and pointed out that "it constitutes a significant show of courage in reiterating the continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition".
"The truth expressed in 'Humanae vitae 'does not change", he said, "quite the contrary, in the light of new scientific discoveries its teaching becomes more relevant and stimulates reflection on the intrinsic values it possesses".
The Holy Father affirmed that "in a culture suffering from the prevalence of having over being, human life risks losing its value. If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave the partner to one's own desires and interests without respecting the times of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer just the concept of love but, primarily, the dignity of the person. As believers we could never allow the power of technology to invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life".
Natural law, he said, "deserves to be recognised as the source inspiring the relationship between a married couple in their responsibility to generate children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which everyone must refer".
Nascent life, said the Pope, "is the fruit of a love capable of thinking and choosing in complete freedom, without allowing itself to be overly conditioned by the sacrifice this may require. From here emerges the miracle of life which parents experience in themselves as they sense the extraordinary nature of what is achieved in them and through them. No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that husband and wife exchange as a sign of the greater mystery, in which they are protagonists and co-participants of creation".
After recalling the sad episodes that sometimes involve adolescents "whose reactions display their incorrect appreciation of the mystery of life and of the dangerous implications of their actions", the Holy Father expressed the hope that young people "may learn the true meaning of love and prepare for it with appropriate sexual education, not allowing themselves to be distracted by superficial messages that prevent them appreciating the essence of the truth at stake".
"Freedom must join with truth, and responsibility with strength of dedication to others, also through sacrifice. Without these principles the community of man does not develop and there is a risk of being trapped in oppressive selfishness".