The announced appointment of Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, current rector of the Institut Catholique of Paris, as dean of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute is the last stage of the re-foundation carried out by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia and Pope Francis of this institution explicitly desired by St. John Paul II and founded by Carlo Caffarra, the future cardinal. That confirms this re-foundation is a real and true revolution.
The rich reflection of the Polish pope on the sexual body, marriage, and the family can be understood as a response to the failure of the reception of St. Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae. Of course, this document does not touch upon the entirety of those themes, far from it, but it can be considered as the touchstone of the whole doctrine of the Church on sexuality and marriage. The contraceptive mentality that the encyclical opposes is in fact objectively the condition of possibility of the social legitimation of abortion, of the technologies of procreation, and of all LGBTQ demands.
Now, the re-foundation of the John Paul II Institute begun a few years ago by Archbishop Paglia, passing through the dismissal of most of its professors and the appointment of theologians such as Maurizio Chiodi and Gilfredo Marengo, clearly no longer takes Humanae vitae as touchstone. This document is now seen as too “abstract” and “theoretical”; the status accorded to it makes it only an ideal, even if it is described as “prophetic,” as if it were an ornament set on the mantel as decoration and no longer touched. The appointment of Philippe Bordeyne confirms this paradigm shift. It should be judged on the basis of the facts. Here is what he says in a text written on the occasion of the synods on the family of 2014 and 2015:
“The encyclical Humanae vitae teaches that natural methods of controlling fertility are the only legitimate ones. However, it must be recognized that the distance between the practice of the faithful and the teaching of the magisterium has grown even wider. Is it simple deafness to the calls of the Spirit or is it the fruit of a work of discernment and responsibility in Christian couples subjected to the pressure of new ways of life? The human sciences and the experience of couples teach us that the relationships between desire and pleasure are complex, eminently personal, and therefore variable according to the couples, and evolve over time and within the couple. Faced with the imperative moral duty to fight against the temptations of abortion, divorce, and the lack of generosity in the face of procreation, it would be reasonable to leave the discernment on birth control methods to the wisdom of couples, placing the emphasis on a moral and spiritual education that would make it possible to fight more effectively against temptations in a context that is often hostile to Christian anthropology….”
But now the circle is closed: the ecclesial spirit of the seventies has ended up conquering Rome! But why has the “distance” been so “widened” if not because most pastors, not having wanted to embrace this good news on birth control, identified as an unbearable burden, never really passed it on to those who had been entrusted to them? At that point why even speak of “deafness” to the calls of the Spirit as if His voice had actually reached the ears of the faithful?…
The above comes from an essay of Thibaud Collin’s cited in a March 16 story by Sandro Magister in L’Espresso (Italy).