Vatican: Long Distance Duel Over Morality

June 04, 2023
Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer and Bishop Vincenzo Paglia

It is not really the harmonies of Charles Gounod's pontifical march that currently resonate within the apostolic palaces. On May 19, 2023, while Brittany was celebrating St. Yves - the lawyer for difficult causes – there was another cause, that of Christian morality, that has just become the scene of a long distance confrontation between two “heavy weights” of the Roman Curia.

On the occasion of a congress organized by the Jérôme Lejeune International Chair of Bioethics – in which researchers from several major Catholic universities participate for two days – Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, emphasized to his listeners the need for all the faithful to defend the teaching contained in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, in which Pope Paul VI recalls several truths concerning sexual morality.

“This encyclical remains valid because it is the Magisterium’s correct response to dualistic anthropologies that want to instrumentalize the body and which are not new, postmodern and secular humanisms, but real antihumanisms,” insisted the head of was formerly the Holy Office.

In passing, he took the opportunity to castigate “moral relativism” and “contraceptive anthropology,” which both lead, according to him, to reducing the body to “a simple manipulable object,” in line with what promotes “transhumanism” and “gender ideology.” A rather firm and clear speech which was not really echoed in the Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia’s intervention, a few hours later.

More specialized in shades of gray than in the clarity of dogma, the sulfurous president of the Academy for Life, claims that “the eternal question of the relationship between the ends of marriage – the primary end, which is having and raising children (prolis generatio et educatio), and the secondary end, which is mutual support and sexual comfort (mutuum adiutorium et remedium concupiscentiae) – must be overcome.” In other words relativized and even evacuated.

Because, for the progressive prelate, in matters of contraception, there can be no ready-made truth, as he does not hesitate to affirm, easily taking refuge behind the authority of the current Roman pontiff: “I believe continued reflection on the subject is very important, as are wide-ranging discussions. Indeed Pope Francis, speaking about contraception, has said that, “the duty of theologians is research, theological reflection.”

A dissonance that even appears in broad daylight on the official Vatican information portal, and which shows, once again if need be, the doctrinal confusion that reigns within the Pontifical Academy for Life.