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By Russell Shaw, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 19, 2022
Russell Shaw is former Secretary for Public Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity (Ignatius Press).
A rumor is making the rounds in Rome that Pope Francis is preparing to issue an encyclical or some other form of teaching document on contraception. At this point, it’s only a rumor – it may be true, or it may not. But supposing it’s true, one naturally wonders what such a document from Francis might say.
Some background is in order. Next July will be the 55th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reaffirming the Church’s condemnation of artificial birth control. After several years of speculation that he would weaken or abandon the teaching, Pope Paul, having declared abortion and sterilization unacceptable, then said this: “Similarly excluded is any action that, either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation – whether as an end or as a means.” …