This is an archive for open letters and declarations, illustrations, treatises, opinion pieces, interviews and videos that support the orthodox Catholic position on the so-called "Reproductive Health Law" passed by the Philippine Legislature and signed into law in December 2012.
(NB: Inclusion of a given piece in this blog-archive neither necessarily signifies the blog owner's agreement with all of its assertions, nor does it mean that he endorses it as completely accurate or precise.)
NOTE TO ALL READERS
Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Kit Tatad's response to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's sponsorship speech for the RH bill
WHY NO TRUE CATHOLIC OR DEMOCRAT CAN SUPPORT THE RH BILL
By Francisco S. Tatad
On Monday, August 1, 2011, my good friend and neighbor Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago delivered a speech co-sponsoring Senate Bill No. 2865, “An Act Providing For A National Policy On Reproductive Health and Population and Development.”
She titled her speech, “Primacy of Conscience in Catholic Theology,” the first of three parts, and signed it not as senator but as “Doctor of Juridical Science and Master of Arts in Religious Studies (cand.).”
The display of academic credentials was probably meant to lend authority to what she was going to say and moderate the skepticism of her audience. As a student of parliamentary procedure and a Senate majority leader for many years, I have not seen anything like it, certainly not a sponsorship or co-sponsorship speech in three “gives”.
The speech focused on Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and the evil of contraception, as contained in Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, and reiterated emphatically since then in such papal documents as Blessed John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, Familiaris Consortio, and Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate, among others.
It argued that Humanae Vitae is not binding on all Catholics because it is based on the “minority report” rather than the “majority report” submitted by the papal commission tasked to study the problem, and that many clerics, theologians and laymen do not agree with it.
It pointed out that out of 48 Catholic countries, only the Philippines and five others have not enacted a reproductive health (RH) law, and that here, the Catholic Church is “the only major religion” opposed to the RH bill.
It was a spirited defense of the “right” of Catholics to exercise their individual “conscience,” without qualification, against the teaching of the Church on a fundamental moral question.
A serious misreading
But the good senator failed to recognize that the real conflict, with respect to the bill, is not between Church authority and individual conscience, but between the claims of Congress (on behalf of the State) on the one hand, and the rights of the Church and of individual conscience on the other.
She called on Catholics to ignore what the Church says about contraception, and simply “follow their conscience” without any qualification, but she failed to tell them not to let Congress or the State be “their conscience.”
It was a serious misreading of the bill and the problems it has spawned.
What the RH bill is and is not
Miriam is too good a lawyer not to know what the RH bill is, and what it is not.
Despite the dogged attempt to portray the RH bill as an effort to “guarantee” the “right” of women (and men) to practice contraception and sterilization, that is not what it is. No law prohibits contraception or sterilization, so there is no need to “guarantee” that “right” through an RH bill.
The senator herself has been voting, year after year, to fund the RH program, which the Department of Health (DOH) and Population Commission (POPCOM) have been running since the seventies. Even foreign governments and multilateral institutions are now operating their own RH program, with rank impunity, through our local governments.
So women (and men) have been freely contracepting and getting sterilized. And the national contraceptive prevalence rate now stands at 51 percent.
The RH bill’s real intent
Clearly, Filipino women (and men) do not need an RH law to do what they are already doing for themselves. But what the RH bill wants to do---and this is what they do not want us to see too clearly---is to prescribe birth control as an essential component of marriage, and to make the State the principal instrument in carrying it out.
What freedom is more important?
And we have great libertarians who will fight to the death any attempt to abridge their “freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances,” but who will gladly hand over to the State a right it does not have, to enter the bedroom and tell couples to stop making babies.
Legalization or prescription?
Miriam says we should be like all the other countries that have enacted their RH laws. No, ma’am. The RH bill will not make us like the other countries; it shall make us much worse. Let me explain.
In those countries, what was once prohibited has now been legalized. For instance, in the United States, both contraception and abortion were once prohibited. But in 1965, the US Supreme Court legalized contraception for married couples in Griswold v. Connecticut; and in 1973, it legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
But the word is legalized, not prescribed. And there is a world of difference between legalizing something and prescribing it.
The RH bill seeks to prescribe birth control as a component of marriage, with the State as its principal instrument. Thus no couple may be issued a marriage license without proof that they had received official instructions on how to avoid having babies.
The Nazis and the communists had no qualms doing that. But it ought to be unthinkable in a democratic state. This is one reason, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide of 9 Dec 1948 condemns as “genocide” “imposing measures intended to prevent births within(a) group.”
The core issue
That the bill allows you to choose what birth control means or method/s to use does not mitigate the offense. That you happen to believe in birth control, using methods of your choice, is only secondary to the fact that the policy directive has been set by Congress, and commands you to practice birth control as an essential component of married life.
If anyone had told you before that “the purpose of marriage is procreation and the propagation of the species,” the RH bill is now telling you, “That’s an awful lot of nonsense. The purpose of marriage is contraceptive sex.”
That is the core issue, skillfully screened out of the media, and the “public debates.”
A Catholic citizen’s duty
Nevertheless, a Catholic citizen who is truly Catholic and a law-abiding citizen will have to oppose the bill not only because it offends Church teaching but above all because Congress or the State has no business telling married couples whether or not they could have babies. If they are attentive to the Constitution, they will see that the Constitution does not allow it either.
Why Miriam should oppose the bill
Now, even if Miriam rejects Humanae Vitae, if she believes, as I think she does, that the State has no right to enter her bedroom and manage her conjugal life, she will simply have to oppose the bill. For it violates the very concept of freedom and human dignity she has stood for all her life. Her own pursuit of theology, which St. Anselm defines as “fides quaerens intellectum” (faith seeking understanding), would make no sense at all if she is ready to remove the whole area of human sexuality from the domain of the moral law, and put it in the hands of the State instead.
The sects too
The same thing will have to be said of the various sects and denominations that “support” the RH bill. They might all believe, as a matter of doctrine, that women (and men) should be free to contracept and get sterilized. But should they concede to the State a right it does not have---to instruct their members on the most intimate details of their married life? Would that not negate the basic concept of freedom that is at the root of every religious life?
Ultimately those who believe that contraception is intrinsically evil, and those who believe that contraception is good for one’s soul will have to agree that they should be free to practice what they each believe, without Congress or the State telling them what to do.
What does the Church want?
That is all the Church is asking for. The Church is not asking Congress to make the State the official enforcer of its teaching on reproductive health. The Church is simply asking Congress not to disrespect and attack its teaching by prescribing contraception as a national policy, and making the State the chief provider of contraceptive services, funded mostly by Catholic taxpayers.
That would be like lining up innocent people against the wall, and then requiring their surviving kin to pay the executioners for their services and the cost of the bullets used for the execution. That would be religious persecution, pure and simple.
It would turn the country into a totalitarian state even without the barbed wires and the jack-boots, reduce Congress into an abomination, and make the President impeachable for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
None of these need to happen.
Recurring sound bites
In the last few months, we have been bombarded with all sorts of heart-rending sound bites about the RH bill. Among the most persistent are the following:
1) We remain poor because we are too many; the only solution to that is the RH bill.
2) Ten to eleven women are dying everyday from pregnancy or childbirth; the only cure for that is the RH bill.
3) Most Filipinos (and Catholics at that) support the RH bill, according to all opinion polls.
What are the facts?
They are far more reassuring.
1. Population is the first resource. China’s 1.6 billion people have provided the base for the world’s fastest growing economy today, and Nandan Nilekani’s “Imagining India” tells us that India’s 1.3 billion population, once singled out as the main reason for the country’s poverty, is now singled out as the main reason for India’s new prosperity.
2. “Depopulation” is the real crisis. On the other hand, the Moscow Declaration issued at the end of the Moscow Demographic Summit on June 30, 2011 tells us that nearly half of all mankind today are living in countries where the birth rate is no longer able to replace the older generation, and that “depopulation” is the world’s next irreversible crisis.
3. More women dying from other causes, but virtually unnoticed. On those poor pregnant women, the unbiased health experts tell us the only solution is adequate appropriate and competent health care, not contraception. Not just ten to eleven, but so many times more women are dying everyday from heart, vascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, pneumonia, diabetes, tb, and various accidents. They deserve equal, if not prior, attention from our RH proponents.
4. Polling is entertainment. As for the reported surveys, treat them as one form of amusement. “Conducted” by pro-RH pollsters, propagated by the pro-RH media, and made to reflect the opinion of people who did not have to know the bill, the real wonder is why those surveys have failed to report a 100% approval.
The final question
This has to be asked. Assuming, arguendo, that everything the pro-RH side has said about population, poverty, maternal deaths, public support for the bill, and what Miriam now says about Church doctrine is right, and that everything its opponents have said against it is wrong, can Congress enact the present bill into law, without violating the Constitution?
What does the Constitution say?
The Constitution provides, among others, the following:
1) The State recognizes the family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development (Art. XV, Sec 1).
2) Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State (XV, Sec. 2).
3) The State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood (XV, Sec. 3).
4) The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government (Art. II, Sec. 12).
The RH bill is in conflict with all those provisions.
Thus in its State of the Soul of the Nation Address at Club Filipino on the morning of 25 July 2011, the Congress of the Filipino Faithful asked: “How can anyone in the world possibly think of making a valid law out of it, even if the entire Congress should vote for it, 100 percent?”
I now make that question my own.
Restating the issue
To repeat, the question before the Senate is not whether Catholics should follow the Church on contraception and sterilization. It is whether the State can enter the private lives of its citizens, and undo the natural laws on human life, sexuality and marriage without committing the same crime which Nazi Germany had to answer for at Nuremberg in 1945-46.
Protector or preventer?
With specific reference to the core provision of Article II, Sec. 12, the only question is whether the State can remain the protector of the life of the unborn from conception while becoming the preventer of conception under an RH law.
There has been a concerted effort to muddle this issue by asking, when does conception take place? Or, when does life begin?
Scientific fact on conception unchanged
Medical science has long answered that. As it was in the beginning, so it remains today, human life begins at fertilization, and advances in stages until death. Science gives specific names to each of those stages: zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent, and adult. But none of that alters the fact that what begins at fertilization is and continues to be a living member of the human species.
Principle of non-contradiction
You may need to know when life begins if you want to know when an abortion could take place. But you don’t need to know that to know when conception could be prevented. Whether human life begins upon fertilization as medical science maintains, or upon implantation as the pro-abortion lobby claims, a woman will normally use contraceptives before or during sexual intercourse.
But at whatever point conception occurs, the State cannot be part of a program whose purpose is to prevent even a single woman from conceiving.
The State cannot be the protector of conception under the Constitution and the preventer of conception under an RH law.
This is known as the principle of non-contradiction, the first principle of speculative reason---a thing cannot be and not be at the same time.
In the next few pages, we shall examine some of Miriam’s theological objections.
Why this layman
Senator Santiago has raised certain “theological” objections which, given what we just saw in the first part, may be safely missed in any discussion of the RH bill. But because they tend to challenge certain Catholic truths, they must be satisfied.
Any of our credentialed Catholic theologians should be able to respond. But until then, even a layman should pitch in. After all the Lord sometimes reveals to babes what he withholds from the wise (Cf Mt 11:25).
Miriam classifies theology as either traditional or progressive. That labeling is political. In theology as elsewhere, the errors are many, the truth is but one. Theology is either good or bad; sound or unsound.
Let us now look at her objections.
Is Humanae Vitae infallible?
Objection: Humanae Vitae is a non-infallible document, which teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil, but is dismissed by some theologians as erroneous. Therefore, mature Catholics should be free to ignore it altogether
Our reply: Although the 1968 encyclical was never specifically proposed ex cathedra, some theologians have since concluded that its teaching on contraception meets the conditions for an infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium set forth by Vatican II.
In “Contraception, Infallibility and The Ordinary Magisterium,” an article which appeared in Homiletic and Pastoral Review in 1978, Russell Shaw makes a strong case for it, drawing on a similarly-titled article, “Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium,” by Rev. John C. Ford, S.J., Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology, Weston College, Weston, Massachusetts, and Dr. Germain Grisez, Professor of Philosophy, Campion College, University of Regina, Canada, and appearing in the June 1978 issue of Theological Studies. 
Shaw begins with two assumptions. One, that the Catholic Church enjoys the charism of infallibility in belief and teaching (even though not everything is infallibly believed and taught). And two, that the ordinary magisterium is exercised infallibly when the conditions set forth by Vatican II are met.
Conditions for infallibility
These are four, namely:
1) that the bishops be in communion with one another and with the pope;
2) that they teach authoritatively on a matter of faith and morals;
3) that they agree in one judgment; and
4) that they propose this as something to be held definitively.
Lumen Gentium, 25, provides the original formulation:
Although the bishops individually do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim the teaching of Christ infallibly, even when they are dispersed throughout the world, provided they remain in communion with each other and with the Successor of Peter and that in authoritatively teaching on a matter of faith and morals they agree in one judgment as that to be held definitively.
To fulfill these conditions, it is necessary and sufficient that the bishops remain bishops within the Church, even though they do not act in a strictly collegial manner; that they act in their official capacity as teachers, not simply as individual Catholics or theologians expressing their personal opinions; that they agree in one judgment, even though not an absolute mathematical unanimity is required; and that they propose a judgment on faith and morals to be held definitively, i.e., as something which the bishops have an obligation to hand on and which Catholics have an obligation to accept, rather than as something merely optional for either the bishop or the faithful.
An ancient teaching
Humanae Vitae did not initiate a new teaching. It merely reiterated an old one with greater clarity and depth. In his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubi, Pope Pius XI already condemned contraception as a violation of natural law. Long before that, some Fathers and Doctors of the Church had taught that certain acts preventing procreation are gravely sinful. Among them, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Alphonsus Liguori.
Until 1962 at least, Catholic bishops universally agreed in their teaching and judgment on the morality of contraception. While theologians may not agree unanimously in their principles or arguments, they do not disagree that individual contraceptive acts are intrinsically wrong and constitute a grave moral evil. No Catholic theologian has ever taught that “contraception is a good act.”
Indeed, upon its publication, some bishops immediately saw what pastoral difficulties Humanae Vitae would entail. To mitigate those problems, they tried to introduce certain qualifications with respect to the teaching. But no episcopal conference ever failed to accept the encyclical. The fact that some Catholics insist that contraception is morally permissible cannot be invoked to question the validity of the teaching. The validity of the teaching is reflected not in the dissent of those who cannot accept it, but in the witness of those who hold on to it. 
Paul VI as prophet
Humanae Vitae is now 43 years old. But it did not take that long for mankind to see Paul VI’s prophetic words fulfilled. In 1968 he said:
1) that the widespread use of contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality;
2) that “the man” would lose respect for “the woman” and would come to the point of considering her as “a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as a respected and beloved companion;”
3) that it would place a dangerous weapon in the hands of those public authorities who take no need of moral exigencies;” and
4) that it would lead man to think that he had limitless dominion over his own body.
All these have come to pass. But why does so much misunderstanding of the teaching persist?
In his book, “Ethics of Procreation & The Defense of Human Life,” Martin Rhonheimer, the Swiss philosopher who teaches ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and is easily one of the most important philosophers of our day, writes:
“Unfortunately, right from the start dissenting theologians interpreted the encyclical’s teaching in the light of the naturalistic and legalistic patterns in which they had been educated before Vatican II, based on a misreading of the Thomistic tradition. Imbued with a logic of a naturalistic understanding of natural law, and at the same time trying to escape from its shortcomings, they now said that interference with nature by ‘artificial’ methods was not necessarily immoral, provided it was done for the good of the person. In an attempt to convince the pope, the (rejected) majority report of the papal commission, which was instituted to study the problem, asserted, for example, that contraception was similar to capital punishment causing a physical evil to achieve a higher moral good.
“Yet the teaching of Humanae Vitae on responsible parenthood wisely emphasizes conjugal love and the virtue of chastity and not the ‘natural’ as opposed to the ‘artificial.’…”
Chastity is the issue
“Chastity, of course, is not the highest virtue, and there are other factors that can be corrosive for conjugal love. But chastity is indispensable for human persons to achieve emotional maturity and to be able to really give themselves to another person in true and faithful love. Those who desire sex at low cost will tend to be less willing to pay the high price of enduring love and lifelong faithfulness… Contraception is intrinsically evil because it is essentially opposed to conjugal chastity and its requirement of a parentally responsible and virtuous bodily-sexual behavior. It is therefore opposed to the human good, natural law and the sanctity to which we are called.
“The moral law both natural and divinely revealed is not simply a set of prescriptions or rules not to be violated, but the expression of the human good that consists in the virtues, and the guideline to practice these virtues and to attain holiness. Marriage and conjugal love involve the common journey of two persons toward this goal. What is most important in a journey is to take the right path and to follow it with every single step. This is why an acceptance of the procreative task of marriage in general is not sufficient; rather ‘each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of human life.’ And this, as Gaudium et Spes has clearly asserted, ‘cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced’.”
The principle of totality
That “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of human life” is what is questioned by those who invoke the “principle of totality.” It simply means that if the totality of one’s marriage is open to children, then each marriage act need not be; the couple could contracept, from time to time.
It doesn’t quite add up. In his essay, Humanae Vitae and the Principle of Totality, Ralph McInerny, one of the foremost Thomists of our time, points out that “it is single acts that are the primary carriers of moral quality and are good or bad… How can a plurality of acts have a moral character denied to each of them taken singly?” he asks. “To speak of single acts as episodes suggests that they can have no moral value as such. But if they cannot, neither can the life of which they form parts. The married life of a couple may indeed in the main be made up of morally good conjugal acts but this provides no basis for slaying that this contraceptive conjugal act is not bad,” he writes.
“The principle of totality cannot ground the claim that singular acts which, taken as such are offensive, cease to be so when considered in the light of the moral life taken as a whole. The moral imperative is not that we should act well more often than not. Rather it is: Do good and avoid evil,” McInerny writes.
But who decides what is good and what is evil?
Miriam is right: conscience. But with some qualification. First of all, conscience must be properly formed in the truth; it must be a certain conscience, not an erroneous one. Conscience cannot have its own individual truth, otherwise there will be a riot of consciences, and no one will know what the real truth is.
With a true conscience, one should be able to repeat what Blessed John Henry Newman wrote to the Duke of Norfolk, and which Pope Benedict XVI quotes in his essay “On Conscience”:
Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink---to the Pope, if you please,----still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.
There can hardly be a higher tribute to the primacy of conscience. But it suggests that between conscience and the pope, one will precede the other, but they will always be together on the same side. There is no suggestion that a true conscience would ever run in conflict with the Church. That is the opposite of some “progressive theologians” suggest.
But what is conscience, in the first place?
The word defined
The noted German philosopher and sociologist Robert Spaemann from the University of Munich says, “Conscience is a human faculty for recognizing good and evil; it is not an oracle. It shows us the way, it causes us to look beyond our egotistic perspectives towards the universal and towards that which is right in itself. But reaching this viewpoint requires reflection, expertise and, if I may say so, moral expertise. This involves a correct sense of the structure of the hierarchy of values, which is not distorted by ideologies.”
The Pope concurs
Pope Benedict XVI not only agrees but adopts Spaemann’s view as his own. He writes:
“I wish to make my own what Robert Spaemann has said about it: Conscience is an organ, not an oracle. It is an organ because it is something that for us is a given, which belongs to our essence, and not something that has been made outside of us. But because it is an organ, it requires growth, training, and practice…Conscience requires formation and education. It can become stunted, it can be stamped out, it can be falsified so that it can only speak in a stunted and distorted way. The silence of conscience can become a deadly sickness for an entire civilization.
“In the Psalms we meet from time to time the prayer that God should free man from his hidden sins. The Psalmist sees as his greatest danger the fact that he no longer recognizes them as sins and thus falls into them in apparently good conscience. Not being able to have a guilty conscience is a sickness, just as not being able to experience pain is a sickness, again as Spaemann says. And thus one cannot approve the maxim that everyone may always do what his conscience allows him to do: In that case the person without a conscience would be permitted to do anything. In truth it is his fault that his conscience is so broken that he no longer sees what he as a man should see.”
The duty of conscience
The Pope continues:
“In other words, included in the concept of conscience is an obligation, namely, the obligation to care for it, to form it and educate it. Conscience has a right to respect and obedience in the measure in which the person himself respects it and gives it the care which its dignity deserves. The right of conscience is the obligation of the formation of conscience. Just as we try to develop our use of language and we try to rule our use of rules, so must we also seek the true measure of conscience so that finally the inner word of conscience can arrive at its validity.
The duty of the magisterium
“For us this means that the Church’s magisterium bears the responsibility for correct formation. It makes an appeal, one can say, to the inner vibrations its word causes in the process of the maturing of conscience. It is thus an oversimplification to put a statement of the magisterium in opposition to conscience. In such a case I must ask myself much more. What is it in me that contradicts this word of the magisterium? Is it perhaps only my comfort? My obstinacy? Or is it an estrangement through some way of life that allows me something which the magisterium forbids and that appears to me to be better motivated or more suitable simply because society considers it reasonable?
It is only in the context of this kind of struggle that the conscience can be trained, and the magisterium has the right to expect that the conscience will be open to it in a manner befitting the seriousness of the matter.
The formation of conscience
“If I believe that the Church has its origin in the Lord, then the teaching office in the Church has a right to expect that it, as it authentically develops, will be accepted as a priority factor in the formation of conscience. There corresponds to this, then, an obligation of the magisterium to speak its word in such a way that it will be understood in the midst of conflicts of values and orientations. It must express itself in such a way that an inner resonance of its word may be possible within the conscience, and this means more than just an occasional declaration of the highest level.”
The role of bishops
The Pope goes on to clarify the role that bishops as teachers of morality and theologians as experts should play.
“The bishop is a witness to the mores ecclesiae catholicae, to those rules of life that have grown up in the common experience of the believing conscience in the struggle with God and with historical reality. As a witness, the bishop must in the first place know this tradition in its foundations, its content, and its various stages. One can bear witness to what one knows. The knowledge of the essential moral tradition of the faith is therefore a fundamental demand of the episcopal office.
“Since it is a question of a tradition that comes from conscience and speaks to conscience, the bishop must be a man of a seeing and listening conscience. He must strive, in living the mores ecclesiae catholicae, to see that his own personal conscience is sharpened. He must know morality not second- but first-hand. He must not simply pass on a tradition, but bear witness to what has become for himself a credible and proven lifestyle.”
The role of theologians
Starting from the same mores ecclesiae catholicae, the theologian for his part must seek and recognize in the mores that which is specifically moral and constant and understand them in a unified way in the total context of the faith. He seeks the ratio fidei, writes the Pope.
“He then brings this reason of faith in a critical way into dialogue with the reason and the plausibility of the particular time. He helps toward the understanding of the moral demands of the Gospel in the particular conditions of his day and so serves the formation of conscience. In this way he serves also the development, purification, and deepening of the moral message of the Church.
“Above all, the moral theologian will also take up the new questions that new developments and relationships pose for the traditional norms. He will attempt to know precisely the objective components of such discussions (for example, the technology of armaments, economic problems, and medical developments) in order to work out the best way to pose the questions and so arrive at the relationship with the constants of the moral tradition of the faith. In this sense he stands in critical dialogue with the moral evaluations of society, and in all this he helps the teaching office of the Church present its moral message in the particular time.”
What they should do and not do
The theologian’s task, says the Pope, is to precede the magisterium, take stock of the new questions, study them and prepare the answers, thereby bringing its pronouncements into the dialogue of his time and relating the basic lines of the discussion to concrete situations. The theologian must fill in any lack of information, clarify shortcomings of the linguistic or conceptual presentation, and at the same time deepen the insights into the limits and range of the particular teaching. It is not for him to inveigh against any teaching and encourage the faithful to reject it because of those shortcomings.
As a future theologian, Miriam has to ponder these things.
 The author is a former Cabinet minister and Senate Majority Leader. He is a board member of the International Right to Life Federation and World Youth Alliance, two international humanitarian organizations based in the United States.
 Shaw, Russell, Contraception, Infallibility and the Ordinary Magisterium, in Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1993W
 Rhonheimer, Martin, Ethics of Procreation & The Defense of Human Life, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington
 McInerny, Ralph, Why Human Vitae Was Right: A Reader, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1993
 Cardinal Ratzinger Joseph, On Conscience, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2007
 Spaeman, Robert, Basic Moral Concepts, Routledge, London, 1989
 Cardinal Ratzinger Joseph, On Conscience, Ignatius Press