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Document Details :

Title: Pour ou contre la contraception?
Subtitle: Le pape François relance le débat conciliaire sur la question démographique et la régulation des naissances
Author(s): UWAMAHORO, Wellars
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 29    Issue: 2   Date: 2023   
Pages: 197-213
DOI: 10.2143/INT.29.2.3292585

Abstract :
The spectacular growth of the world’s population in the 20th and 21st centuries is at the root of the political and ethical debate regarding birth control. Neo-Malthusian ecologists believe that population growth is incompatible with both development and the viability of the ecosystem as a whole. The only solution is to impose birth control on poor countries whose high birth rates are the cause of their own poverty and climate change. The church is taking part in the debate. Within the church, many voices are inspired by the current theological renewal to defend the good of love and the conjugal act for the whole of married life, independently of procreation. While the commission of experts mandated by the Second Vatican Council left the door open to contraception, Humanae vitae authoritatively emphasized the natural and indissoluble link between sex and procreation. John Paul II’s theology of the body reinforced Paul VI’s assertion with new scriptural and personalist arguments to echo the condemnation of contraception as intrinsically evil. Pope Francis is aware of the seriousness of the birth control issue and the growing gap between the authority of the magisterium and the autonomy of the spouses’ consciences. While demonstrating his adherence to the church’s prior teaching, he is not content to repeat the discourse of his predecessors. He has relaunched the conciliar debate on marriage and the family and denounces an attitude of the magisterium that would seek to resolve everything and substitute itself for conscience rather than forming consciences. Francis recognizes the possibility of extenuating circumstances that prevent the perfect application of the norm. Rather than speaking of an intrinsece malum, he appeals to mercy as the great law for a pastoral care focused on welcome, accompaniment, discernment, and integration. While compassionate towards generous families forced to limit births, Francis condemns all who would violate the dignity and consciences of spouses by imposing abortion, sterilization, and contraception. With Laudato si’, Francis has deconstructed the neo-Malthusian claims. He calls on rich countries to take responsibility for the unsustainability of the consumerist model and the ecological debt owed to poor countries. Internal and external critics of Francis fuel the ongoing debate.

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