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    Catholic perspectives on population issues.

    Murphy FX; Erhart JF

    Population Bulletin. 1975; 30(6):1-32.

    Catholic teachings on human sexuality, love, and marriage are traced from the days of the early church to the present in section dealing with the papal perspective, traditional teachings, the phenomenon of birth control, the love ethic, a post-World War 2 reorientation of moral thinking as revealed in Vatican Council 2, the Papal Birth Control Commi ssion, and the Papal Encyclical, Humanae vitae, and reactions to the encyclical. The teachings are not seen as absolutes but as expressions of values which have shifted with the cultural patterns of the ages. The one area of strict prohibition has been a ban on artificial birth control, most recently upheld in the 1968 Humanae vitae, much to the con sternation of many laymen and clerics. While to many the edict may have seemed to fly in the face of the future by denying the use of artificial means of contraception, what it has done, in fact, is to awaken Catholics to the need to take personal and immediate responsibility for their sexual and other moral acts. Individuals should follow the dictates of their well-formed consciences rather than blindly follow the ir bishops and pastors. Papal intransigence on the issue of contraceptives, however, has forced Catholic thinkers and theologians to face the issue and work out a more realistic Catholic attitude toward population policies and birth control.
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