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Conference to Examine Catholic Teaching on Contraception


Renowned Moral Theologian, Father Peter Ryan, SJ, to Give Main Address

Posted:  2013-07-30  

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Pope-Paul-VI-at-desk(1)STEUBENVILLE, OH—After a tumultuous reception and a cultural revolution, Pope Paul VI's historic encyclical Humanae Vitae, “On the Regulation of Birth,” turns 45 this year. Franciscan University of Steubenville will mark the milestone by hosting “Humanae Vitae at 45: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness” from Friday, September 27, to Saturday, September 28, 2013. 

“As Pope Paul VI wisely foresaw, what is at stake in this teaching is not only humanity’s ‘true happiness’ but the ‘creation of a truly human civilization,’” says Dr. Patrick Lee, the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics and director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“Maligned, misunderstood, and too-often unheeded, Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae continues to be one of the most controversial encyclicals of the last century. Yet its insights and predictions have proven to be prophetic, and the great work of educating the faithful on the truths of human life and marriage remains an urgent and indeed, sacred duty,” says Lee.

Father Peter Ryan, SJ, STD, executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. His address, “Humanae Vitae in Historical and Social Perspective,” will discuss the period before the release of the document that caused so much controversy.

“In the sixties, prominent Catholic theologians argued for a change in the teaching on contraception while others defended the traditional teaching. Pope Paul VI listened to both sides and, unconvinced that the teaching could be changed, forcefully reaffirmed it in Humanae Vitae,” says Father Ryan, a moral theologian and former director of spiritual formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Father Ryan will be the celebrant and homilist at the conference’s Sunday Mass.

Dr. Michael Waldstein, translator of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, will discuss Humanae Vitae and theology. The founding president of the International Theological Institute in Austria, Waldstein is the Max Seckler Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University in Florida and served as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 2003 to 2009.

Dr. Richard Fehring, director of the Institute of Natural Family Planning at Marquette University, will discuss Humanae Vitae and biology. Widely published in academic journals, Fehring's research focuses on investigating the efficacy and ease of use of fertility awareness methods for achieving or avoiding pregnancy.

Teresa Collett, JD, professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, will present on Humanae Vitae and the law. A consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Family, Collett has served as special attorney general for the states of Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as assisting other state attorneys general in defending laws protecting human life and marriage.

Dr. Jennifer Frey, collegiate assistant professor of humanities and the Harper Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago, will present on Humanae Vitae and philosophy.

“The purpose of this conference is to provide an opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of the teachings of Humanae Vitae, as well as to prepare themselves for the challenges in promoting the culture of life that lay ahead of us,” says conference chair Dr. Jonathan Sanford, Franciscan University philosophy professor and assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. 

All talks are free and open to the public; the only charge is for meals. Advance registration is required. For more information, please visit the conference website or call 1-800-437-8368.

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