July 25, 2018.
On the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, We Are Church-International dedicate their commemoration of this milestone to all of the Catholics who have challenged the legitimacy of official teaching and honored their own consciences in making decisions about contraception and other important moral issues. We Are Church-International celebrates the integrity of all those who contribute to the Sensus Fidelium (“the sense of the Faithful”) in determining whether a teaching is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore legitimate.
“Over the past 50 years, billions of Catholics have read or been taught what Humanae Vitae says about the use of contraception, and the vast majority, after careful consideration, have rejected this teaching,” said Colm Holmes, Chair of We Are Church-International. “Most have done so while believing they remain good Catholics. In doing so, they have asserted a new level of authority in our Church. We believe this is the real significance of this anniversary.”
Holmes noted, “In claiming their own authority to make decisions about how their families should develop, lay Catholics often spoke about the peace they experienced in coming to these conclusions. Over time, conversation about this with priests and other ministers convinced strong majorities of them to support the decisions of the laity. The moral authority of the hierarchy is no longer assumed to be absolute.
“Contraception is far from the only issue on which lay Catholics reject official teaching,” Holmes continued. “The laity support ordination of women, the possibility of remarriage after divorce, the goodness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and, as we just experienced in Ireland, even that women should have the legal right to abortion. We recognize the seriousness of these moral issues, understand the key values of our faith, and still come to a different decision than church leaders.”
Holmes said, “As they reflect on what the 50 years since Humanae Vitae has meant, we hope and pray our church’s leaders will understand that the laity have an important voice in shaping church teaching and policy. We should have a role in debating and formulating teachings. Dogma that does not take our experiences and wisdom into account has a strong chance of being rejected, widening the gap between the church and its leadership, and undermining our church’s ability to fulfill its mission. Humanae Vitae helped the people of the church find our voice, and we will no longer be silent.”
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.