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The Church's position on the transmission of life

119 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 22 August 1984 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. What is the essence of the Church's doctrine concerning the transmission of life in the conjugal community, of that doctrine of which we are reminded by the pastoral Constitution of the Council Gaudium et Spes, and by the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI?

The problem consists in maintaining an adequate relationship between what is defined as "domination...of the forces of nature" (HV 2), and the "mastery of self " (HV 21) which is indispensable for the human person. Modern man shows a tendency to transfer the methods proper to the former to those of the latter. "Man has made stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature," we read in the encyclical, "to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life" (HV 2).

This extension of the sphere of the means of "domination of the forces of nature" menaces the human person for whom the method of "self-mastery" is and remains specific. The mastery of self corresponds to the fundamental constitution of the person; it is indeed a "natural" method. On the contrary, the resort to artificial means destroys the constitutive dimension of the person. It deprives man of the subjectivity proper to him and makes him an object of manipulation.

2. The human body is not merely an organism of sexual reactions. But it is, at the same time, the means of expressing the entire man, the person, which reveals itself by means of the language of the body. This language has an important interpersonal meaning, especially in reciprocal relationships between man and woman. Moreover, our previous analyses show that in this case the language of the body should express, at a determinate level, the truth of the sacrament. Participating in the eternal plan of love ("sacrament hidden in God"), the language of the body becomes a kind of prophetism of the body.

It may be said that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae carries to the extreme consequences, not merely logical and moral, but also practical and pastoral, this truth concerning the human body in its masculinity and femininity.

3. The unity of the two aspects of the problem—the sacramental (or theological) dimension and the personalistic one—corresponds to the overall revelation of the body. From this derives also the connection of the strictly theological vision with the ethical one, which appeals to the natural law.

The subject of the natural law is man, not only in the "natural" aspect of his existence, but also in the integral truth of his personal subjectivity. He is shown to us, in revelation, as male and female, in his full temporal and eschatological vocation. He is called by God to be a witness and interpreter of the eternal plan of love, by becoming the minister of the sacrament which from the beginning was constituted by the sign of the union of flesh.

4. As ministers of a sacrament which is constituted by consent and perfected by conjugal union, man and woman are called to express that mysterious language of their bodies in all the truth which is proper to it. By means of gestures and reactions, by means of the whole dynamism, reciprocally conditioned, of tension and enjoyment—whose direct source is the body in its masculinity and its femininity, the body in its action and interaction—by means of all this, man, the person, "speaks."

Man and woman carry on in the language of the body that dialogue which, according to Genesis, chapter 2, vv.24, 25, had its beginning on the day of creation. Precisely on the level of this language of the body—which is something more than mere sexual reaction and which, as authentic language of the persons, is subject to the demands of truth, that is, to objective moral norms—man and woman reciprocally express themselves in the fullest and most profound way possible to them. By the corporeal dimension of masculinity and femininity, man and woman express themselves in the measure of the whole truth of the human person.

5. Man is precisely a person because he is master of himself and has self-control. Indeed, insofar as he is master of himself he can give himself to the other. And it is this dimension—the dimension of the liberty of the gift—which becomes essential and decisive for that language of the body, in which man and woman reciprocally express themselves in the conjugal union. Granted that this is communion of persons, the language of the body should be judged according to the criterion of truth. It is precisely this criterion which the Encyclical Humanae Vitae recalls, as is confirmed by the passages quoted previously.

6. According to the criterion of this truth, which should be expressed in the language of the body, the conjugal act signifies not only love, but also potential fecundity. Therefore it cannot be deprived of its full and adequate significance by artificial means. In the conjugal act it is not licit to separate the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect, because both the one and the other pertain to the intimate truth of the conjugal act. The one is activated together with the other and in a certain sense the one by means of the other. This is what the Encyclical teaches (cf. HV 12). Therefore, in such a case the conjugal act, deprived of its interior truth because it is artificially deprived of its procreative capacity, ceases also to be an act of love.

7. It can be said that in the case of an artificial separation of these two aspects, a real bodily union is carried out in the conjugal act, but it does not correspond to the interior truth and to the dignity of personal communion: communion of persons. This communion demands that the language of the body be expressed reciprocally in the integral truth of its meaning. If this truth be lacking, one cannot speak either of the truth of self-mastery, or of the truth of the reciprocal gift and of the reciprocal acceptance of self on the part of the person. Such a violation of the interior order of conjugal union, which is rooted in the very order of the person, constitutes the essential evil of the contraceptive act.

8. The above-given interpretation of moral doctrine expressed in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae is situated against the vast background of reflections connected with the theology of the body. The reflections on "sign" in connection with marriage understood as a sacrament are of special validity for this interpretation. The essence of the violation which upsets the interior order of the conjugal act cannot be understood in a theologically adequate way, without the reflections on the theme of the concupiscence of the flesh."

After the catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je forme des veux cordiaux pour toutes les personnes, familles et groupes de langue française présents à cette audience.

J’ai noté entre autres un groupe de Sœurs de l’Enfant-Jésus de Chauffailles, dont la fondation a été encouragée par le cher Curé d’Ars. Que Dieu augmente chaque jour votre amour de Jésus et votre joie de le servir dans l’Eglise, en plusieurs pays!

* * *

Je salue aussi tous ces jeunes du diocèse d Aire et de Dax, venus réfléchir à leur vocation chrétienne sur les lieux où saint François d’Assise, saint Pierre et saint Paul ont donné leur témoignage. Que ces saints vous obtiennent de Dieu une foi forte et un grand attachement au Christ! Et ne craignez pas d’entrer a son service exclusif s’il vous fait la grâce de vous appeler.

A tous les pèlerins, je donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai  pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to welcome the pilgrims and visitors present at this audience who have come from countries of the English-speaking world. In particular, I wish to greet the pilgrim group from Bahrein, the Australian National Pilgrimage, and the members of the Cursillo Movement from Taiwan. A special word of welcome goes to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Chicago, led by Cardinal Bernardin, returning home after their visit to Poland.

May our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Ai pellegrini giunti dal Giappone

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!
Dilettissimi Pellegrini di Tokyo e Akita.

Affinché il frutto del Vostro pellegrinaggio rimanga nella vostra vita quotidiana e ottenga dalla Madre del Signore abbondanza di grazie, Vi imparto la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Ai vari gruppi di lingua tedesca

Damit wende ich mich heute besonders den Ordensschwestern zu, die am Generalkapitel ihrer Gemeinschaft der Franziskanerinnen von Dillingen teilnehmen. Herzlich willkommen bei dieser Audienz! Ich beglückwünsche euch zur neuen Fassung der Regel der Brüder und Schwestern des Regulierten Dritten Ordens des heiligen Franziskus. Vertieft euch durch Gebet und Gesprächt durch Studium und Gewissenserforschung in diesen wertvollen Text und meßt daran eure besonderen Konstitutionen und vor allem das konkrete Leben eurer Schwestern in vier Erdteilen. Der Herr segne all euer ehrliches Bemühen und schenke euch Kraft und Freude in seiner Nachfolge unter dem bleibenden Vorbild der Heiligen Franziskus und Klara.

Zusammen mit euch grüße ich noch einmal in aufrichtiger Verbundenheit alle Besucher deutscher Sprache.

Ai Pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo ahora con afecto a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española, procedentes de España y de algunos Países de América Latina. De modo especial saludo al Conjunto Casal Claret de Barcelona, a los numerosos grupos parroquiales de España v a otro venido de México. A todos vosotros y a vuestros seres queridos, imparto de corazón mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

A todos envolvendo na maior estima, quero saudar agora, em particular, dois grupos aqui presentes:

- o “São Paulo Futebol Clube”, do Brasil: Amigos - permiti que assim vos chame - é grata a vossa presença aqui; é presença do dilecto Brasil, que em vós saúdo. Fazei da disciplina esportiva também disciplina de vida, da vossa popularidade meio de serdes homens para os homens, em toda a verdade; e “glorificai a Deus no vosso corpo”. Que Ele vos acompanhe e que sejais felizes!

- o outro grupo vem de Portugal: da paróquia de Espinho (Porto). Que a vinda a Roma vos fortifique na fé e no testemunho de Cristo, do qual imploro para todos graça e paz, com a Bênção Apostólica.

Ai vari gruppi di pellegrini polacchi

Witam serdecznie wszystkich pielgrzymów z Polski: pielgrzymkę ogólnopolską sodalicji mariańskich: pielgrzymkę wspólnoty odnowy w Duchu Świętym “Nowe Życie” z Krakowa; pielgrzymkę wdzięczności wspólnoty wieczernikowej “Infinitam” z Koszalina; pielgrzymkę z Tarnowa, z katedry; z Rzeszowa, z parafii Chrystusa Króla; z Inowrocławia, z parafii Matki Bożej Zwiastowania; z Łagiewnik Małych w diecezji opolskiej; ze Szczecina, z parafii św. Andrzeja Boboli i św. Rodziny; duszpasterstwo akademickie oo. Franciszkanów z parafii św. Karola Boromeusza we Wrocławiu; pielgrzymkę duszpasterstwa akademickiego z Gliwic; pielgrzymkę młodzieży z Tczewa, parafia Św. Krzyża; pielgrzymkę rowerową; z Kraśnika oraz pielgrzymkę rowerową z Zamościa; grupę młodych pracowników nauki z Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Lubelskiego i Łódzkiego; załogę jachtu “Silesia”; grupę turystyczną Pekaesu z Warszawy; zespół regionalny imienia Bartusia Obrochty z Zakopanego; grupę turystyczną Orbis; pielgrzymkę Zespołu Pieśni i Tańca “Chodowiacy” z Siedlec; grupę Polaków z Turcji oraz różnych pielgrzymów indywidualnych z Polski i emigracji; wreszcie pielgrzymkę duszpasterstwa akademickiego Dominikanów z Poznania oraz pielgrzymkę polsko-francuską grupy ojca Piro.

Moi drodzy pielgrzymi i Rodacy, zwłaszcza liczni młodzi pielgrzymi, serdecznie was witam i pozdrawiam na placu Św. Piotra w Rzymie. Równocześnie łączę się myśłą i sercem z wszystkimi pielgrzymami w Ojczyźnie, przede wszystkim z tymi, którzy pielgrzymują na Jasną Górę i serdeczne składam Bóg zapłać za modlitwy w intencji Kościoła, Papieża i Ojczyzny, które tym pielgrzymkom stale towarzyszyły. W szczególny sposób łączę się z uczestnikami uroczystości maryjnych w tych właśnie dniach w Kalwarii Zebrzydowskiej, w Ludźmierzu, w Bazylice Mariackiej w Krakowie, nawiązując do dawnej tradycji właśnie w tych dniach, zwłaszcza piętnastego, uroczystość Wniebowzięcia, sam często w tych sanktuariach maryjnych bywałem. Pragnę wreszcie życzyć z całego serca, ażeby nauka zawarta w encyklice “Humanae Vitae”, zawarta w adhortacji “Familiaris Consortio” stała się podstawą chrześcijańskiego wychowania małżeństw i rodzin, chrześcijańskiego przygotowania do małżeństwa w naszej Ojczyźnie. Chodzi w tych dokumentach nauki Kościoła o pełną prawdę mowy ciała ludzkiego; tę sprawę w dzisiejszej konferencji szerzej omawiałem, a tu tylko tak zwięźle sygnalizuję, zresztą tekst będzie także przetłumaczony.

Niech Bóg i Matka Najświętsza opiekuje się naszą Ojczyzną, w szczególności młodzieżą, która przygotowuje się do realizacji swoich powołań, niech się opiekuje polską rodziną i całym narodem.

Ai pellegrini italiani

Cordialmente saluto ora i pellegrini italiani e li ringrazio per la loro presenza a me tanto gradita. Saluto i sacerdoti, saluto tutte le Religiose, e in particolare le Suore di Sant’Anna, che hanno preso parte al Capitolo Generale della Congregazione, nel 150° anniversario della fondazione. Manifestandovi il mio compiacimento per l’intenso ed efficace lavoro che compite a servizio della Chiesa e della società, vi esorto a perseverare con fervore e coraggio nella vostra missione di amore totale a Dio, di testimonianza fedele a Cristo ed alla Chiesa, di carità e di aiuto verso la gioventù. Vi accompagni nei vostri propositi la mia Benedizione, che estendo volentieri a tutte le vostre Case.

* * *

Come sempre, mi rivolgo ora ai giovani! Ricordandovi che oggi la Chiesa celebra Maria Regina, vi esorto ad innalzare con speciale fervore i vostri sentimenti a Maria Santissima, che a motivo della sua divina Maternità fu sottratta alla legge del peccato originale e fu assunta gloriosa in Cielo, e perciò è Regina “per grazia, per parentela divina, per conquista, per singolare elezione”. A Lei, Regina dei vostri cuori, ricorrete ogni giorno con la preghiera, per mantenere ferma la fede, innocente la vita, sempre ardente la carità.

* * *

Anche a voi, carissimi malati, intendo additare Maria Regina del cielo e della terra, vostro vero e continuo conforto. quante volte ripetiamo con fiducia: “Salve, Regina, madre di misericordia, vita, dolcezza, speranza nostra!”. Sappiamo che Maria Santissima è stata trafitta dai dolori della Passione di Cristo e come Lui ha bevuto il calice dell’amarezza, e perciò comprende i vostri dolori, vi consola nelle vostre pene, vi dà forza per trasformarle in meriti, vi illumina con la certezza del paradiso che ci attende. Confidate sempre, specie nei momenti di maggiore sconforto, in Maria, eccelsa per la sua Regalità e soave per la sua Maternità.

* * *

Avoi, infine, sposi novelli, rivolgo il mio affettuoso pensiero e la mia parola di vivo augurio per la nuova vita che avete iniziato con il Sacramento del Matrimonio. La Madonna sia Regina anche vostra e dei vostri focolari. Oggi, indubbiamente, nella nostra società, è molto difficile vivere in piena coerenza il matrimonio quale è voluto da Dio, secondo la rivelazione di Cristo e il Magistero della Chiesa. Maria, madre della “grazia” che avete ricevuto, vi avvolga con la potenza della sua Regalità e con l’affetto della sua Maternità, vi protegga e vi difenda da ogni male. A tutti di gran cuore imparto la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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