Sept. 19, 2016

Press Conference to Be Held at Catholic University Sept. 20

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) On Tuesday, Sept 20, Catholic scholars will release a statement with more than 400 signatories that strongly supports the Church's teaching on human sexuality, as articulated in the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae .

The statement, "Affirmation of the Catholic Church's Teaching on the Gift of Sexuality," rejects recent calls for this teaching to be changed. Notable Catholic scholars signing the statement include:

  • Janet E. Smith, PhD, Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Author, Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later
  • John S. Grabowski, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Moral Theology/Ethics, School of Theology & Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Board Member, The Academy of Catholic Theology; Author, Sex and Virtue: An Introduction to Sexual Ethics
  • Mary Rice Hasson, JD, Director, Catholic Women's Forum, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Editor, Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity, and the Church
  • Helen M. Alvare, JD, Professor of Law, Scalia Law School at George Mason University; Editor: Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves
  • John H. Garvey, JD, President, The Catholic University of America
  • Richard J. Fehring, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor Emeritus and Director, Marquette University's Institute for Natural Family Planning
  • Angela Franks, PhD, Director of Theology Programs for the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization at St. John's seminary in Massachusetts
  • John M. Haas, PhD, STL., MDiv, K.M. President, The National Catholic Bioethics Center
  • Mary Healy, PhD, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
  • Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., STD, Vice President and Academic Dean, Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies
  • Michael Waldstein, Max Seckler Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University, Florida, Translator of Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body and Glory of the Logos in the Flesh: John Paul II's Theology of the Body (forthcoming)
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.; author of the two-volume biography of Pope St. John Paul II, Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning

They note that "[s]cholarly support for the Church's teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage, and on contraception has burgeoned in recent decades. Moreover, institutes and programs supporting that teaching have been established all over the world. Even some secular feminists and secular programs have begun to acknowledge the harms of contraception." The Church's constant and consistent teaching on human sexuality, as expressed in Humanae Vitae , has been reaffirmed in every pontificate since its release, most recently by Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia .

The statement will be presented at a press conference co-hosted by The Catholic Women's Forum of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and The Catholic University of America. It will be available online at on Sept. 20.

The conference coincides with the release of an opposing statement by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, titled " On the Ethics of Using Contraceptives ," which urges the Catholic Church to change its teaching and issue an "official magisterial document [that] should revoke the absolute ban on the use of 'artificial' contraceptives, and allow the use of modern non-abortifacient contraceptives for both prophylactic and family planning purposes."

Press conference panelists will include:

  • John Grabowski, Catholic University associate professor of moral theology and ethics, who served as an expert at the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family
  • Janet Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit
  • Mary Hasson, director of the Catholic Women's Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

They will discuss the statement and provide analysis of the claims made in the Wijngaard Statement, and the implications for the Church and for international organizations like the United Nations.

"We cannot pretend that it is still 1968 or ignore the harm done by the sexual revolution," notes Grabowski. "Unfortunately, the Wijngaards statement fails to acknowledge the vindication of the teaching of Blessed Paul VI over the last 48 years by the sciences, the social sciences, and its further elaboration by the teaching of St. John Paul II and its support from Pope Francis."

"The Wijngaards statement is old news, with recycled arguments that didn't work in 1968 and don't work now," says Hasson. "There's tremendous energy and enthusiasm among Catholic women today, particularly young women, for a sexual ethic that respects who they are - and for family planning methods, such as fertility-awareness based methods, that benefit their health, relationships, and faith." Catholic women's organizations, such as the National Council of Catholic Women and ENDOW, have announced their strong support for the "Affirmation" of Catholic teaching on sexuality.

The press conference will be held Sept. 20 at noon EST in O'Connell Hall's Heritage Hall at The Catholic University of America and will be live streamed on Facebook. For more information, follow Catholic University. MEDIA : Journalists who wish to cover this event MUST notify the Office of Marketing and Communications by Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m. by emailing or calling 202-319-5600.

ABOUT: The Catholic University of America is the national university of the Catholic Church and the only higher education institution founded by the U.S. bishops. Established in 1887 as a papally chartered graduate and research center, the University comprises 12 schools and 22 research facilities and is home to 3,480 undergraduate and 3,041 graduate students.

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