Observations from "Celebrating the Richness of Humanae Vitae" Conference by Andrew Fuyarchuk

2008 Summer-Fall
Observations from “Celebrating the Richness of Humanae Vitae” Conference
Andrew Fuyarchuk

Andrew Fuyarchuk studied history of philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto.

On November 15 a conference was held in Brennan Hall at the University of Toronto campus, “Celebrating the Richnessof Humanae Vitae: A Buried Treasure” marking the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 encyclical by Pope Paul VI. I wasn’t expecting to report on the event and didn’t even know in advance of going downtown Toronto what the conference was about. As far as I knew, I had simply agreed to help out Pat Redmond with a table for the Fellowship. Our conversation during the commute was a foretaste of things to come. Pat and I discussed the moral challenges facing society from the side- effects of prolonged ingestion of fluoride to the pernicious effects pornography. The speakers at the conference repeatedly developed correlations between concrete challenges facing individuals and the tenets and trends outlined in the Pontiff’s 
last encyclical.
The conference was scholarly and personal, traditional and innovative. Archbishop Prendergast described the challenges facing the Church in the modern world; how the teachings in Humanae Vitae could answer the confusion surrounding sexuality, parenthood and restore dignity of the body and love. It occurred to me just now that Bishop Lacey had intended to challenge Prendergast’s invitation to reflect upon the content and depth of the Church’s teachings. Lacey urged that conferences were a start but that real change happened through inner conversion. He didn’t know it at the time but his recommendations, which presupposed Prendergast’sunderstanding, were already integral to the structure of the conference. Cale Clarke’s delivery was from my experienceunconventional. He actually used popular culture in a passionate and direct formulation of the many layered connections between the Holy Trinity and faithful living. In my experience conferences are somber affairs, a place to exchange ideas without much punch. The opening speeches began to break that stereotype down and Mark Mallet completed it. He had the audience standing and with him celebrating in song the affirmation of creation’s goodness. The testimonials of two couples confirmed how Natural Family Planning had enriched their lives. What they spoke to informally including spiritual, biological, psychological and social benefits were explored from a medical perspective by Maria Kraw. The trends foreseen by Pope Paul as a result of contraceptives including a rise of infidelity, a lowering of respect for women and the coercive use of technologies by governments is observable to all; Doctor Kraw’s science demonstrated how the regular use of contraceptives contributed to breast cancer, osteoporosis, irregular menstrual bleeding and depression. The formal talks were concluded by Father Tom Lynch who elaborated upon ten things of bearing upon our time. He observed that the Humanae Vitae is relevant because sexuality is not plumbing.
To quote Father Lynch, the teachings of the Pope’s encyclical are counter-cultural and subversive because our society does not recognize the sacredness of life. Mark Mallet thus suggests calling a spade a spade: Pro Choice is a euphemism for pro-
p. 12
death. The scholarship in the Journal’s last issue (Winter
- Spring 2008) by Donald DeMarco, Paul Quist and Paul Flaman points in another direction toward the uncovering the buried treasure of Humanae Vitae that I anticipate we will continue to mine in our research and teaching.1
Our thanks are extended to the organizers and volunteers. 380 people registered for the conference, roughly 200 were turned away. The following are a random selection of web addresses from participating organizations: www.thefaithexplained.comwww.markmallet.comwww.sistersoflife.orghttp://seatofwisdom.org/site/index.phpwww.lifecyclebooks.comwww.godsexmeaningoflife.homestead.com, Holy Mother World Networks: www.hmwn.netwww.radiomariayes.orgwww.SilentNoMoreAwareness.orgwww.SinglesServingOrphans.orgwww.serenca.cawww.PriestsForLifeCanada.com.