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Humanae Vitae: Day 24

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To Scientists

24. Our next appeal is to men of science. These can “considerably advance the welfare of marriage and the family and also peace of conscience, if by pooling their efforts they strive to elucidate more thoroughly the conditions favorable to a proper regulation of births.”  It is supremely desirable, and this was also the mind of Pius XII, that medical science should by the study of natural rhythms succeed in determining a sufficiently secure basis for the chaste limitation of offspring.  In this way scientists, especially those who are Catholics, will by their research establish the truth of the Church’s claim that “there can be no contradiction between two divine laws—that which governs the transmitting of life and that which governs the fostering of married love.”

Paul VI continues to turn his attention to various groups of people and their role in safeguarding the dignity of human life.  Paragraph 24 is his address to scientists.

In these paragraphs, you get a sense of Paul VI trying to shepherd his flock helping them to understand their importance in safeguarding human life.  But his concern is also with their own spiritual well-being.  Scientists in particular are capapble of great contributions to the welfare of marriage and the family, but also (as we’ve seen all to often) great harm.

Many people have the mistaken notion that the Church is against science, and that is completely false.  The Church, in fact, has always been a supporter of science in its role of discovering (not creating) the truth and in understanding what God has created.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#159) says this about faith and science:

“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth” (Dei Filius 4). “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are” (Gaudium et Spes 36.1).

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