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Press Release - We Are Church

For Immediate Release
25 July 2008

Noi Siamo Chiesa (We Are Church) Responds to Comments by Father Federico Lombardi on Humanae Vitae

The church should acknowledge its errors instead of demonizing grassroots Catholic organizations—the true heirs of Vatican II

Vittorio Bellavite, spokesman for Noi Siamo Chiesa, who today released a statement on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, issued another following the Vatican Radio interview with papal spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi.


“I have just read in the media about the panicky interview by the director of the Vatican Press Room, Fr. Federico Lombardi, on the “Open Letter to the Pope” published today in the Corriere della Sera, through which 59 Catholic organizations from Europe and America (including Noi Siamo Chiesa), invited the pope “to start the process of healing by being true to the positive aspects of Catholic teachings on sexuality and lifting the ban on contraception to allow Catholics to plan their families safely and in good conscience.”


“Fr. Lombardi does violence to the wording of the letter and avoids commenting on the real problems Humanae Vitae has created for the Catholic church during the past 40 years. In the “Open Letter to the Pope” nobody affirms “that the position of the church is the cause of the spread of AIDS” but only that this position “has exposed millions of persons to the risk of contracting AIDS.” These are two quite different things. And who can deny that the ban of condoms has created huge problems for the prevention of AIDS?


“By demonizing the endorsers (“known for their positions who oppose and contradict the magisterium of the church”) Fr. Federico Lombardi does a disservice to the church as do the bishops who refuse any dialogue with them.


“Fr. Lombardi should speak on the real problem:


1) Is it true or not that the central matter of Humanae Vitae (the ban of contraception) has not been received by the vast majority of the people of God? And that this non-reception, which has lasted for the past 40 years, poses a problem from both a theological and a pastoral point of view?

2) Is it true or not that “respecting conscience in decision making” on matters of contraception was supported by many Council Fathers and by the vast majority of the members of the commission constituted by Paul VI?

3) Is it true or not that the credibility of the magisterium is put into question through the refusal to change a teaching that is continuously debated and contested, in the open and in silence, at the top and at the grassroots level of the Catholic world?


Finally, the members of the endorsing organizations, in particular Noi Siamo Chiesa, are an integral and active part of the church, in parishes and the dioceses and we have a positive relationship with many of those in the church who seek to return to the reform process launched by the second Vatican Council.


It is only by taking into account that point of view, namely our profound fidelity to the church and its evangelizing mission, that we can be considered critics of the prevailing orientation of the current papacy. We are sure that in a future which is not too far away, the magisterium will have to forget or to overcome Humanae Vitae, Paul VI’s greatest mistake.


Concerning the rather vulgar accusation of Fr. Lombardi on “Who pays? The condom sellers?” The director of the Holy See’s Press Room should be aware that all grassroots associations fund themselves and none have at their disposal a single crumb of the immense economic resources the Vatican and the Italian bishops’ conference have. (He forgets the precept of the Gospel that says: “gratis accepistis, gratis date”—as you received freely, you should give freely.)”


Noi Siamo Chiesa

Via N.Benino 3 00122 Roma

Via Bagutta 12 20122 Milano

E-mail: vi.bel@iol.it