Appeared in Spring 1993, Vol. XIX, No. 1
In living tradition, No. 12 (July 1987),1 The present writer favourably reviewed a recent book by Fr. Ermenegildo Lio, O.F.M., Humanae Vitae e Infallibilita (Vatican City: Libreria editrice Vaticana, 1986), in which the thesis is sustained that the teaching against contraception in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (25 July 1968) is infallible, not merely by virtue of being an instance of the constant, ordinary and universal magisterium of the Popes and Catholic Bishops against this practice, but because the encyclical itself contains (in article 14) an ex cathedra definition. Lio claims, in other words, that Humanae Vitae contains an intrinsically infallible pronouncement: an instance of papal infallibility as defined by Vatican Council I.
To my knowledge Lio’s book has been virtually ignored by the theological community, in spite of his eminent qualifications as a professor of long standing in Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, as a peritus at Vatican Council II, and an adviser to Pope Paul VI over the birth control issue – not to mention a personal autographed letter from Pope John Paul II thanking Fr. Lio for the presentation of his book, which was published by the Vatican press.
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