Encyclical on contraception was difficult for me – Benedict XVI

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has revealed that while he agreed with the conclusion Pope Paul VI drew in his encyclical letter (Humanae Vitae) on artificial contraception, he struggled with the reasoning Pope Paul used to arrive at his conclusion.

“In the situation I was then in, and in the context of theological thinking in which I stood, Humanae Vitae was a difficult text for me,” Benedict says.

“It was certainly clear that what it said was essentially valid, but the reasoning, for us at that time, and for me too, was not satisfactory.”

I was looking for a comprehensive anthropological viewpoint,” he continues. “In fact, it was [Pope] John Paul II who was to complement the natural-law viewpoint of the encyclical with a personalistic vision.

Benedict expressed these views in a new book published in Italy last Friday,

The book,  Last Testament: In His Own Words, will be published in the U.S. Nov. 3 by Bloomsbury

The book is based on conversations Benedict had with German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he also published a book-length interview during his papacy.

In his introduction to the volume, Seewald says the interviews were conducted “shortly before and after” Benedict’s 2013 resignation and that the retired pope was given final approval over the text.


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