HomeDLSU Dialogue: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Cultural Studiesvol. 16 no. 1 (1980)

The Revision of Canon Law and the Third World Churches

Samuel R. Wiley

Discipline: Philosophy, Religion, Cultural Studies



Once again a post-conciliar Synod of the Bishops of the Catholic Church has gathered in Rome. The subject matter of the synodal discussions is the Christian family in the modem world. But underlying that issue is a much more serious problem that is finally surfacing more and more, namely - what is going to be the shape of the Church in the future. The rather meager reports filtering through to the press have already made this apparent. In a major intervention, Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco called for an honest re-examination of the birth control problem, stating very clearly that, "a large number of men and women of good will do not accept the (Church) teaching on the intrinsic evil of each and every use of contraceptives; this problem is not going to be solved or reduced merely by a simple reiteration of past formulations or by ignoring the fact of dissent. Thus, for the first time, a member of the hierarchy, speaking on behalf of many of his fellow bishops, has dared to re-examine publicly an issue that was supposed to have been settled by the papal pronouncement in the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae. As could have been expected, this intervention met with a sharp rejoinder the following day from Cardinal Pericle Felici, a conservative curial cardinal, who, in characteristic Roman curial fashion, replied: "I consider the document closed. There is no need of rediscussing it, no need to pay attention to statistics because statistics don't signify anything. But the sensitive topic of contraception which particularly occupies the American church was not the only surprising intervention.