By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

Discovering a link between science and human morality will be the focus of an upcoming symposium at St. Agnes Church in Baton Rouge.

“Science Embraces Humanae Vitae: How Current Evidence Supports Restorative Reproductive Medicine,” which is free and open to the public, is scheduled Oct. 27 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

St. Agnes pastor Father Charbel Jamhoury said he organized the symposium because it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the release of Humanae Vitae and the canonization of St. Paul VI, who was canonized by Pope Francis Oct. 14.

Father Jamhoury also cited the fact that the encyclical created so much controversy, causing many Catholics to leave the church during that time.

“So my question, after 50 years and because it all started with doctors and nurses (from whom St.  Paul VI sought input), is what a Catholic doctor would tell us,” Father Charbel said. “Is the church satisfied?”

“My biggest goal and hope is to find a link between science and morality, between medical issues and Humanae Vitae,” he added. “And what science can add to the pope’s teaching about birth control.”

Father Jamhoury has enlisted an impressive array of speakers, including Immaculate Conception Church in Lakeland pastor Father Todd Lloyd, who will speak on Humanae Vitae and St. Paul VI’s appeal to scientists, doctors and nurses.

Also speaking will be Dr. Rob Chasuk of Baton Rouge, talking about the evidence for the effectiveness of a restorative approach to infertility and other women’s health problems using the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaPro Technology.

Dr. Kim Hardey of Lafayette will speak on the evidence for the effectiveness of fertility awareness based methods for the regulation of births and Dorinda Bordlee, vice president and senior counsel for the Bioethics Defense Fund, will address  concrete law and policy to restore the dignity of the human person.

“To have all of these (speakers) is kind of wow,” Father Jamhoury said.

Released July 25, 1968, Humanae Vitae provides clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life. The encyclical was released at a time when hormonal contraception, notably the birth control pill, was gaining popularity. Pope John XXIII culled together a commission that St. Paul VI supported but also expanded it by calling in medical professions and lay persons for consultation.

There was a call from many Catholics at the time for the church to reconsider its stance on contraception. St. Paul VI asked the doctors to discuss how to respect married life and to give more dignity to women.

“(The symposium) is not to talk about Humanae Vitae itself because it deals with moral teaching, what we should do or not do,” Father Jamhoury said. “I hope (the speakers) will find the link and tell us how the church can have more clarification, more light of this encylical.”

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