Benedictine College conference spotlights need for Humanae Vitae

Conference speakers Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Dr. Jennifer Roback-Morse, Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox and Dr. Janet E. Smith are presented with plaques recognizing them as participants in the Pope John Paul the Great Distinguished Speakers Series by Matthew Muller, associate professor in the Benedictine College Theology Department and director of the Symposium for Advancing the New Evangelization. (Photo courtesy of Steve Johnson, Benedictine College)

More than 300 participants heard from speakers who came from 24 different academic institutions, eight professional organizations and seven diocesan offices in Atchison, Kan., March 23-24.

They were there for the 7th Annual Symposium for Advancing the New Evangelization at Benedictine College. The event focused on the theme “Humanae Vitae 50 Years Later: A Call to Self-Gift.”

“The Symposium is a premier event demonstrating Benedictine’s integration of community, faith, and scholarship,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, who attended the conference throughout. “I like how Father Simon Baker put it in his opening prayer: ‘Truth — nothing less will satisfy and nothing else will make saints.’”

Scholar and author Dr. Janet Smith was the first night’s keynote speaker. Her scholarship has been cited by many Catholics as pivotal in their own acceptance of the Church’s teaching in 1968’s “Human Life: On the Regulation of Human Birth,” by Blessed Paul VI. Her talk focused how Humanae Vitae instills a generosity in those who follow it that makes for strong families.

She told this story about what happened at Benedictine’s symposium this year: “A big beautiful young man with a big beautiful head of hair came up to me after my talk and told me that many years ago, hearing my tape moved his father to reverse his vasectomy and as a result of that he was here today,” she said. “His eyes filled with grateful tears and I got a series of wonderful heartfelt hugs.”

The next morning’s keynote speaker, Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia, spoke about how important strong families are to the poor.

“Our country is devolving into a separate and unequal family regime for the highly educated and affluent and not the working class,” said Wilcox. “The Church’s teaching is integral to protecting the integrity of the family — especially for the least among us; for the poor and working class.”

“Cohabitation is very tempting to parents — but undesirable to kids,” said Wilcox.

Jennifer Roback Morse echoed his remarks in her keynote talk. “The number one lie of the sexual revolution is that kids are resilient,” she said.

The topic of Humanae Vitae allowed a broad range in the discussion. Dino Durando, Director of Marriage and Family Life Office for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, spoke on “Effective Communication of the Gospel of Life: Can Modern Man Understand Humanae Vitae?”

The Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, spoke about differences in the sexes during his keynote speech.

“We cannot think of a generic human body, but only of a male body or a female body,” he said. “Society must acknowledge and affirm how women are different from men in order for women to be truly equal to men.”

Conference organizer, Benedictine College professor Dr. Matthew Muller, said he appreciated one aspect of the yearly symposium: Speakers come from both academia and service fields.

For instance, this year’s Symposium featured Dr. Therese Bauer, nurse practitioner Teresa Kenney, and Dr. Angelique Pritchett, all who serve patients who use Natural Family Planning methods.

Symposium speaker Dr. Patrick Herrick, M.D., said that such services thrive in Kansas City.

Other notable speakers included Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a Theology and Biology professor at Providence College who spoke about human gene editing, and Dr. Alexander Pruss, of Baylor University, who discussed marriage.

Joel Feldpausch, a youth missionary, said the Symposium was badly needed in the Church because young people are hungry for the message of Humanae Vitae.

“The most fascinating thing about my job in dealing with middle schoolers and high schoolers is that Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s vision, the warnings of Our Lady of Fatima, the writings of John Paul II – they become more relevant,” he told the Catholic News Agency.

“You’re finding now in our world, people are accomplishing those things that they think will make them happy, and they’re getting to that point and they’re realizing that they’re not happy,” he added.

“With the Symposium this year, we hoped to show the truth and vitality of the teachings of Humanae Vitae,” said Muller. “I think we accomplished this in the quality of the presentations and the joyful community that gathered, which included young and old, lay people, religious and clergy.”


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October 01, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph