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Fr. Tad Pacholczyk gives keynote at Alexandria conference on ‘Humanae Vitae’

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The Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria hosted its first Saints Peter and Paul Conference June 30. National author, speaker and writer, Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, presented the topic “Sex, Love and Gender.”

The conference, held near the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, highlighted the teaching authority of the church and why the teaching contained in “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on marriage and human life, is still relevant 50 years after it was first published. The event was sponsored by the Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life.

Father Edward C. Hathaway, rector of the basilica, chose to bring Father Pacholczyk after hearing him speak at the annual priest convocation in early May.

Father Pacholczyk is director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and directs the center’s National Catholic Certification Program in Health Care Ethics. He has taught bioethics classes at St. John’s Seminary in Boston, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., The Catholic University of America in Washington, and Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut.

“Father Pacholczyk is an expert from the scientific area and also a wonderful teacher of the Catholic faith,” said Father Hathaway. “We hear that many people don’t fully understand “Humanae Vitae” and set it aside. We wanted to, rather than be embarrassed about it, to celebrate it and (learn) some of the ramifications of what happens when you separate the unitive and procreative dimensions.”

Father Pacholczyk gave three talks during the day: Overview of “Humanae Vitae”; The Gift of Human Life — Begotten Not Made; and Thinking Through the Transgender Question. Each talk was followed with time for questions. Father Pacholczyk said it was important to reflect on the church’s teaching against contraception because the culture says there is an absolute need for it to be universally available.

“Sometimes showing people what really happens makes them able to understand it,” said Father Pacholczyk. “Society doesn’t see in vitro fertilization is wrong because it doesn’t see contraception is wrong.”

Many of the 150 attendees came because of the timeliness of the topic, with the anniversary of the document July 25.  

Brad Sickles was interested in the event because of the extensive background of Father Pacholczyk and the topic of contraception. “The topic is becoming more and more relevant looking at ethics,” he said.

Richard Ferrante said the context has a lot of meaning. “It is good to hear from someone like Father Pacholczyk to get a foundation to build on when you go into the cultural world so you have references to share with others,” Ferrante said.

Kelly McKeague said the topics discussed are important social issues that transcend our culture. “They are seminal from the standpoint that this is also creating a dysfunction and dissonance in our culture,” he said. “Unless the church speaks strongly or has a part in social discourse, it’s going to continue on the slippery slope.”

His wife, Nancy, a specialist in the marriage preparation and enrichment program for the Diocese of Arlington, said they help young couples preparing for marriage.

“We tell them how important Natural Family Planning is to practice within your marriage and how it bonded us through 34 years of marriage,” she said. “It is necessary for your relationship as a couple to share in that fertility awareness.” 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018