The Second Vatican Council considerably transformed this Catholic conception of marriage and love

The Second Vatican Council considerably transformed this Catholic conception of marriage and love

Instead, there was a new appreciation of love, along with procreation, as a primary purpose of the conjugal bond

As a result of this renewal, the Church no longer regarded love as a secondary end of marriage. Footnote 26 Catholic literature on marriage thus began to highlight the importance of communication, dialogue and companionship between spouses. Footnote 27 As one author claimed, the family was no longer a social institution but an association of individuals. Therefore, he continued, marriage ceased to be ‘downgraded to the category of the useful’ and was now praised for its values of intimacy and love. Footnote 28

In addition, sexuality became understood as a positive human value, as a way of fostering love in the heterosexual couple and not only as a means for procreation. A debate on the possibility of accepting the contraceptive pill arose as a consequence, prompting many to hope for a change in the Vatican’s teachings on birth control. While Paul VI ultimately dismissed this possibility in his encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), part of the Catholic community was disappointed with this decision and encouraged a freer interpretation of the Vatican’s norms about contraception. Footnote 29 This also occurred in Spain, as some Catholics regretted the Pope’s authoritarian decision. Ultimately, they defended a more democratic approach to religion and the autonomy of the laity to make their own responsible decisions, as opposed to passive obedience. Footnote 30 These progressive Catholic intellectuals who defended birth control soon also started to consider divorce.

They prioritised the importance of love over procreation and thought that the Church needed to adapt to the modern experience of sexuality

However, while there are a number of interesting recent studies on the consequences of Humanae Vitae and the popularisation of the contraceptive pill, Footnote 31 the question of love and divorce remains mostly unexplored. Continua a leggere