Speakers at the Humanae Vitae conference (from left): Mr Daryl Gomes, Mr Andrew Kong, Fr David Garcia,
Mr Nick Chui and Dr John Hui.

Christopher Khoo

For married couple Eugene and Trillion Ng, practising Natural Family Planning (NFP) has made their relationship so much stronger.

Using the Church-approved method of family planning, in which they avoid sex during Trillion’s fertile period, has helped them to focus on other activities that they do together as a couple. This has strengthened their bond.

Sex also became more meaningful for them, said the couple during the HV50 conference held at St Joseph’s Institution on July 14.

The conference was to mark the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), an encyclical written by Blessed Pope Paul VI. The document reaffirmed the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, NFP and the rejection of contraception.

Dr John Hui, Vice-chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family, told Catholic News that the conference was aimed at promoting “a greater understanding, appreciation of, and pastoral application of Humanae Vitae today”.

Apart from several couples sharing their experiences of putting the teachings of Humanae Vitae into practice, other speakers addressed issues related to the document.

Fr James Yeo, rector of the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore, said he hardly heard Catholics confessing the sin of using contraceptives, and felt that this could be because they felt they could follow their conscience on this issue.

One’s conscience is not always right, he said. “A Catholic … has the obligation to form his conscience according to the teachings of the Church,” he stressed.

Dominican Fr David Garcia, noted that contraception and NFP, on the surface, “look the same because they aim at avoiding a pregnancy”. However, according to Humanae Vitae, contraception is wrong, because of the “inseparable connection, established by God … between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act”.

Contraception is the voluntary rejection of one’s own possible child, said the moral theologian.

The crowd of 400 also broke into groups to discuss various topics. In the group that discussed condoms and HIV prevention, led by Mr Nick Chui from the Catholic Theological Network and Dr Hui, they learnt that condoms give a false sense of security in the area of casual sex.

“One’s risk of infection increases with increasing numbers of condom-protected sexual exposures,” said Dr Hui, quoting from a study published in the medical journal, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, in 2002.

Mr Daryl Gomes, a Lay Dominican, shared in another group that Pope Paul VI had warned that artificial contraception would contribute to marital infidelity, a loss of man’s respect for woman, and coercive imposition of contraception on individuals by governments. This has been the case over the years, he noted.

The third group discussed St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body led by Mr Andrew Kong from the Apostolate for Catholic Truth. This compilation of the late pope’s speeches, often seen as an extended catechesis on marriage and sexual love, was an extensive commentary on the doctrine taught in Humanae Vitae, Mr Kong explained. 

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