By a Staff Reporter Pope Paul VI said last Thursday that Catholic matrimonial law may need some updating, but he took issue with an Italian university professor who called it materialistic and overconcerned with reproduction.
The Pope's retort to Professor Agostino d'Avack, a former rector of Rome University, appeared in an annual address to judges of the Sacred Roman Rota, the church court of appeals that deals among other things with matrimonial cases.
Professor d'Avack, a professor of church law and a Rota lawyer, made his remarks in an address at the opening of the Vatican judicial year some days ago. Vatican sources said that they could not remember. another instance of a speaker criticising church law in a Vatican ceremony or of a Pope answering such criticism.
"Existing Canon Law on matrimony still deserves confidence today as the expression of sacred and basic rules for man. for the family, for society, even though we hope these rules
will soon be formulated in a fuller and more modern way in line with the teachings of the recent (ecumenical) council", the Pope said.
Without naming Professor d'Avack, the Pope said that he could not share some critical expressions, "exaggerated in form and not tntirely well founded in substance, about present Cann Law on matrimony, which were voiced by a very authoritative person at a time and place worthy of a more reverent and objective language". The Pope did not say what updating of matrimonial law he had in mind.
Professor d'Avack, in his speech on January 22, called existing church law on matrimony "decrepit, anachronistic and paradoxically inhuman-. He said it conceives marriage as a relationship in which "the con. tribution of the two partner: remains essentially the mutual donation of their bodies, seen ir, the most material way exclusively in its reproductive functions, without any emphasis on the perpetual integration and merger of the spouses' respective personalities".
He said that the population explosion made it not only "anachronistic but grotesque to continue to say that even today matrimony must find its raison d'etre and supreme goal in the primary end: 'increase and multiply'."