Thursday, September 11, 2008

Respect life gathering to focus on Humanae Vitae at 40

Affordability is a key feature of this year’s annual statewide respect life conference.


Published: 09.10.08

Cost of the conference ranges from $40 to $90 (with a combined rate for married couples and special rates for students).

For additional information, call 850-763-1821 or 850-215-5046 or download the conference brochure from the Florida Catholic Conference HERE. Registration deadline is Sept. 30.

A document that serves as the foundation for Catholic respect life programs and philosophies will be the focus of an annual statewide conference.

This year marks four decades since the release of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which translates to Of Human Life. Though the document was subtitled “on the regulation of birth” and most notably reaffirmed the church’s traditional teaching on the moral unacceptability of contraception, it addressed a spectrum of issues including married love and responsible parenting, and in large part inspired the broad respect life movement as it exists today.

That’s why organizers of this year’s gathering of people involved in those efforts all over Florida chose “Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae” for their theme.

The Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, along with the state Pro-Life Coordinating Committee and the Florida Catholic Conference, will host the 22nd annual Florida Respect Life Conference Oct. 10-11 at the Ramada Conference Center in Tallahassee.

Although in years past the conference has run through Sunday morning, Deacon Tim Warner, respect life director for the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, said the committee hoped to make the conference more affordable for participants. By putting the events on a Friday night and full day Saturday, participants might avoid an extra stay in a hotel and the conference does not have to rent the facilities for another day.

Deacon Warner said each conference incorporates a certain personality of the host diocese. He said the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese’s personality is reflected in the participation of the Florida State University Catholic Student Union as ministers of music at the conference.

“I think the students, given their age and current status in life, will be particularly interested in the presentations regarding marriage, theology of the body and Natural Family Planning,” Deacon Warner said.

Several of the speakers are natives to the diocese, including Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., who will open the conference with an address Friday night. Three doctors of the diocese will present a physicians’ panel discussion on Natural Family Planning. Deacon Warner said the discussion will not just be informative, but will include the faith experiences all the doctors faced in their vocations. While all three OB/GYNs had once worked with contraception and sterilization, all three physicians “awakened to the beauty of natural family planning in their own practices,” he said.

“In essence, their experiences with NFP were conversion moments for each one of them,” Deacon Warner said.

Another conversion experience will be shared on the topic of the death penalty. Ron McAndrew, a former warden at the Florida State Prison, will speak about his own personal conversion from someone who used to oversee executions to an advocate to end the use of the death penalty.

The event will include other addresses on various topics, including marriage, theology of the body and stem-cell research. Bishop Victor Galeone, of St. Augustine, will offer the closing address for the event on Saturday evening.

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