Friday, July 25, 2008

40 Years of "Humanae Vitae"

On this, the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the papal encyclical "Humanae Vitae (On Human Life)" on July 25th, 1968, allow for me to share some very important resources and thoughts surrounding this very important, if not prophetic, writing by Pope Paul VI (262nd Pontiff: 1963-1978). Humanae Vitae contains the basic teaching on birth control fundamental to Christian (not just Catholic) marriage and includes other uplifting topics such as the dignity of women.

First, I wouldn't be surprised if the secular media tries to spin this anniversary in a way that shows polls and interviews of countless "Catholics" who don't believe in the teachings of the Church with regards to contraception. Already one organization, the militant pro-abortion group "Catholics for Choice" (an organization that incorrectly defines itself as being "Catholic"), plans to write an open letter to the Pope criticizing Humanae Vitae. Thankfully there have been some responses to this group, such as the response by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, but I still have my doubts that the secular media will give a balanced perspective.

The unfortunate truth is that there are a great multitude of people who have chosen to go against the teachings. They have their reasons for doing so, some of which are expressed as being because they believe the Catholic church to be "archaic" or "behind the times". But those people fail to understand that there isn't a choice when it comes to this or any other teaching of the faith. The teachings are always relevant throughout all of time.

Now I know that's a bold statement and hard for many to accept. But the fact remains that church teachings -- all of them, not just those on contraception -- have been passed down for over 2,000 years and are also based in natural law. Truth doesn't change because of new medicine or technology. Nobody has the authority to change revealed truth. It is what it is and we would be wise to abide in the truth.

When Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae, he wasn't coming up with something new. He wrote the encyclical to apply the existing natural law and church teachings to a new question -- whether or not contraception (of any kind) was moral and acceptable. In the encyclical, the Pope stated that contraception is intrinsically evil and warned us all of the consequences to marriage, families and society if contraception were accepted.

The Pope anticipated that many would not easily accept the teaching of his encyclical, but he did so because of the duty of the Church to proclaim the moral law. And sure enough, Americans and people around the world rejected the encyclical almost instantly after its release. Many held on to their sexual hedonism that still exists in today's society. And with the rejection of this teaching and acceptance of contraception, we have also come to witness the fulfillment of those predicted consequences.

For example, we now live in a society where sex on a first date is deemed acceptable, even glorified. The sacredness of sexuality has been reduced to a minor decision synonymous with where the couple plans to go for dinner or which movie they wish to view. In just a few decades, our society has largely abandoned any consideration to the moral implications of their sexual actions, choosing to also ignore both the unitive and procreative aspects of sex, and how those two aspects are best to be shared within the loving institution of marriage.

We also see examples in the world where humanitarian aid is withheld unless the nation to receive the help agrees to force "population control" measures on their people. And in perhaps the worst example possible, China self-imposes a sinister birth policy that often resorts to kidnapping pregnant women and forcing them to have abortions.

The wrongful acceptance of contraception has promoted the rise of other evils -- fornication, m*sturbation, p*rnography, homosexuality -- just to name a few. We have also slumped to the level that abortion, the deliberate murder of children in their mother's womb, is accepted as commonplace throughout our nation and many nations of the world. The rise of abortions and the use of contraception have a clear correlation. It is a lie and morally wrong to assume that the use of contraception is effective at reducing abortions.

The lies run rampant because people, perhaps through no fault of their own, have not been made aware of the truth. Many people have grown up in a contraceptive society and have been bombarded throughout their life by the constant noise of secular society that says that what is wrong is right. At the same time, many Catholic priests have neglected speaking of the sin of contraception, thus leaving the lies to run undisputed. The ignorance of the people at large stems in the fact that they simply have not been exposed to the truths surrounding contraception.

There are some efforts underway to educate the people and to dispel the lies. The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy are challenging their colleagues to reacquaint themselves and their people with Humanae Vitae. Furthermore, Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, is also calling for a "Generation of Assent" to Humanae Vitae. Combined with a demand from us Lay people to be taught the hard, honest truth, it is my hope that these efforts will provide loving encouragement to our priests and bishops to tackle these issues head-on.

As the Lay Faithful, it is very important for us to take this opportunity to rediscover -- or perhaps discover for the first time -- the great moral teachings on this subject so that we may continue to influence our secular society and our elected officials to become more aware of the pitfalls that are tied to contraception. Namely, if we continue down this slope of moral decline, we risk the health of our entire nation. We need only to look back at history to see that the moral demise of a nation almost always precedes the ultimate demise of a nation. No nation, including our own, is invulnerable to this threat.

In the pursuit of truth, allow me to share with you the following multitude of resources.

Catholic Church Teaching:

The Protestant Perspective:

Related Websites:

Related Articles:

Morally-Acceptable Natural Family Planning:

Theology of the Body:

Fr. Euteneuer's Mini-Series on Contraception:

Dr. Ray Guarendi:
Excerpt from "Why Be Catholic" on the unchanging moral standards of the Catholic Church (in reference to contraception).

American Life League:
"The Pill Kills Babies"

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