Friday, July 25, 2008

Humane Vitae: 40 Years Later

"What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change . . . . The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which all must refer. Any attempt to turn one's gaze away from this principle is in itself barren and does not produce a future."

-Pope Benedict XVI

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the publication of Humane Vitae, the still controversial Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI, in which the Church's belief that Contraception is a grave moral evil was once again reaffirmed.

This morning I read an excellent article by Russel Shaw (one of my favorite authors) on the topic over at Read the whole thing, but here are the first few paragraphs to wet your whistle:

I know a woman – and, in fairness, I must say that she's a truly good Catholic woman -- who's slightly bonkers on the subject of birth control. I suppose there are people like that on both sides of this argument, but this woman happens to be bonkers on the pro-contraception side. You can't help noticing it. Whenever the subject comes up in conversation -- and, not infrequently, even when it doesn't -- she lets everybody within earshot know that the Church is flatly wrong about birth control and absolutely, unquestionably, and incontrovertibly must change its position without further delay.

Poor lady. She may be in for a hard time of it in the next several weeks. Today is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical reaffirming the Church's teaching against artificial contraception; and although, among those taking note of the occasion, some will undoubtedly join this good Catholic woman in rapping the document and calling for change, many others just as certainly will praise the encyclical as not just true but even prophetically so. Pope Benedict XVI got in the first licks a little while back when he spoke to a group meeting in Rome to celebrate the anniversary.

1 comment:

fr. g said...

The problem is that while Paul VI made the argument that the procreative and unitive aspects of sexuality are inseperable, it raises the unanswered questioned of what happens if the act must be procreative if it is not truly unitive.
Nuns in Africa have been given permission by the Vatican to take birth control pills because of the high rape rates.
Outside of marriage the act is not truly unitive, so why should it be procreative? If a sinful act is going to take place, is there not a greater sin if the act is more likely to create a life or spread a disease?
The Vatican would do well to expand its teaching on this to answer such questions. Its failure to do so has caused the Church to lose influence over the lives of Catholics.