Loading
Reflections on Humanae Vitae

Editor’s note: This piece was written for the 30th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae.

 

July 25, 1998 is the 30th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae. I therefore offer a few reflections that might be incorporated into a special homily on this theme.

 

By Fr. Frank Pavone

Priests for Life, National Director

 

Five years ago, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of this encyclical, one diocesan newspaper had a copy of the encyclical on the front page with the headline, "Why did this 25-cent pamphlet cause so much trouble?…Because it was right!"

 

That is the heritage of this prophetic document. It was and is right, because it simply bears witness to the truth. But it is right in a tragic way, because all the things which Pope Paul VI said would happen if the meaning of human sexuality were not recognized and respected are in fact happening. In this sense, the strength of the encyclical increases with time.

 

Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical against a majority view of the commission which advised him. Furthermore, despite the bitter theological dissent that followed the encyclical, the body of official teaching on this subject in the present Pontificate is stronger and larger than it has ever been in Church history. (John Paul II, in fact, has said that to see contraception as licit is tantamount to denying that God is God.) Because of this, the encyclical has been as much a lesson in ecclesiology as in moral theology. It has been a clear signal for the modern age of what has always been true, namely, that the Church does not derive her teaching from mere human analysis or the trends of the day, but from a Gospel that has been entrusted to us once and for all from above.

 

One should note that the encyclical's message is broader than the rejection of birth control. It is a declaration of the dominion of God over human life, and of the full beauty of human sexuality. The problem of our age is not that it is obsessed with sex, but that it is afraid of it--afraid of the full dimensions of its claim on human commitment, self-sacrifice, and generosity--afraid of the fact that authentic sex does not let us get lost in ourselves and our pleasures, but demands that we give of ourselves for the good of the other, including the children God may give us.

 

Finally, an aspect of the Church's teaching contained in the encyclical but not so widely emphasized is that we do recognize the circumstances in which it is quite legitimate for a married couple to avoid pregnancy. Such a judgment must be based on objective circumstances and carried out within the moral law. But to claim that the Church teaches that parents may in no way plan their families is not only contrary to Catholic teaching, but opens the door to unnecessary but all too common criticism from the world, who thinks we are out of touch with reality. Pope Paul's marvelous encyclical is, on the other hand, quite in touch with reality…with the full truth about human love and life.

 

Let us preach that truth with joyful confidence!

 

Printed with permission from Priests for Life.

 

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
23

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »

Saint
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: