Never has one Church document better defined the gulf between morality and the immorality of our age than Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth).
Contraception, abortion, cohabitation, adultery, divorce and pornography existed but were barely on the radar at the turn of the 20th century. The Protestant denominations’ acquiescence to contraception began with the Anglican Church in 1930, and by 1968, the Catholic Church stood alone in Christendom in its rejection of artificial birth control.
Pope Paul, pressured from within the Church and without to accept modern advances in contraception brought by the birth-control pill, studied the issue, leading to his prophetic document that reinforced Church teaching on the purpose of marriage and the human dignity of men and women.
In Humanae Vitae, published 50 years ago July 25, Paul correctly posited that the mainstream acceptance of contraception could open the floodgates to a host of evils: marital infidelity and divorce, a lowering of societal moral standards, and the reduction of women’s inherent dignity to an object of desire. All of these, and more, currently plague our society.
Yet there are still those within the Church who clamor for the Church to capitulate to the world, who contend that the Church’s ministers are ill-equipped to teach the faithful about marriage and the family. The brokenness of families, the widespread moral disorder in society and the sadness so evident in many lives should cause us to pause and reflect on the wisdom of the Church rather than push further to dismantle her teachings.
As we begin the second 50 years since Blessed Paul’s encyclical, I encourage you to read this document and the writings of John Paul II on the subject. If each of us does our part, bit by bit we can chip away at the culture of death and restore the family to its rightful place as the building block of a civil, Godly society.
God bless you!