Humanae Vitae Prophetic?
at 40 year old message
By Allison LeDoux
In the 40 years since
Humanae Vitae was released on July 25, 1968, it has become
clear that this was a prophetic document. We can see that
our culture has followed a path not unlike that of our
ancestors in the faith. This quickly becomes evident when we
recall what life was like when faith and family had
priority, and when we see the effects of humanity’s
rejection of God’s design manifest in today’s society.
Remember the days when
doors were left unlocked at night? Cars were left running
for a quick stop at the corner market? Families had both a
mother and father in the same home and lived comfortably on
one income? This safer, simpler world may seem like a fairy
tale by today’s standards, but in fact, this was the norm,
it was the reality of the majority of Americans. One needn’t
look far to hear the common sentiment that the world seems
to be going down hill.
But what does this have
to do with the Church’s teaching on contraception? The
connections become apparent when we look at the prophetic
vision of Humanae Vitae.
What did Pope Paul VI say
would happen if the use of contraception became widespread?
He predicted that there would be a general lowering of
morality in society, increased infidelity, a disregard for
the integrity and well-being of the person because of the
treating of our bodies as objects to be manipulated, and
governments would use family planning programs for coercive
Over the last 40 years
contraceptive use has become widespread; and this is the
root of the breakdown of the family and society. By
contradicting the unity inherent in the gift of sexuality
and by separating sex from procreation, marriages are under
assault. Increased rates of divorce, adultery, premarital
sex, abortion, and a host of other social ills have been
exacerbated by the acceptance of contraception. The
sacredness of self-giving love, fidelity, and trust has been
betrayed. This has left a trail of broken hearts and
subsequently, broken families.
Science, too, has
documented the harmful effects of contraception. People who
viewed “the pill” as a means to have sex without
consequences have experienced its side-effects. Studies have
shown that the pill does not only suppress ovulation, but
also creates a chemically hostile uterine environment, and
can cause the death of a newly conceived baby in the first
weeks of life. Consider the vast numbers of lives lost to
these unintended silent abortions that women are not even
aware are taking place within their own bodies, and the
inevitable consequences of this violation of God’s love.
of “freedom” has instead become enslavement.
God wants to give us true
freedom and wholeness. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church
to teach this truth. While the message of Humanae Vitae may
not be a popular teaching, we are nonetheless called to pay
heed to these Spirit-inspired words. When we truly listen,
we see that the Church’s teaching is reasonable, and
corresponds with the deepest desires of the human heart.
Scriptures, God sends His prophets to call His beloved
people back. The history of Israel is also our history. When
the people heeded the Lord’s words they were blessed and
when they disobeyed they were cursed. As the Lord said
through the prophet Isaiah: “This is the fasting I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly…setting free the oppressed...
and not turning your back on your own.” Our culture has been
bound, broken, and oppressed and we have turned our backs on
our own children in their earliest stages of life. Yet our
Church has courageously proclaimed the message that we can
be freed from brokenness and oppression. By his prophetic
words in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI can be seen as someone
whom Isaiah called “repairer of the breach” for all who are
mindful of his warnings. “…Then light shall rise for you in
the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like
midday; … the Lord will guide you always…He will renew your
strength and you shall be like a spring whose water never
fails.” (Is. 58)
It is well worth taking
the time to read the prophetic Humanae Vitae on this 40th
anniversary of its issuing. Both Popes Paul VI and John Paul
II have warned us of the culture of death and guided us
toward its alternative: the Kingdom of God and eternal life.
– The complete text of
Humanae Vitae can be found at
Taken from the CATHOLIC
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
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