Posts Tagged ‘Humanae Vitae’

The Catholic Church has certainly taken its lumps for speaking out consistently against contraception and where it naturally leads. Today we contrast two quotes. They speak to very different visions of the same human reality, and point to a validation of Rome’s visionaries.. The first is from the Church’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The second is from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s statistician. Both excerpts speak for themselves.



15. The movement for the emancipation of women, insofar as it seeks essentially to free them from all unjust discrimination, is on perfectly sound ground.[22] In the different forms of cultural background there is a great deal to be done in this regard. But one cannot change nature. Nor can one exempt women, any more than men, from what nature demands of them. Furthermore, all publicly recognized freedom is always limited by the certain rights of others.

16. The same must be said of the claim to sexual freedom. If by this expression one is to understand the mastery progressively acquired by reason and by authentic love over instinctive impulse, without diminishing pleasure but keeping it in its proper place – and in this sphere this is the only authentic freedom – then there is nothing to object to. But this kind of freedom will always be careful not to violate justice. If; on the contrary, one is to understand that men and women are “free” to seek sexual pleasure to the point of satiety, without taking into account any law or the essential orientation of sexual life to its fruits of fertility,[23] then this idea has nothing Christian in it. It is even unworthy of man. In any case it does not confer any right to dispose of human life – even if embryonic- or to suppress it on the pretext that it is burdensome.

18. We know what seriousness the problem of birth control can assume for some families and for some countries. That is why the last Council and subsequently the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” of July 25, 1968, spoke of “responsible parenthood.”[24] What we wish to say again with emphasis, as was pointed out in the conciliar constitution “Gaudium et Spes,” in the encyclical “Populorum Progressio” and in other papal documents, is that never, under any pretext, may abortion be resorted to, either by a family or by the political authority, as a legitimate means of regulating births.[25] The damage to moral values is always a greater evil for the common good than any disadvantage in the economic or demographic order.

{The Bishops warned us that contraception took us one long walk down the road to abortion. They were ridiculed as clueless old celibates.}

Then, there is this from Guttmacher:

Contraceptive use is a key predictor of women’s recourse to abortion. The very small group of American women who are at risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives account for almost half of all abortions. Many of these women did not think they would get pregnant or had concerns about contraceptive methods. The remainder of abortions occur among the much larger group of women who were using contraceptives in the month they became pregnant. Many of these women report difficulty using contraceptives consistently.

This is quite an admission by Guttmacher. The people who hand out the birth control pills like candy indicate elsewhere that 54% of all women presenting for abortion were using contraception in the month in which they became pregnant. In the face of their colossal failure, they claim that what is needed is more contraception.

I love my Bishops.


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My article in today’s Headline Bistro:

The Internet is abuzz this week with reports from the U.S. Census Bureau that one-fourth of all U.S. counties are dying. The reasons given are an aging population, an increase of only 9.7% in the U.S. population over the past ten years (the lowest decennial increase since the great depression), and migration to more affluent counties in the midst of a protracted economic slump. Demographers call this “natural decrease.” The etiology, in fact, may not be so natural at all.

In the same decade that “natural decrease” has taken place, Catholic bishops have been closing Catholic schools all over the nation, much to the consternation of the laity. So what’s behind the trend?

First and foremost, we are simply not reproducing as previous generations have done. A smaller population has led to increasing demands for higher salaries, as there is less competition in the domestic labor pool, leading companies to relocate manufacturing overseas where populations are large and the cost of living is low. This has a domino effect throughout the economy.

The fact that we have an aging population and are not producing enough workers to support them in their retirement years is an economic disaster. We are beginning to see this played out in state economies that cannot sustain current civil servant salary, retirement and benefits packages, which are far more generous and comprehensive than those in the private sector.

The Church is not immune from the chaos of what many in the pro-life movement call an impending demographic winter. Parishes and schools are closing at a steady and alarming rate, and it makes perfect sense.

I recall my very large parish, St. Michael’s, in 1960s Brooklyn when I was a child. Every Mass was packed on Sundays. Three priests were on hand to distribute communion. By the early 1970s, the church was half-filled. Today when I visit, it’s one-third filled, and with not so many Masses as we had when I was a child.

The schools and churches were built to accommodate the sizeable immigrant Catholic Church, with their sizeable families, including the Baby Boom generation. In my community, families of four and five children were the norm, and families of seven or more children were not at all uncommon. Logic then dictates that if many families no longer go to church or are active in their faith, and if those who do are only having two children, then we simply do not need the infrastructure built to accommodate an active Catholic populace 50-60% larger than we have today.

Sealing the fate of the Catholic schools and parishes has been the precipitous decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Churches cannot function without priests, and a lay staff of teachers has a higher cost of living than the previous communities of religious.

Underlying all of this has been the overwhelming rejection of the Magisterial teaching articulated in Humanae Vitae. Eighty percent of Catholics simply disregard the Church’s teaching about the use of birth control and the obligation to accept children willingly and lovingly from God. Many who decry the parish and school closings are those who also decry Humanae Vitae, and do not see the connection.

It isn’t rocket science.

If we do not produce a sizeable population of workers, there will be nobody to support us in our age and infirmity. If we do not produce sizeable Catholic families and encourage priesthood and religious life as vocations for our children, our institutional infrastructure will collapse. If we do not encourage our children to live marriage as a sacramental vocation, with all that is required of it, our Church will contract like our dying counties.

The “natural decrease” is largely the result of artificial contraception.

These contractions and the suffering and inconveniences they bring are signs to us that perhaps Humanae Vitae was indeed a relevant document. They also highlight for us some of the blessings that come from openness to large families. If we are wise, if we teach our children well, these contractions can be reversed.

The signs of spring are beginning to emerge in the Church. Vocations to more traditional religious orders are on the rise, along with an uptick in the numbers of seminarians. With a protracted downturn in the economy, many are reconsidering the treadmill of pursuit of material acquisitions and discovering the simpler joys of family life.

We certainly have a long way to go in reclaiming lost ground, but there is a sense that a newness is upon the Church. This includes a fresh look at Humanae Vitae through less rebellious and more sober eyes.

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