Pleasant Surprises: Support for Humanae Vitae

The month of November brought two affirmations of Humanae Vitae that are good reasons for giving thanks.

At the annual November meeting of the US Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York told his fellow bishops that the bishops need to “resuscitate” Humanae Vitae. Previously, he had made a public statement about the bishops having laryngitis concerning this important teaching of Pope Paul VI.

This statement rises from the level of “welcome” to the level “most welcome and greatly needed” in the face of rumors coming from Rome about efforts to water down Humanae Vitae’s teaching against all unnatural forms of birth control.

In her Thanksgiving weekend column in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan—also from New York—noted that the sexual abuses that have recently come to light illustrate the wisdom of Humanae Vitae.  In section 17 of that encyclical, Pope Paul VI issued some dire warnings about what would happen if there was a widespread societal acceptance of marital contraception. Basically, he said that changes in sexual attitudes and behaviors won’t stop there.  He prophesied an easy road to infidelity, a general lowering of morality, loss of respect for women, and he accurately saw the danger of putting birth control into the hands of government.

There is no real question about it.  Marital contraception is at the heart of the Sexual Revolution, and the evils are there for all but the self-blinded to see.  This isn’t news.  In March 1971 a generally liberal theological journal published an article showing that the decision-making principles of the dissenters cannot say NO even to spouse swapping.  Mary Eberstsadt recently wrote a whole book—Adam and Eve after the Pill— about the sociological evils stemming from the acceptance of marital contraception.

I hope that our bishops have been adequately informed about the Peggy Noonan statement.  Bishops need to realize that the received teaching reaffirmed by Humanae Vitae is a great blessing.  In the face of the hurricane of the Sexual Revolution, Blessed Pope Paul VI did his job as Pope.  He has thus saved many, many believing Catholics and other Christians from many of the problems—both health-wise and culture-wise—of the Sexual Revolution.

Parents who love their children make rules to protect them from danger.  Humanae Vitae is a gift from the Lord who loves his people and thus protects us by teaching us to stay on the path of self-giving love.  As Professor Edward Sri likes to say, “Love demands laws.”

John F. Kippley, Dec 8, 2017

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