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Humanae Vitae in 31 days: Day 1

The recent mandate from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in forcing all institutions to include coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in the healthcare plans they offer, is an attack against religious liberty as it doesn’t allow religious institutions to be exempt from the mandate.  Those who are morally opposed to contraception, sterilization and abortifacients – including Catholic hospitals and universities – should not be forced into acting against their consciences.

This mandate has not only escalated the secularists’ war against the Church, it has also revealed some disturbing things about the general Catholic population’s understanding about the evil nature of contraception.  A recent survey done by the Pew Research Center on February 14, 2012  showed that only 15% of Catholics say that using contraceptives is morally wrong.  36% say that it’s not a moral issue.  Even among Catholics who say that they attend Mass weekly,only 27% say that using contraceptives is morally wrong.  Those numbers are stunningly sad and disappointing to me, but it shows that we have A LOT of work to do.

All of this having to do with the HHS mandate is has given us an opportunity to further emphasize the Church’s teaching from the beginning that the use of contraception is an intrinsic evil: “Every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2370; Humanae Vitae, n. 14).

We can start by making sure that everyone reads Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical “Humanae Vitae”.  It’s a short document (there are thirty-one paragraphs), but it is both an amazing and prophetic document.  I also thought that I could post one paragraph a day here for 31 days. 

Let’s start with the introduction:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

Paul VI begins by pointing that married couples being able to cooperate in God’s work of procreation is both a “serious role” and “a source of great joy.” However, the pope also recognizes that “the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions”. Remember that this was written in 1968. It’s amazing to think how those challenges have multiplied and intensified in the last forty-three years.

The Church is not oblivious to what’s going on in the world. In fact, she is the one who is dealing with these challenges head on because “they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.” This doesn’t only affect individuals. It affects all of humanity.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Leave a comment


  1. I know how I feel about this topic but would like to read all 31 paragraphs before I comment.
    What I would like to say is that in a world where life is cheap all life should be protected, but I can not belive that it would be a good idea for children to be brought into this world when they are not wanted. Even in a loving marriage. It won’t be so loving when you can not buy food or look after said child.

  2. The sexual revolution, which is unimaginable without the pill, has had a profound effect,on relations between the sexes, human happiness, and a host of uncompromising social problems.
    If it was so liberating, why are its supposed beneficiaries, especially women, unhappier than before? Why did the very effects that Pope Paul VI predicted in his prophetic1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, come to pass—an increase in infidelity and divorce, the objectification and degradation of women, abandonment of women and children, cohabitation, sexual promiscuity and increased abortion rates?
    the sexual revolution has harmed women and children, undermined marriage (especially for the lower social strata, so widening the class gap in poverty and education across generations), led to a massive increase in pornography, and left enormous numbers of children to grow up without one or both of their biological parents (with negative impacts in terms of poverty, health, mental health, school success, and other measures of child well-being).
    Contraception enables a climate of apparently consequence-free sex. Marriage is delayed so young people do not invest in sexual partners as they did when having sex implied the man’s commitment to marriage if pregnancy resulted. Young men lost their traditional path to settling down and adult responsibility. Shotgun weddings became a thing of the past. Abortion rates and single parenthood skyrocketed.

  3. One of the difficulties of being Catholic in this world is that our beliefs are strange and incomprehensible to those who lack the grace (or desire) to understand them. Some of our lifestyle choices make us even more of an enigma to others. One such choice is the use of natural family planning (NFP). NFP-using Catholics are at risk of being mocked or judged not just by the secular culture, but also by other Christians (including Catholics). One reason for the ridicule is that there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding NFP, even among some NFP-using Catholics. There a misconceptions about NFP.
    Perhaps the most important point is that NFP is not “Catholic birth control.” Many people accuse Catholics of being hypocritical by preaching against artificial contraception and yet still practicing NFP. People assume that the intentions and outcomes for people using artificial contraception are generally the same as for people using NFP. However, since when do intentions and outcomes alone define the morality of an act? If I intend to procure money to buy a new car, and I do indeed buy that new car, does it not matter if the way that I procured the money was to steal it from somewhere, or to earn it through hard work? Of course it does! ­­­
    In the same way, the method of avoiding pregnancy matters. The reason that contraception is immoral is that it interferes with the normal functioning of the female body and the natural connection between sexual activity and procreation. People who use contraception want to be able to engage in sexual activity while actively thwarting its procreative power.
    On the other hand, NFP works within the natural order. It makes use of the natural fertile/infertile times that God designed instead of trying to interfere with them. If you are fertile and are trying to avoid pregnancy, then you abstain until you are not likely to be fertile. You don’t try to make a fertile time into an infertile time. You don’t try to engage in sexual activity that should be procreative while artificially rendering it non-procreative.

  4. While I respect the use of NFP as almost sacred way of honouring your body as a women. Working with it instead of against.
    I don’t believe that the creation of the contraseptive has taken away my power as a women. I has given me the power to choose in a world if I did not have this choice in different circumstances would be a mother living hand to mouth.
    The choice then is the education of young catholics to understand the dynamic of NFP. I feel though this would only be in a perfect world where humans did not give into there base instincts……


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