Humanae Vitae: Day 2

2. The changes that have taken place are of considerable importance and varied in nature. In the first place there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequence that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships. This can easily induce public authorities to be tempted to take even harsher measures to avert this danger. There is also the fact that not only working and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.

Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love.

But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.

The way that the world was thinking began to change during this time. Paragraph 2 presents some of those changes because they presented some challenges to the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life: this was a time of fears of overpopulation, the women’s lib movement, and humanity’s increasing drive to control everything through science and technology.

The Church has always taught that the marital act, although it also has a meaning and purpose in the strengthening of the bond between husband and wife, can never be deliberately separated from the possibility of procreation. Yet modern thought protested with many saying the children were a burden or an obstacle to “freedom”. Many tried to explain it away by pointing to so-called social and economic problems and the fear of the difficulties that another child would bring. Lost was the eternal belief that children were to be seen as a gift from God, the author and giver of life.

We read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2378:

A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”

Regarding the fear that many people had in the size of the world’s population, the Population Research Institute (a pro-life group) has done a lot to debunk the myth of overpopulation. They did a series of videos a while back (here’s one) but essentially, there are a lot of historical and scientific facts that disprove overpopulation. Let’s not forget the Lord’s command from the very beginning to “be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it” (Gen 9:7).

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

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