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Bravo!…a Bishop and three priests.

The Salmon’s Badge of Honour goes to Fr. Peter Edwards…

Fr Peter Edwards

Fr Peter Edwards

…for being a wonderful teacher and leader in Faith, for remaining faithful to the teaching of the Magistarium. Thank you for your gentle but forthright  homily on the Feast of the Holy Family;  for presenting the Truth of the Catholic Faith regarding to the dignity of each and every one of us in Jesus, and for reminding all that we are all come to be Royalty through our Saviour. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of the family.  Thank you for having the courage of your convictions to ‘go against the grain’ regardless of the ever-present criticism or dissent. The Salmon stands with you proudly!

Salmon Badge of Honour

Salmon Badge of Honour

USC_banner_180x150_v3

Having posted the Super-Slogan yesterday, imagine my delight when opening heroic posts defending the dignity of  marriage and family with sincerity, passion and conviction. Fr. Ray ‘s post,‘ LET’S FORGET THE NICENESS, LET’S BE CATHOLIC,’  resounded with me as I feel strongly that Catholics on these shores need to stand together in solidarity to share the TRUTH of our Faith, for the sake of society as we know it.

Fr. Ray Blake

Fr. Ray Blake

I quote Fr. Ray’s excellent suggestions that could be put forward in a Catholic Pro-family Manifesto:-

Rather than being embarrassed by it we should dare to talk about what the Church understands by being “human”, which involves human sexuality.It is radical, we should accept that it is counter-cultural, it overthrows the politics of left and right by simply saying the family is the most important element in society not wealth creation or even self determination and self-fulfilment.

We could start by trying to get people to discuss marriage, how about large banners on every Catholic building saying something like “Marriage = Man + Woman: discuss” We could spend money on a poster campaign. We should have done it ages ago but what about every diocese in the country producing study material on Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae

Is it too late to organise symposia in amongst orthodox Christian academics on Marriage?In the capital at the very least we should be organising public meetings to talk about marriage, and demonstrations to show what we mean by marriage.

 In the institutions we still control, our schools most especially, we should be promoting the family. The state, for the last century or two, has been promoting the view that we are here primarily to serve the economy, and that we have value and status in our production of wealth ultimately in our family relationships but as Catholics we should be educating people to understand we have value in our relationships with one another. Just as the state promotes Sports or Performing Arts Academies we Catholics should be making every school or  college an Academy for the Family.

With epidemic marital breakdown we need to teach people how to be married, especially boys, for too long Catholics have done so very little to really educate our young for either eternal or marital life. We should recognise most women have abortions because of economic reasons, that controlling the size of families through contraception for most people is an economic decision.

We need to promote an authentic feminism (and masculinism) that is based on relationships, we need to promote the real rights of women to be parents, simply to be able to have children without the constant anxiety to find childcare and to be able to afford it.We need to promote affordable family housing. 

We need promote Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of re-creation, as a day for building family. Every Catholic social justice organisation should be deeply involved in promoting an economic model that sees the family, rather than the creation of personal wealth, as priority.

In a further post Fr. Ray draws our attention to the efforts of the newly appointed Archbishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth’s Pastoral letter, (published here) which was read out on the feast of the Holy Family:

images

Bishop Philip Egan, of Portsmouth.

JESUS CHRIST, THE PERFECT HUMAN

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In this second Pastoral Letter, I want to discuss something that many people find very challenging and controversial. But let me first, on this feast of the Holy Family, wish you the continuing joys of Christmas. Since becoming your bishop a few weeks ago, I have been visiting our priests. I thank God for all the wonderful priests we have and for their inspiring love and service of Jesus and his Church. I thank God too for the many beautiful churches in our diocese and not least for you, the People of God, for your perseverance in faith and Christian discipleship in these difficult times. As we enter the New Year 2013, I urge you, in the words of today’s Second Reading, often to “think of the love that the Father has lavished upon us by letting us be called God’s children.”[i]
The context of this Pastoral Letter is two-fold. First, the Year of Faith, in which I want to explore the articles of the Creed. Today, let us consider the second article: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.”[ii] Jesus Christ is Divine. He is God the Son. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, or to use that daringly non-Scriptural term, “consubstantial with the Father”. This is an important doctrine to teach today. For many would acknowledge Jesus to be a great religious leader, a Prophet and teacher, a good and holy man. But in fact He is infinitely greater: He is God the Word. When Jesus speaks, it is God speaking. This changes everything. In this Year of Faith, it would be good to review our prayer and catechesis to ensure it reflects the fullness of this truth. We should also study afresh the Creed and its origins[iii] so we can understand better the Church’s teaching and why Jesus Christ is the only Way to salvation.
The second context of this Letter is today’s feast of the Holy Family, which presents us with the humanity of Christ: that he became incarnate “for us and for our salvation”. Or to paraphrase St. Leo, “He came down from heaven that we might go up to heaven”[iv]. In taking on human nature, Jesus also took on a human history and a human culture. He was brought up in Nazareth in the home of Mary and Joseph[v]. Mary, His mother, taught him his prayers and the religious traditions of his people. Joseph, as a father, gave him a trade and initiated him into the society of the day. We recall all of this in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, which it would be good to recite every day during the Christmas season. You might also consider reading the new book by Pope Benedict: “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives”[vi].
So the Creed affirms that Jesus Christ is truly divine, God from God; but it also states that He is the New Adam, the Perfect Human.[vii] To say this today is highly controversial. If in the fourth century it was the doctrine about how Jesus could be divine yet human, today the hot-button issue is what it means to be human. Indeed, most of the big debates in our society revolve around two matters: sex and authority.What is the truth about human sexuality? And who can tell me how to live my life?

In 1968, at the height of the Sixties, Pope Paul VI wrote an Encyclical Letter that then and now many Catholics find difficult. He repeated the traditional teaching of the Church, based on the natural law and confirmed by revelation, that sexual intercourse is an integral act for love and for life, and that these two aspects of sexuality – love and life – cannot be divorced[viii]Humanae Vitae was a prophetic document. Pope Paul spoke of catastrophic consequences for society and culture if these two ends of marriage were split. 45 years on, we can see what he meant in such things as the reduction of sex to a leisure activity, the trafficking of people for prostitution and pornography, broken family relationships, and the explosion of addictive behaviours leading to despair, shame and guilt[ix].

As Catholics, we believe in the natural way of life. We believe that the purpose of sexual intercourse is to express the love between a man and a woman, a love which, within the permanent commitment of marriage, is open to being fruitful to life.[x] This is the way to lasting happiness and fulfilment, even if to become chaste – that is, to develop a mature and fully integrated sexuality, as a single person or a married couple – involves a life-long struggle and “apprenticeship in self-mastery”[xi]. To help us, Jesus calls us to be his disciples, and offers us the healing balm and the strength we need, above all in confession and Holy Communion.

Jesus Christ is the way to personal happiness and authentic humanism. Sadly, the teaching of Humanae Vitae about sexual morality and family values has become something of an ‘elephant in the room’ that no-one seems to mention. In this Year of Faith then, I would like to invite everyone to discover again the Church’s wonderful vision of love and life, as expounded in the Catechism.

I would also like to ask all families, whatever their form or circumstances, to think about developing a deeper and richer Catholic ethos in the home, so as to give a clearer witness to contemporary culture. For instance, why not spend an evening together as a family, occasionally switch off the computer, make the Sign of the Cross on entering the house, adopt a communal work of justice and charity, or keep special the fast-days and feast-days? I am sure you will think of many other ways of preserving our Catholic distinctiveness.

In this Mass of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us thank God for our own families, and pray for them. Let us pray for those who struggle to live a chaste life in imitation of Christ. Let us pray for families who are struggling or who have suffered tragedy and pain. And let us pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our land. Like Mary and Joseph who found Jesus in the Temple, may the people of England find their way to salvation and happiness in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, ever present and active in his Church. Indeed, in this Year of Faith, may the Spirit lead us all to the living waters that stream from the Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us.

In Corde Iesu,

+ Philip

Bishop of Portsmouth

[i] I John 3: 1. This is the second reading given in the alternative set of readings for optional use in Year C.
[ii] Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, The Roman Missal 562
[iii] see Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition (Rome, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2000) 422-455; Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (London, CTS 2006) 81f and YOUCAT Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (London, CTS 2010) 71f
[iv] Cf. St. Leo Sermo 6 In Nativitate Domini 2-3, 5 (PL 54, 213-216). This constitutes the Second Reading in the Office of Readings for 31stDecember.
[v] Luke 2: 51-52
[vi] Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (New York, Image 2012)
[vii]Gaudium et Spes 22
[viii] For a concise summary of the Church’s teaching, see Catechism2331-2400
[ix] See Paul VI Humanae Vitae (London, CTS 1968) 19-30
[x] John Paul II Gratissimam Sane (Letter to Fanilies) 7-8, available online at http://www.vatican.va (December 2012)
[xi] Catechism 2339
Over at the Hermenutic of Continuity , Fr. Tim Finnigan’s post in which he outlines the hot-off-the-press Briefing paper which is intended to support the various statements made by our Bishops and to assist the people in our parishes to understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and family, in the face of much misinformation. It is a helpful brief explanation which is suitable for distribution in parishes.
Fr Tim Finnigan

Fr Tim Finnigan

The paper has been published by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.  Do take time to read through the introduction to the confraternity. Most encouraging.

BRIEFING PAPER ON ‘SAME-SEX MARRIAGE’ (emphasis mine)

01/01/2013

What are the reasons for this paper?

The Government proposes legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church, with many others, strongly and unequivocally opposes such plans both for religious reasons (based on Scripture and Tradition) and because they are against the natural law which applies to everyone regardless of their faith commitment. Marriage, as the lifelong union of one man and one woman ordered for the procreation and upbringing of children, is rooted in human nature itself. Put simply, no government has the authority to change that. Any attempt to do so is harmful to society and constitutes a threat to freedom of conscience and the Church’s ability to function within civil society.

Why does it matter that marriage is between a man and a woman?

Marriage is as old as humanity itself. Men and women are complementary, equal in dignity but different. The very reason for this sexual distinction is to bring new life into the world. Since the beginning of humanity, marriage has been viewed as the proper environment for this, providing children with the context of permanent, committed love in which they can best flourish. Studies consistently highlight the importance of a stable family, of a mother and a father, for the best results for raising the next generation. But marriage concerns more than parents and children. It is the basis of a stable society and of civilisation itself and, therefore, requires legal recognition and protection.

But the Prime Minister says marriage is so important that everyone who wishes should be allowed to marry.  Shouldn’t we be supporting him?

The basis of the Prime Minister’s argument seems to be that, if two adults in a committed loving relationship wish to enter marriage, then they should be allowed to do so, regardless of the fact they are of the same gender. With respect, the Prime Minister is misrepresenting the nature of marriage. It is not, nor ever has been, about just any loving, committed relationship. We might have a loving committed relationship with our parents or our best friends, but marriage with them would be neither possible nor appropriate. Only the natural complementarity between a man and a woman can lead to marriage. Only this loving union, by definition, is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. Even in old age and infertility a husband and wife still preserve, like no other relationship, the elements of complementarity. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.

So isn’t the Church just discriminating against gay people?

Absolutely, not. The Church holds that every human being is created equal by God and is to be respected accordingly. The Church strongly opposes unjust discrimination against people with homosexual inclinations. In fact, the proposed legislation is not directly linked to the issue of same- sex attraction. The issue is about the meaning of marriage. Being pro-equality does not mean that everything is the same, nor that distinctions between things are unjustified. To say that everyone is equal is not the equivalent of saying they are the same. To say that a man cannot be a mother, and a woman cannot be a father is not against equality. To state this is simply to recognise an obvious fact of nature. It is in no way discriminatory. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is intrinsically linked to the procreation of children and makes no sense apart from this.

OK so same-sex marriage isn’t possible according to Christian belief, but the Prime Minster has given you assurances that you won’t have to marry same-sex couples in church if you don’t want to. Why can’t you accept they can marry elsewhere?

This is not merely a matter of religious belief and practice. It regards the future of society as a whole. It is called a matter of natural law which is something common to all regardless of personal religious belief. Tampering with such a fundamental natural institution as marriage is fraught with danger. Society ceases to flourish when it fails to cherish the family and the authentic understanding of marriage which makes the family possible. The experience of other countries where same-sex marriage has been introduced clearly indicates that the proposed change is only the beginning of a process of social engineering with tragic consequences. In Canada, since same-sex marriage was legalised, the courts have ruled that a child can legally have three parents. In the Netherlands also three-way relationships are now given a measure of legal recognition. Do we really want the UK to go down this route with all the consequent harm to children? Furthermore, with good cause, we have no confidence in the assurances offered by the Prime Minister. We recall how Catholic adoption agencies were closed because they refused to participate in a state permission for same-sex couples adopting children. If exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is defined by equality law as discriminatory, toleration of such exclusion will not last long. Any attempted safeguard would be vulnerable to a future government, to a British court giving precedence to equality considerations and to the European Court of Human Rights.

Isn’t this a matter primarily for priests and other professionals in the Church?

Sadly, not. There is a real possibility that the Catholic Church will not be allowed for much longer to perform state recognised marriage registration in church because of its opposition to same-sex marriage. But leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC has given his legal opinion that NHS Chaplains, teachers and foster parents could all be vulnerable. The rights of parents over their children’s education is also at threat. Mr O’Neill’s legal opinion is that any school, including a faith school, could legally dismiss a teacher for refusing to use educational material promoting same-sex marriage. Catholics must be aware of this threat to schools and teachers, and resist it with every means at their disposal. Similarly, if an institution is deemed discriminatory, can its charitable status be maintained? Legal cases would inevitably follow the passing of such legislation as in Canada.

So what are you encouraging us to do?

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is united in defending marriage and joins wholeheartedly the campaign of the Catholic Archbishops. We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill. The Church calls on every Catholic, in conscience, to a clear and emphatic opposition to such proposals, and a refusal of any formal co-operation should such laws be passed. All this must be conducted in a spirit of charity. The Church defends the absolute dignity of every human being in the same way that she defends marriage and the family, that is, in proclaiming the truth with love. In this Christmas season, under the patronage of the Holy Family, let us all pray and work to ensure that the centrality of marriage and freedom of conscience which we have so long enjoyed continue to be defended by the laws of our country.

1st January 2013

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Humanae Vitae: Day 30 To Bishops

To Bishops

30. And now as We come to the end of this encyclical letter, We turn Our mind to you, reverently and lovingly, beloved and venerable brothers in the episcopate, with whom We share more closely the care of the spiritual good of the People of God. For We invite all of you, We implore you, to give a lead to your priests who assist you in the sacred ministry, and to the faithful of your dioceses, and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfectionConsider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time. As you well know, it calls for concerted pastoral action in every field of human diligence, economic, cultural and social. If simultaneous progress is made in these various fields, then the intimate life of parents and children in the family will be rendered not only more tolerable, but easier and more joyful. And life together in human society will be enriched with fraternal charity and made more stable with true peace when God’s design which He conceived for the world is faithfully followed.

Bishops, in being zealous in their own defense of the sanctity of both marriage and life, make themselves a shining example for both priests and laity.  This is “one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time” because the well-being of families and society as a whole depends on the faithful following of God’s plan for marriage.

Humane Vitae: Day 21

 

 

Value of Self-Discipline

21. The right and lawful ordering of birth demands, first of all, that spouses fully recognize and value the true blessings of family life and that they acquire complete mastery over themselves and their emotions. For if with the aid of reason and of free will they are to control their natural drives, there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character. And if this self-discipline does demand that they persevere in their purpose and efforts, it has at the same time the salutary effect of enabling husband and wife to develop to their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquility and peace. It helps in solving difficulties of other kinds. It fosters in husband and wife thoughtfulness and loving consideration for one another. It helps them to repel inordinate self-love, which is the opposite of charity. It arouses in them a consciousness of their responsibilities. And finally, it confers upon parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children. As their children grow up, they develop a right sense of values and achieve a serene and harmonious use of their mental and physical powers.

An appropriate subject to think about especially during Holy Week. Self-denial is at the heart of the spiritual life. As human beings, we were made with passions, and those passions are not sinful in themselves. However, we have to learn how to control those passions so that they don’t control us. It is self-denial that strengthens the spirit so that we can begin to control them.

This is a large part of what makes our Lenten practices so important. We don’t give up things just for the sake of giving up things. Nor do we deny ourselves just for the sake of denying ourselves. Sacrifices are meant to bring about a greater good, and it is that greater good that gives meaning.

That’s why there is a kind chastity that is proper to married couples. In being able to discipline themselves, husbands and wives can grow in their understanding of each other which strengthens the marital bond: “far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, [self-discipline] transforms it by giving it a more truly human character.” Paragraph 21 explains some of the fruits that come about when husband and wife are able to master this self-discipline.

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

Humanae Vitae:Days 16 and 17

Paragraph 17, which is often pointed to when looking at how prophetic Humanae Vitae was when it was written in 1968.  Here, Pope Paul VI explains what would happen to a society that makes use of artificial contraception.  We already know the adverse effects contraception has on married couples.  But how would it effect things at a societal level?  Many who advocate the use of contraception say that this is a personal matter, a choice that should be left to individuals.  But as the Church has always taught, while sins are personal acts, they affect others: “Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. ‘Structures of sin’ are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a ‘social sin’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1869).

Consequences of Artificial Methods

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

We can easily see today how marriage and human sexuality are de-valued and disrespected and how the divorce rate has skyrocketed even among Catholics since contraceptives have become readily available.  We can also see the “general lowering of moral standards” that exists culturally.  What about the objectification of women?  Pope Paul VI saw these as consequences of the use of artificial contraception, and he was right.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Let’s reflect on this for a while, shall we?  There’s no doubt that the HHS mandate is evil.  But unfortunately, a culture that is accepting of the use of contraceptives has allowed the HHS mandate to exist.  The HHS mandate must be opposed.  Absolutely.  But we have to be equally forceful in our condemnation of artificial contraception.  Catholics must lead the way by their words and their example.

Limits to Man’s Power

Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the “principle of totality” enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII.

Paragraph 17 has been looked at as being prophetic in determining the consequences that would happen upon a culture that made use of artificial contraception.

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

Humanae Vitae: Day 11

Observing the Natural Law

11. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, “noble and worthy” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 49).  It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life (cf. Pius XI, Casti connubi).

Natural Law, remember, is that which we naturally know as right vs. wrong because God placed that knowledge within us along with a conscience which tells us to do good and avoid evil.  Sex is a gift given by God to a husband and wife for the twin purposes of strengthening the bond between them (as they are no longer two but one flesh) and bringing children into the world.  Even if a couple is unable to have children, the conjugal act is still “noble and worthy” assuming that they are at least open to having children.

That last line is of great importance: “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.”  Contraception willingly severs that intrinsic relationship between the marital act and the procreation of life.  And that is why the use of artificial contraception is always by its very nature a mortal sin.  Mortal sins cut us off from God’s grace which gives life to our souls (whereas venial sins wound that connection).  The use of contraception is a mortal sin because it destroys God’s plan for man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”.

See references in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

nn. 1854-1864 on “The Gravity Of Sin: Mortal And Venial Sin”

n. 2370 and 2399 on Contraception which the Catechism (citing Humanae Vitae n. 14) describes as “intrinsically evil”.

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

Humanae Vitae: Day 6

6. However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions.

Humanae Vitae was controversial from the beginning.  The members of the commission were not unanimous in their recommendations.  It is said that some in the commission tried to take authority upon themselves to try and alter the Church’s long-standing teaching against contraception.  And so Paul VI bypassed the commission altogether and invoked the authority of Christ (see Mt 16:19) in writing Humanae Vitae.  Many openly dissented against the Encyclical and the effects snowballed from there.  We are still feeling its effects today.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (Philadelphia) said in his pastoral letter on the thirtieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae (written when he was the Archbishop of Denver): “Selective dissent from Humanae Vitae soon fueled broad dissent from Church authority and attacks on the credibility of the Church herself.”

Contraception: harmful to marriages, individual souls, the unity of the Church, and the well-being of society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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)

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)