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Servant Leadership

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Humane Vitae: Day 19

 

Paragraph 19 begins the third section of the encyclical which is titled, “Pastoral Directives”:

19. Our words would not be an adequate expression of the thought and solicitude of the Church, Mother and Teacher of all peoples, if, after having recalled men to the observance and respect of the divine law regarding matrimony, they did not also support mankind in the honest regulation of birth amid the difficult conditions which today afflict families and peoples. The Church, in fact, cannot act differently toward men than did the Redeemer. She knows their weaknesses, she has compassion on the multitude, she welcomes sinners. But at the same time she cannot do otherwise than teach the law. For it is in fact the law of human life restored to its native truth and guided by the Spirit of God (See Romans 8).

For several centuries, all Christian denominations condemned the use of contraception. It wasn’t until the 1930s when at the Lambeth Conference, communities began to break from this teaching one by one. The culture in general followed suit.  The Catholic Church remained steadfast in this teaching.

Even so, there were some within the Church who wanted the Catholic Church to revise her teaching against contraception. Some took it upon themselves to teach something different.  Chaos followed, and even today we are still dealing with its effects.  But here in paragraph 19, Paul VI says that the Church must hold to the Truth.

“She [the Church] cannot do otherwise than teach the law”.  The role of the Church is to be both mother and teacher (Mater et Magister), and in fulfilling this role, she teaches the Truth: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).  It is the Truth of Jesus Christ that gives life to the world.

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