Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prescient words. . .

Though I am generally not much of a fan of Paul IV, he seemed to get it right in Humanae Vitae and, in particular, this paragraph:

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power [regarding artificial methods of birth control] 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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I hope to read Human Vitae in full one day. I had never given artificial contraception any depth of thought other than utilitarian, but what pieces I have read in Human Vitae, has provoked me to consider the subject more deeply.

I was very much struck by his ability to see the handwriting on the wall. Here is an excerpt from a summary of his work copied from another website:

Pope Paul VI made four rather general "prophecies" about what would happen if the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception were ignored.

1.The Pope first noted that the widespread use of contraception would "lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality." That there has been a widespread decline in morality and promotion of an unbridled sexual morality, is not difficult to see.

2. Paul VI also argued that "the man" will lose respect for "the woman" and "no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium" and will come to "the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion." The Pope realized that the Church's teaching on contraception is designed to protect the good of conjugal love.

3. Paul VI also observed that the widespread acceptance of contraception would place a "dangerous weapon... in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." The history of the family-planning programs in the Third World is a sobering testimony to this reality. In Third World countries many people undergo sterilization unaware of what they are doing. The forced abortion program in China shows the stark extreme toward which governments will take population programs. Moreover, few people are willing to recognize the growing evidence that many parts of the world face not overpopulation, but underpopulation. It will take years to reverse the "anti-child" mentality now entrenched in many societies.

4. Pope Paul's final warning was that contraception would lead man to think that he had unlimited dominion over his own body. Sterilization is now the most widely used form of contraception in the U.S. The desire for unlimited dominion over one's own body extends beyond contraception. The production of "test-tube babies" is another indication of the refusal to accept the body's limitations; so too are euthanasia and the use of organs transplanted from those who are "nearly" dead. We seek to adjust the body to our desires and timetables, rather than adjusting ourselves to its needs. [I would add sex-change operations to this list]


Anonymous said...

P.S. I was particularly struck by this part, too:

In Humanae Vitae Pope Paul made some positive predictions as well. He acknowledged that spouses might have difficulty in acquiring the self-discipline necessary to practice the methods of family planning that require periodic abstinence. But he taught that self-discipline was possible, especially with the help of sacramental grace. In Section 21, he remarked:

....the discipline which is proper to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather confers on it a higher human value. It demands continual effort yet, thanks to its beneficent influence, husband and wife fully develop their personalities, being enriched with spiritual values. Such discipline bestows upon family life fruits of serenity and peace; and facilitates the solution of other problems; it favors attention for one's partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility.


Anonymous said...

It was the "Pill" that changed the
landscape of marriage in the 1960's
and America has never recovered.

It enabled unmarried women to be
available and taken advantage of by
men who wanted sexual pleasure.

Living together or shacking up is
now part of the American scene and
marriage is seen as human bondage.
Immorality uses modern technology.

Norman Teigen said...

It's strange to my way of thinking that Lutherans look to the Catholics and the Evangelicals for guidance. According to Sasse, the danger is that the church (of which Christ said: my kingdom is not of this world) becomes secularized. The Catholics want to ecclesiasticize the world, the Evangelicals want to Christianize the world. Careful, Dear Pastor Peters. The end of the road might be a consequence which you do not intend.

Pastor Peters said...

No thoughts about the churching of the world or its conversion here... just surprised that the fears of a Pope nearly universally condemned by those outside the Church would prove prophetic when it comes to the way we moderns have come to approach the whole issue of women's right to abortion, the prevention of pregnancy as if it were a disease, and the lack of any moral values leading our thinking...

BTW quite apart from any religious values, I believe it is in the interest of the state to promote marriage and to encourage childbearing.