Humanae Vitae at 50

Humanae Vitae is a controversial encyclical that came out fifty years ago today, I posted a short overview back in 2013. It was the last encyclical by Pope Paul VI  Humanae Vitae or Of Human Life: On the Regulation of Birth, it basically reaffirms the traditional orthodox teaching of the Church. Marriage is the union of a loving couple with a loving God, and the sole purpose of sex is for procreation and the use of contraception is bad. It was published and sure there were some not enthused by these teachings asking “What do celibate male have to say about sex?” George Weigel points out that Karol Wojtyła (JPII)’s 1960 book Love and Responsibility made better arguments about these issues.  Since it was published more and more people have been siding with the Winnipeg Statement which states that those who can’t accept the teaching are not shut off from the Catholic Church, and individuals can in good conscience use contraception as long as they made an honest attempt to accept the directives. It is still one of the biggest issues that people have with the Church.

John Paul II took up Humanae Vitae in his Theology of the Body which sort of take Humanae Vitae  and furthers the teaching. Benedict XVI reflects on it with the idea of love “that the fullness of a person is achieved by a unity of soul and body, but neither spirit nor body alone can love, only the two together. If this unity is broken, if only the body is satisfied, love becomes a commodity”. Francis himself continues this by saying that in an interview in 2014 that “Everything depends on how Humanae Vitae is interpreted. Paul VI himself, in the end, urged confessors to be very merciful and pay attention to concrete situations. But his genius was prophetic, he had the courage to take a stand against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to exercise a cultural restraint, to oppose present and future neo-Malthusianism. The question is not of changing doctrine, but of digging deep and making sure that pastoral care takes into account situations and what it is possible for persons to do.”

Was this prophetic or is that just people looking back with reverence on an Encyclical, I am not sure which to say. With the recent release of the book all about the birth of the Encyclical, we’ve learned a bit more about what went into it Was the publication of the Encyclical necessary sure has society slipped to the point of no return with the vulgarity, abundance of pornography and the lack of love of our neighbor

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