Posts Tagged ‘Humanae vitae’

Of Human Life, Humanae vitae 40th anniversary

October 11, 2008

“Life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject.”  Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 1 January, 2007.

I am dedicating the next two years to the anniversary of an incredible teaching document of the Catholic Church.  Written in 1968, its 40th anniversary will be commemorated in 2008.  I am referring to the papal encyclical, or letter, called “Humanae vitae,” a Latin phrase translated as “On Human Life.”  It was written by Pope Paul VI as an instruction on the church’s enduring teaching about what the generation of human life really means, and about the ghastly dangers of artificial contraception. 

It is a beautifully written and heartfelt document, prophetic in its warning that a contraceptive culture will develop lower and lower moral standards, certain in its judgment about the evils of artificial contraception, and eternally optimistic in the mercy of God for those anxious and repentant over past decisions to contracept., 

One of the principles of this document is that only God can create something out of nothing.  The Church is saddened by such statements as “my body, my choice” because it is a false statement, erroneous in its assumption that I have final decision over my life.  This statement is only a possibility in a culture of privacy, a relatively recent legal development that trumps natural and moral reality. 

The legal right to privacy has been invoked to defend contraception, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia, with no consideration for the very public consequences of these so-called private acts. 

Another principle of Humanae vitae is that faith tells us that human sexuality is a gift from God.  It is God’s will that husband and wife strengthen their relationship through their sexuality, and it is God’s will that they become cooperators with Him in the generation of new life.  Human life and one’s eternal soul begin at conception, and with natural family planning there is never a risk as with artificial contraception that a newly conceived human being is about to be destroyed. 

As the current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has written in his New Year’s message, the Church is “the sign and safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person” in the world.  In other words, it is the task of Christian leaders to remind us that our humanity in its nature and goal is greater than anything we ourselves can possibly imagine.  Here’s to a blessed preparation for the 40th anniversary of Humanae vitae. – Fr. Jeffrey D. Stephaniuk