Monday, July 16, 2012

Pope Paul VI, in His Own Words

I am not sure what I can say about the next section of Humanae Vitae, that Pope Paul did not say himself.  I realize this is probably the most quoted section of the encyclical, and I hate to be cliche, but cliche it is:

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. 
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.

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... Humanae Vitae, 17.


  1. I hadn't read the entire section before ... so thank you! :-)

  2. I hadn't read that either! Thanks for posting :).

  3. The older I get and the more I see, I am convinced our church has it right in a beautifully authentic way. Not in a righteous, condemning, judgemental way. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Well, this responsible woman disagrees. I want sex and I don't want a baby. Reverence has nothing to do with it. Although, in my opinion, my husband and I do manage to show each other some reverence on a regular basis.

    (And, of course, it would indeed be truly wonderful if the catholic bishops were not trying to keep me from using contraception in such a righteous, condemning and judgmental way.)

  5. What does a young poor couple in China do? I Cor. 7:5 tells them not to abstain from relations if they are the very physical type lest satan enter their marriage. But if they have anymore children beyond one, they will be forcibly aborted and fined 3 times their yearly income...eventually jailed. Neither NFP nor the pill etc. make their lives normal. Dual sterilization would make their life normal like a person using NFP in the affluent US.
    Pius XI said one could not exercize control over the generative members in Casti C. of 1930.... caling that mutiliation. He did not remind his readers that beginning with a bull by Pope Sixtus V in the 1580's bringing castrati into the papal churches, 29 Popes cooperated proximately with the castrati system til 1878...70 years after opera stopped the practice. Open an honest Think tank in the Vatican with opposing theologians debating this so we know how many similar cover ups exist in the official documentation. Repeatedly early saints espoused the identical position as Stoicism ( sex is only for begetting) ...Clement, Lactantius, Jerome ( who praised Seneca on marriage matters). That position was voided when the Vatican affirmed the use of the infertile periods after 1845 when Pouchet explained the fertility cycle scientifically. Let's stop pretending we always represented one consistent outlook. We always opposed contraception but for the Stoics and some early saints, that's because they opposed any sex that did not explicitly will children. Augustine was the beginning of the modern papal view but he is 4th and fifth century. And he differed from modern Popes in these words...and then repeated by Aquinas 700 years later:

    Augustine:  " The Good of Marriage" sect6
    " but to pay the due of marriage is no crime, but to demand it beyond the necessity of begetting is a venial fault."

    Aquinas: Summa T., Supplement...question 49 art 5 “I answer that”: 
      “Consequently there are only two ways in which married persons can come together without any sin at all, namely in order to have offspring, and in order to pay the debt, otherwise it is always at least a venial sin."

    This was rejected by the modern Popes when they affirmed the use of the infertile times. So we have saints fathers and doctors repeatedly wrong on this and 29 Popes cooperating with the castrati system. BUT the young Chinese couple must live an anxious life with NFP because....we've always been consistent.

  6. Thanks, CM! PPVI's words from the 2nd paragraph are chilling, considering the present circumstances in the U.S.!