Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F.K. Bartels

12/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many of his predictions of cultural decline have come to pass

'Servant of God Paul VI, Giovanni Battista Montini, Italian, Supreme Pontiff (1897-1978). This is the beginning of the long awaited path to his possible canonization.' The champion of human life, prophetic Pope Paul VI, is now called Venerable.

Venerable Pope Paul VI

Venerable Pope Paul VI

Highlights

By F.K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/23/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Pope Paul VI, Venerable, saints, canonization, Congregation for the Saints, Humanae Vitae, Pro-Life, Abortion, Contraception, the language of the body, catholic anthropology, the truth of the human person, artificial birth control, contraceptives, marital


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- On Wednesday, December 20, 2012, during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorized the Congregation to promulgate a number of decrees. Among them this one, "Servant of God Paul VI, Giovanni Battista Montini, Italian, Supreme Pontiff (1897-1978)." This is the beginning of the long awaited path to his possible canonization. The champion of human life, prophetic Pope Paul VI is now called Venerable. 

Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, promulgated three years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, rapidly became at the time of its release the most intensely mocked and reviled Church document in centuries, perhaps amassing more derision than any other solemn teaching of the Church in the entire history of Christendom. To this day, many Catholic proponents of Pope Paul's teaching hesitate to mention Humanae Vitae to those who grew up in the 60s and 70s for fear of the averse reactions which not infrequently follow.

On the other hand, Catholics who broach the subject of Humanae Vitae with those whose birthdate allowed them to be spared the brunt of the 60s sexual revolution and acute-suspicion-of-authority influence, experience a different reaction: Paul VIs encyclical is often not part of their vocabulary because they have never heard of it. So the first step is to invite them to read it.

The situation with these Catholics, especially those who are approximately thirty years of age and younger, is both interesting and encouraging: once they are properly catechized on the theology of the human body and the spiritual language it speaks, along with the consequences of making a lie of one's body during the marital act through the use of artificial birth control, treating fertility as if it is a disease, objectifying one's spouse and refusing to be open to life, they very quickly recognize the profound worth of Pope Paul's teaching. And not only that; as a result they often develop a deep and lasting appreciation for the Church. They begin to see that the Church is our mother who desires to take us into her womb and, by nourishing her children with the words of truth and the sacraments of life, raise us to new and eternal life in Christ.

These Catholics, then, come to recognize that the teaching of the Church is about eternal salvation; it's about realizing the gift of unending, perfect happiness; it's about concern for the whole and complete truth of the human person and the relationships which follow; It's about building a better world; it's about understanding and actualizing true human freedom -- just as is Humanae Vitae.

Once the light about the Church's true nature penetrates the soul, which is a gift of the Spirit, a refreshing vision of the Bride of Christ is unveiled before one's eyes with astonishing clarity. No longer is the Church viewed through an hermeneutic of suspicion, but rather she becomes a "holy temple" and "dwelling place of God among men" (LG 6 ß 4; Rev. 21:3), who is the "kingdom of Christ now present in mystery" (LG 3). Transformed by the Spirit, who reveals Christ and his Church in full and penetrating light, the eyes of the soul are opened to the true nature of the Church as the "spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb" (LG 6 ß 5; Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17). Praise God!

But if Humanae Vitae's release had occurred a mere fifty years earlier, when the American populace's views on sexuality, marriage and children were net yet so tainted, things would have been different. The dissenting cry of the 60s and 70s would likely have been replaced with approbation, since both Catholics and Protestants frowned on the use of mechanical devises and dangerous chemicals before, during and after sex in an attempt to frustrate procreation.

The fact is, Christendom was in general agreement on the sinfulness of contraceptives up until the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 1930. While the conference strongly condemned the use "of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience," emphasizing abstinence as the primary method to avoid parenthood, "in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid" the generation of children, the Anglican bishops deemed that "other methods may be used." That of course opened the door. Once the birth control pill was legalized in 1960, it became the "other method." Obviously, it was not only Protestants who began to embrace the use of hormonal contraceptives, but many Catholics as well -- although the Church has never approved of man's attempts at driving an artificial wedge between the marital act and procreation.

It is, then, no surprise that in 1968 Humanae Vitae met up with blatant outrage, since "methods of conception control" had long stemmed not only from selfish motives of "luxury" and "mere convenience" but from the mistaken conviction that men and women had a "right" to enjoy unrestrained sex without being "burdened" by the potential for an unwanted pregnancy. Fertility had come to be viewed as an hindrance rather than a blessing. "How dare the Church insert itself into our bedrooms!" cried the voices of dissent. It would have been more honest if those same voices would have simply admitted their intolerance for any advocates of self-discipline in the area of sexual pleasure.

Today, however, things are changing. Catholics and other Christians in growing number are recognizing the perennial and prophetic witness of Humanae Vitae. What was before despised is now in many cases revered. The whole encyclical is overflowing with profound and wise teaching on the crucial importance of cooperating with the Creator in free and loving obedience, the natural moral law, Catholic anthropology, the transmission of human life, marriage, human fertility, and so forth. It is a must read for anyone who wants to know how to live a fully human life of happiness.

When we read the encyclical, it is in a way difficult to imagine it as a source of previous scorn. For instance, in the opening paragraphs we read of Pope Paul's sincere love and concern for married couples, including the lives and happiness of all human beings:

"The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

"The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings."

In section II, titled "Doctrinal Principles," Pope Paul taught that when considering the question of human procreation and the use of artificial birth control, since it is a question which touches on human life itself, it is "the whole man and the whole mission to which he is called that must be considered: both its natural, earthly aspects and its supernatural, eternal aspects" (HV 7). Stated another way, the human person is a moral agent who possesses the capacity to shape his character and father his own being by his choices, actions or inactions, and thus seal his eternal destiny by either collaborating with God's plan of wise goodness or attempting to frustrate and undermine it. There are consequences for heedlessly ignoring or rejecting the natural moral law.

In article 12, Paul VI notes that the conjugal act is ordered toward both the union of the spouses and human procreation, which constitutes an inseparable, fundamental connection inherent in the marriage act. This fundamental connection between an intimate union of the spouses and openness to new life is ordained by the will of God according to eternal law. Simply stated, in creating man and woman, God has wisely written laws into their nature for their own good. It is no accident or mere coincidence of evolution that the human sexual faculties are what they are and do what they do. God has a purpose for human sexuality. When that purpose is thwarted or circumvented by the use of artificial birth control, the will of God, who is the Author of Life, is contradicted (HV 13).

Again, Pope Paul is concerned for the eternal well being of the human person and his or her happiness: the "fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life -- and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called."

The natural moral law reveals that man does not have unlimited dominion over his body or his sexual faculties (HV 13), for both of these must be used within the limits of the order of reality established by God (HV 16). When these limits are ignored, rejected or exceeded, horrifying consequences result. Here we are brought to Pope Paul's prophetic words in article 17:

"Let [responsible men] first consider how easily [artificial birth control] 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 . . . 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" (HV 17).

Many of these predictions have come to pass in one form or other: the grave moral decline of contemporary society; the promotion of false notions of freedom which are detached from the moral law; the wildly out-of-control transmission and use of pornography; the devaluation of the institution of marriage; skyrocketing divorce rates; the "friends with benefits" (FWB) phenomenon in which friendships are arranged to include sexual activity without commitment to emotional or any other bonds.

Just a few years after Humanae Vitae the wedge of artificial birth control was driven so deeply between the marital act and human procreation that it spawned the unspeakable evil of legalized abortion in the U.S. under the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The logical extension of the contraceptive mentality is the abortion mentality.

Further, we are now confronted with the HHS mandate, the attacks on the right to exercise freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, and a President who adamantly insists that it isn't fair for the Catholic Church to refuse to provide abortion inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations to insurance recipients. We have to wonder, what is next? 

Not until men and women begin to understand that they are bodily and spiritual beings, moral agents whose bodies must always be used to speak the language of truth, will we see the terrifyingly steep moral descent of America begin to flatten out. The more people who embrace the Church as the city of truth in Christ, a holy womb of love in which men are taught how to live and how to die, the more will society become aligned with the will of our loving God, who "works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

In the Major Legend, St. Bonaventure Points us to St Francis - and the Lord Jesus Christ Watch

Image of Bonaventure was a friend and a disciple of Francis. When he looked at Francis he saw Jesus Christ. Bonaventure, like his friend Francis, was also a mystic. To him the Spirit of Francis is the Spirit of Jesus and

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On July 15th in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we commemorate the life, holiness, work and death of a great Bishop and Doctor named Bonaventure. He was born in 1218, became a Franciscan Friar in 1243, and died in 1274. A friend ... continue reading


Was St. Christopher a real saint? A new perspective

Image of Is St. Christopher real? Only you can decide for yourself.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Is Saint Christopher a real saint? This is a question debated by fans -and detractors of the historic figure of St. Christopher. Christopher was removed from the canon of Catholic Saints in 1969 since there was no evidence he existed that could satisfy Church ... continue reading


Does your marriage need help? St. Rita knows...

Image of St. Rita is the patron saint of difficult causes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today is the feast day of St. Rita, who is the patroness of impossible causes, especially rough marriages and cases of domestic abuse. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - St. Rita had a hard life. As a child she asked her parents to enter a convent, but they arranged a ... continue reading


St. Eugene de Mazenod who cared for the poorest Watch

Image of St. Eugene organized the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to care for the world's poor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today's saint of the day is St. Eugene de Mazenod, who was born in France during the era of the French Revolution and lived through national upheaval but cared for the world's poorest, even when the Church was persecuted. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - St. Eugene ... continue reading


St. Dymphna, patron of those with mental afflictions, pray for us! Watch

Image of The National Shrine of St. Dymphna at St. Mary Parish in Massillon, Ohio, USA.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Dymphna is our Saint of the Day. Dymphna is a 7th century Irish saint, often invoked against mental illness. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - St. Dymphna was born to a petty Irish king and was desired by her father for marriage after the death of her mother. It ... continue reading


Remembering Saint Dymphna; the patroness saint against insanity Watch

Image of St. Dymphna is typically artistically represented with a sword in her hand and a fettered devil at her feet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sometimes referred to as Saint Dympna or Saint Dimpna, Saint Dymphna had been venerated for many years in a church at Gheel, in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. Saint Dymphna's story dates from the middle of the 13th century. Bishop Guy I of Cambrai (1238 - ... continue reading


Saint Matthias, an outsider welcomed in

Image of St. Matthias was welcomed in from the outside. We are invited to do the same for others.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online's saint of the day is St. Matthias. Matthias is the apostle who replaced Judas after his betrayal and suicide. The selection of Matthias is detailed in the Acts of the Apostles. Matthias is associated with luck and is invoked against the temptations of ... continue reading


Fr Paul Schenck on the Feast of Athanasius: Defenders of Life Against the World

Image of Fr Paul Schenck

By Fr. Paul CB Schenck

Athanasius vigorously defended the divine personhood of Christ, even when it seemed the majority of the Church had accepted Arius's error. Athanasius contra mundum - it was Athanasius against the world! So it is in our pro-life effort today. The denial of the ... continue reading


Duc in Altum: Men, Put Out Into the Deep on the Feast of St Joseph Watch

Image of

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

This model of Christian manliness recommends himself to us not for any strange or exciting things he did (because he really didn't) but for the daily listening to and heeding the voice of Almighty God - in the home, in the synagogue and Temple, in the ... continue reading


Feast of Joseph, Husband of Mary: Time for Christian Men to Follow His Example Watch

Image of St. Joseph is our teacher and shows us the way to love and follow Jesus Christ. he shows us how to be faithful husbands, fathers and servants of the Lord. Joseph is a true 'man's man' calling all men to follow Jesus.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

He still gives His message and His mission to men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and then choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage. He still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation and ... continue reading


All Christian Saints & Heroes News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Song of Songs 3:1-4
1 On my bed at night I sought the man who is my ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:1-2, 11-18
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Mary Magdelene
July 22: She is called "the Penitent". St. Mary was given the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter