Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Original Humanae Vitae Moment

For that moment he was our Rob Roy

Some optimists have argued that the concluding part of the Synod on the Family will be an opportunity for Pope Francis to have his "Humanae Vitae moment". That is, in the face of all the muddle and dissent regarding traditional Catholic teaching on the family from cardinals, bishops and other malcontents (assume for the moment that the Pope himself is responsible for none of this), Francis will clearly and definitively reject all of it.

I will bet anyone $100 right now that will not happen.

If you want to rumble with me for the cash, please remember the terms--clearly and definitively.

Who says you can't make money from blogging?

But I want to look now at the original "Humanae Vitae moment". Of course I mean reviewing the text of Humanae Vitae itself.

Let me first point out that Humanae Vitae is not without its critics among traditionalist Catholics. Some say that Pope Paul VI should have officially declared it infallible teaching. Others think it shouldn't have even endorsed "natural family planning". Many believe that the Pope didn't follow it up very aggressively (he allowed dissidents to have a free-pass in criticizing it). Others think that Paul VI made weak sauce in general and Humanae Vitae was too little and too late in an otherwise almost uniformly disastrous pontificate.

I will here make no comment on those criticisms.

Instead, let me quote a few choice excerpts from the concluding section of that 1968 encyclical (the emphases are my own):
18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical... 
...It could never be right for (the Church) to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. 
In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization... 
19. ...The Church, in fact, cannot act differently toward men than did the Redeemer. 
20. The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself... 
22. ...We would call their attention to the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license... 
Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture... 
23. (To Governments) And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations...We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God... 
27. (To Doctors and Nurses) Likewise we hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest...let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. 
28. (To Priests) who are is your principal spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage..."I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." 
30. (To Bishops) ...We implore you, to give a lead to your priests...and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection. Consider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities...

The original Humanae Vitae moment was a Pope Pius X moment. It was a Pope Gregory the Great moment. It was a Christian Fathers against Arianism moment.

It was (apologies) a Jesus moment.

Was Pope Paul VI a vacillator?

Not that time.

Has Pope Francis, in encyclical, official statement, homily, off-the-cuff address, airplane interview or whatever of a whatever ever said anything remotely similar to anything in the above?


Seriously, ever?

Wait. Why is everyone withdrawing their bets?

Come back.

I have a family to feed.

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