Urbi et orbi: Humanae vitae 50 years on

From the Catholic Herald, entitled “Widespread dissent against Humanae Vitae put me off becoming a Catholic”:

“…We are watching the dismantling, stage by stage, of the moral order on which our civilisation is based, all in the name of progress and enlightenment, with the result that all other order — social, political, domestic — is fast disappearing with it… It seems to me now quite certain that, short of a miracle, the Roman Church is set to go with the contemporary tide.

It will be carried stage by stage, as the Protestant Churches have been, to relinquish all its positions. Married priests, lipstick nuns, permissive marriage, sanctified adultery, divorce and abortion, Catholic schools and colleges producing the same yahoos as non-Catholic ones — it will all happen; is happening.

If mankind is moving towards a worldwide Scandinavian paradise based on material prosperity and the pursuit of pleasure, as many believe, the Church will have no part in it.

The words of Jesus sound absurd in such a setting. If — as I consider far more probable — the quest for this worldwide Scandinavian paradise results in another Dark Ages, the Church, having helped to promote its coming, will be in no position to mitigate its consequences. It will be part of the darkness (my emphasis).

So individual Christians are left with the gospels, the saints and the living Christ — which, of course, is everything.

Those words were written fifty years ago by the British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who was not Catholic at the time he wrote them, but was eventually received into the Church.

For decades, Catholics have contracepted, aborted, divorced, remarried or simply shacked up in proportions as great as – by some data in proportions greater than- their non-Catholic confreres. The priests, with rare and courageous exceptions, were, and are, silent. Some appear to approve. The Bishops, with rare and courageous exceptions, were, and are, silent. Some appear to approve. Most – laity and clergy alike – appear simply unable to articulate why these things might be wrong.

Today, Catholics approve of the practice of sodomy (not to be confused with the burden of genuine same sex attraction, which is only one of the many different sorts burdens – many, but by no means all of which are sexual in nature - all and any of us carry), homosexual “marriage,” and this profoundly frightening and destructive fabrication of the early 21st century known as “transgenderism”, in proportions as great as – by some data in proportions greater than- their non-Catholic confreres. The priests, with rare and courageous exceptions, are silent. Some appear to approve. The Bishops, with rare and courageous exceptions, are silent. Some appear to approve. Most – laity and clergy alike – appear simply unable to articulate why these things might be wrong.

The Catholic Church has, in practice, truly become invisible. Or nearly so.

Sin didn’t enter the world with the wholesale rejection by clergy and laity alike of Humanae vitae, it entered via the Fall and has been with us ever since. Nevertheless, H. Vitae was a critical moment in the life of the Church in these modern times, and I personally take its existence, as well as the fact that we are still at least talking about it, if not practicing it very well, as a good sign, a sign of hope. We must, after all, always be ready to explain the hope which lies within us. But first, we must keep that hope alive. It is sometimes a low and flickering flame.

On this half century anniversary of Humanae vitae (July 25, 1968) I thought I would pass on a few recent links on its history, especially useful for those who don’t really know how it came to be. This is just finger food, there’s much more out there, easily accessible.

"The Bitter Pill of Dissent." National Catholic Register

"After Paul VI released Humanae Vitae 50 years ago, Catholics split into warring tribes." Catholic Herald

"50th anniversary of promulgation of Humanae vitae'" Fr. Z. See also "Marriage, unrealistic ideals and Paul VI's advice."

One stop shopping regarding H. vitae related information: Prof. Janet Smith

And, of course, this: ENCYCLICAL LETTER HUMANAE VITAE Vatican website. It’s not that long, and it’s easy to understand. For those only familiar with long and longer post Vatican II encyclicals, pre-VII encyclicals tend to be short, sweet and to the point.*

Valete.

* Yah, I know, H.V. was 1968, after the close of the council in 1965, but it was still in the older style...

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