On 25 July 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter called Humanae Vitae. A Latin phrase meaning “of human life”. The encyclical letter was written in answer to the development of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s and the new challenges this would bring to sexuality and marriage.
It presents the beautiful vision that the Church has always held of the dignity of marriage and our ability to participate in God’s creative work through our fertility.
In fact all Christian churches before the 1930s taught contraception was wrong.
However Humanae Vitae reaffirmed the Church’s enduring teaching that artificial birth control is not morally acceptable within this rich understanding of marriage and the creation of new life.
Humanae Vitae is also a prophetic document. Pope Paul VI predicted in the letter that the use of contraception would have four serious consequences:
1. Increased adultery
2. Sexual irresponsibility, especially among young people.
3. Contraception would lead men to use women as sexual tools and so lose respect for them.
4. And finally, contraception would enable governments to introduce population control programs.
Who can doubt that what the pope predicted has now become a reality? With contraception, sex, indeed, has become a casual past-time, just another activity on the dating round-a-bout.
Let’s listen to the wisdom and insights of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae…