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Humanae Vitae

It has been good to be back home and celebrate Mass here at Mary, Queen of Heaven all this week. Being away for two weeks has proved to be an impractical undertaking, as a series of challenging events began taking place the very day I left. The life of the church goes on. In fact, I did spend a great deal of time while away, trying to address from afar, complexities, misinformation and misconceptions. Last week’s “Pastor’s Corner”, written in Wisconsin, explicitly addressed the endemic problem that has been revealed here in Jacksonville; the problem of Catholic men continuing their membership in association with Freemasonry. That “Corner” quite clearly addressed the very serious spiritual repercussions that are levied by the Catholic Church upon those Catholics who adamantly refuse to recant and renounce their membership in the Masons. I will not address this further in this “Corner” as the subject was quite thoroughly explained in last week’s, July 22nd, “Corner”, which can be obtained on the Mary Queen of Heaven parish app. I will close the subject, by again referring to the pertinent quote from Matt 16:26: “What would there be for a man to gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?” Whatever the worldly fraternal prestige and honor that is perceived to accrue from Freemasonry membership is quite simply, just not worth risking the loss of one’s Eternal happiness in Heaven.

I do want to take some time to reflect on the Anniversary we are celebrating in the worldwide Church… the 50th Anniversary of the prophetic 1968 Encyclical promulgated by Pope Paul VI… “Humanae Vitae” (The Regulation of Birth). I will try to relate, in the coming weeks, the tremendous importance that this profound document has had on our faith and our society. We need to be aware of our faith-backed responsibility to be alert to any initiatives by a new papal commission charged with “reinterpreting” the encyclical’s teaching “in the light of Amoris Laetitia” and any attempt to refute the wisdom of Pope Paul’s courageous. I am gleaning material from the National Catholic Register website to present this information.

So, why did so many Catholics succumb so quickly and definitively to the specious promises that were made regarding artificial birth control? To answer that question calls for an intricate story, of which only a small fraction can be told here. But I hope the fraction will help us all appreciate much better…what it is that the Church went through …50 years ago, during the decade of discontent, in one of the most turbulent years in modern history, with the publication of this, the most controversially received document in the history of the Catholic Church. Again, the story is told for the sake of remembrance, for understanding, and first-time knowledge for those with no memory of the event, and to help all of us to avoid past mistakes.

Before Vatican II: The 100 years before the publication of Humanae Vitae were very productive for the science of contraceptives. Charles Goodyear patented the process for vulcanizing rubber in 1844, and the first condom was produced in 1855. Margaret Sanger was born in 1879 and founded her American Birth Control League in 1921. The structure of steroid hormones was determined in the early 1930s. High dosages were later found to inhibit ovulation. But they were very expensive to produce. The elderly Sanger, when she learned about hormone research in the early 1950s, made it her business to fund the new science, first through her own Planned Parenthood and later through other organizations she could influence. The research paid off, and, in 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first steroid hormone drug, Enovid, for contraceptive use. By 1962, the same year the Second Vatican Council opened, more than 1 million American women were on the pill. Virtually the whole non-Catholic world had made up its mind by this time that birth control was a panacea. The Anglican bishops had already began courting the idea at the 1930 Lambeth Conference and by 1958 had fully committed the Anglican Church at Lambeth that year. As went Anglicanism, so went the rest of Protestant Christianity. The National Council of Churches approved the panacea by an “overwhelming” margin in 1961. At the dawn of the 1960s, professional associations, politicians and financiers were falling over each other to endorse so-called “anti-natal solutions”. The 20,000-member American Public Health Association went on the record in 1959 in favor of publicly funded programs of birth control. John D. Rockefeller III used his Bureau of Social Hygiene and Population Council to export contraceptives throughout the world through
population-control programs. The influential government-sponsored “Draper Report” recommended in 1959 that the U.S. government should finance and manage huge population-control efforts to the “Third World.” People feared overpopulation almost as much as they did nuclear weapons. The alarmism blinded nearly everyone. Even President Lyndon Johnson vowed in a State of the Union address to “deal with the explosion in world population and the growing scarcity in world resources.”

I will continue next week with a reflection on the “Enemies from without” and the “Enemies from within” the Catholic Church, the advent of Vatican II, the rise of compromising “Proportionalistic” reasoning, finally, our task, or challenge for today.

Yours in quest of faithful unity,