August 25th 2018


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COVER STORY Current policies leave farmers high and dry in drought

CANBERRA OBSERVED Captain and Lieutenant's $444 million munificence

MEDICAL ETHICS Changes to AHPRA's code of conduct would gag doctors

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump delivers for U.S. economy and workers

CHILDREN AND SOCIETY Treating depressed children: How will history judge us?

PRIVACY Big Brother is marketing you

THE FAMILY Humanae Vitae: a prophetic document at 50

SOCIETY AND MORES Novel features of child sexual abuse in our time

EUTHANASIA International expert emphasises palliative care

BIOGRAPHY The trouble with Harry (Freame) is that we've forgotten him

OPINION Just asking ... sauce for the goose ...?

HISTORY Christianity has died. Agreed, and yet ...

MILITARY HISTORY The volunteering spirit proves best in the test

HUMOUR

MUSIC Chilly exposure: The sound and the fury

CINEMA Mission Impossible: Fallout: Ethan Hunt, knight errant

BOOK REVIEW A good diagnosis enables the cure

BOOK REVIEW End of the American empire?

LETTERS

POETRY

OPINION The Victorian ALP observed from up close

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THE FAMILY
Humanae Vitae: a prophetic document at 50


by Jean Seah

News Weekly, August 25, 2018

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on married love and the appropriate means of family planning. Issued at the height of the sexual revolution in the 1960s – a time where liberalism and irrationality rocked the Western world – the encyclical aimed to state strongly the Catholic Church’s stance on love, family and reproduction.

Paul VI went against the zeitgeist
and his own experts when he
reaffirmed traditional Catholic
teaching in Humanae Vitae.

At the time it was controversial as it went against the tide of the sexual revolution, and even within the Church some dioceses distanced themselves from its teachings.

However, Paul VI did recognise the call for concern. He recognised that the dignity of the human person was at risk as people were playing God, regulating births and going against the body’s natural fertility cycle. He also recognised that clarification on the Church’s teaching on sex and its role were required as those advocating for change were stating that moral judgements were really based on intentions, acts and consequences. This was directly opposed to the Church’s basic moral teaching that some acts are wrong solely on account of their nature.

We see many of the predictions of Humanae Vitae coming true before our eyes today. The “contraceptive culture” of which Paul VI warned has gained momentum over the decades since the sexual revolution, with abortifacients and abortions being easily available around the world as various jurisdictions have worked to provide easy access to them.

On the flipside, however, the fruits of Humanae Vitae can also be seen today. The truths of natural family planning have contributed to family ministry and marriage preparation in various cultures around the world. Furthermore, St John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” has given the Catholic Church a useful tool with which to explain the truths taught by Humanae Vitae, while also explaining the unhappiness caused in society by the sexual revolution.

St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body itself drew its inspiration from words that Paul VI wrote in Humanae Vitae. St John Paul II observed that we must look “beyond partial perspectives to a total vision of man and his vocation”. He then set out to explain what the total vision of man meant and that understanding the meaning of this vision would enable man to live joyfully the Church’s teachings on the meaning and purpose of Human life (Humanae Vitae).

St John Paul II reiterated the point of “vision” from Humanae Vitae, making note that many in modern society are obsessed with looking at the human body, but they “look and they do not see” (Matt 13:13). The Theology of the Body was developed so that each person might “come, and become one who sees” (John 1:39).

At the time that St John Paul II was developing the Theology of the Body, the Church was facing challenges: unclear interpretations and formulations around moral theology relating to sexual matters were rife, and society had lost confidence in the Church over its handling of the sexual scandal. This latter in particular had lead people to cease listening to the Church on human sexuality.

St John Paul wanted to make clear that Humanae Vitae was not against man but completely for him. People at the time were asking “how far can I go” and society as a whole had a focus on sexual pleasure. St John Paul gave an explanation that repaired the link between sex and spirituality. He achieved this in the Theology of the Body by asking questions: “What does it mean to be human?” “What is a person?” “What does it mean to love?” “Why did God make me male or female?” “Why did God create sex in the first place?”

Last month, papal household theologian Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych OP spoke at the Dawson Society conference at Notre Dame Perth. Father Giertych spoke on Humanae Vitae in modern society, reinforcing the Church’s teaching on married love, the importance of parenthood and the exclusion of artificial contraception.

Recently Archbishop Fisher, writing in the American cultural and political journal, First Things, explained that Humanae Vitae caused a stir because it was published at a time when unmarried people were assumed to be sexually active and birth control was deemed essential. He said: “The teaching against contraception and abortion suggested that breaking God’s plan and the natural order of things, even from a secular point of view, would do more harm than good.” Results would include more marital infidelity, lower moral standards, a hyper-sexualised culture, gender ideologies and “reproductive rights”.

Archbishop Fisher went on further to outline that Humanae Vitae was not only a warning and clarity on the Church’s stance, but a call back to God and his plan for humanity, in particular, as embodied in the profound truths of marriage and its purpose as a vocation.

He also explained that Paul VI describes the importance of the word “return” in his encyclical: the Church calls all its members that have strayed to come back in order to live out God’s true plan for their lives. “Repair” is another word used by Pope Paul VI where, through living out the wisdom of Humanae Vitae, a person will improve their self-understanding, self-mastery and self-gift.

Archbishop Fisher ends by saying that Humanae Vitae reinforces that “the Church is there for all those who struggle and fall ..., to accompany them and bring them home. It offers us a vision of the good life that enriches marriage – bringing serenity from struggle, virtue out of vice, holiness after repair.”




























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