Saturday, August 02, 2008


Charles Lewis's column takes a look at HV, the climate surrounding its promulgation, the commission's findings that the pope rejected, the current thinking among Catholics regarding its implementation. It's a quite interesting article that begins thus:

In the late 1960s, the sexual revolution was in full swing, free love was the order of the day and the widespread use of the birth control pill made experimentation all the easier.

For faithful Catholics, who had lived with an absolute ban on artificial birth control, oral contraception seemed to offer a loophole. Physician John Rock, co-inventor of the pill and an ardent Catholic with five children and 19 grandchildren, believed it got around the ban because it did not involve an interruption of the sexual act, which was what the Church always felt was wrong.

At the same time, the reform spirit of Vatican II was in the air and there was a sense that, perhaps, the ban could be toppled. In 1967, a papal commission of bishops, cardinals and lay people advised Pope Paul VI to change the age-old rule.

The Pope would have none of it.

Read it here

Some interesting points brought out in the article:

1. It was the opposite of the general thinking of the Catholic population at the time it was issued.

2. It was not received at the time as accurate teaching on the nature of marriage, and it has been unable to convince Catholics up to the present time, as the statistics on compliance indicate.

3. It undermined the Church's credibility.

4. It points out that "even the rhythm method, a 'natural' attempt at birth control, was frowned upon" at the time the encyclical was issued. Yet birth control has come to be accepted using the 'natural' method--a 180 degree reversal which has now become the litmus test of being traditionally Catholic.

If the Church can change its opinion about "natural" birth control, there is no reason to think it can't change its opinion about other barrier methods. I pity the couples who have violated their own consciences in an effort to be faithful Catholics when those barrier methods are finally accepted within a committed Catholic married life.

The Church is currently in a no-win situation. If there is a reversal of the teaching on barrier methods, traditional Catholics who have struggled with rhythm and NFP are going to feel betrayed. If there is no reversal and the Church attempts to force compliance with HV, particularly after the sexual scandal we have endured, a lot of sensible moral couples are going to simply walk out.

It's going to be very interesting to watch the spin on the rising demand that HV be reassessed.

The elephant in the livingroom may be poised to trample down the house.

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