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Cardinal Dolan To USCCB . . . Humanae Vitae Was Right — And Still Is!

November 25, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

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By CHRISTOPHER MANION

At the recent meeting of America’s Catholic bishops in Baltimore, Timothy Cardinal Dolan gave a stirring address encouraging his fellow bishops to — if you’ll permit the term — “resuscitate” Humanae Vitae in anticipation of its 50th birthday this coming July 25.
Cardinal Dolan, who heads the USCCB’s Pro-Life Committee, told his colleagues that there’s no question that the predictions made by Blessed Paul VI have come to pass. “In 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI prophetically reminded us of God’s noble original design for the married love of husband and wife,” he said.
“For those who are willing to accept the wisdom and the vision of Humanae Vitae, as challenging as it may be, they found beauty and freedom in the Church’s teaching. We’d like to use the occasion of the 50th anniversary to lift up that truth, beauty, and freedom,” Dolan said.
“Humanae Vitae, of course, gave a prophetic, positive vision of love and life,” Cardinal Dolan continued. “But it also gave a sober warning of where we were heading if we chose a different path. . . . Blessed Paul warned that a widespread contraceptive mentality would lead to marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards,” and that prediction has come true.
The Pope “warned that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the deference due to his partner, a woman, and disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his desires. Boy, in so many ways today, we see persons used for the satisfaction of others and discarded when they no longer bring pleasure or become inconvenient. . . .
“Domestic violence, human trafficking, pornography, sexual harassment, assault, abuse, and the general demeaning of women” have all become commonplace.
Cardinal Dolan even pointed to Blessed Paul’s prediction that, once contraception became ubiquitous, there was no reason for governments to refrain from controlling births — or their prevention — among the entire population.
As Pope Paul put it, “careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame the government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resort to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
“It could well happen,” he continued “that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
“Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions — limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed.”
Cardinal Dolan pointed to the Obama administration’s notorious “HHS contraception mandate” as an example of such government intrusion, and expressed his gratitude for the Trump administration’s “liberating” regulations that exempted Catholic institutions. “Those regulations provide rather broad religious and moral exemptions to the mandate, thank God,” he said.
The new regulation already faces legal challenges, he warned, “and there’s always the danger that a future administration could simply restore the mandate” — a danger that will persist until Congress repeals Obamacare once and for all.
The cardinal’s mention of the mandate brings to mind the views he expressed during the Obama years. In 2012, he told The Wall Street Journal that America’s bishops had suffered from “laryngitis” in teaching Humanae Vitae — from the day it was promulgated. And not long afterwards, he told Bill O’Reilly that Humanae Vitae’s teaching on contraception is so unpopular that “we have to be very vigorous in insisting that this [the Church’s opposition to the Obamacare mandate] is not about contraception, it’s about religious freedom.”
The challenge to the Church is not to make Humanae Vitae’s teaching on contraception popular; rather, we must make it known, not as a mere prohibition but as a liberating truth that enriches and protects the family and the culture.
After all, Humanae Vitae is not true merely because it reflects the Church’s timeless teaching on sex, marriage, and the family. It is also true because it is woven into God’s creation and the Natural Law — a law that even secular observers can observer and acknowledge.

DoubleThink Doubles Down

In 2012, social scientist Mary Eberstadt took that tack in her marvelous Adam and Eve After the Pill. America’s cultural elites have studiously ignored the damage done by contraception due to what she calls “cognitive dissonance” (Orwell would call it DoubleThink). And those elites include America’s Catholic hierarchy, which has not taught Humanae Vitae for decades because, as Cardinal Dolan put it, the issue was just “too hot to handle.”
The innovative aspect of Eberstadt’s book is this: Secular science has confirmed today what Catholic moral truths, properly taught, foresaw two generations ago. But America’s intellectual elites had no ears to hear — or bishops to teach them — and we sank into Onan’s mire. In a word, the promises of feminism (and its LGBT acolytes) have failed.
For Eberstadt, “Cognitive dissonance” — ignorance, either invincible or willful — plays a central role in the function of the modern feminist mind. Feminism and its spawn — the sexual revolution — turn out to be a suicide pact.
It calls to mind the presentation that Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, gave at Boston College some 25 years ago. In Genesis, he said, God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and take dominion over the beasts of the earth, and the plants thereof.” Now, says Fr. Fessio, imagine you are Satan. What would you tell Adam and Eve? Why, “don’t be fruitful, don’t multiply, and don’t take dominion over the beasts and plants of the earth — let them take dominion over you.”

Pope Paul VI Was Right!

Eberstadt calls Humanae Vitae “the one doctrine the world loves to hate.” As with most truths, the hatred deepens as the facts emerge, but her last chapter declares that orphaned, prophetic document to be vindicated.
“Not only have the document’s signature predictions been ratified in empirical force, but they have been ratified as few predictions ever are: in ways its authors could not possibly have foreseen” — ironically, in research performed “by many proud public adversaries of the church.”
Unfortunately, Eberstadt discerns within the Church a troubling symptom of its cognitive dissonance: A “significant number” of priests, observing that the laity was rampantly contracepting, decided that they could get away with rampant homosexuality. “It is hard to believe,” she writes, “that either new development — the widespread open rebellion against church sexual teachings by the laity, or the concomitant quiet rebellion against church sexual teachings by a significant number of priests — could have existed without the other.”
Did bishops find that “too hot to handle” as well — and turn a blind eye on abuse until the scandals erupted?
At first blush, the most likely target audience of Mary’s book is the social science community which has hidden its head in the sand for 50 years regarding the impact of the sexual revolution. However, her real audience should be the bishops. Cardinal Dolan admits that they haven’t taught the encyclical’s core moral principles for 50 years, and yet today he rallies them with the same sober realism that Eberstadt proves beyond any doubt, with findings that even secular social scientists cannot honestly deny.
After all, moral teaching of the Magisterium requires integrity. Remove one link in the chain, and the rest atrophy or collapse. Things don’t happen in a vacuum — especially a moral vacuum. As its 50th birthday approaches, let us pray that this “missing link” is restored.

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