The Teaching of the Prophetic Encyclical Humanae Vitae (Part II)

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The Predictions of Humanae Vitae

We begin our exposition of Humanae Vitae (HV) with section no. 17. In this part of the document, Pope Paul VI lays out four predictions as to what would happen in society if teaching against contraception went unheeded. Let us remember that this teaching is not simply a particular doctrine of the Catholic Church. As we shall see later, this doctrine belongs to the natural law, that God has inscribed in human nature, and thus binds in conscience all human beings. In fact, conscience is the witness (not the source) of this universal moral law in the interior of each human person.1

However, many people do not care to follow the natural law and its demands. They wrongly consider it to be something “abstract” and alien to their lives. However, many times the truth on a precept of moral law is emphasized through the deleterious effects that follow if such commandment is not obeyed. That is why Jesus said, “The Wisdom of God is shown through all its results.”2 Therefore, HV 17 is an adequate and relevant context to begin our exposition of this prophetic document.

four predictions

The four predictions that the Holy Father laid out in HV 17 are:

  1. A general degradation of sexual morality and an increase in marital infidelity,
  2. The loss of respect for their wives as persons on the part of their husbands, and of women in general on the part of men
  3. The decision of some governments to impose population control through contraception, sterilization or abortion on their own people,
  4. The tendency of man to wrongly think that he should have an absolute dominion over his (or her) own body, including his procreative powers or those of others.

Unfortunately, each one of these four predictions, as we shall see, has become dramatically true over the last five decades, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.

Once procreation is deliberately separated from sexual relations through contraception, there is nothing logical to convince anyone that said relations are the exclusive domain of marriage. Moreover, over time—and indeed a very short time—some people can neither be convinced that sexual relations must only exist between a man and a woman. So-called homosexual “marriage” is not the cause of the dilution of the concept of marriage in the collective consciousness, but one of its most ruinous effects. Contraception is the main culprit or at least one of the main causes. Of course, once sex is run amok, any one of its effects turns around and becomes another enemy of the sanctity of marriage. But it all starts with the evil effect contraception has caused in the minds and hearts of people. What we do, good or bad, tend to have a boomerang effect, for good or ill, on how we think, will, and feel:

Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator.3

The evil act of contraception is not an exception.

In our next article we shall explore the first prediction of Humanae Vitae.


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+ Endnotes

[1] See Romans 2:14-16. See also CCC 1956. Notice that here the CCC is quoting from Cicero, a pagan Roman thinker, who gives a powerful testimony as to the existence of the natural law.

[2] Luke 7:35.

[3] See Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, on the Church in the Modern World, no. 27, or simply GS 27.

Adolfo is the Director of Education for Hispanic Outreach for Human Life International and of HLI's Hispanic outreach arm Vida Humana Internacional. He has a Masters in Theology from St. Vincent de Paul Regional (Major) Seminary and a License in Moral Theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.

Adolfo has traveled frequently to VHI’s affiliates in Latin America to give talks, training sessions, and media interviews. He has authored and co-authored books, articles, reports, and a pro-life training course for Hispanics in the U.S. Adolfo has also participated in the production of two TV pro-life series in Spanish, which have been aired through EWTN en Español.

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