Appeared in Spring 1993, Vol. XIX, No. 1

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. An encyclical of an open-minded Pope overturned and unwittingly insulted the then collective wisdom of “outstanding” theologians (hundreds signed a document against its truth – some of whom had not even read the text!). The euphoric times of the second Vatican council within the church slowly had soured the taste of many catholics as the cultural, artistic and social “sixties” revolution in the U.s. as well as other industrial nations of the west soared to the erotic beat of the sexual revolution. The Holy Father was typically very clear that the human person is not the master of life but its minister who must respect God’s laws in transmitting this life (#13). While he did not develop a syllogism linking abortion with contraception, clearly its relationship was on his mind (#14). He, like all of his successors, saw that a contra-conception mindset easily gives birth to a contra-life mentality in the deeper sense of doing violence not only to offspring but to any human life that gets in the way of one’s personal plans and goals.1 It did not take too much acumen to see that violence in the bedroom would lead to greater violence in the hospital or the rest home. If any quality of life seems to pose burdens, then, like contraception which does violence to human life in potency, one can destroy that life.

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