Sunday, May 23, 2004

Humanae Vitae 

Our priest gave a rip roaring homily this week. I was impressed. This was a Holy Day of Obligation (Ascension Sunday) so the church was packed and he took the opportunity to teach, not to make people feel good about themselves, but to make them uncomfortable with the cultural status quo.

He spoke about contraception and Pope Paul VI's HUMANAE VITAE from 1968. He called the Pope's letter prophetic and argued that many are defying the letter without ever spending the time to read it. Here's a taste of Human Vitae:

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, 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 a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts 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.

Our priest then called out politicians who call themselves Catholic but don't support Church teachings regarding birth control and abortion and other topics. He spoke about how these same politicians are condemning the Church for teaching what the church believes. In the sermon, our priest said that the people in power won't start out with large laws restricting the church, but with little things, like the California decision to make Catholic Charities provide birth control pills to their employees. Soon, the government will decide to start taxing the Church because they'll claim that teaching what we believe is the same as taking sides politically.

It was a full and strong talk... a call to the faithful to stand watch. It was the type of sermon that once could have happened in a Methodist Church, back when they fought righteously against drinking and gambling, back when it was a scandal in the Methodist Church to divorce or get pregnant out of wedlock, back when a woman aborting her baby would have been unthinkable. But now the Methodist Women proudly take part in the "March for Choice" in Washington.

But, on the good side, there is conflict in the Methodist Church over their direction... read this nice article about Methodists and Stem Cell Research vs. Dr. Seuss.

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