Now after its release 50 years ago, we can look back on Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae to see where we have progressed. At the time, there was much resistance, which I believe came from a prophetic teaching that was ahead of technology. Usually the Church is trying to do “catch-up” with new technology. Paul was a visionary!
JULY 25 WAS THE 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on the integrity of love and the appropriate means of family planning. Issued during the cultural meltdown of the 1960s, and in a year when irrationality stalked the entire Western world, Humanae Vitae instantly became the most vilified act of the papal magisterium in history. And to what should have been their shame, entire national episcopates distanced themselves from Pope Paul’s teaching by a variety of stratagems, many of which exhibited some degree of theological confusion and some were downright cowardly.
I STOOD AT the desk in my college apartment, holding a box of birth control pills. As I read the instructions, the lengthy list of side effects made me hesitate.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication by Blessed Paul VI, soon to be St. Paul VI, of his encyclical on the regulation of birth entitled, Humanae Vitae. The release of this encyclical, one of the highest-teaching methods of the Church, caused great uproar in 1968. The teaching it contains on the immorality of contraception continues to be controversial today; though perhaps, even worse, for many contemporary people, its teaching is deemed irrelevant and thus ignored.
Can one imagine a more difficult year for “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) to be heard than 1968?
On July 25, 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI released his long-awaited encyclical on birth control, “Of Human Life,” or as it is called in its Latin title, “Humanae Vitae.”