Emmitsburg Council of Churches

On Human Life

Father John J. Lombardi

Q: What is the most controversial document of a modern pope?

A: "Humanae Vitae- On Human Life" The fortieth anniversary of this majestic, controversial and helpful document was this past week. Please read on…and heed on!

Contrary to many theologians' opinions and also a whole modern world's advice to overturn Catholic Church teaching against contraception, Pope Paul VI chose instead to be prophetic and issue this definitive document - for human life, sexuality and against unnatural means like contraception (the word literally means, against life).

Q: What did the document say?

A: Basically, it teaches God's plan regarding the goodness of human sexuality. Sexuality should be practiced only within the sacredness and security of marriage and between lifelong partners. The two main purposes of sexuality are procreative (make babies, not war!); and unitive (building intimacy of the couple through pleasure, beauty, self-giving love). As you can see from this description, much of our culture, literature and secularized lifestyles are divorced from, and are antithetical to, Catholic and spiritual Teachings.

Pope Paul warned about this and, further, that if contraception was promoted, then divorce, abuse of women, family breakdown and fornication would all ensue. We have obviously seen this occur throughout the world.

"Humanae Vitae" is not only about laws but, more importantly, about relationships: with God, and between a man and a woman. The Church is more for God's plan for human sexuality than it supposedly is against "humans having fun." When humans separate the procreative from the unitive by contraception, then God is divorced from human interaction. His design is blocked; people become objects and abused; and a dynamic-sensual relationship becomes counterfeit and, literally, counterproductive and against human life.

Unfortunately contraception is a "package deal" with a lot of collateral damage. Contracepting is not just about a single drug or action; it can become a way of life. When you say "no" to God in one form (by contracepting and excluding God from donating a soul), people may say "no" to God in other ways (for instance in following Church teachings). When one manipulates a sexual partner, abuse will occur in other ways. When a person redesigns God's plan in one area of life (by contracepting and not giving totally of self to the other thru elicit human sexuality) then abuse may occur elsewhere (family and marital disharmony). The evidence for this is as clear as it is devastating.

I thought of "Humanae Vitae" recently while reading the front-page article of the New York Times Magazine : "My Years of Living Dangerously: Time's media columnist recalls and re-reports his years as a drug dealer and a crack addict who found out that becoming a parent can save your life". The story described two things: the value of children and conversion. Human life is a gift and children can help us become well, healed and whole!

One of the biggest "cultures" in life today is contraception, though it stays largely undiscussed. The United Nations does it. So does the United States government. Your pharmacist does too and ditto for billions of individuals across the globe, rich and poor. Contraception, along with any drug, creates a negative climate or lifestyle. For instance, Margaret Sanger, an American proponent, proposed contraception and eugenics (racial-economic selection and killing) for poor persons, minorities and undesirables. It was a "package deal" and dark. Yet today she is hailed as a pioneer feminist and liberator…think again.

I just heard of a book entitled "Medication Madness," by Dr. Peter Breggin. It describes how drug companies and doctors routinely over-prescribe drugs, even to young children. It's time for Catholics and others to recognize the counterfeitness of contraception, and alternatively the beauty of human sexuality.

Five Reasons Not to Contracept:

  1. You may gain freedom from sin and enslavements to toxic divisiveness in your life.
  2. God's Plan works. Think of a world of less divorce and depression because of damaging contraceptives and realize the unitive and procreative dimensions of nautre's laws and accord with God's.
  3. Have children-if you can. Children help develop your emotional-erotic love into parental and selfless love. Children save your life/lives. Children give you a joy no one else can and bring more social, economic and cultural help to our world.
  4. Go green (w/Benedict XVI)! So many people are "going natural" with better foods and healthy lifestyles. Who wants to dump chemicals in their body?
  5. Become more open, creative and generous in your life towards your spouse and towards God!

In closing: Stay open to life. Stay open to God's plan and love and spread the Good News everywhere!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi