Contraception is Not the Answer

The Response to Humanae Vitae is One of the Great Tragedies of the 20th Century

By  Human Life International:

Troubling rumors have been swirling around Rome for months now about an alleged papal commission tasked with undertaking an “historical review” of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. Despite initial denials about the existence of the commission, it appears that a Vatican official has just confirmed that there is, in fact, such a commission at work.

Of course, it’s not inherently troubling that the Vatican should study the encyclical, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its publication this June. Humanae Vitae, which reiterated Church teaching against artificial contraception, is both one of the most important, and also one of the most opposed, misunderstood, and least taught encyclicals in Church history.


The response to Humanae Vitae is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century Church, one which contributed mightily to ensuring the dominance of the Culture of Death. A Vatican-led study oriented towards strongly reaffirming Humanae Vitae and developing a strategy for how to better present its teaching to the faithful would be very welcome.

However, there are reasons to be concerned that this may not be the primary intent of the commission. It is no secret that ever since its publication, there has been an ongoing, concerted, and often successful campaign by many theologians and some high-level clergy and church officials to “reinterpret” Humanae Vitae.

This effort received its most dramatic backing in the “Winnipeg Statement,” the Canadian bishops’ official 1968 response to Humanae Vitae. In that statement the bishops conference gave an official wink and a nod to contraception, stating that if a couple “tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives [of Humanae Vitae], they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.”

The Winnipeg Statement, the most authoritative statement of dissent in the Church against Humanae Vitae, has never been retracted. In light of the news in Rome, many pro-life leaders are naturally nervous about what sorts of findings this new, and surprisingly secretive papal commission might arrive at. Any statement even remotely resembling the Winnipeg Statement coming from the Vatican would be disastrous for souls, families, and efforts to build a Culture of Life.

St. John Paul II’s prophetic (and timely) message

For this reason, the timing couldn’t be better for the recent publication in English, for the first time, of a prophetic speech by St. John Paul II, defending Humanae Vitae from its many detractors. I urge you to read the speech, which was delivered to a conference on “responsible procreation,” in its entirety.

John Paul II had stern words for those, including some “in the Christian community,” who would oppose the teaching of Humanae Vitae. “[T]hose who place themselves in open contrast with the law of God, authentically taught by the Church, guide spouses on a wrong path,” warned the pope. “What the Church teaches about contraception is not a matter of free discussion among theologians.”

In response to those who would argue that following Humanae Vitae in some cases is “unfeasible” for spouses, John Paul II called for greater efforts to support couples, and greater faith in the power of God’s grace. “The grace of Christ gives spouses the real capacity to fulfill the whole ‘truth,’ of their conjugal love,” he said. “As the Tradition of the Church has constantly taught, God does not command the impossible, but every commandment also entails a gift of grace which helps human freedom to fulfill it.”

The pope was sympathetic to the struggles of married couples, but also unwilling to extend to them a false compassion that was inconsistent with truth. Following the moral law can be challenging, he acknowledged. The solution is not for couples to give in to temptation or to listen to the myriad voices of the world, but rather to rise to the challenge, resorting to “constant prayer” and “frequent recourse to the sacraments and the exercise of conjugal chastity.”

“Today more than yesterday, man is again beginning to feel the need for truth and right reason in his daily experience,” the Holy Father concluded. “Always be ready to say, without ambiguity, the truth about the good and evil regarding man and the family.

In this speech the sainted pope was providing a template for authentically compassionate pastoral teaching: expressing understanding for the trials of Christians, but also standing firm in the truth, and challenging couples to holiness, rather than capitulation to the world.

Uganda’s sad experiment with contraception

Why is it that so many are so afraid of upholding the beauty of Church teaching? In these past five decades we have done little to nothing to assist young couples and families as they are assaulted by a sex-saturated, anti-marriage culture. Countless Catholics have never even heard Paul VI’s teaching about the dignity and meaning of conjugal love expressed to them with both clarity and compassion. Consequently, a large majority of Catholic couples openly reject that teaching in their conjugal relations. The practical consequences have been catastrophic.

I just experienced this in Uganda where contraception is being pushed mercilessly by powerful international NGO’s and foundations. Uganda was once a very, very rare success story in Africa in the fight against AIDS, experiencing a sharp reduction in AIDS rates throughout the 1990s. How did Uganda accomplish this extraordinary feat? By a public awareness campaign heavily stressing abstinence and faithful, monogamous relationships as the only reliable ways to avoid infection. Condoms were only presented as last resort.

This message prioritizing behavioral responsibility didn’t sit well with the sex-obsessed Western foundations and governments pouring their poisoned “aid” into the country. In response to pressure, Uganda gradually began putting a greater emphasis on sexual “freedom” and condom use for prevention. The result? The end of Uganda’s success in combating the disease, with Uganda joining the few countries seeing AIDS rates increase rather than decrease. What a tragedy!

And this is only one of the most obvious negative consequences of the decision to embrace contraception, rather than responsibility and virtue, as the answer to the complexities of human sexuality.

Contraception is not the answer

Every day the Church is being proved more right: Contraception is not an answer to poverty and economic difficulties in under developed countries; nor is it a solution to the frustrations that married couples naturally feel at times in their efforts to abide by the moral law and pursue responsible procreation.

While rejecting the truth may at times appear to offer a welcome solution to difficult or painful circumstances, experience shows the costs always outweigh the apparent benefits. Paul VI warned us of this in his encyclical. He predicted at least four significant negative consequences of embracing contraception, including: a) an increase in infidelity in marriage; b) “a general lowering of morality”; c) that men would increasingly treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment,” and; d) that governments would push coercive population control on their citizens.

Who can possibly deny that each of these consequences – and many more that even Paul VI may not have envisioned – has dramatically come true?

Where the Church should be acting as the vanguard, Her representatives too often have crumpled at the first sign of opposition, afraid of appearing not with the times or “uncompassionate.” Fortunately, however there are also courageous prelates who recognize the spiritual dangers of our contraceptive, sex-obsessed culture. One of these is Archbishop Samuel Aquila, the bishop of Denver, who recently released a pastoral letter urging priests to warn their flocks of the dangerous of contraception.

“While the 1968 reception of Humanae Vitae was mixed, the fulfillment of Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic wisdom is undeniable and points to the truth of the teaching contained in Humanae Vitae,” said the bishop. “Furthermore, those communities of faith which have gone the way of the world in their teaching on human sexuality have not filled their churches but only emptied them. As Jesus made clear in the Gospel, apart from him and his life-giving teachings, we cannot bear fruit.”

The archbishop concluded, urging his priests,”[D]o not be afraid to proclaim the truth of God’s plan for human love with gentle clarity and charity.”

Let us pray for all bishops and pastors that they may be filled with similar zeal for the truth, and love for their flock. And let us pray for the members of the Vatican’s commission, that they may strongly reaffirm Church teaching, and help the Church chart a courageous path forward, finding new ways to reach the human heart with Christ’s life-giving message of salvation, including in the contested area of human sexuality.

Catholic Relief Service Continues Its Scandalous Ways

CRS is Distributing 2.25 Million Units of Contraceptives

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, Human Life International:

The Church continues to teach this essential truth because we know that the poor in various parts of the world have been targeted for decades with population control – contraception, sterilization, and abortion. In economically developed countries, there is a radical anti-birth mentality, which is exported to other nations as if it were a form of cultural, economic, and social progress. In addition, many private institutions, NGOs, and governments consider development and population control as symbiotic – linking legitimate development aid to the imposition of birth/population control. Their verbal engineers call this “sustainable development.”

HLI has confronted this situation since our inception and, in collaboration with the local Catholic Church and international pro-life leaders, continues to fight this radical mentality that attacks the inalienable dignity of the human person. What makes things more difficult and scandalous is when we learn of anti-life agencies working with the support of the Catholic Church, directly or indirectly.

Since I became president of HLI in 2011, we have attempted to work with leaders at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the bishops on its board of directors to resolve the situation and strengthen CRS’s mission and work. HLI has respectfully sought the path of subsidiarity in this conversation, attempting to avoid further scandal to the faithful who want assurance that CRS is acting in accord with Church teaching. Sadly, our attempts have produced no fruit. Instead, we have often been marginalized and shut out of the conversation by those who are deeply invested in the secular development model or who believe that such problems could not occur.

It saddens me that the Lepanto Institute has again found a clear case of CRS disregarding its moral obligation to ensure that those receiving funding are in compliance with Church teaching. This public disagreement was not HLI’s first choice, but given our mission, and the very high stakes both for the Church and for those who are harmed by these programs, we cannot in good conscience be silent.

With the latest Lepanto Institute report, faithful Catholics also have a responsibility. You didn’t ask for this responsibility, and you may want this scandal to simply go away. But it will not go away as long as the status quo remains. Those who are concerned but don’t know what to think are put in the unfortunate position of having to do some research and not simply resort to ideological “camps” who simply take their own side’s word as fact.

To put our cards on the table: we at HLI are convinced that CRS has been caught several times implementing projects that are not only utterly incompatible with Catholic social and moral doctrine, but are also destructive for those supposedly “helped.” Challenged on these reports, CRS routinely misleads the bishops and its supporters, issuing denials that assume great ignorance on the part of the reader as to how these complicated projects occur. Further, when such challenges are raised, CRS attacks the messenger’s motives and credibility, dragging good bishops into the fray with statements that are untrue.

This is our position, but again, we do not ask you to take a side in this scandal (sadly, yes, there are now sides) based merely on a short position statement. In order to understand, more work must be done.

Many say that to understand what’s going on one must “follow the money.” Surely the funding is relevant, but that’s different than proving the case, so one should also not draw a conclusion on this alone. Still, it is worth asking: Who has more at stake in this battle?

CRS receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the federal government, and tens of millions more annually from massive NGOs who not only disagree with the Church on these matters, but also together invest billions annually opposing the Church. CRS receives over 80% of its huge annual budget from a government and organizations that believe population control is the primary development priority today, and these organizations don’t hide this—they don’t think they have to. CRS then receives about 3% of its annual income from the Rice Bowl and other pew collections from Catholics, though Catholics certainly give more via other fundraising channels.

By way of contrast, the party exposing the government documents showing CRS’s participating in this destructive program, the Lepanto Institute, made less than $100,000 last year. Population Research Institute has also initiated previous investigations and, like HLI, has publicly expressed its concern about CRS when private outreach has failed. To our knowledge PRI’s annual budget is less than half that of the lone project that is the subject of the latest controversy. Same with HLI, as much as I wish it were different!

It is our mission at HLI to preach the Gospel of Life around the world, focusing on education, outreach and advocacy. This is why we are reluctantly involved in this debate: Most of the over 80 nations in which we and our partners are currently engaged are in the developing world, and suffer greatly from the imposition of population control programs disguised as legitimate development and health concerns. That’s how the multi-billion dollar aid and development industry works. It’s also why the NGOs who comprise it have such enormous budgets and so little to show for their decades of work: If the intention was to see these nations develop rather than remain dependent on wealthier nations with their own designs, then those responsible for decades of fruitless efforts would have been replaced long ago.

Sadly, though we believe most in the aid industry do indeed have good intentions, the point of the industry is not to succeed and thus put itself out of business, but rather to keep itself in business by perpetuating the corruption of governments that are unaccountable to their own people, but very responsive to massively funded Western development efforts. It’s economics 101: when your revenue is not tied to the productivity and genuine progress of your own people, but rather is tied to complying with the directives of wealthy parties who have their own priorities, you will never see authentic, integral development.

Documents Prove

To the most recent case, then: Documents published by the federal government show CRS as an implementing partner in a six million dollar project in the Democratic Republic of Congo; a project whose stated goal was to improve maternal and child health. Not one single person who knows how these projects work would deny that they entail birth/population control as a matter of course. This one was no different — requiring detailed quarterly reports of the receipt and storage of contraception (including abortifacient methods), as well as measurement of the program’s effectiveness in getting more women to use various methods of artificial birth control. The project’s reports show Catholic Relief Services receiving, storing, and helping to distribute 2.25 million units of contraceptives, then reporting the program’s “success” in getting almost 850,000 people to use the methods in the region for which CRS had responsibility.

No one disputes these facts.

CRS has, however, issued a response asking bishops to ignore the Lepanto Institute’s report and direct pastors to support CRS. In its statement of “refutation,” CRS ironically does not even attempt to refute a single charge. They simply, categorically, deny that they had anything to do with any element that was against Church teaching, providing as proof a letter from the sponsoring agency’s director, who says that CRS was clear on this point.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this an odd way to “refute” the carefully vetted reports from the same parner, in which they claimed the opposite.

The problem, CRS says, is that its sponsoring partner forgot that CRS insisted that it wouldn’t promote anything against Church teaching. Somehow the reporting partner mistakenly got the idea — after receiving CRS’s own quarterly reports — that CRS was itself storing, distributing, and measuring the acceptance of contraception among the targeted population in the region for which CRS was responsible, according to the documents.

Tellingly, CRS does not acknowledge in its response the video showing its project director (a medical doctor shown wearing a polo shirt with both USAID and CRS logos) describing the full range of the project’s concerns and its success in getting almost 850,000 people to use new methods of “family planning.” While this may be dealt with in a second response from CRS, the current strategy seems to include the hope that the bishops and you will not actually read the Lepanto Institute report or look at the government documents and video.

Again, I want to avoid questioning motives here and ask that you read both the Lepanto Institute report and CRS’s letter of response. If you are going to express an opinion on the matter, it should be an informed one.

To be perfectly honest, I find CRS’s explanations of its partner’s “errors” insulting (an explanation they rely on quite a bit in their explanations of previous problems), including the fact that they don’t address the majority of documented concerns before turning to attack the motives of CRS critics.

I also don’t want to participate in bashing the bishops on this. I think most would agree that a crucial element of accountability is missing when the only means of verifying claims of wrongdoing is through the agency accused, but I understand the desire to trust and how limited resources can inhibit such accountability. When this does not happen, the faithful who see and understand the problem will fill the gap, out of love for the Church, and they do not deserve to have their characters and motives maligned. This is a further injustice that requires immediate remedy.

As a confessor, I have been blessed to share the Lord’s mercy with penitents who, caught in a situation of their own choosing, hit bottom and seek reconciliation. Our Lord’s mercy is bigger than any problem we’ve gotten ourselves into, and we avail ourselves of His mercy when we turn back to Him in truth, ask for forgiveness, and firmly resolve to amend our lives. Returning to truth can be incredibly painful, but it is a necessary step for healing to begin. Without this honest and crucial step, problems fester, putting souls at risk.

The Church, led by her faithful shepherds, certainly has a role in evangelizing and working for authentic, integral human development. We sincerely want to help them resolve this scandal that is being perpetrated by an organization that is acting in their name. We at HLI remain ready to consult with any bishops who do not understand how the development industry operates and are looking for ways to engage in this essential work without these problems continuing to recur. Let us go forward together in both charity and truth and end this ongoing scandal.

Creating Sanctuary Cities

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, Human Life International:

The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia or any form of intolerance. – US Commission on Civil Rights Chairman, Martin Castro.

There it is, folks — the official position of an official agency of the federal government, not an LGBT activist group. Actually, it appears that the Commission on Civil Rights is now, in fact, an LGBT activist group.

For those paying attention to the assault on life, faith, and family-really on every natural and traditional institution in the nation — the September 7 report from the US Commission on Civil Rights is not so much shocking as it is another chance for people to wake up to how far our nation has fallen.

The report from the now-ironically-named commission was called “Peaceful Coexistence: reconciling non-discrimination principles with religious liberties.” Honorably, two of the commission’s own members spoke up in protest, their opinions having been excluded from the document itself.

The Government’s Cabal of Sexual Revolutionaries

Those who think the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights still hold in this nation need to face reality. The religious freedom “guaranteed” by the First Amendment is now declared subordinate to the wishes of the powerful cabal of sexual revolutionaries that have power in our government.

Our current president barely pretends to care about any limitation on his executive power, defending and executing laws based not on his responsibilities but on his whims. The Supreme Court continues to find emanations and penumbras floating from the nation’s founding document, upon which they pin the most tenuous tethers of the sexual revolution, giving them the effect of law. The only federal body that holds any representatives who share our values has slowly chosen irrelevance as its powers are taken over by an executive branch that is out of control and a Court that is allowed create law out of whole cloth.

We Must Fight

Yes, the nation is coming apart, and the middle ground is dropping away. The numbers of those who understand the signs of the times are few, but we still have options, and we still have each other. Most importantly, we still worship the God who made heaven and earth, who when He wills it will deliver us from the collapse we see around us. In the meantime, we fight with everything we have to protect our families and the most innocent and vulnerable.

A few weeks ago we published an article calling for Christians to start thinking about how to secure our rights at local political levels, where we can still hold politicians accountable even as the federal government draws further and further from the rule of law and accountability to its citizens. We received a lot of feedback, for which we are grateful, and the Commission on Civil Rights’ assault on its own mandate may be the occasion to address some of the questions.

Creating Catholic Sanctuaries

The idea for Christian sanctuary cities is based in Catholic moral and social doctrine: In an effort of solidarity and subsidiarity, those Christians of orthodox belief need to do what is necessary to defend their families and communities, to uphold collaborative institutions that help us take care of one another. That is, we have to strive for the common good, in which all participate in freedom and virtue with the good of the whole person and every person in mind.If we band together we can create sanctuary cities for Christians where local leaders of courage will follow the precedent set by “progressive” cities that ignore federal immigration reporting laws. At this more local level, or even perhaps at the state level if enough politicians have the courage and foresight, families and life may be defended in law and policy.

Some of our respondents seemed to think we were calling for a new city built up from the ground, perhaps in another nation. Truth be told, we have supporters who now contact us from abroad, having expatriated rather than pay taxes to a government that facilitates the death of untold millions of unborn children. We understand this inclination, and we frequently share news of meaningful victories in nations where politicians are still accountable to citizens, and they still hold more or less the same values that naturally lead to human flourishing, beginning with a proper respect for life, faith, and family.

Yet these nations are under assault as well, even though several have fought off their “Roe v. Wade” moment to date. We have to get over the idea that there is a truly “safe” place within this vale of tears. We also cannot let fear be what guides us, or make drastic decisions that are hard to come back from. We still need the virtues of prudence, courage, and strength as much as we need faith, hope, and love.

It’s Not About Running and Hiding

The point is not to run and hide, but to make a strategic and prudent retreat to places where community and family have the best chance of flourishing. If you have taken your children out of public school and are homeschooling or placed them in private schools or co-ops, you have already begun to think this way. If you have sacrificed professional and financial opportunities to live in a place where you have a strong community, you’re already on your way. I’ve even met some folks living boldly and faithfully in large cities, homeschooling and building community around strong Church parishes.

So many of you have already gotten rid of the television, or at least the daily drip of cable-delivered poison that people used to think they had to swallow. There is already a renewal of the Church and faithful religious orders that are doing very well. See the dioceses where the bishop embraces his mandate as a shepherd of souls and patterns his life after Christ the Good Shepherd. These bishops are truly leaders, and young men want to follow them into the priesthood. Finding dioceses like this makes great sense right now.

But act out of love, not fear. Build and serve community first. With these things in place, you can select those who can become political leaders or creatively build relationships of trust and accountability with your local and state leaders.

Importantly, I think, the growing number of creative Christian legal defense organizations would do well to start thinking about how to draft laws that would support those cities and states who see the need to protect their neighbors from the federal government’s corruption. Indeed, this is happening already with state-level legal battles such as those in North Carolina and Indiana. But we need to be proactive as well in seeing how we can get cities to declare the rights of life, faith and family to be secure. At the same time, we need to be ready to sacrifice as well, to not blink when doing the right thing means losing a major sporting event or businesses that have already been corrupted by radical sexual ideology.

It will be a battle fought in high places and low, and we’re already entering into it. It will not be easy, and there will be no place to hide, nor should we really seek to hide.

You were born into this time, in this place. God knows well where you are, and is asking you today to use your gifts for His glory. Have courage and strength, my friends. Be awake, and don’t be afraid. God wins, and those who remain faithful, who love and support one another for love of Him, will as well. It is a great time to be a Christian!

What a Strong Bishop Can Do!

We saw a rare victory in the international battle for truth and religious freedom. You may have heard that Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, archbishop of Valencia in Spain, had been threatened with legal action following a controversial homily he gave some months ago. Check it out here. Cardinal Charged With Hate Crimes!  In the homily, he criticized the extremely aggressive and overreaching “gay empire” that is attacking the family. He called Catholics to vigilance and prayer, calling for a defense of the family.
Attacking the bishop
As if only to prove him right, homosexual activists brought charges against Cardinal Cañizares for giving the homily. He was in a Catholic Church speaking to Catholics, yet he cannot (to listen to these activists) be allowed to defend Church teaching on marriage and challenge those who, well, threaten anyone who dare raise a voice in opposition.
We’re well past the point of “You can’t make this stuff up.” You don’t have to. The sense of entitlement the “gay empire” (to use the cardinal’s term) has to silence all opposition is limitless and is becoming totalitarian. They’ve had too many successes in just such cases, so it is heartening to see a victory for sanity.

Cardinal_CanizaresThreatened with three years in prison, Cardinal Cañizares prevailed when a Spanish judge threw out the charges, finding truthfully enough that in the controversial homily in question, he was exercising his right to free speech and had no criminal intent or appeal to hatred or violence.

We have discussed many times in Spirit & Life how radical gender ideology has infected many institutions here and around the world, bringing its corrosive anti-reality and anti-God worldview to corners once thought immune to politics. Since the LGBT movement cannot defend its views with reason, it must appeal with raw emotion and project its own hatred onto its opponents and remove their rights to free speech, and increasingly, to any public endeavor whatsoever.

Bishops Standing Together

So to do what Cardinal Cañizares did takes courage and leadership, traits he shares with Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla, who also hails from Valencia but is now bishop of Alcala de Henares, Spain. HLI awarded Bishop Reig Pla the Cardinal von Galen award in 2013 for his courage in defending Christ and His Church. Spain has seen many hardships over the years, but with leaders like this they have greater hope.

Bishops should dedicate themselves to their apostolic office as witness of Christ before all men. They should not only look after those who already follow the Prince of Pastors but should also wholeheartedly devote themselves to those who have strayed in any way from the path of truth or are ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His saving mercy until finally all men walk “in all goodness and justice and truth (Eph. 5:9)”(Christus Dominus n. 11).
 There are many good bishops out there, and we need to acknowledge their courage when we see it. All of our beloved shepherds deserve our love and prayers, and frankly deserve encouragement when they step into the breach and really lead in a difficult time.

Sometimes the attack comes from inside

This is especially true since there is so much to confuse the faithful coming from bishops. Last week we heard a bishop insist that the Church is somehow responsible for attacks on persons who identify as LGBT, repeating a key talking point of those who attack the Church unjustly and are trying to change her teaching on sexuality. This is truly disgraceful and deserves clear condemnation-when the Church is already under attack from powerful sexual radicals it is devastating to have a shepherd of the Church give aid and comfort to the enemy.

Yet, just when some are tempted to despair by such betrayals, we hear from Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez an eloquent defense of the Church’s teaching that life is the most important among many issues that concern Catholics in the public square. He has been a leader on many social justice issues for the Church, particularly on immigration, yet he knows that while some issues admit of a variety of solutions for faithful Catholics, life deserves a complete and unqualified defense in law, which is sorely lacking in the US and around the world today. And it is so for the exact same reason that a poor migrant family deserves our help: because every human person is made in the image of God, and deserves to live the life he already has been given as a gift.

In exercising their duty of teaching — which is conspicuous among the principal duties of bishops — they should announce the Gospel of Christ to men, calling them to a faith in the power of the Spirit or confirming them in a living faith. They should expound the whole mystery of Christ to them, namely, those truths the ignorance of which is ignorance of Christ. At the same time they should point out the divinely revealed way to give glory to God and thereby to attain to eternal happiness. (Christus Dominus n. 12)

Giving glory to God

Cardinal Cañizares and Archbishop Gomez are two of many within the Church doing the right thing by opposing the threat of gender ideology, and by pointing to the truth in Our Lord. So many in the Church are indifferent, which is almost an understandable tragedy given the many years of poor catechesis and compromise with a culture that is falling apart. We pray for the conversion of these brothers and sisters also, as the choices are made clearer by the hostility of the surrounding culture and a core group of faithful Catholics who remain strong and joyful. We pray every day that they will choose Christ and His Church and leave the untruths behind. We pray this for ourselves as well, since we don’t presume to have every answer. We just strive in love and truth to be faithful in small and large things.

Our shepherds and priests desperately need the prayers of the faithful. We need the strength to give ourselves anew to Christ through His Church every day. We can’t do it without your prayers.

Thank you for praying for me and for all priests and bishops, and for standing strong in the fight for life and family with us.

How Much More Bizarre Can It Get?

Teeanage Boy Wins Girl’s Track Meet

By Father Shenan J. Boquet, President, Human Life International:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

How much more bizarre can our society get? It’s a question that many have been asking for a long time, but these days it’s hard to keep up with the answers, which change hourly.

In Alaska, a boy who thinks he’s a girl is allowed to participate in the girls’ track meet, and he wins. The girls are not happy, but are not quite sure how to express their protest since they don’t want to be branded as bigots for calling a boy a boy when that boy wants to be called a girl.

There are a growing number of reports that the man formerly known as Bruce Jenner, who now goes by the name “Caitlyn,” is having second thoughts about “transitioning” to womanhood and is contemplating returning to identifying himself as what he still actually is, a man. This regret is actually common for people who adopt the appearance and lifestyle of the opposite sex. These reports have not been confirmed, but were this to occur, does anyone really think that the fascistic LGBT movement will support such a transition?

A famous homosexual couple has adopted children (apparently two men cannot naturally conceive a child) and projected a carefully cultivated image as a “happily” “married” couple with the help of media who desperately want to tell such a story. Yet as it turns out, their private lives are more sordid than the story allows, and the couple is suing to silence media who would report certain ugly and inconvenient facts, so that their adopted children would be spared the pain of knowing what their adoptive parents actually do.

The idea that the LGBTQQ… movement is about to implode has been discussed recently, and there are signs of sanity coming from progressives who have been supportive of the movement but are starting to recognize its totalitarian and anti-human nature. Better late than never, I suppose.

How Much More Bizarre Can It Get?

I’m not sure the question is meaningful anymore, since all bets are off. There are many conversations going on about how we arrived here, with a great deal of interesting histories of cultural Marxism, Communism, feminism, and other anti-Christian ideologies whose goal has been to “liberate” men and woman from the oppression of religion, marriage, traditional roles of men and women, etc.

I’m not sure the girls in Alaska, Mr. Jenner, or the famous couple and their children feel all that liberated.

When your revolution is based on a lie, it will certainly fall, but it can do a lot of damage to nations, lives and souls before it does. We “got here” because we turned our backs on God. We happen to be living through a deluge of degradation almost unimaginable even a few years ago.

The Church Predicted This

Except that the Church did imagine this collapse. Specifically, Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, said something that could have been written yesterday, in 1984’s The Ratzinger Report (summarized by Christopher West):

What we are living through in our day is the result of an ideology that has completely severed body and soul. And that’s the very definition of death. Barring a divine intervention, we must now endure the full consequences of the “uprooting of the human person in the depth of his nature” – an uprooting that stems from the fact that “sex has remained without a locus and has lost its point of reference” since the cultural embrace of contraception (The Ratzinger Report, p. 84).

By detaching sex from procreation, the essential meaning and natural orientation of the gender distinction is lost and one’s sex is eventually “viewed as a simple role, interchangeable at one’s pleasure,” Ratzinger observed. From there, people end up demanding the right of “escaping from the ‘slavery of nature,’ demanding the right to be male or female at one’s will or pleasure”  (p. 95).

The Consequences of Embracing Contraception

Call this an update of Humanae vitae 17, in which Blessed Pope Paul VI famously predicted — against the spirit of the age — that the wide embrace of contraception would have a host of negative consequences. Those who dismissed Pope Paul, and later Cardinal Ratzinger, simply couldn’t imagine what we are actually seeing happen today, when we call evil good, and good, evil. When we don’t know God, how can we know ourselves?

I love serving a Church that knows the true nature of man and woman because she knows the One in whose image we are made. I love serving a Church that knows what is true and good, a Church that knows Christ because she was founded by Him. I am grateful for her social and moral doctrine, which are rooted in Holy Scripture, and offer true liberation by guiding all people of good will to live in love and truth.

If you are looking around for a rock to hold onto as the flood waters rise and currents seem to pull you away, know that you have it in the One, Holy, Catholic Church. Avail yourself of God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and in His body and blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. Choose from among the many devotions available to the faithful and make your faith central to your life, and invite others to do the same. Be an example of joyful and intelligent faith, and a source of strength for your family and all whom you meet.
Don’t be afraid! Live with courage, faith, hope and love.


Father Shenan J. Boquet

President, Human Life International

How the Hell?

How the Hell are we Helping If We Do Not Tell
the Truth About Sexuality and Marriage?

Dear Brethren,

I received a number of emails from friends after Respect Life Sunday saying that they heard little, if anything, about life and family from the pulpit. It is as if some pastors are afraid of preaching the Gospel of Life, or have something more important to talk about even when it is chosen as the day to preach on precisely these issues.

The failure to preach the Gospel of Life is not only a U.S. problem. During HLI’s conferences, I hear the same comments from around the world. I bring this up when I speak to seminarians, priests, and bishops – many times the only message the faithful will hear about these incredibly urgent pastoral and moral questions is at Mass.

Generally, Catholics might hear a homily on abortion once a year. They might hear an occasional reference to euthanasia – a subject some deem easier to preach about – but most usually never hear references to contraception, homosexuality, promiscuity, pornography, cohabitation or divorce.
It is also not helpful when Church leaders accept the false caricature that “the Church is always talking about these issues,” so it’s about time we talked about something else. Apparently “the Church” has not sufficiently talked about issues in a way that helps the political party that now treats abortion as a “human right.”

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet’s, Human Life International Open Letter


A Sucker Punch.

When one cardinal said two years ago that those Catholics who were in second civil unions without annulment of their marriages should not be expected to be heroes by being celibate, many couples who had been abstaining from sex felt like they had been punched in the gut. What had they been sacrificing for? Such a position makes it sound like Jesus’ teaching on marriage is just too hard to follow. We know better than Jesus. We are more pastoral. It is even more hurtful when the cardinal’s superior also seems to accept and repeat this characterization of Church teaching as being uncompassionate.

It is true that priests and bishops are people too. When they preach in a way that displeases people not only might they lose parishioners, they may also lose collection revenue and invite nasty e-mails and face-to-face conversations after Mass. Most of us know the risks too well.


How the Hell

But, my brothers, we have given our lives to a Man who submitted to a gruesome and humiliating death! We follow Our Lord, who died on a cross for us! If we love those whom we are given to serve in our parishes – let me choose my words carefully here – how the hell are we helping them if we do not tell them the truth – the Good News – about sexuality and marriage? These are pastoral issues, and cannot be reduced to some obscure teaching that was meant for another time! Pope Saint John Paul II knew this well:

The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture. (Evangelium vitae 1)

My God, my God, why have we forsaken you? How did we let ourselves come to the belief that you, Our Lord, meant for our lives to be as easy as possible? That Your Law — what You told us is what those who love you will follow — can only be held up when it happens to find agreement with our fallen culture?


The Violence of Contraception

Why are we not protecting married couples from the violence of contraception — the divorce of unitive and procreative aspects of the beautiful gift of sexuality? Why are we afraid of helping our brothers and sisters to live in truth, according to their dignity?

What is our role and duty in Christ – in truth and charity?

No one has said that we must only preach about life and family issues. Anyone who claims differently is ignorant or is trying to manipulate the listener. As priests we must prayerfully discern how to bring the Word of God directly to those we serve in a way that they can hear. We absolutely must remind the faithful of their obligation to serve in solidarity with those in need, to be generous with their material gifts. We owe it to our congregations to remind them of the goodness of Truth and Beauty – the goodness of life, of God’s creation and our responsibility to be stewards of what we’ve been given. We have to remind people that our faith cannot be reduced to rules, but is based on Love.

But we must never accept the false representation of Church teaching on life and marriage as lacking compassion, or pretend it was made for another time. We must not be afraid to tell the truth about life and family, as there are no more immediate or urgent pastoral issues that our families are dealing with at home or in the public square.

Preaching on these issues on Respect Life Sunday is a bare minimum – a starting point. We are forming hearts and minds so that the faithful can in freedom choose wisely and lovingly when the moment of heroism – even everyday heroism for those with great challenges – comes their way. It is not “pastoral” to ignore the loving doctrine we have been given and offer solutions that soothe and confuse. This is not love.

Link to article on

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International

We Must Defend the Family

“The Future of Humanity Passes by Way of the Family”

by Father Shenan J. Boquet, President of Human Life International:

“To you, upright men and women, who for any reason whatever, give thought to the fate of the family. The future of humanity passes by way of the family. It is therefore indispensable and urgent that every person of good will should endeavor to save and foster the values and requirements of the family.” – Pope John Paul II, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO #86

What is urgently needed is the Church’s heroic witness, proclaiming with courage the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is in charity that Saint Pope John Paul II calls us, “upright men and women,” to transform hearts and minds to the Gospel of Life, rejecting the secular ideals of the day which lead to sin, suffering and lost salvation.


The future of humanity passes by way of the family.

The future of humanity passes by way of the family.

Misguided Compassion

Leaving a person in the state of sin is not an act of charity, but is rather misguided compassion.  No matter the circumstance, true charity leads a person out of sin. Loving our neighbor means accepting him where he is, while at the same time, guiding him to Truth – to Jesus and His teachings.

Take the Biblical example of the woman accused of adultery. Jesus’ language was authentic and clear: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.[John 8:11].” This is the same language needed today, not the secular jargon – soft, ambiguous and misleading language – saturating the culture.

Saint John Paul II understood the centrality of the family in cultivating, building and sustaining a healthy society. We must defend the family according to God’s original design if we are to be serious about resolving the issues plaguing society today. Families are threatened by an insidious secular culture driven to redefine the family in opposition to the Creator’s Will. And wherever secularism takes hold, the ill effects cause marriages and families to suffer. These threats enslave people to the consequences of sin: contraception, abortion, cohabitation, gender ideologies, euthanasia, same-sex unions and divorce…threats that HLI has opposed for over 40 years.

What uplifts and encourages me the most are the affirming voices of many cardinals and bishops. I applaud their outward rejection to a liberalized approach to Church teaching. Christ’s teachings reveal to every person the “ultimate reality of the love of God,” as Saint John Paul II insists, therefore, the work of all Christians is to outwardly affirm and profess the Truth in charity.

This has been the very work of HLI since its inception. In the footsteps of Father Paul Marx, we persevere as “Apostles of Life,” endeavoring to save the future of humanity in Truth.

It is why now, more than ever, I implore your prayers and support for HLI, continuing the work to defend life and family around the world for the glory of God.

Saint Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

Father Shenan J. Boquet is the President of Human Life International. He has traveled around the world spreading the Gospel of Life. Father Boquet is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining Human Life International in August 2011.