Contraception: Planned Parenthood’s Little Baby

Father Acervo’s Corner:

One could say that 1968 was a memorable year (I say this as one who had not been born yet).  Locally, it was the year that the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games to win the World Series.  This might be a nice memory to hold on to during what could be a tough season for our baseball club!  In the Church, 1968 was the year that Pope Paul VI wrote his Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae(“Of Human Life”).  This letter sent shockwaves in the Church throughout the world and continues to do so fifty years later.  From the moment that it was promulgated, Humanae Vitae was mocked and derided as “controversial” and “divisive”.  It was rejected by many even in the Church.  Many clergy refused or were afraid to preach on it. Today, there are still dissenters even within the Church who call it “outdated”.  We need to pray that the pope won’t succumb to any calls to “update” Paul VI’s encyclical which affirms the Church’s unchangeable teaching on the transmission of human life.  So where are we now fifty years later?

Unfortunately, contraception has become the norm in our modern culture.  It wasn’t always that way.  As recently as the early part of the 20th century, contraception was almost universally acknowledged as immoral.  Even those who didn’t consider themselves religious saw contraception as unnatural.


Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s Founder, was a champion for the contraception mentality.

But then a movement in favor of contraception began to form led in large part by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.  They cited things like economic burden, overpopulation, the potential for greater freedom for those who choose career over family, greater harmony and peace in married life if couples weren’t “burdened” by children, and the promise of taking control over our bodies – which are not really ours, but the Lord’s – through science and technology (“fake news” existed back then too).  But what mostly fueled the movement was a desire to de-moralize the culture paving the way for people to do whatever they wanted seemingly free from all consequence.

Unfortunately, many yielded to the increased pressure to accept contraception.  The Christian community, however, resisted.  But in 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, the leadership of the Anglican church caved and approved the use of contraception.  One by one, other Christian denominations followed suit.  The Catholic Church, however, remained steadfast, and today she almost alone in the world condemns contraception as being intrinsically evil.  Like the Lord Himself, the Catholic Church is a sign of contradiction (cf. Lk 2:34).  In response to the contraceptive movement, Pope Pius XI wrote his 1930 Encyclical, Casti Conubii (“On Christian Marriage”), affirming Church teaching that the primary natural end of the marital act is procreation and that any unnatural means used to deliberately frustrate God’s plan for marriage is intrinsically sinful.

The contraceptive movement, however, continued to gain momentum and by 1950 had all but won over public opinion.  The Catholic Church would feel increased pressure as it was the last major Christian denomination to remain condemning the practice.  The pill would be released not long after to the public which would fuel the sexual revolution of the 1960’s.  The convenience of the pill removed the need for self-discipline and abstinence and started the culture on the path of accepting and normalizing the “hook-up” culture, abortion, divorce, and same-sex unions.  One worries about what will be next (#genderconfusion)

It was in that culture that Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae reaffirming and further clarifying that contraception is an intrinsically evil act.  Pope St. John Paul II would continue to reaffirm the Church’s teaching on life in his Theology of the Body – a series of instructions that explained the Church’s vision (which is really God’s vision) of the human person, marriage, family, and life.  Marital love, he said, must be free, total, faithful, and fruitful.  Contraception is none of these.

It’s called contraception because it is “against conception”, meaning that it is an act against the beginning of new human life.   It is also against marriage and the family.  Recall that Sr. Lucia of Fatima said that “the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family” and that “those who work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation”.  We must be on the right side of this battle.

Fifty years later, we are still experiencing the terrible fruits of contraception.  In Humanae Vitae (paragraph 17), Pope Paul VI made certain predictions about what the consequences of contraceptive use would be. He argued (in 1968) that there would be more marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards, that more men would forget the reverence due to women, instead considering them mere instruments for the satisfaction of desire (Hollywood may just be figuring this out.  Maybe), and that governments “who care little for the precepts of the moral law” might adopt coercive population control measures (“they may even impose their use on everyone”).

As Catholics, we must be faithful to God’s divine plan for marriage and family, that the marital act was created by God to strengthen the bond between husband and wife and to beget children (“babies and bonding”).  This would be a good year for all of us to take another look (or perhaps a first look) at Humanae Vitae and pray for the courage to follow God’s plan for life and love.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Acervo

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