“I cannot believe that salvation is based on the thermometer [a necessary tool of the rhythm method], or that damnation is based on rubber.” said Dr.Andre Hellegers, a French member in the Papal Commission for the Study of Problems relating to Population, Family and Birth in commenting about Humane Vitae in 1968.
Not even a lay person could be subjected to such harsh criticisms as much as Pope Paul VI was for reinstating the teachings of the Church on the use of contraceptives. The encyclical was called unscientific, lacking scriptural reference, outdated, lacking pastoral tone, regressive in its ideas, inadequately expressed, wrong, ill-conceived and much more. Pope Paul VI was accused of being a man with ‘hardened attitude’, fear ridden and backward.
The document was attacked viciously and so were the Man and the Church to this date. But, no amount of pressure from within and without was able to influence the Church to be subjected to adapt to the pressures of changing culture. So what was all the fuss was about?
In celebrating the 50th anniversary of Humane Vitae it is very important to understand the historical context of the document to be able to find out why it was met with such an opposition and understand its present day context. After fifty years, people now see that all that had been predicted by Humane Vitae and was considered outdated, lacking biological, theological and sociological relevance have come to be true. All the hue and cry against Humane Vitae for excluding contraception within married couples was very short sighted and narrow. Everything prophesied in section 17 of the document has materialized. The modern day social problems are the consequence of the culture that has been poisoned by ‘contraceptive mentality’.
So here’s a short video which gives an overview about the document.
Note: This is a series of blog. The first part being an introduction to Humane Vitae, second part on predictions of document and how it came true after 50 years and third part being bio ethical challenges and Humane Vitae.