Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae

Here's a short excerpt of a masterful article by Mary Eberstadt

The adversaries of Humanae Vitae also could not have foreseen one important historical development that in retrospect would appear to undermine their demands that the Catholic Church change with the times: the widespread Protestant collapse, particularly the continuing implosion of the Episcopal Church and the other branches of Anglicanism.

It is about as clear as any historical chain can get that this implosion is a direct consequence of the famous Lambeth Conference in 1930, at which the Anglicans abandoned the longstanding Christian position on contraception. If a church cannot tell its flock "what to do with my body," as the saying goes, with regard to contraception, then other uses of that body will quickly prove to be similarly off-limits to ecclesiastical authority.

It makes perfect if unfortunate sense, then, that the Anglicans are today imploding over the issue of homosexuality. To quote Anscombe again: If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here — not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can't be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example.

I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices diehard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who prclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition.

By giving benediction in 1930 to its married heterosexual members purposely seeking sterile sex, the Anglican Church lost, bit by bit, any authority to tell her other members — married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual —not to do the same. To put the point another way, once heterosexuals start claiming the right to act as homosexuals, it would not be long before homosexuals start claiming the rights of heterosexuals. Thus in a bizarre but real sense did Lambeth's attempt to show compassion to married heterosexuals advertently give rise to the modern gay-rights movement — and consequently, to the issues that have divided their church ever since. It is hard to believe that anyone seeking a similar change in Catholic teaching on the subject would want the Catholic Church to follow suit into the moral and theological confusion at the center of today's Anglican Church — yet such is the purposeful ignorance of so many who oppose Rome on birth control that they refuse to connect these cautionary historical dots.
Mary Eberstadt is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution


Anonymous said...

There is no question HV has been vindicated. Many of the great evils of our time--pornography, widespread homosexuality, the transformation of women into mere objects, depopulation of Europe--can be traced to the legalization of contraception, and the advent of The Pill, surely one of the most destructive inventions of the 20th century. (And lest we forget, Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that found a right to contraception in the "emanations" of the Constitution, was the basis for Roe v. Wade.) The question is, what can we do about it? When even 95% of Catholics use contraception, we are in big trouble. Maybe if we have a depression and women have to choose between contraception and a meal, but until then, we are stuck with writing articles about how we were right and how things should have turned out...

Frank Rega said...

after FOCA - mandatory abortion?

St. Padre Pio, Humanae Vitae, and Mandatory Abortion

St. Pio defended the controversial encyclical, praising its “lofty teachings” and “eternal truths.”

An aspect of the document often overlooked today is its grim warning that governments might “impose” contraceptive methods on citizens.

In the light of the Humanae Vitae’s other accurate predictions,
are mandatory birth control and abortion on the horizon for America?