|Humanae Vitae Priests|
|Human Life International e-Newsletter|
for Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians
Volume 01, Number 17 | Thursday, July 10, 2008
Nick Bagileo is Associate Dean for Programs and Administration for the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, at the Catholic University of America. This article is the first of three installments.
Benedict XVI and Contraception, Part 2
One of Pope Benedict XVI's most interesting talks dealing with the problem of couples not having children came during an address to the Curia in December, 2006. In his remarks he said an astounding thing about his trip to Valencia, Spain for the Fifth World meeting on Families. He said, "The visit to Valencia became for me a quest for the meaning of the human being." How does the search for the meaning of the human being relate to married couples not wanting children? Answering this question will get to the root evil of contraception and related issues.
In this talk, Benedict pointed out that, in the West and Europe in particular, many married couples no longer want to have children. Couples are afraid to have children because becoming a parent seems too great a risk, and sometimes even a burden.
Benedict noted that children need loving attention, which requires parents give their children time, the time of our life. "The time we have available barely suffices for our own lives; how could we surrender it, give it to someone else? To have time and to give time - this is for us a very concrete way to learn to give oneself, to lose oneself in order to find oneself."
Benedict observed that another aspect of the fear of parenthood centers on the awesome questions involved in raising children, such as, how do we ensure our child follows the right path, how do we respect his or her freedom, what is the correct way to live? These questions arise because the modern spirit has lost it bearings, leading to insecurity about the future.
Benedict asks, "Why are things like this?" The Holy Father realizes that issues like contraception and same sex marriage are signs or symptoms of a much more fundamental problem. This larger problem is a theme Benedict XVI has lectured and written on since the Second Vatican Council. The Holy Father reminded the members of the Curia that "the great problem of the West is forgetfulness of God. This forgetfulness is spreading. In short, all the individual problems can be traced back to this question. I am sure of it."
Relativism is the philosophic view that there is no absolute truth or certitude and results when Man disregards God, ensuring the impossibility of establishing common moral and religious standards. The Pope's teaching has been so profound and clear that President Bush recently quoted the Holy Father's, now famous, "dictatorship of relativism", line at the White House welcoming ceremony.
As a true man of the Council, Benedict is applying the teaching of Gaudium et Spes to our time. "Once God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible." (#36) Benedict notes that forgetfulness of God leads to the dictatorship of relativism, "which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desire."
As noted above, Benedict XVI sees issues like contraception, cohabitation and same sex marriage as signs of a deeper problem. Once God is forgotten, Man and the institutions God created to fulfill and nourish his soul become meaningless. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the area of marriage and family life. Note how the primary relationship between man and woman - marriage - has been adversely affected the past half century. One of the great blessings of marriage, having children, is now viewed as a threat or burden, by a large sector of the population. Then, the institution itself was attacked further by the epidemic of cohabitation. Marriage itself is no longer viewed as a blessing to be cherished. Now, we have the absurd notion that there is something called same sex marriage. As St. Paul taught us, "...God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen." (Rom.1: 24-25)
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