Were there to be no support in the whole history of ethical and moral thought, were there no acknowledged confirmation from medical science, were the history of legal opinion to the contrary, we would still have to conclude on the basis of God's Holy Word that the unborn child is a person in the sight of God. He is protected by the sanctity of life graciously given to each individual by the Creator, Who alone places His image upon man and grants them any right to life which they have.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Spirit & Life - Father Marx on Humanae Vitae
week's Spirit & Life looks at one of the writings of HLI founder
Father Paul Marx on Humanae Vitae in light of the encyclical's upcoming
Spirit & Life is the weekly e-column of
Human Life International.
Father Marx on Humanae Vitae
With Pope Paul VI's prophetic Humanae Vitae
turning 45 next Thursday, we wanted to revisit how HLI's founder,
Father Paul Marx, took the Holy Father's teaching "On Human Life" to
heart, in what became a driving force behind the international pro-life
movement. In this excerpt from his 1997 autobiography, Faithful for Life,
Father Marx recalls what it was like when the encyclical arrived, and
how, like many in the Church, he struggled with its arrival, and how it
would affect everything in the Church.
ancient wise man once said, "God always forgives, men sometimes,
Nature, never"; she is jealous of her fertility; she strikes back. And
no generation should know that better than today's people. Widespread
legal euthanasia is threatening. Daily the line between contraception
and abortion becomes ever thinner, while new chemical abortifacients are
being added to the arsenal of death and may soon obscure the high
visibility of surgical abortion.
HLI Founder Father Paul Marx
Theologians who dissented to Humanae Vitae
do not realize how heavily they contributed to the unleashing of the
sexual instinct to the destruction of youth and family; to the
proliferation of out-of-wedlock births; to the increased number of
single-parent families; and to the massive escalation of venereal (now
sanitized as "sexually transmitted") disease, divorce, that "alternative
lifestyle" we used to call "shacking up," marital unhappiness, and a
host of other evils, including child and spousal abuse.
will recall that my older brother Joseph became a Benedictine monk
(Father Michael) at St. John's Abbey. Roman-trained, he taught theology
and Scripture for years there. He died 5 May 1993. He and three
confreres, Fathers Godfrey Diekmann, Aelred Tegels, and Kieren Nolan,
joined Father Charles Curran in officially dissenting to Humanae Vitae
in 1968, a subject Father Michael and I could hardly ever discuss
thereafter; he persisted in his false view to the end. From all four I
learned from what flimsy grounds and inexperience this sad dissent
stemmed. To militantly reject Humanae Vitae is really to reject
the Church's moral authority, and such rejection, I have noticed,
color's a priest's whole theological outlook and performance. In the
first twenty-five years of my priesthood, whenever I met a priest for
the first time I could sense an immediate rapport, because we were in
total theological agreement. Today the same kinship is felt only when
one learns that the newly met priest accepts Humanae Vitae.
was issued by Paul VI on 25 July 1968. I did not sleep that night.
After having tried to help so many couples with the then-available
methods of NFP [Natural Family Planning], I yielded to my doubts about
the encyclical; I took the dissenting theologians too seriously; I even
sponsored some of them. But before long I saw the consequences of
contraception and how far they would extend -- that contraception, with
its abortifacient tentacles was already devastating Church and society. I
sensed, too, from an abundance of NFP counseling, teaching, and
promotion, what a tragedy the rejection and contradiction of that
encyclical would induce.
But now we know that the prophetic Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae
was entirely right in making his amazing three predictions[*]: that the
practice of contraception would lower general morality; cause men to
use and abuse women; and put a weapon into the hands of the government,
which then would enter the sanctuary of the home and there dictate to
the couple how many children they may have. All of these predictions
have subsequently been fully verified in the estimation of all who have
eyes to see. Every day the message of that controversial document rounds
more convincingly. After all, Humanae Vitae means "Of Human
Life," and you cannot defend human life unless you defend its source,
which is God's great gift of human sexuality, whereby he invites the
truly loving married couple to intimately cooperate with Him in the
mysterious acts of creation.
These days, writers generally refer to Humanae Vitae's four
predictions, all of which have come to pass -- here Father Marx combines
two of them into a single prediction, which some did in the wake of the
Marx's witness and faithfulness to the Humanae Vitae's beautiful
teachings inspired many to be engaged in pro-life work, and has saved
countless lives. In spite of the losses and setbacks we've faced from
legal and judicial decisions around the world, there have been
tremendous strides made on behalf of life, faith and family recently. We
must never lose heart and give up hope. Though bombarded by strife and
evil from every direction, we are a people of joy.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet President, Human Life International