(A stained glass window in the Vatican imaging the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth)
“Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,” teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2366)
We’ve been reading lately in various news sources that there is some kind of commission or group in the Vatican studying the possibility of modifying the great encyclical of Pope Paul VI on birth control, Humanae Vitae. One might have hoped that such a commission would be studying how to more widely implement the teaching of Humanae Vitae, by promoting Natural Family Planning, but these are strange times.
Let me say two things: first, the teaching of Humanae Vitae represents the very touchstone of Catholic sexual morality (see quote from Pope Benedict XVI below), and, secondly, Humanae Vitae is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that cannot be changed, or modified, or made optional in a footnote. Do the people in the Vatican think we lay Catholics are simply ignorant of the importance of Humanae Vitae? Do they intend to water down Petrine authority, and thus the very rock solid foundation of the Church?
While I certainly do not oppose legitimate efforts to study the earth’s climate in order to remedy excessive climate changes, there are certain moral doctrines emanating from the global warming movement that are in radical opposition to Catholic teaching about the sanctity and transmission of human life.
I do believe the Gospel of Global Warming is operative here. We have already read that the Vatican has appointed one or more pro-choice members to its Life Academy, which is not only odd but crazy! We have read, too, of radical pro-abortion speakers (or at least one for sure) being invited to give talks in the Vatican (why would the Vatican cozy up with the culture of death??). There is – it cannot be denied – an alliance between The Gospel of Global Warming and the culture of death. The Gospel of Global Warming is full of high-ranking members who see human population as something that needs to be dramatically reduced – by contraception and abortion – in order to save the planet. Could it be the Vatican is somehow influenced by this manner of thinking? Has not the Pope himself shown a certain irritation with large families?
I am not being merely hyperbolic by my phrase, The Gospel of Global Warming. Having a degree in Religious Studies from a Jesuit University, I have studied the components of religious movements. The Global Warming movement is a religious movement: it seeks to save the planet from certain types of evil doers; it brands its own scientific studies as infallible; the sacrifice to be offered is the excess human population that threatens the planet’s viability; evangelization is needed in order to enroll the general public into the movement; dissent is strictly forbidden, and those who do dissent are branded as misfits; Planet earth, itself, is seen as the ultimate Good (wherever it came from).
Here is my point. The Gospel of Global Warming is a human movement, relying on the human spirit (thus overwhelmingly seeing contraception and abortion as moral goods). The Catholic Church claims to be a supernatural movement, directed by the Holy Spirit. Let’s be honest: the Vatican is far too concerned about global warming and not enough about the salvation of souls. So yes, let’s protect our environment, but if protecting our environment means cozying up with the culture of death, if it means rolling back our moral theology, if it means modifying Humanae Vitae, then there is something seriously wrong in the Vatican (and our leaders are being infected by the spirit of the world). In short, to try and change Humanae Vitae would be a definite sign of apostasy.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.
Note: Who can doubt that Humanae Vitae is the definite, infallible teaching of the Church (see CCC 2035)? It is enshrined in CCC 2366 quoted above, which states that its doctrine has been “expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium….” Humanae Vitae itself confirmed the 1931 encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubi, and it was affirmed dramatically under both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI (see, for example, The Gospel of Life, Veritatis Splendor and Charity in Truth, all encyclicals.). As one example, here is Pope Benedict reaffirming Humanae Vitae in Charity in Truth:
“The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae. The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.” (Caritas in Veritate, no. 15, footnotes omitted)
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