Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Humanae Vitae and all that!

1968. What a year. I was there, but thankfully my protestant parents had never even considered using artificial contraception, and so, here I am 42 years later blogging about something which at the time might have meant I might never have been able to blog about it. Um...

War was declared even before the ink of Paul VI's signature on the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" had dried, and within days, the trenches were dug. If you don't believe me, go back and read it yourself here in an edition of Time Magazine from November 1968.

Throughout the long pontificate of John Paul II and thanks to his magisterial "Theology of the Body" (which fleshed out the reasoning behind Paul VI's wise decision), the Church has clawed back a good deal of the territory it lost in the rebellion of 1968.

But the trenches are still there, and the both sides seem to be permantly dug in. Forty years later comes a lot reflection on the Papal decicion that marked the outbreak of the Culture Wars, but it doesn't look like anyone is shifting their position much. The Church has moved on, both in the development of its reasons for continuing to uphold the ban against artificial contraception and in terms of the evidence collected that show that Paul VI was not only right, but prophetic. But the secularists and dissedents in the trenches are exactly where they were forty years ago, give or take the issue of HIV/AIDS and the rise of the gay rights movement.

Here is some reading for you to do, dear readers, which proves that this particular argument is a long way from over.

On the money:

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae, by Mary Eberstadt (First Things Aug/Sept 2008)
The Pope vs. the Pill, By JOHN L. ALLEN Jr. (New York Times, July 27, 2008)

Way off beam:

The 40th Anniversary of the Pope banning the pill: Humanae Vitae
(ABC Radio National, The Religion Report, 16 July 2008)
(I wonder if Robert Blair Kaiser might not have been the author of the Time Magazine article linked to above?)
Editorial: Humanae Vitae at 40 years (National Catholic Reporter, July 25, 2008) (Nb. John Allen did not write this piece--he was writing something quite different in the NYT).

You will find a critique of Crittendon's Religion Report piece at The Crittenden Report, and of the NCR editorial (disapproving) and the John Allen piece (approving) at What does the Prayer Really Say. And note that the name of US priest/sociologist Fr Andrew Greely shows up in both the NCR Editorial, AND the Times Magazine article of forty years ago. So they haven't even changed personnel in the enemy trenches!

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