Saturday, March 10, 2012

July 25th 1968

On this day Pope Paul VI finally issued the encyclical 'Humane Vitae' I was 25 and not married , but knew from conversations with female friends at church that the general hope was that he would condone 'artificial' birth control. I was looked at very strangely when I said that I would oppose it even were I not Catholic. To me its chemical interference with the female reproductive system was morally wrong and potentially medically dangerous. I was not leading a particularly holy life at the time, but that was my instinctive reaction. Of course the subsequent spate of thrombosis among women who were taking the 'pill' was to prove the validity of the latter objection. It was rushed onto the market with insufficient testing. That is well known now.

I also knew that before the encyclical, my friends were being advised in the confessional that the practice would be approved.. No worries. Shock horror when we were finally told that it was definitely not.all right. At that point a division crept into and hardened within  the Church - women either kept quiet relying on what their priests had told them, or they changed their ways and obeyed the Pope's  reasoning..I think we know what happened then.

And I think we also know why the US bishops have an extremely difficult task on their hands. As Pope Benedict told them the other day: 'Certainly we must acknowledge the deficiencies in the catechesis of recent decades.' But his audience knew the dissidence of many of their flock, and so does POTUS (as Fr Z calls him), and for that reason his probably deliberate strategy could be lethal. Easy to rule the divided, no? One does not know how many of the bishops who listened to Pope Benedict this week are of the 60s, or of  later generations,  but if they are honest they must have all felt very uncomfortable, if not frightened.. Or worse, maybe there may have been one or two who thought he was talking hogwash. For all of which possible reasons I prayed for them last night.. And every night.


Genty said...

A non-Catholic acquaintance of mine, now in his seventies, remarked with a glint in his eye that the Pill was the best thing that ever happened to blokes. Yes, sex without consequences.
And that pretty much sums it up, with women left to stuff their bodies with hormones, bearing the brunt of male anger/desertion if contraception fails, being pumped full of chemicals to get rid of the foetus or having invasive surgery to murder unborn children.
Far from having rights over their bodies, women have surrendered them and have become the sex objects about which Pope Paul warned.

Jane said...

D'accord wholeheartedly.