Wednesday, July 25, 2007


It has been almost forty years since Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae. As we reflect on the question of direct abortion, it would behoove us to review the teachings of the Catholic Church concerning the transmission of human life - - - teachings that are vastly rejected. Imagine! Over eighty percent of American Catholics reject the teachings of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968, concerning the transmission of human life.

In 1964, the bishops of Vatican II, in the document, Gaudium et Spes, asked Pope Paul VI to settle the question of the contraceptive pill. It was already under study by a special papal commission. Was it really a contraceptive? Did it violate God's unchanged and unchangeable law that each act of contraception is, objectively, a mortal sin. After five years of research, the commission answered that, not only the contraceptive pill, but all forms of contraception could be morally acceptable under certain circumstances.

However, Our Lord did not entrust the Church's Teaching Authority to a commission or to the People of God in general. He entrusted the office of teaching, ruling and sanctifying to Peter and the Apostles. Peter lives today in his successors, the pope, who is the Vicar of Christ on Earth. The Successors of the Apostles, the bishops, must exercise their teaching authority as Vatican II mandates, "with Peter and under Peter."

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI responded to the request of the bishops in the encyclical, Humanae Vitae. He said that the commission’s findings were not binding. Moreover, they departed from constant Church Teachings. "Therefore, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by Jesus Christ, We now render judgment to these grave questions" (HV n.6).

”Based on fundamental principles of human and Christian doctrine concerning marriage. We must again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if it is for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely rejected as licit means of regulating births" (HV n. 14). Direct abortion never can be justified for any reason whatsoever. At conception, God infuses the person with an immortal soul. Thus, the life of the "fetus" is inviolable. This principle also applies in difficult and trying situations - - - when, for example, a pregnancy results from rape or incest.
”Equally condemned, as the Magisterium of the Church has always taught, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman" (HV n 14). Direct sterilization, under any circumstances is objectively a mortal sin against God and the individual's bodily integrity. Persons who have had a direct sterilization must confess this sin in the Sacrament of Confession.

"Similarly to be totally rejected is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as a means or as an end, to render procreation impossible" (HV n. 14). Thus, the use of all forms of contraception, e.g., the pill, the I.U.D., condoms, premature withdrawal, gels, sponges, various forms of contraceptive injections, are objectively mortally sinful acts

It becomes increasingly difficult to explain these teachings to a society that is becoming more and more pagan. But, Pope Paul VI was clear - - - these teachings of the Church are derived from God's laws over which the Church has no authority to change. Thus, the Holy Father has no power whatsoever to dispense man from God's laws or change them. Man, on the other hand, has no power to dispense himself from divine law by a claim to conscience. For example, God said: "Thou shalt not steal!" Is man free to say, "I have decided to steal because it is good for me? My conscience tells me so." This is an absurdity. Man is bound to obey God's laws, as presented by the Teaching Church. Yet millions of Catholics deceive themselves by false excuses of this nature. Sadly in many cases, they have been encouraged to do so by priests and theologians. Let us not be deceived by these false teachings. Rather, let us live by God’s laws as made known to us by the Teaching Authority of the Church.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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