Denver Archbishop: Humanae Vitae a ‘Light in the Darkness’

News: US News
by Stephen Wynne  •  •  February 6, 2018   

Pastoral letter affirms Catholic teaching on human sexuality, contraception

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DENVER ( - In a new document, Abp. Samuel Aquila of Denver underscores the wisdom of Church teaching on contraception.

Last week, the Colorado prelate released a pastoral letter marking 50 years since the publication of Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), Pope Paul VI's encyclical reaffirming contraception as intrinsically evil.

Titled "The Splendor of Love," the document celebrates Humanae Vitae, proclaiming Catholic teaching on sexuality "a light in the darkness that brings joy to those who live it out."

"God imbued our sexuality with truths that are beautiful," Abp. Aquila wrote, "and when these are followed, they allow us to serve as reflections of God's own love, conferring on us a great dignity."

He reminds Catholics of their call "to share the liberating truth of God's plan for sexuality, no matter their state in life or profession. The world and its families need this witness to find lasting happiness."

Referencing Pope St. John Paul's Theology of the Body, Abp. Aquila praised the Polish pontiff for a deepening understanding of "the great gift of human sexuality, which requires nothing less from us than a complete gift of self."

The archbishop also commented on the degradation of sexuality across the contraceptive cultures of the West:
One of the false narratives that has been advanced today is that there is a competition or tension between romantic love (eros) and charity or self-giving love. However, as Pope Benedict XVI has shown us, the astonishing truth is that human love and sexuality teach us about God's own love.

Through Humanae Vitae, Abp. Aquila observed the Church strives to "deepen its teaching and witness to God's design for the gift of our sexuality."

But, he laments, in the half century since the encyclical's release, the world has seen an explosion of disturbing social developments, "many of which were prophetically spoken by Blessed Paul VI in Humanae Vitae:"

First, he warned that contraception would "open wide the way of conjugal infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards." In particular, he warned that contraception could lead men to "forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection." Finally, he warned it would allow governments "to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife" and even to "impose their use on everyone."

"Unfortunately, Blessed Paul VI's prophecies have all come true," he wrote:

While advocates of contraception predicted that divorce rates and abortions would decrease with its use, they skyrocketed. Women have also greatly suffered from objectification which is found in advertising and movies but also takes on more extreme forms like pornography and sex trafficking. The Holy Father's expectation that governments would impose contraception on people most recently came to fruition in the Obama administration's Health and Human Services contraception mandate but has also appeared in American and European government programs that provide contraception in developing countries.

Archbishop Aquila reflected on the post-endorsement decline of Protestant churches, observing "those communities of faith which have gone the way of the world in their teaching on human sexuality have not filled their churches but only emptied them."

Summing up his message, the archbishop described Humanae Vitae as "a gift for the Church and the world, a courageous prophecy about human life and married love."

He added, "The splendor of God's love shining in our hearts enables us to embrace the truth about sexuality and marriage and leads us to imitate the generous, sacrificial love found at the heart of the Trinity."

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