Among the many challenges of the modern world the crisis of marriage and the family is perhaps the greatest. This includes issues like divorce, same-sex unions, laboratory production of life (cloning, in vitro fertilization, etc.), premarital sexual activity, and STDs (AIDS, etc.). At the beginning of the “sexual revolution” Pope Paul VI promulgated his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). In this encyclical (published on July 25, 1968, 52 years ago) the Holy Father reaffirmed the constant teaching of the Church regarding the dignity and purpose of Christian marriage. God made man and women, and He is their final end. We properly fulfill our human nature when we live according to God’s wise plan. Marriage (and especially Christian marriage), according to God’s plan, is directed toward the mutual good of husband and wife in a lifelong covenant of love, and the begetting and raising of children (the very fruit of their parent’s love). These two reasons for marriage - for love and for life - are intimately connected. In fact, to separate them is to attack the very heart of marriage. The Holy Father’s encyclical has often been characterized only as an attack against artificial birth control. It is true that he does restate the Church’s constant teaching against artificial birth control. But Humanae Vitae is primarily an affirmation of the beauty and dignity of Christian marriage when it is lived according to God’s plan: in fidelity, fruitfully, generously. Beginning decades before the 60’s, we have been subject to the “world’s” influence in regards to our understanding of sexuality, marriage, and the family. In fact, many Christians have rejected the Church’s teaching in favor of the “world’s” standards. Perhaps the time is right to reconsider what the Church has to say on these most important issues: not what people think the Church teaches, but the actual teachings themselves. One can easily download the document on the internet from a number of sources (including www.vatican.va). I hope you will take the opportunity to see how beautiful, good, and true the Church’s teaching is.
May God bless you!
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