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Contraception and Vatican II

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 25, 2012

I’ve noticed a few people arguing lately that widespread contraception can be traced back to the Second Vatican Council. Sigh. This grows so wearisome.

To set the record straight, here is what the Council said about contraception several years before Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae:

For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. The sexual characteristics of man and the human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms of life. Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence. Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure do not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.
All should be persuaded that human life and the task of transmitting it are not realities bound up with this world alone. Hence they cannot be measured or perceived only in terms of it, but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny of men. (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) #51)

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: DrJazz - Aug. 23, 2018 12:06 AM ET USA

    The American media want the "gay" lifestyle normalized and accepted. Pointing out that homosexuality in the priesthood is the problem undermines their agenda. It better suits their purposes to frame the issue as hypocritical priests and bishops sexually abusing children while insisting on strict and outdated chastity rules for the laity. The Pennsylvania cases are very serious, but they provided the media with an excuse to drop the McCarrick story in favor of something seemingly more outrageous.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 22, 2018 7:05 PM ET USA

    "gays-in-the-priesthood angle." Bingo. If there is one word that is absolutely taboo in "polite" church company, it is homosexual. If there is one subject that is absolutely taboo in "polite" church company, it is the immorality of homosexual behavior. Just see what happens if you suggest that the sexual molestation of boys by Catholic clergy is homosexual behavior. It won't be pretty. And don't dare cite the actual statistics during a "safe environment" training session.

  • Posted by: Chatholic - Aug. 22, 2018 6:28 PM ET USA

    Its a no-brainer. The elephant is rainbow-colored, therefore he's off limits.