Forty years ago: the world was in the throes of social revolution; student protests were widespread in Europe and the United States; socialist and communist threatened to take hold of Latin America; the sexual revolution had made many advances.
The sexual revolution had particular hopes for July 1968. The previous forty years had seen almost every Protestant church come out with an acceptance of chemical birth control, beginning with Anglicans in 1930. The Catholic Church set up a commission in 1963 in order to explore these matters, and many hoped it would follow the way of the Anglicans and other Christian denominations. Instead, on July 25, 1968, Paul VI published Humanae Vitae, and the Church has been criticized from within and without on this subject more than almost any other. Very few of these critics even attempt an understanding of the reasons for the Church's continual rejection of artificial contraception or even question the widespread acceptance of hormonal birth control.
The family is the basis for society. If, like St. Benedict, we are going to build a new society, we must start with the family and developing a better understanding of the family.
So, here's to you, Humanae Vitae, on your 40th anniversary!
An exerpt of Benedict XVI's speech in honor of the anniversary: "In fact, conjugal love is described within a global process that does not stop at the division between soul and body and is not subjected to mere sentiment, often transient and precarious, but rather takes charge of the person's unity and the total sharing of the spouses who, in their reciprocal acceptance, offer themselves in a promise of faithful and exclusive love that flows from a genuine choice of freedom. How can such love remain closed to the gift of life? Life is always a precious gift; every time we witness its beginnings we see the power of the creative action of God who trusts man and thus calls him to build the future with the strength of hope."