Humanae Vitae at 50: How does a Catholic respond to Sex in the modern world?

Published at Catholic News Agency
Mama Needs Coffee

Today marks exactly half a century since the publication of Humanae vitae, Bl. Paul VI’s prescient missive to the Church in response to the modern world’s views on sexuality and the human person. Reading it now through the warped lens of the 21st century’s concept of sex, it seems extraordinary that there was once a time the world was not arguing over the existence of multiple choice genders and contraception as a fundamental human right.

Progress, eh? 

I look around at our culture and I see a lot of suffering. Children unsure of their parents’ commitment to the family and uncertain of their own place in the world, women who feel compelled to compete with their bodies in the sexual marketplace, babies snuffed out of existence because they had the misfortune to be conceived as the result of a violent act or a contraceptive failure. 

There are a lot of people in a lot of pain. But the situation is not without hope. I personally had to hit a sort of rock bottom in my own life before I was able to recognize my own misery and cry out for something more. 

The Church was there, and she was able to offer me something better. Discovering Humanae vitae made a big impression on me when I was finding my way back to belief, and it has not ceased to fascinate me in all the years since. It is brief, concise, and only seems to become more applicable as time passes. 

There are four predictions which Pope Paul makes in HV, things which perhaps seemed far fetched 1968, but which have themselves wretchedly accurate in 2018. 

First, he envisioned a rise in infidelity and a general moral decline. The Pope noted that the widespread use of contraception would “lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.”