Paul VI and Contraception

Some of the feedback I received from my last column leads me to believe that some people missed the point when I said:

It would seem that in giving Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wasn’t so much pressing the limits of Christian fortitude as simply reiterating that which was already infallibly taught, a doctrine ever moored to Tradition as evidenced by the Universal Ordinary Magisterium. As such, I cannot help but ask an important question that few, to my knowledge, seem to be asking: What exactly moved the Holy Father to appoint a commission to study a doctrine that was already part of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium?

Here’s an analogy:

Imagine a 14 year old boy asking his father for permission to smoke marijuana in the house, because… well… times have changed, and after all, most of his friends’ parents are OK with it.

Dad responds by saying that he wants to assemble a committee of parents with varying opinions to debate the question, after which he will give his official answer.

Shocked that Dad is even considering it, Junior is all but convinced that his father’s blessing is just a matter of time.

After much anticipation, Dad finally musters up the gumption to tell the kid “no” and to explain the reasons why.

The kid is flat out angry. So, he fires up a bowl at the kitchen table, blows the smoke in his father’s face and encourages his siblings to do the same, all of which earns him little to nothing in the way of a meaningful reprimand.

Now, there isn’t a reasonable observer who wouldn’t wonder what kind of father feels the need to appoint a committee to explore something that every parent in their right mind already knows is harmful. No one, at least that I know, would applaud this father for the way he ran his household; rather, they would look upon this man as a failure.

Why then do so many Catholics feel compelled to treat Pope Paul VI’s handling of contraception as praiseworthy?