The fact that the 50th year anniversary of Humanae vitae should fall within the year of the #Metoo movement is ironic since that movement painfully reveals how the modern sexual ethic has debased men, women and sex—something that Saint Paul VI predicted would happen if contraception became widely available. The entertainment world and secular institutions must clearly radically change their cultures.
The failure of the Church to maintain a culture respectful of sexual values and to protect the innocent is even more distressing, for the Church has been appointed by Our Savior Jesus Christ to safeguard all morality. It is very painful for any Catholic to learn of the shocking and immoral behavior of Cardinal McCarrick, which exploited, violated and betrayed the trust of so many young men. Even more appalling is the fact that his success in the Church reveals a continued existence of a culture within the Church that permits such behavior to take place and prevents it from coming to light.
Bishops, priests, religious and laity must band together to find a way to eradicate what has been repeatedly spoken of as a network of homosexuals who abuse people and who control too much of what goes on in dioceses, orders, and even in the curia.
To those who have eyes to see, it is not hard to see that the widespread embrace of contraception leads to approval of homosexuality. After all, those who accept contraception hold that respecting the procreative possibility of the sexual act is not essential to the moral performance of that action. Thus why not homosexuality and a whole host of deviant sexual actions? The sexual abuse crisis in the Church was largely a crisis of homosexual priests exploiting young men. How many others did not prey on young men, but have lived double lives? Their ways of thinking and behaving surely permeated their priesthood in many ways.
What happened with McCarrick explains a lot. Over the last 50 years those priests and laity who have tried to promote Humanae vitae and to teach methods of Natural Family Planning have regularly been astonished and demoralized by how little support they have received from bishops. For decades the family life offices were dominated by dissenters, by those who taught couples in marriage preparation that using contraception was not a sin if their consciences were not troubled.
After I had given a talk explaining how the dissent from Humanae vitae quickly led to a dominance of dissenting faculty in seminaries, institutions for Catholic higher education, and in diocesan structures as well, a woman observed to me that now she understood why the good bishops who have been appointed in recent times have such a hard time with their presbyterates.
Many bishops this year are preaching on, writing statements on, and holding conferences on Humanae vitae. But that is a relatively new phenomenon. The good bishops of today inherited a Church shaped by bishops who have tolerated dissent and even manifest and egregious violations of chastity. I have no doubt that many of the dissenting bishops were badly educated in seminary; indeed, I have been surprised that so many good bishops have come out of the seminary system that was in place for years.
In the midst of all this confusion, dissent, and betrayal, the fidelity of lay Catholics who have sacrificed and struggled to defend Humanae vitae and promote Natural Family Planning is all that more admirable. Blessed John Henry Newman predicted that at times in the Church there would be a small portion of the flock (parvus grex), a flock largely abandoned by its shepherds, who would maintain commitment to the truth. It is this group that he believed possessed the “sensus fidelium”; it was this group whose faith was so deep and loyally practiced that the lack of leadership from those whose duty is was to lead did not deflect them from the true faith and from evangelizing as best they could.
The price the Church has paid for neglecting to preach the truths of Humanae vitae and to promote Natural Family Planning is incalculable. Lives have been ruined, vocations have been lost, priests have left the priesthood, families have been destroyed, conversions have been stymied, and the culture has been deprived of the bold witness that the Church could and should give to the spectacular vision God has for human sexuality.