“Humanae Vitae” under siege

Two new assaults and a counterattack

Pope Paul VI

The siege on Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” has racked up two new assaults in recent days. But also an energetic counterattack.

The first and more authoritative assault bears the signature of Cardinal Walter Kasper. In a booklet released contemporaneously in German and in Italy he exalts the “paradigm shift” inaugurated by Pope Francis with the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.” A paradigm shift – Kasper writes – that does not limit itself to allowing communion for the divorced and remarried, but “concerns moral theology in general and thus has effects on many analogous situations,” including none other than recourse to artificial methods of birth control.

Kasper does not find in “Amoris Laetitia” the passage – in effect nonexistent – that would explicitly legitimize the use of contraceptives. But he points out that Francis, when he cites the encyclical of Paul VI, “encourages the use of the method of observing the cycles of natural fertility, but does not say anything about other methods of family planning and avoids all casuistic definitions.”

Book, “Karol Wojtyla e Humanae Vitae” (cover image from L’Espresso)

The second assault is less noble and not authoritative at all. And it is the acrobatic review of the following important book, just off the presses: “Karol Wojtyla e ‘Humanae vitae’, by Pawel Stanislaw Galuszka. It was given a full page in the Sunday, December 4 edition of the newspaper of the Italian episcopal conference, “Avvenire,” with the byline of its specialist on questions of family morality, Luciano Moia.

Among the documents published for the first time in this book, Moia isolates a letter written by Karol Wojtyla to Paul VI in 1969, after numerous episcopal conferences had spoken out critically against “Humanae Vitae.” In that letter the archbishop of Krakow asked the pope to publish urgently an instruction against the “harmful opinions” that were circulating, reiterating even more forcefully the teaching of the encyclical.

Paul VI did not do what Wojtyla had asked him. It was enough for him to hold firm what he had written in “Humanae Vitae,” without retreating one step. But by capitalizing on this silence of his, Moia contrasts Wojtyla’s “rigidity” with the presumed “openness” of Paul VI to the objections of various episcopates, all of them “characterized” – according to Moia’s prose – “by respect, acceptance, and comprehension.”

And here we are at the counterattack in defense of “Humanae Vitae,” which has been expressed both with the publication of the book mentioned above and with the presentation of it that was made on Wednesday, March 7 at the Pontifical Lateran University by Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, the Polish philosopher Stanislaw Grygiel, and the Italian theologian Livio Melina, in addition to the author of the book, Pawel Stanislaw Galuszka of Poland.

Melina, formerly the dean of the pontifical John Paul II institute for studies on marriage and family, is also the author of the preface to the book. And these are his parting shots, in which he immediately takes aim at both Kasper and Moia, after which he makes an interesting reference to the letter “Placuit Deo” published a few days ago by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, with the approval of Pope Francis:


by Livio Melina

Today one hears ambiguous talk of an epochal “paradigm shift,” which it is alleged must be applied to Catholic sexual morality. In order to impose it there is also underway a questionable attempt at historical reinterpretation, which contrasts the figures of Paul VI and John Paul II, seeing in the second an intransigent and rigid traditionalist who is thought to have compromised the open and flexible attitude of the former.

In reality, this crude and arbitrary falsification is made only to serve an ideological manipulation of the magisterium of Pope Paul VI. Putting between parentheses the teaching of Saint John Paul II on the theology of the body and on the foundations of morality, his catecheses and “Veritatis Splendor,” in the name of the new pastoral paradigm of “case by case” discernment, does not bring us a step forward, but only a step backward toward casuistry, with the disadvantage that at least that was sustained by a solid ecclesial and cultural context of Christian life, while today it could not help but result in the total subjectivization of morality.

Pope Francis recently approved the publication, by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, of the letter “Placuit Deo,” which among other things warns against a resurgent neo-Gnosticism. Is not this perhaps the poison that is hidden in these self-proclaimed reinterpretations and implementations of “Humanae Vitae,” which beyond the outmoded letter would like to grasp the spirit, or which, presumptuously denying its normative pertinence (“The problem of ‘Humanae Vitae’ is not pill yes or pill no”), extol it for a vague and empty anthropological propheticalness, an affirmation of values that are then left to subjective interpretation, according to the circumstances?

Against these tendencies, the book by Pawel Galuszka is a potent medicine, which allows us to breathe the good moral theology of Karol Wojtyła, a devoted and faithful son of Paul VI first and then his great successor on the see of Peter.

Full story at L’Espresso.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Now we see what the enemies of the Church within have been aiming for. If they succeed in emptying Humanae Vitae of its moral force they will go for revising moral doctrine so much that homosexual acts and unions will be considered events of grace.

    Sick! Evil! Twisted! The work of the devil!

    • Yes, and by separating the unitive and procreative, homosexualists hope to render all sex acts as morally equal. They are not! Back to the basics, sexual relations are rightly relegated to marriage, and marriage is between one man and one woman, period. In God’s plan, sex leads to babies, overturning His moral order always has bad consequences.

  2. Anne T. E. says:

    Whatever sins Pope Paul VI did or did not do in his lifetime, I owe my life to him, and St. John Paul too, for standing firm against the Birth Control Pill. It was a priest faithful to the magisterium who told me not to take it and kept the cancer I did not know I had at the time from spreading. His action gave me twenty-seven more years of life.

    The Birth Control Pill kills. The residue from it gets into our sewage system and goes on into some of our water ways deforming our male fish.

    • Anne T. E. says:

      I do not know if Pope Paul VI is a saint or not. I do not know enough about him to make that decision, but I do know he was right about the birth control pill, abortion and other means of artificial contraception. Most is very harmful to the woman’s body, and one is not only harmful to the women’s body– can contribute to certain cancers– but also kills the child.

    • Nancy LaVeque says:

      The pill in water, not only affects the fish, the human males of today on average have half the sperm count of 50 years ago. A coincidence? I think not!

  3. drewelow says:

    translation focus notes. the english version fudges a bit on 2 points. ‘pill yes, pill no’ is best rendered in the french tralsation as ‘yes or no to the pill’ the yes-no language by melini is echoing italian political jargo. otherwise,’i’m for or against the pill’. 2) a slight mistake where translator uses the word outmoded in 2nd to last paragrach. the other meanining of superare is ‘, to go beyond.’ should read something like ‘they would attempt to go beyond the letter of the text(humanae vitae) pretending to capture the spirit of the text'” and so justify their new interpetations as the truly deeper nd deepest meaning. dark coup.

  4. Joel Fago says:

    The paradigm shift is a shift away from Catholic truths.

  5. The answer is “yes” it is the poison thats killing souls and those write these letters plus sign off on them, well who an I to judge.

    • Truth-seeker says:

      If you shouldn’t judge another’s conscience, don’t. Leave that up to God, to whom it belongs. Fair enough?

  6. Anonymous says:

    “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
    “With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves, we will sanctify ourselves, we will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.” Sister Lucia of Fatima

  7. Truth-seeker says:

    ANONYMOUS—- non sequiturs.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Before the Papacy of Pope Francis, Catholic teaching taught that a person can be guilty of a mortal sin only if the action involved a grave matter, the person had full knowledge and committed the act with full consent of the will. A case by case evaluation is needed to determine if a person is guilty of a mortal sin. Pope Francis is not teaching anything that is new. Sexual morality should not be the only area where a case by case evaluation is made. A person can be a public racist and not be guilty of a mortal sin. Communion should not be withheld from such a person. Instead of casting him out as a sinner, the Church should mercifully accompany him on his journey. Who are we to judge other people as sinners? We are not God.

  9. Having lived through the turmoil of the proclaimation of Humnae Vitae as a young, married woman, I observed two factors going on.
    One, this valuable encyclical was too late in its proclaimation. Catholic women were already using The Pill. And, had that full page ad in the the NY Times the Sunday following the proclaimation, signed by the then movers and shakers been publically counteracted, those theologians publically disciplined, we would not be in the situation that we are today with more sinful, perverse behaviors being endorsed.

  10. Pope Paul VI is truly a Saint. He helped bring the Church to the modern world and yet also preached the Church’s long held teaching against artificial contraception. He was ahead of the times and accurately perceived the dangers of marital love separated from procreation: all forms of abuse and degradation of human sexuality.

  11. Linda Maria says:

    A good, devout Catholic, who is a sincere follower of Christ, is not at all like others in his or her society. He or she must be very serious about Christ’s teaachings, and surrender themselves to Him, in deep, trustful Faith and Love! Our thinking and our life’s dedication must be, Christ in all things, each day, all the time, always and forever! We must give our all to Him! That includes His holy Sacrament of Matrimony, and the Marriage Bed– all for Him, for the glory of God! And for the sanctification of our souls, that we may oneday be with Christ, in Heaven! That is the holy, Divine purpose, of our Faith, and Sacraments! We do not live long– but Heaven, in the Love of Christ– is forever!

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