‘Clarity with Charity’: Why we Need Humanae Vitae

Humanae Vitae Giving Day

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By Sheila Liaugminas

For the past couple of years, I have considered the idea of tweeting out Humanae Vitae, or key lines from that prophetic document, so people in modern culture with busy lives and short attention spans, who are totally unaware of its contents, might be grabbed by some profound dart of a thought or some pithy eloquence about dignity contained in that little bombshell that foretold nearly all of the social ills we suffer today.

The vast majority of Catholics almost certainly have never read Humanae Vitae. They (we) don’t read most papal documents and don’t know what those decrees, encyclicals and exhortations even say except for what they hear or read in news reports or posts in social media, which mostly get them wrong or frame them in a certain light to form public opinion about them and the Church behind the teaching they contain.

That’s a shame, because they’re about the good, the true and the beautiful. And we need this, and so does the world.

We especially need Humanae Vitae. When Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical in 1968, long before modern technology, science and empirical data could measure such things, he foretold the damage that would result from widespread use of contraception. This deeply considered, profoundly human proclamation especially predicted growing and spreading immorality, increased infidelity, large-scale disrespect for and objectification of women and even eventual government intrusion into reproductive technologies.

Every bit of it has come true, as objective, demonstrable social science verifies today, in countless ways that have taken a painful toll on women, men, children, families, those suffering among us and those who silently suffered the abrupt and harsh end of their early lives through abortion, along with the women who continue suffering the torment of having them.

Today, Pope Francis warns us of our “throwaway culture,” and it’s clear how we got here. The way out of it is also clear.

At the end of Humanae Vitae, Paul VI calls on all men and women of goodwill to do “the splendid work of education and growth in charity.” To me, that means speaking out in the arena of ideas, clarifying misconceptions about human life and relationships and dignity and sharing the good news that help is available and happiness is reachable for everyone, even on what Pope Francis calls the “existential periphery.”

That’s clarity with charity.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and host of “A Closer Look” on Relevant Radio. Based in Chicago, she and her husband have two sons. Sheila also shares her reporting and reflections at SheilaReports.com.

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