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By Archbishop Charles Chaput
Humanae Vitae is one of the great moral documents of the last century because it is important, beautiful, courageous and true. And we don’t need to be theologians to see why. We just need to review the record of the last 48 years.
Scientists created the birth control pill in the 1960s to help married couples space their children more “rationally.” What we got instead was the revenge of unintended consequences: a crashing birth rate, gender confusion, wrecked families and marriages, a bias against children and a circus of sexual dysfunctions and illnesses.
The lesson is blunt: We’re never as smart as we think we are, and we’re rarely as humble as we need to be. The genius of the encyclical Humanae Vitae is that Blessed Pope Paul VI understood this technological vanity and where it would lead us earlier than anyone; he had the character to name it, and he had the love and the hope to call us back to our real identity as Christians – to the vocation of cooperating with God in the creation of new life that renews the face of the earth.
Married love is a unique kind of friendship and joy, and Humanae Vitae is the path to deepening its beauty over a lifetime. It is a modest burden that becomes, with time and love, one of the greatest bonds and richest gifts in a Christian marriage.
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop of Philadelphia.
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