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Bishop Paul Sirba: Humanae Vitae’s anniversary something to celebrate, embrace

This July 25 will mark the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. Though 50 years have gone by, the encyclical remains prophetic. I pray you find time to read it.

Humanae Vitae has proven again and again to be remarkably prescient. It is also incredibly positive.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Humanae Vitae is pro-environment: It is in harmony with Pope Francis’ recent teaching about integral human ecology. It respects the human body and the earth. Today there is much concern about the environment and the “footprint” we are leaving on it. Yet not many are questioning the use of chemical contraception that not only pollutes the waterways and has deleterious effects on wildlife, but also affects our bodies. Natural family planning, on the other hand is totally natural. It respects our nature, helps us appreciate the incredible gift of our sexuality, and has no side effects.

Humanae Vitae is pro-woman: The teaching of St. John Paul II and the theology of the body, which builds on Humanae Vitae, teaches the beauty of our human sexuality, affirms the feminine genius, and reminds everyone that the woman or the man is never to be used like an object, but to be loved as a human person created in the image and likeness of God. We are beloved daughters and sons of Almighty God. This should speak especially to those who are calling for an end to sexual harassment, for fair treatment of women in the workplace, for an end to human trafficking, and for healing for those caught in the addiction of pornography.

Humanae Vitae is pro-life: It emphasizes the goodness of the child as a gift of God and not a possession, a commodity, a burden, or a “problem.” It is especially important to emphasize that all things medically possible are not necessarily morally acceptable. Many procedures today, like in vitro fertilization or the commodification of human embryos, is against the inherent dignity of the human person meant to be conceived in life and love.

Humanae Vitae is pro-marriage: In an age of social communication where we are engaged in seemingly endless social media and virtual worlds, Natural Family Planning demands that couples talk to each other personally, face to face. This wonderful benefit of NFP opens communication about fertility and God’s gift of human life between husbands and wives. It strengthens relationships. Couples who use NFP and fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation blow divorce statistics of the general population out of the water. Compare a less than 2 percent divorce rate to one over 50 percent. That is incredibly hopeful and positive!

Soon to be canonized Blessed Paul VI’s teaching on human life is not a “no” to what we believe about life and love but a “yes” to God’s gift of life, love, gender, and human sexuality, and a way forward for our world, which is seeking for meaning when questions arise about: Who am I? Why am I? What is life? Where am I going?

Please check out our Office of Marriage, Family, and Life for further offerings this year to strengthen your marriage and family life, to learn more about NFP, to address infertility problems, to get help for troubled marriages, to seek mentoring new couples, and to find prayers for families. Plan to attend our own Father Anthony Craig’s presentation July 21 at 5 p.m. — “Celebrate 68” at Immaculate Heart Parish in Crosslake.

Blessed Paul VI, thank you for Humanae Vitae, and pray for us!

Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.