October 2018 State Newsletter, Chaplain’s Message


This past July 25th was the 50th Anniversary of Humanae vitae, the Papal Encyclical of Pope Paul VI. Humanae vitae has been the source of a great deal of social discussion over these fifty-years, vilified by almost all liberal minded groups, but also defended by those who fully understood the wider importance of the question being discussed. When Pierre Trudeau avoided discussion on another topic, abortion laws, in the 1970s, he famously said, “There is no place for the State in the bedrooms of the nation,” but to those who fully understand the discussion of human procreation raised in Humanae vitae, what happens in ‘the bedrooms of the nation’ is not the full extent of this document.

The truth of the matter is that the different issues discussed in Humanae vitae are, for the most part, focused on defending the Sacrament of Marriage and the Family, the principal building blocks of all of society. And so those that consider it as addressing ‘the bedrooms of the nation’ or as a document that simply opposes artificial contraception, have missed its point. Pope Paul desired to address the wide ranging social effects of the changing moral standards of our time, particularly considering how new technological processes in the area of human procreation would affect the family and society as a whole.

In tackling such a complex and controversial subject, Pope Paul VI was aware that it would bring strong responses, and so he did so, being pastorally sensitive to the demands made on married couples. The difficulty modern society has in understanding this teaching, whether from cultural attitudes, differing attitudes to sin, complexities of life or the widespread anti-life mentality, means that in an often hostile world Pope Paul called upon married couples to be witnesses and proclaim to the world that life is a gift and a blessing from God and an intrinsic, honest aspect of married life.

And this important document continues to make an impact in the Church and the world. This month, during the Youth Synod in Rome, the topic of Humanae vitae arose in discussions. It was noted that the assembly and small groups had spoken a lot about marriage and family life and that this was a moment to celebrate the prophetic quality of Humanae vitae.


Fr. Edward Gibney

Associate State Chaplain