First Published in ‘The Catholic Voice’, Ireland, February 2015
Marriage – The Church Militant
We are at War!
We faithful living on earth are not called the ‘Church Militant’ for nothing. We are at war, and the war is for our souls and for the souls of our neighbours. We face a very powerful enemy who is of an order of creatures far superior to ourselves, gifted with incredible intelligence and cunning, who has been permitted by God to wage war against us in the test of our resolve to know, to love and to serve God. On our own we are no match for this enemy and we will be utterly defeated should we choose to do battle with this enemy on our own. We may question the wisdom of allowing such an unfair match to take place but in questioning the ways of God we will be given the same answer that was given to St Peter.
“From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again. And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him, saying: Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee. Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” (Matt 16:21 – 23)
Self Denial is a Requisite
Jesus then tells His disciples what is expected of them in this great battle of life.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?” (Matt 16:24 – 26)
We know the final outcome of this war because the scripture continues “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works.” (Matt 16:27). Jesus Christ will return in all His glory and splendour to present each and everyone of us that has existed, from the beginning of time until the last day, to God the Father for the general judgement of mankind. Many battles have been won and lost along the way and there are many battles still in progress.
The Lost Battles in Ireland
The battle against divorce, the battle against abortion, the battle against so called same-sex marriage and the battle for vocations to the priesthood and religious life were all lost in this country in July of 1968. This was the year that the best known and most mentioned, though probably not the most widely read, encyclical of his Holiness blessed Pope Paul VI, ‘Humanae Vitae’ was published. I will go into why these battles were lost and what must be done if we are to regain the lost ground a little later. But first we need to get some background, a little history if you will, on the lead up to ‘Humanae Vitae’.
The Constant Teaching against Contraception
Consider the following statement and try to place where it came from, before looking at the answer.
“We utter an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception, together with the grave dangers—physical, moral, and religious—thereby incurred, and against the evils with which the extension of such use threatens the race. In opposition to the teaching which, under the name of science and religion, encourages married people in the deliberate cultivation of sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly uphold what must always be regarded as the governing considerations of Christian marriage. One is the primary purpose for which marriage exists – namely the continuation of the race through the gift and heritage of children; the other is the paramount importance in married life of deliberate and thoughtful self-control. We desire solemnly to commend what we have said to Christian people and to all who will hear.”
Do you know which Pope said that?
Of course not, because it wasn’t said by a Pope, although from the point of view of moral content it could have been. The above statement comes from resolution 68 of the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops which was held in 1920. The teaching of the Catholic Church against contraception is part of the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church and is thereby infallible. What many people do not realise, is that the whole of Christendom was united in its opposition to contraception in all circumstances. This teaching was not disputed by any Christian denomination until the following Lambeth Conference of 1930 at which resolution 15 was passed as follows.
The Dam is Breached
“Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.”
The devil gains a Victory
A comparison of these two statements shows up the dreadful cunning of our enemy. In 1920 the Anglicans were determined to uphold “what must always be regarded as the governing considerations of Christian marriage”, yet ten short years later those considerations were allowed to change and the self destruction of protestantism began which now sees many denominations allowing divorce and remarriage, approving same-sex relationships, even amongst their clergy, permitting abortion and other practices which fly in the face of Christ’s teaching on marriage.
The victory wasn’t achieved without opposition and the Anglican bishop of Oxford, Charles Gore, tried to rally the troops in an effort to get the decision reversed, but the absolute power of the democratic system with which the Anglicans were governed, ensured that he would have no chance of prevailing. Bishop Gore responded to those Anglican bishops who expressed the opinion that the Anglican Church had placed the balance definitely on the side of strictness saying, “I fear that this is practically the exact opposite of the truth. I think the clause which sanctions certain methods as a ‘regrettable necessity’ in certain cases (to use the bishop’s expression) is the only clause which is likely to have any considerable effect: and I cannot doubt that that effect will be disastrous.” His words were prophetic. Bishop Gore died on the 17th January 1932.
The Pope responds
In 1930 the reigning Pope was Pope Pius XI and, seeing the grave danger to the whole of humanity from what had happened, he did not want to let the sun set on that year without responding to the change that had been brought in at the Lambeth Conference. On December 31st 1930, he issued the encyclical letter ‘Casti Connubi’ on Christian Marriage to protect Christ’s flock from the many predators who were pedalling falsehoods concerning marriage.
© John Lacken 2015
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Author: John Lacken
Founder: Legio Sanctae Familiae – The Legion of the Holy Family