First Published in ‘The Catholic Voice’, Ireland, March 2015
Casti Connubi confirms and reaffirms the uninterrupted tradition
We have seen that Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Casti Connubi, both confirms and reaffirms the uninterrupted Christian tradition of opposition to contraception and to any use of matrimony which deliberately frustrates the natural procreative power of the marital act. That this teaching is infallible is clear from the fact that the whole of Christendom was united on this point up until the Lambeth conference of 1930. It is impossible that the whole of Christendom could err for almost two thousand years on such an important matter of Christian morality.
In paragraph three of Casti Connubi the Pope grieves over the way that a great number of men, relying on “the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality” deny the sanctity of marriage and often trample it underfoot. We can only imagine his grief at the fact that some of those men were in the ranks of the Catholic clergy. He addresses the priests of the Catholic church as follows,
The Priest must render an account to God
“We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of His sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: “They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.” (Casti Connubi – No 57)
These strong words to priests from Pope Pius XI were issued at the end of 1930, a time when most priests would still have upheld Church teaching on the evil nature of contraception. We will see in subsequent articles that today, sadly, many more Catholics from all ranks within the church, have given in to the false opinions and deceits of the devil on this matter.
Admiration for Heroic Mothers
The pope, being aware of the not insignificant difficulties that married couples sometimes face in their married life, addresses his next words to heroic mothers.
“ … Holy Mother Church very well understands and clearly appreciates all that is said regarding the health of the mother and the danger to her life. And who would not grieve to think of these things? Who is not filled with the greatest admiration when he sees a mother risking her life with heroic fortitude, that she may preserve the life of the offspring which she has conceived? God alone, all bountiful and all merciful as He is, can reward her for the fulfilment of the office allotted to her by nature, and will assuredly repay her in a measure full to overflowing.” (Casti Connubi – 58)
A Warning to Married Couples
Pope Pius XI also addresses married couples warning them against error and encouraging them to place their trust completely in God.
“We are deeply touched by the sufferings of those parents who, in extreme want, experience great difficulty in rearing their children. However, they should take care lest the calamitous state of their external affairs should be the occasion for a much more calamitous error. No difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil. There is no possible circumstance in which husband and wife cannot, strengthened by the grace of God, fulfil faithfully their duties and preserve in wedlock their chastity unspotted. This truth of Christian Faith is expressed by the teaching of the Council of Trent. “Let no one be so rash as to assert that which the Fathers of the Council have placed under anathema, namely, that there are precepts of God impossible for the just to observe. God does not ask the impossible, but by His commands, instructs you to do what you are able, to pray for what you are not able that He may help you.” ” (Casti Connubi – 60, 61)
The Second World War
With the issuing of the encyclical ‘Casti Connubi’, Pope Pius XI had laid down a strong marker in support of marriage and the Church’s teaching opposing contraception. However, life moved on in this heedless world, and on the 1st September 1939, the second world war, which Our Lady at Fatima in 1917 had foretold would come about if man did not cease offending God, began. This war, which eventually saw the surrender of Germany on the 8th May 1945 and the surrender of Japan on the 15th August 1945, both Marian feast days, resulted in an estimated death toll of between 50 and 85 million people. The world was devastated and swore “never again”!
Peace at any Cost – The Service of Mammon
But man, since the fall, is a fickle creature and the devil a master of deceit. After the war mankind wanted peace at any cost and the devil was only too willing to oblige. He offered the service of Mammon as a solution to the world’s problems instead of service of the triune God who alone is to be worshipped and adored. Increased prosperity eventually led to what has come to be known as the sexual revolution as man, in his greedy pursuit of peace and prosperity, discarded the moral norms of marriage, so clearly enunciated by Pope Pius XI in “Casti Connubi”, in favour of a secularist world view which exalted the individual above the community.
More killed each year through abortion than were killed in WWII
But the devil is a great deceiver, a murderer from the beginning, and this rejection of Christ’s teaching in pursuit of a false peace and happiness has led us to a world which, though in 1945 swore “never again”, today kills an estimated 50 million children through surgical abortion and probably ends the lives of an even greater number of human beings shortly after conception, through so called chemical contraceptives and morning after pills. Today, the total number of lives sacrificed in the name of Mammon every year through legalised abortion and legalised abortifacient drugs, exceeds the total number of human beings killed during the almost six years of World War II.
What is most shocking about these statistics is that most people do not care enough to try to change them. The vast majority of people do not understand that there is a direct connection between the lack of respect for virginity and the lack of respect for marriage on the one hand, and the huge number of abortions in the world on the other. God designed the marriage of one man and one woman for the procreating and rearing of children who are destined to become the future citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Satan Seeks Human Accomplices
Satan, the deceiver, after encouraging and enticing Adam and Eve to sin, next turned to vent his hatred on their children. Satan seeks human accomplices in his useless tirade against God and, truth to tell, he is rarely short of volunteers. Eve gave the fruit to Adam to eat, Cain killed Abel whose offering was pleasing to God, and so it continues in our day. Politicians pass legislation which promotes the use of contraception; they then legalise divorce; next they legalise the killing of innocent children in their mother’s wombs; euthanasia becomes the next taboo to be legalised; and finally, in one of the greatest insults to God imaginable, they say that a man can marry a man and that a woman can marry a woman.
In the next article we will return to Ireland and to July 1968, to have a look at the reaction in Ireland to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae.
© John Lacken 2015
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Author: John Lacken
Founder: Legio Sanctae Familiae – The Legion of the Holy Family