Pope Francis beatified Pope Paul VI at the close of the contentious Synod on the Family. Pope Francis will not be "progressing" toward some new day of sexual freedom. He is "sealing the deal" on Church teaching on contraception by beatifying Paul VI. And in so doing, Pope Francis, like Paul VI, is defending the rights of the poor and vulnerable.
For Paul VI is the author of the 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Paul VI dashed any hope, inside or outside of the Catholic Church, about a "new day dawning" on the subject of contraception. In spite of all the wishful thinking among the rich and powerful of our time, the Catholic Church will not be changing its position on the highly contested moral issues now, either.
Humanae Vitae was prophetic. Against all the "winds of change," against the rich, the beautiful and the important people of the 1960's claiming that contraception would solve the world's problems, Paul VI reiterated the ancient teaching of the Catholic Church. (In fact, the prohibition on contraception had been the universal teaching of all the Christian churches right up until the Lambeth Convention of the Anglican Church in 1930, but I digress.) In spite of all pressure arrayed in favor of artificial birth control, Paul VI predicted that this social experiment would end badly.
In paragraph 17 of Humanae Vitae, called "Consequences of Artificial Methods," Paul VI makes his predictions, all of which have come to pass. Who can deny that we have an "increase in marital infidelity?" Who can deny that there has been a "general lowering of moral standards?" Who can deny that we have obliterated the incentives for "young people to avoid temptation?" Who can deny that men have "lost their reverence for women?" The whole controversy over campus rape which has led to "affirmative consent" laws, is evidence of this loss of reverence for women.
But his analysis of the misuse of governmental power is especially prescient. He states:
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
I have often wondered how Paul VI got this idea. As it happens, John D Rockefeller III was one of the leading proponents of population control in the 1960's. Rockefeller went to great lengths to try to neutralize the opposition of the Catholic Church to his population control plans. He cultivated relationships with Notre Dame, where his Population Council held conferences in the 1960's. His friend, Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh, arranged an audience with Pope Paul VI in July of 1965. This was during the period of time when the Catholic Church was holding commissions on the contraception question, and when the Pope was considering what he would say on the subject.
I just wonder whether this meeting caused Paul VI to realize the kind of power grab Rockefeller had in mind. I do not know exactly what Rockefeller said in that meeting. To the best of my knowledge, the Pope never wrote about what Rockefeller said to him.
We do know that the next day, Rockefeller wrote to the Pope, further expounding the views he had expressed during his 45 minute audience. He took it upon himself to advise the Holy Father, "If I may speak perfectly frankly, the Church will be bypassed on an issue of fundamental importance to its people and to the well-being of all mankind. The flooding tide (of population stabilization) cannot be stopped or even slowed, but it can be guided."
In other words, "Mr. Pope Sir, History is moving along, and you are on the wrong side of History."
So just picture this historic meeting. Rockefeller was gushing about the need for population control (with him and his friends doing the controlling, of course.) Imagine Paul VI listening quietly to this very rich American, all full of himself and his own importance. Rockefeller was no doubt accustomed to his wealth guaranteeing that he would be treated with deference bordering on reverence, even by religious leaders.
Perhaps it was this very meeting that persuaded the Pope of the danger of morally sanctioned birth control in the hands of the rich and powerful, in the hands of governments.
And where are rich and powerful people today? They too, are full of themselves. They're so proud of their Sexual Revolution. But the media, the politicians, the celebrities, the academics, seldom speak about the human rights abuses made possible by the widespread use, promotion and normalization of contraception. Millions of men vasectomized and women sterilized by their government in India in the 1970's. Women strapped down and forced to have abortions in China due to the One Child Policy since 1979. Couples in the Philippines now required to obtain a "certificate of compliance" to prove they have been educated by the government on "family planning." And literally millions of missing girls worldwide, due to sex selection abortion, in part induced by government-imposed population control policies.
Now, my non-Catholic friends, please understand me. I am not telling you to change your theological beliefs. Nor am I telling you to flush your pills down the toilet. (As a matter of fact, please don't! It is probably not good for the water supply!)
I am asking you to do two things. First, take a sober-minded look at the down-side of contraception. If you do, I think you will agree that Pope Paul VI was a prophetic and courageous man, who almost certainly had Divine Guidance as he wrote his famous encyclical.
Second, be advised: The Catholic Church will not be changing its doctrine on sexual morality. If Pope Francis had plans to do so, there is simply no way he would even mention the visionary voice of Paul VI, much less take steps to canonize him.