Is Humanae Vitae Infallible Teaching? Yes!

In The Catholic Medical Quarterly, Father Thomas Crean, O.P. presents easily understood arguments to affirm that Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of birth control falls under supreme magisterial doctrine. Sadly, we all know married Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday and are using and have used the pill, and they receive Communion unrepentant. They refused to accept Humanae Vitae or natural law arguments.  There were and are always plenty of priests around since 1969 who dissented on this moral law, if not publicly, then, privately, in the confessional. God help them. These priests are partly responsible for the calamitous loss of morals of two generations of “practicing Catholics,” most of whose children have ceased practicing or totally lost the Faith.

Father Crean: The encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968, is certainly one of the most important Church documents of modern times. The Pope was addressing a question of great relevance for millions of married couples, namely, what the natural moral law permits and forbids with regard to regulating procreation. Read full article here.

  • John S

    Let someone demonstrate just how the four requirements for Papal Infallibility are satisfied, that is all we need.
    Whether the contents of an encyclical are true or not does not determine the degree of authority with which these same truths were declared.
    Even if the theological content of an encyclical could be elevated to a dogma without alteration, it remains not a dogma until all four requirements for infallibility are met.
    (We won’t know until you fix the link)

  • John S

    I looked up the article:

    The fourth requirement: That the pope intends to make a specific belief binding on all of the Faithful is ambiguous. Father Crean is being very generous with something that could easily have been worded more directly and more specifically. Pope Paul could easily have left no room for doubt or argument as other pontiffs did with their respective Infallible pronouncements.

    “Let married couples, then, face up to the efforts needed, supported by the faith and hope which do not disappoint . . .
    No demand for an assent of the intellect called Faith to a specific proposition is present.
    We do not need more sloppy theology.

  • GeneDe

    It is and always has been that the “faithful” have not only rejected — if they knew the requirements for infallibility — the letter of this vital teaching for marrieds, but more importantly, the spirit of the encyclical.

  • John S

    What could have been declared infallibly, should have been declared infallibly. The disdain evinced by the “faithful” for the content of Humanae Vitae is not as bad as the disdain Pope Paul VI showed toward the Deposit of Faith by not protecting said Deposit of Faith with the authority he alone possessed. Why the ambiguity? Should it take 40 years of speculation to discern whether a declaration is a dogma or whether it is not? The ambiguity (dealing with what authority said declaration is being presented) was a disastrous choice on the part of Pope Paul VI. Should we expect good children from a household whose head disdains the proper use of discipline?

  • Tomas de Torquemada

    Reminiscent of Pope John Paul II’s blunder in not infallibly teaching “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (despite the pleas of Cardinal Ratzinger). True, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declared that the teaching is “to be held definitively, as belonging to the deposit of faith”. But that’s not quite the same.

  • John S

    NON-SPECIFICITY is disastrous wherever it is proffered as a replacement for what ought to be said or what ought to be done. It is the effeminate escape from intellectual and moral responsibility. If Jesus Christ had spoken this way He would never have been crucified. Could it honestly be said of the last several popes as was said about Jesus Christ, “The people heard Him gladly because He spoke as one having authority?” (paraphrased, not sure of precise scriptural text)

  • One thing that should not be left out of the discussion is the fact that we are speaking about a doctrine that was already infallibly taught by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium before Pope Paul VI put pen to paper for Humanae Vitae. While many exaggerate the character of the “merely” Ordinary Magisterium (not universal), many also ignore the infallible character of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium.

    Father Michael Jarecki (RIP) wrote Pope Paul VI a letter when he knew the Holy Father was going to come out with an encyclical on the subject of contraception. Father Jarecki was deeply concerned over the sexual chaos that was happening in the 1960s, and the failure of churchmen to protect the faithful from the libertine errors of the day. He presciently told Paul VI that unless he defined infallibly (using his Solemn, or Extraordinary, Magisterium), the encyclical would be a dead letter. In so saying, our dear Father foresaw the evils of the diabolical pied pipers like Rev. Charles Curran and his ilk.

    Father did not rejoice in being so very right.

  • Tomas de Torquemada

    The popes following Pius XII have been shamefully fearful and disdainful of exercising their right and authority to teach infallibly (or even definitively). If they had their druthers, the history of the Church would have begun with John XXIII and Vatican II. They not so secretly believe that the entire pontificate of Pius IX, and Vatican I in particular, should be swept upon the ash heap of history as a gross embarrassment.

  • Dan Falcone

    By the results of the highly regarded Guttmacher poll 97% of faithful Catholic couples practice
    a medical form of birth – control. Humanae Vitae simply did not bear fruit. The deliberate ambiguous language employed by PP VI was intentional. The encyclical position is authoritative, by the fact it is an Papal encyclical but not infallible (Can. 749.3).
    In light of the church’s teaching ( C.C.C. 1776 ~ 1790 ~1800 and Vatican II
    “The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. Lumen Gentium, no. 12

  • Are you seriously proposing that, because the “entire body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief,” the Planned Parenthood poll (Guttmacher is the research division of the murderous PP) is an expression of infallible Catholic belief?

    That would be a new low in liberal doctrinal insanity.

    The “entire body of the faithful” would include those who have come before us, and the testimony of Catholic tradition is unanimous on this subject — unanimously opposed to birth control. If Paul VI failed in Humanae Vitae, it is because he chose not to use his Solemn Magisterium, but, rather, used his ordinary teaching authority.

    The encyclical itself as a vehicle for teaching was not guarded by infallibility because of that, but the teaching against birth control was already infallibly true by virtue of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, which is just an infallible as the Solemn Magisterium, as per the teaching of Vatican I on the matter.

  • Dan Falcone

    Dear Brother Andre,

    Your childish & petulant tone
    aside,, I abhor the practice
    and purpose of P.P. Don’t ever insinuate
    such an evil accord
    because you are uncomfortable with a poll
    result. I find the results
    of Guttmacher as much, if not more
    disturbing than you.
    Furthermore, don’t use “liberal” and
    “conservative” when discussing
    matters of faith & morals, it does not
    help to further the conversation.

    It is quite manifest that Vatican II
    is not your specialty.

    Authoritative R.C. theologians properly
    understand Lumen gentium. no. 12
    to mean what it says, ~ that the laity are
    infallible when they form
    a consensus.

    Although we both understand that H.V. was not
    infallibly taught in virtue
    of the extraordinary papal magisterium, you
    personally claim that the teaching
    contained in H.V. was an infallibly taught
    doctrine in virtue of the ordinary
    magisterium of the Church (as explicated in
    section 25 of Lumen gentium, the
    Dogmatic Constitution on the Church issued
    by Vatican II). That is, in your
    opinion that the doctrine had already,
    prior to and independently of HV
    been taught infallibly by the College of
    Bishops in union with the pope as a teaching
    that must be definitively held (tenenda
    definitive) to belong to the deposit of
    faith. This mode of infallible teaching
    requires *a clear, constant teaching on the*
    *part of the bishops as a moral whole*
    that some point of doctrine has been divinely
    revealed (cf Lumen gentium 25)

    You do not have a clear intellectual
    understanding of the three modes of
    infallibility. You are claiming the
    #3 process but you are obviously not acquainted
    with church teaching regarding
    what this entails.

    Please read Canon 749.3 then
    seek out a canon lawyer instruction.

    That said, I may recommend you to
    continue to study and
    I will pray for your spiritual

    Laus Deo

    Dan Falcone

  • I did not use the word “conservative.” I did use the word liberal, and Holy Mother Church has used the word “liberal,” and has condemned liberalism. I could supply references. I am using the word in that Catholic sense.

    The teaching on birth control is infallible by virtue of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. My reference for this is principally Vatican I. The fact is that there is a consensus of the Church on this issue in her bi-millennial teaching on the subject. Only heretical sects considered contraception acceptable.

    The Church’s magisterium had already spoken on the issue numerous times before Humanae Vitae, as Paul VI himself states in that encyclical (#12), wherein he also says that the doctrine proscribing birth control is “the constant teaching of the Church” (#10) and is the Church’s “constant doctrine” (#11).

    Whatever the PP murderers concluded in their poll, this does not touch the universal consensus of the Church, which was already authoritatively fixed before modern times. For what it’s worth, Father John Hardon, who was an expert on Vatican II (I’m not), agrees with my conclusion:

  • R. E. Ality

    In praising Bernard Haring is Pope Francis doing an end run around Humanae Vitae?

  • In the official domain of magisterial teaching, no. In the unofficial domain of indirect signal sending, yes. That is the way I see it. And I only see it that way because (a) people will take it that way and (b) I think the Holy Father is smart enough to know people will take it that way.