PRESS HERE FOR HUMANAE VITAE, A SUMMARY This brief article tells of three bishops conferences in the 1960's (Canadian, Dutch and German)who "tried" to "validly" give a dispensation to this natural law based upon "conscience." The article rebuffs that with the following:
"Catholic Insight's editor: Nota Bene
The “Winnipeg Statement” has no teaching value. Its dispensation is null and void because its authority is flawed.
Two things are necessary for a teaching by a Conference of Bishops to be valid: 1) unanimity of all bishops belonging to the Conference; 2) approval by Rome. (See “The theological and juridical nature of Episcopal conferences”, Apostolic Letter by His Holiness John Paul II, May 21, 1998).
Neither of these conditions was achieved. There was no unanimity – at least six bishops rejected the document. And approval from Rome was neither sought, nor given. The Canadian bishops of the time may be said to have ignored the need for both internal and external collegiality."
Basically what the Holy Father taught in Humanae Vitae is that natural law reveals divine law and that divine law in imprinted in the very order of creation. Therefore one must understand natural law and honor it and by doing so one honors God. This has ramification for a number of moral teaching, many now evolving in the Church, that pertain to the nature of man, what God has created and what are the limits to man's engineering that changes the moral other because it disregards natural law.
Human sexuality is more than just the pro-creative act. It is that force, if you will, that enables us to love, to go beyond ourselves, to show empathy. It is an energy that is natural and necessary for a holy and whole life.
Why then is genital sex only permitted within the context of marriage? Because there are two aspects to genital sex, erotic love which needs marriage to keep it tame and wholesome and where spouses in the enjoyment and love of one another give each other totally to the other. Does this get corrupted even in marriage? Certainly, a man can use is wife for what he could do perfectly well on his own--there is no love or self-giving only selfish release (and that is why doing it on one's own is considered sinful--it doesn't fulfill the high calling of physical sex--it is selfish). And certainly a wife could use her husband for the same purposes, although somehow I think this is more a man problem than a woman problem, but I could be wrong.
But that brings us to natural law, how the human body is constructed and why certain physical acts and substance contribute to the begetting of new life. Genital sex is also for pro-creation, no two ways about it, in fact the pleasurable aspect is meant to serve the pro-creative aspect since if a man or woman had no sexual desire there would be no pro-creation.
The significance of the married state and in a life-long marriage is to provide a stable environment that is also loving to rear children and teach them the ways of God and prepare them for God's world. Single parenthood while not impossible is not to be preferred to a father and mother in a stable relationship modeling the roles of each gender and teaching through example how to love.
Artificial birth control rules out a significant aspect of what genital sexuality is meant to be. It also turns sex into an athletic endeavor for personal gain and satisfaction. It becomes recreational. It becomes that which it was not intended to be when the power of procreation is made impotent through mechanical devices and medication. It changes the meaning of sex and offend natural law and thus offends God who created all that there is including human sexuality.
Now, if children are seen as a disease, if sex is a recreation and in the course of that recreation an injury occurs and a child is conceived, it only stand to reason that a medical intervention is needed to eliminate the injury--the poor, innocent child that has been conceived because it is natural to conceive during sexual intercourse since it is built into the very nature of the act (natural law).
Only when we honor natural law, use self-discipline to avoid sex outside of marriage, which is also a part of natural law, and view human sexuality as a gift from God to be honored in its very nature, (as God intended) then we will see children as a gift from God to be nurtured and supported and not as a disease that needs to be eradicated. And if a child is conceived that cannot be supported by his or her mother or father, then adoption is the only moral way to "take care of the problem." The problem though is not the child, but the parent or parents who cannot care for the child and for whatever reason.
This is a difficult sell to a world that hates natural law and political systems that despise it even more. But Humanae Vitae is normative for Catholics and its teachings, if embraced, would reduce the number of abortions that Catholics are having. We need to start at home in limiting abortions. It is already "illegal" in Church law, but that has not stopped some Catholics from having abortions. Not until God's law is written in our hearts and we embrace it as a natural part of who we are as Catholics will we return to the normal moral order that is written in natural law.