Did Pope Paul VI Miss the Mark on Birth Control?


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Faith enlightens human knowledge

Let’s look at this as the Church looks at it. Faith enlightens facts, not the other way around. The question is whether our faith is placed in the right place.

The answer is simple. If we place our faith in Jesus, then it’s in the right place. Jesus revealed himself as the Second Person of the Trinity. Therefore, he is truly God.

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Blessed John Paul II

God, made man, promised that the Church would never teach error. God does not lie, nor does God revoke his promises. Therefore, we can safely believe that the Church cannot teach error in matters of morality or dogma.

Jesus also said that he was building his Church on the faith of Peter. Peter was a simple fisherman, not a god. Yet, it is on his faith that the Church is built. Is it possible for God to build his Church on quicksand? No, absolutely not. God’s desire is that we be saved, not that we be swallowed up. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that although Peter is a sinful man, very simple in his knowledge, and a novice in matters of leadership, Jesus must provide him with the help that he needs to support the Church.

Jesus tells Peter, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against you.” There it is, the promise of the grace to help Peter do what Jesus is about to tell him.

Jesus follows this by telling Peter, “Feed my sheep and strengthen your brothers.” If Peter is to feed Christ’s sheep and strengthen his brothers, he must have what he needs to do so. Christ would not set him up for an impossible task, nor set up the rest of the Church with a pope who would be unable to teach Truth.

The future of the Church is guaranteed. Peter now has the grace of the Jesus promises that he will send the Holy Spirit and he fulfills that promise on Pentecost.

The future of the Church is guaranteed. Peter now has the grace of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and feed his brothers with the Truth and only the Truth.

Finally, Jesus leaves us with a message in a roundabout kind of way. He says to Peter, “I give you the keys to the Kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” He gives Peter the complete authority to bind us or to release us and promises Peter and those who are paying attention that he will back up whatever Peter says. Jesus does not place any contingencies here except one. Peter must be speaking about what God has revealed, which is dogma and moral law.

Christ’s gift to the pope does not stop with Peter. This would make no sense. Christ knew that the Church would survive until the end of time. To give St. Peter all of this divine assistance and authority to teach and to bind, but make it impossible to pass it on to his successor would be nihilistic. In other words, once Peter was dead, the Church would have been without God’s protection and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because it expired when Peter died. That makes no sense.

The early Christians elected Peter’s successor with full confidence that what was given to Peter would transfer to his successor. To make this more credible, here is a very important fact. John the Apostle and St. Luke were alive at the time of the election of the second pope. They were alive after Peter’s death. Had the early Christians been wrong in their belief that everything that Christ had given to Peter and said to Peter could be handed down to the second generation, they would have said so. They did not. In fact, we have it from St. Polycarp, who studied under St. John the Apostle, that John was perfectly comfortable with the succession and the transmission of power and authority.

This is very important, because it was John who was present when Christ said these things to St. Peter. It is John who wrote them down. John knew exactly what Christ said and exactly what Christ meant. He knew that the power to bind and unbind, the gift of infallibility in faith and morals, and the ability to teach truth without any error was not a gift for Peter alone, but for anyone who occupied Peter’s chair. He understood the nuance in Christ’s words.

Yes, when we say that this is Truth, it is a fact. The fact comes to us from the apostles evangelists who were alive to see Peter’s succession. Therefore, when Pope Paul VI, finally invokes the authority of Peter to say that artificial birth control is intrinsically evil, this is the absolute Truth and the only Truth. His authority to say this without making a mistake is based on all of the above facts.

Faith is not just a matter of what one person believes and another person believes. That’s relativism. Faith is about believing the Truth. There can only be one Truth. If two people have incompatible beliefs, then one or both are wrong. Truth does not contradict itself. ABC cannot be intrinsically evil for person A and acceptable for person B.
If Peter’s authority and his gift to speak only the truth on these matters has been transmitted through 2,000 years, the what Pope Paul VI said is Truth, because it is protected by the promises and commands that Christ gave to St. Peter. Again, it would make no sense for Christ to promise Peter infallibility and complete authority over the Christian faithful, but not intend for it to be handed on to Peter’s successor, since Peter was executed 34 years after Christ’s ascension. Jesus knew this was going to happen. Jesus would not have given the Church such protection for 34 years and then leave us to figure it out on our own from that point forward.

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Pope Paul VI

Published in: on December 16, 2012 at 2:12 PM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very well said. I intend to share with my Confirmation students as they often have questions regarding pre-marital sex and Church teaching. Thank you

    • Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad that you find it useful. Have a Blessed Christmas Season and New Year. Franciscan Brothers of Life


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