St. Padre Pio, Humanae Vitae, and Mandatory Abortion
St. Pio defended the controversial encyclical, praising its lofty teachings and eternal truths.
An aspect of the document often overlooked today is its grim warning that governments might impose contraceptive methods on citizens.
the light of the Humanae Vitaes other accurate predictions,
are mandatory birth control and abortion on the horizon for America?
by Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.
St. Padre Pio demonstrated the depth of his love and loyalty to the Church when he publicly praised and defended Pope Paul VI for his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life. 1 Upon its release in the summer of 1968, a torrent of vilification and disobedience was unleashed upon the Pontiff from within the Church, as well as mockery and scorn from without. Such open rebellion against Peters successor was unprecedented, and yet he had done nothing more than his solemn duty to uphold the infallible, magisterial teaching of Catholicism against unnatural methods of birth control.
The likes of Fr.
Hans Kung, Fr. Charles Curran, et. al., and the Canadian Bishops Winnipeg
Statement, brazenly stood in opposition to the teachings of their own religion. Many did defend the document; but one great
saint, a man whom God had raised up as a beacon to guide countless souls during a century
of wars and materialism, was conspicuous in his support of the Pope and his encyclical. Only two weeks before his own death in September
of that year, St. Padre Pio wrote an inspired and moving letter to the Holy Father which
was printed in the Vaticans official newspaper LOsservatore Romano. 2
It is an epistle of great significance, and
will likely be part of the evidence put forth in his favor should St. Pio be declared a
Doctor of the Church. He is effusive in his
praise of the Popes encyclical, referring to its lofty teachings,
eternal truths, clear and decisive words, and its inspired
In his letter, St. Pio recognizes that
the source of the popes greatest suffering is the disobedience of so many within the
Church to his magisterial teachings.
I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us.
He understands that the Holy Father is carrying his personal cross in Christs footsteps, following the narrow way of the truth. St. Pio offers his own sufferings and prayers so that the Pope can persevere in his mission.
I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome wayin defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.
He specifically mentions the encyclical and fully supports and obeys what he considers its inspired teaching.
I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, "Humanae Vitae," and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives.
Many liberal Catholics don't care if they disagree with Church teaching.
The reaction to Humanae Vitae institutionalized dissent within the Church, and it became fashionable for liberal Catholics to openly disagree with and disobey church teachings that were in conflict with their own personal predilections. It is quite commendable that today many Catholic Bishops are clearly presenting the Churchs teaching on life issues, especially in the light of the recent statements by Catholic politicians who attempt to justify their support for pro-abortion legislation. Unfortunately, many liberal Catholics don't particularly care if they disagree with Church teaching. For such as these, stronger medicine is needed, which goes beyond presenting them with the truths of the Faith.
Padre Pio understood this, and administered this powerful medicine in his confessional. Although for the vast majority of penitents he was gracious, cordial, and encouraging, when necessary he had recourse to drastic methods that even today shock those who learn of them. In these extreme cases, when faced with an unrepentant sinner, he would deny them absolution in the Sacrament of Confession. To any who were exceptionally stubborn in their refusal to admit guilt, he would even publicly and vocally chase them out of the confessional. But he only administered these jolts in order to make such people aware that their refusal to accept the truths of the faith, and to live them out, endangered their personal salvation. Padre Pio: If you only knew what it costs me to refuse absolution! Remember, it is better to be reprimanded by a man in this world, than by God in the next! 3
Padre Pio did become involved in elections in Italy after World War II, when there was a strong possibility that the Communist Party would win at the polls. He was known to tell pilgrims visiting his friary at San Giovanni Rotondo that they should not vote for Communists. In fact, the Communist party blamed Padre Pio for their defeat in two of the general elections held during the late 1940s. 4
What would Padre Pio have said to those pro-abortion Catholic politicians of today who persist in describing themselves as faithful Catholics? Would he boot the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden out of his confessional, if they insisted on defending their support of pro-abortion legislation? Hopefully, when in the actual presence of the saint, they would be touched by Gods grace and realize their mistake. But if they persisted . . . ? Would he speak out against a political party whose official platform supported abortion, and whose candidate was an extremist on the issue, resolutely committed to the support of this intrinsic evil? Would he say that those who vote for such candidates are endangering their own salvation and risking eternal damnation? As St. Pio famously replied to an unrepentant liberal who said he did not believe in hell, You will when you get there! 5
The excuse most commonly offered by Catholic politicians who support and enable legalized abortion, is that they have no right to impose their faith on other members of society. But Pope Paul VI even addresses this issue in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. He denotes the priorities and hierarchy of duties which apply to . . . the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. Our first duty is to God, then to ourselves and our salvation, to our families, and to society. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society, (Section #10). The dont want to impose politicians are placing duties towards society before their duty to God, showing that they care little for either by their support for this great evil.
What began as a "right" to abortion might become a "duty"
It is often pointed out that Humanae Vitae was quite prophetic in its warning of the general moral decline in society that would result from its adoption of artificial birth control methods. In Section #17 certain specific predictions were made by the Holy Father. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Along with infidelity and a lowering of morality, this section of the document makes a third and fourth prediction. The third is that the partner would be considered as nothing more than a mere instrument for the satisfaction of selfish desires.
Since the above three have come to pass in Democratic societies, it is well advised to at least try to prevent the fourth from doing so, since it involves the most serious of consequences. This prophetic warning from section #17 is the fear that governments will impose mandatory birth control upon their citizens. It is one to which too little attention has been paid, since it is as yet largely unfulfilled, with the possible exception of Communist China, although that government denies responsibility for forced abortions in implementing its one child policy. 6,7
Although Pope Paul VI in his
encyclical formulates this warning while addressing contraception, forty years later it
applies even more importantly to abortion. (At
the time of Humanae Vitae legalized abortion in the West was still five to ten
years in the future).
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.
He continues by emphasizing the danger that people . . . may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife. Essentially, what started out as a right to choose to prevent or terminate a pregnancy, might end up as a duty to choose to terminate. Humanae Vitae is more relevant today than ever.
The first thing Id do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act, Barack Obama said in a speech to abortion advocates concerned about pro-life protections at the state level. 8 The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) 9 is legislation co-sponsored by Barack Obama which would nullify all state laws that in any way attempt to limit or regulate abortion, including partial-birth abortion. Ironically, it specifies that government will not interfere with a womans choice to keep or to kill her unborn child. Nevertheless, FOCA would be a major move towards the dangerous precipice of government-mandated abortion, since it would consolidate all power over birth control into the hands of federal law and authorities. From there it would only be a small step to amend it in the light of overriding national health interests, environmental or population concerns, or any other reason deemed appropriate. Thus the FOCA clause in section 4.b.1.a, stating that a woman has the right to choose to bear a child could conveniently and easily be changed to, for example, that a woman has the right to choose to bear up to two children. More ominously, it could be amended to state that a woman has the right to bear a child, except in cases of rape, incest, Down syndrome, etc.
This is not to imply that any particular individual or group currently has an agenda for mandatory abortion, but the potential clearly exists. The growth of the culture of death is not going to stop with the codification of Roe v. Wade by FOCA, but will continue unless it is rooted out completely. Roe v. Wade was one of the early phases in the march along this highway of ruin. FOCA would take us another step closer to the fulfillment of Humanae Vitaes prophetic warning of government imposition and intervention in the area of . . . the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Perhaps the greatest glory of the Catholic Church today is its public stand against the culture of death. Let us pray along with Padre Pio, at the close of his letter to His Holiness, that these disturbing clouds pass over, and that the onslaught of the abortion juggernaut will be derailed through the efforts of loyal Catholics and others.
May God grant truth to triumph, and, may peace be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.
Frank M. Rega is the author of Padre
Pio and America,
and of St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims, both from TAN Books.
From Angelus Press: The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador.
Newest Book: Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta Padre Pio said the world will be astounded at her greatness!
www.frankrega.com www.sanpadrepio.com www.thepoverello.com
page was last updated on 08/03/12