“Pope Paul VI is a saint,” Holy Mother Church declared to the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday October 14, 2018.
Indeed he is. Saint Paul VI is beloved above all for his two historic contributions to the Church: First, he promulgated Humanae Vitae, the encyclical that announced to the world that, while the “spirit of the times” might change, the truth does not.
Second, he inherited the Second Vatican Council upon the death of Saint John XXIII in 1963, and presided over it until it adjourned on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1965.
But Saint Paul VI is today is remembered above all for Humanae Vitae, and that is appropriate: the Second Vatican Council had many fathers; Humanae Vitae has only one.
On July 25, 1968, he stood alone when he confronted the decadent age that had plunged headlong into the sexual revolution. Deserted by many among the faithful, both cleric and lay, he held up a mirror to the secular world and warned of the dangerous consequences that would follow on its flight from truth and beauty.
Alas, the world responded with resentment and spite toward his inspired words, and went its own way. So bitterly was the Church attacked that year that Francis Cardinal Stafford describes it as a “Gethsemane.” Like Jesus in the Garden, Saint Paul VI wept when he saw the depths to which the world would fall when it defied the laws of nature and of nature’s God.
Saint Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae, offered to the world an alternative: the Church’s promise of truth and beauty that adorns every Sacramental Marriage. Those who followed the Saint’s teaching experienced a gentle, clear, but firm unfolding of the mystery of Sacramental Marriage. They came to understand, through their faithfulness and and fruitfulness, its role in God’s plan for the family, the world, and salvation is central to the most beautiful story ever told.
The good, the true, and the beautiful are simple, limpid, and loveable. The evil, the false, and the ugly debauch reality in a thousand ways. There is only one good, but there are countless ways to deny, defy, and defile it – all designed as preambles to its destruction.
The family was designed by God to reflect the mystery, unity, diversity, and perfection of the Trinity. Those who hate the designer will hate the design – including the design written on their own hearts.
In the past fifty years we have learned that the Dictators of Relativism are anything but relativists: they are devoted and hardened apostles of ugliness, sin, and lies. Even before Humanae Vitae was published, they plotted to destroy both the teaching and the Church that taught it.
For many years Pope Paul’s encyclical gathered dust on countless shelves. But today, a growing number of bishops have picked up the fallen standard and are preaching it to a world hungry for the truth. More will follow, as they see how vital is its message to every generation.
We at the Population Research Institute want to help them in every possible way. That’s why PRI has created a new website, HumanaeVitaeProject.org. It serves as a clearing house for information on life, love, and the family. There we offer countless resources to families, students, scholars, and clerics throughout the world – in four languages!
This is a labor of love. While Saint Paul VI did not pretend to be a prophet, Humanae Vitae has proven to be prophetic indeed. And while he called upon bishops and priests to teach this beautiful doctrine, Paul called on parents and teachers to do so as well.
In this generation, that task has fallen to the laity in a special way, because it is in the home that children first learn about love and the gift of life. In our secular culture, it falls to families to raise good children and teach them, prayerfully working with our bishops and priests to champion the truths that Saint Paul VI bequeathed to the Church and to the world.
This is the challenge that Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., accepted when he founded the Population Research Institute. It is the challenge that inspires us today. It is a privilege and a grace for all of us at PRI to share Humanae Vitae with the world on the occasion of the Church’s joyous announcement of the canonization of Saint Paul VI.