No More Marshmellow Teaching. It’s Hard Candy Now.

Archbishop: For the Clergy, Obedience to Church “Requires Preaching About the Moral Evil of Contraception”

By John-Henry Westen

BARRYS BAY, May 13, 2008 ( – The Archbishop of the Canadian capital city of Ottawa addressed the convocation of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barrys Bay Ontario last week, leaving attendees awestruck.  The speech focused on Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. Faithful Catholics leaving the event told “I’ve been waiting 35 years to hear that from a Canadian bishop.”

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast described for the graduates and their families the tumultuous times of the 60’s when Humanae Vitae was published (July 25, 1968).  He recalled that many expected a “green light” on contraception from the Vatican and were “thunderstruck” when the encyclical was published.

“In the midst of the chaos caused by the sexual revolution and the arrival of the birth control pill, many Catholics felt unsure of the Church’s position on artificial contraception,” said Archbishop Prendergast. “The Church responded to this urgent need for clear teaching and sound pastoral guidance when Pope Paul VI released his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) in 1968.”

“We celebrate this year the 40th anniversary of that prophetic document,” said Prendergast.  “Time has shown it to be a gift from Christ to men and women everywhere. The late Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, former President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and one of Canada’s great churchmen, called Humanae Vitae ‘one of the most important documents in the history of the Church.'”

He explained: “The encyclical gives the Church a deeper understanding into the beauty of married love and responsible parenthood. It offers a clearer understanding of the harm of contraception and the great value of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Further, it challenges married couples, healthcare professionals and clergy to live and teach these profound truths about human sexuality and dignity.”

Archbishop Prendergast’s approach to the matter was refreshing and new, while he did not shy away from the fact that Catholics must obey Christ on the matter, he pointed out that embracing the teaching had tremendous benefits.  “Should Catholics embrace this teaching just because the Church tells them they must? While obedience is a necessary virtue, the benefits of learning and living Humanae Vitae should convince couples of its wisdom,” he said. One of the many blessings he listed as coming from couples embracing the teaching was, “Having happier children within stronger families.”

Moreover, he said that obedience to Humanae Vitae’s teaching fell not only on married couples but also the clergy. “For the clergy,” he said, “this same obedience and submission of will and intellect requires preaching about the moral evil of contraception and how it violates God’s plan for marriage, human happiness, and the dignity each person.”

It seems that all the work that The Rosarium has been doing since its inception in 2003 is finally starting to pay off.  When we met with the Bishop back in November 2007, I sensed that after our meeting something was going to finally happen regarding Humanae Vitae and contraception.  It’s been a long haul, and I have to admit I started to despair that the Winnipeg Statement would get a free ride. But I have a feeling that once the Archbishop releases his pastoral document on Humanae Vitae, it’s going to rip right through the fraudulent and lukewarm teaching that has dominated the Canadian Church these past barren 40 years.

Humanae Vitae has been the most important Encyclical letter in the history of the Church.  I’ll never forget the homily of the priest who would later baptize my first daughter gave on this Encyclical letter.  During the course of his homily, he shared his own journey into the Catholic Church and how Humanae Vitae led him to become Catholic.  He had been a liberal professor at a university and thought he would have a good laugh in reading the document.  He was expecting something rather in-depth and complicated, but he was completely disarmed at its simplicity yet profound understanding.  It converted him on the spot.

By the way, notice the red highlighted text above? That’s a shot across the bow of a corrupted hierarchy to his brother priests and – if I may be so bold to say – his brother Bishops as well.

That’s hard candy, folks. The marshmellows are out.

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