Marking the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, the Archdiocese of Toronto sponsored a one-day conference to reflect upon Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical letter. On Nov. 10, about 125 people gathered for the conference at University of St. Michael’s College. Cardinal Thomas Collins began the day with Mass which was followed by a series of talks given by Mary Eberstadt, Maria Wolfs, Chris Manion, and Fr. Raymond de Souza.
Mary Eberstadt began her talk by likening the sexual revolution to a second Industrial Revolution. Whereas in the first Industrial Revolution, the way that we make “things” changed, in the second revolution, the way that we re-make ourselves changed. She went on to speak about the state of the modern woman, highlighting the ways in which the promises of the sexual revolution, and its accompanying contraceptive culture, have actually betrayed women. Of special note is the general decline of female happiness in Europe and North America, the cultural transition of the woman from partner of man to plaything and the use of forced contraceptives by authorities as a means for so-called population control.
Maria Wolfs grounded her talk in the truth that each sexual act is called to be free, total, faithful and fruitful. As a result, sexual intimacy is intended to be shared within the context of marriage, be experienced as a form of bonding between spouses, and be available to the creation of new, individualised human persons. She discussed the harmful side effects of artificial birth control as well as the abortive practices inherent in the processes of many artificial reproductive technologies. She explained that both of the above served to fracture the original design of the sexual act.
Chris Manion, who spoke on behalf of the Population Research Institute’s Stephen Mosher, who could not attend due to illness, debunked the myth of overpopulation and explained how movements for so-called population control lay claim to their authority the basis of this myth. He emphasised that productivity comes from people, not resources, and addressed the general spirit of the age, which insists that life cannot truly be enjoyed until the competition is successfully eliminated. In this dangerous game, the unfortunate reality is that the “competition” is other people. Ideological colonialism is a major player in this game and its goals are to make the targets secular, fruitless and sterile.
Fr. Raymond de Souza spoke about the provision of pastoral care for families and couples striving to live the principles ofHumanae vitae. He explained that while fertility is ultimately a very good thing, the trials of self-sacrifice and patience that are innate to the natural family planning methods can be experienced as a burden. In a technological age where we do not respect nature, but rather seek to overcome it, it can be difficult to persevere through these challenges, he said. However, in life, difficulties are often a means, not a hindrance, to happiness.