By Rev. Ray Atwood, Prince of Peace Cluster
Saturday, July 25 was the feast day of Saint James, one of Our Lord’s Apostles. James was the brother of John and is called “the greater” because he followed Christ before the other Apostle with the same name. He was the first Apostle to be martyred, being decapitated by order of King Herod Agrippa I around AD 44 (Acts 12:1).
Saturday was also the 47th anniversary of the controversial papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), written by Pope Paul VI. This encyclical was written in response to the development of the birth control pill (1960). At the time the pill was being promoted in Third World countries in Africa and South America to stem the rise of large populations.
After five years of prayerful reflection, Pope Paul VI decided to reaffirm the Church’s constant teaching that artificial contraception is morally wrong. Human life is one fruit of the conjugal act, and can never be physically separated from the marriage act. To do so damages the marriage relationship by turning the marital partner into a sex object and rejects the gift of human life. The rise of no-fault divorce, abortion, and gay marriage, as well as government coercion of individuals to use contraception in Third World countries, are the fulfillment of the pope’s prophecy.
Fortunately, there is a moral and natural alternative to the birth-control pill. It’s called Naprotechnology, which studies the woman’s cycle and enables her to pinpoint the exact times of fertility in a month. It is safe, reliable, natural, and ethical. Dr. Robert Pranger, of the Kettman Pranger Family Medicine Clinic in Waterloo, is a practitioner and promoter of this method. He uses only Natural Family Planning methods, and is a beacon of light in a dark world. His decision to begin this practice came after prayer, persistence, and the encouragement of his wife. “I began to read and learn more aspects of my faith which centered on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Humanae Vitae,” he told an interviewer recently.
The pill is not the only means of family planning. With the help of this Catholic doctor, this message will spread and be embraced by many more people. Their lives and our culture will be better as a result.