The Priest Is Irreplaceable In Preaching The Gospel Of Life

Shenan J. Boquet

Perhaps no other encyclical in the history of the Church has received so much ridicule and caused such controversy as Humanae Vitae. Even today, 50 years later, it still evokes heated discussions and debates, often from people (including some priests) who have never read the document. Yet when encouraged to read the encyclical, one quickly learns of its profound teaching and defense of God’s divine plan for human sexuality, marriage, family and life. The Church, in this encyclical, is preaching Good News and is pro-love and pro-life.

Pope Paul VI begins by highlighting an understanding of God as Love, and how this love overflows into new love and new life. The human persons God creates have an immutable dignity – being made in the image and likeness of a loving God – and have an immortal destiny. The beauty of Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality is based on the dignity of the human person. The gift of life is a most precious gift – to be cherished and respected – which enables us to anticipate and strive for eternal life, where there will be an everlasting enjoyment made possible by union with our loving Father.

God has bestowed upon spouses an “extremely important mission of transmitting human life” ­– the wondrous gift of being co-creators with Him in the creation of new persons. Having and raising children is an act of immense generosity and immeasurable responsibility; it enables human persons to participate in an act of inestimable value, assisting God in bringing a new immortal soul into existence.

To assist us in appreciating the magnanimity of God, Pope Paul VI emphasizes the importance of priests in their role as pastors of souls regarding the spiritual guidance of spouses. The priest is the first in the line of defense against the false language, philosophies and doctrines confusing spouses about their understanding of conjugal love, which is self-giving, self-donating love.

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