The following article was written by Rev. Ray E. Atwood from Homiletic and Pastoral Review. It is well worth your time.
This July 2013 we commemorate the 45th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). The encyclical presented some important doctrinal principles (e.g., a total vision of man, four characteristics of love, responsible parenthood, respect for the nature and purpose of the conjugal act, the unitive and procreative dimensions of human sexuality) and offered some prophetic warnings to those who disregard the Church’s teachings in this area. It also issued some helpful pastoral directives to Church leaders, public authorities, married couples, doctors, and medical personnel. There is no question that Paul VI was right in his conclusion that artificial contraception is, and always has been, morally unacceptable. At that time, however, a change in the Church’s teaching regarding contraception was highly anticipated in many quarters.
Pope Paul’s birth control commission had issued a memorandum, dubbed a “Majority Report,” in 1966, which argued for the morality of contraception. If, the authors argued, a married couple was open to human life in the “totality” of their conjugal life, it was morally acceptable for them to use chemical or surgical techniques to prevent birth. This document was leaked the next year, causing widespread anticipation of a change in the Church’s moral stance. On the 19th centenary of the Apostle Paul’s death (1967), the Holy Father declared a “Year of Faith” and appealed for patient reflection on the matter. The outpouring of anger, scorn, and contempt when the encyclical was released in the summer of 1968 was tremendous. Part of the reason for the widespread rejection of the encyclical, especially in academic circles, could be that the Holy Father failed to make a more convincing case for the traditional teaching. This article presents some biblical passages that, if incorporated into the encyclical, would have made a stronger argument for natural fertility regulation.
You can read the rest here.