Rorate Caeli

Humanæ Vitæ at 50 - I
"never lawful"

Salomon de Bray (1597 - 1664) was a Dutch painter. He was also an architect, urban planner, poet, and designer of silverware. He was, above all, a Catholic father of ten children, three of whom also became successful painters (Jan, Joseph, and Dirck).

The tenderness with which S. de Bray pictures (see our special masthead) his nephew's twin babies, Clara and Aelbert de Bray, is remarkable: how much love De Bray must have dedicated to his large family in the city of Haarlem, amidst the generally harsh conditions imposed upon Catholics in the newly-independent United Provinces.

A strong Catholic identity, a love for life and family in a hostile environment: as most Catholics of most ages, De Brey probably understood intimately what Popes of the twentieth century would have to write explicitly - that "it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it" (Humanæ Vitæ, 14).

Pope Paul VI is described by most historians as a kind of tragic figure, trying to control the whirlwind of events surrounding him, but unable to do much. It is probably because of this, because it seemed that Montini often bent to the opinions of the world, because it seemed that he frequently accepted the fabricated notions and texts which committees of false sages delivered to him (with very small modifications), that the moments in which he did not bend shine so clearly with the simple brightness of Peter. The Nota Prævia to Lumen Gentium, the vigorous defense of the traditional Eucharistic doctrines (in Mysterium Fidei) and of the teachings on Indulgences (in Indulgentiarum Doctrina), the Credo of the People of God are pillars which remain standing in a crumbling edifice, signs of supernatural protection.

Amidst the moral collapse of the 1960s, and against the commission set up by his predecessor to reexamine the matter, Peter spoke though Paul in Humanæ Vitæ: "it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it."

It is thus never lawful "to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general." NUMQUAM - never. Therefore, "it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong."