Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 31, 2004
A tale of Two Prophets
By ROD LORENZ
Special to the WCR
The following is a speech given by Rod Lorenz, director of the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, at the May 13 meeting of the Gospel Lights Toastmasters Club.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich produced a book called The Population Bomb which prophesied impending doom. Overpopulation, he claimed, would soon spell untold misery for the whole world. It was accepted by many as gospel truth.
That same year Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae condemning artificial means of birth control as intrinsically evil. His teaching was greeted by a storm of protest, eminent theologians publicly dissented from it, bishops' conferences wavered and sought escape hatches.
It was a time of terrible trial for Paul VI. Nevertheless, shortly before his death, he reaffirmed his teaching saying, "I did not betray the truth."
While Paul Ehrlich's prophesies were taken seriously indeed, Pope Paul's warnings were and continue to be ignored except by a small minority of Catholics.
When is the last time you heard a sermon on the immorality of using artificial means of birth control? The last one I heard was in 1968 by a bishop who explained that committing a small evil to avoid a larger evil was okay. I have never heard a sermon on the subject since.
I want to examine something of that "intrinsic evil" and relate it to a new and looming crisis of dire proportions.
It seems likely that every evil action has evil effects that touch us both personally and as a race. First, on the personal level we have to ask, "If we intentionally and continually frustrate the creative purpose of the author of life, and live in a sterile rather than a fruitful way, what will be the effect on us?" How will it affect, in the very depths of our souls, that most important relationship with him who must be everything to us.
It is a decision every married couple must face. We have five children. I sometimes joke that I should have given my last two boys the middle name Paul. That is because if it were not for him they probably would never have existed. I plan to tell them, "When you get to heaven be sure to look up Paul VI and shake his hand and tell him thanks. Tell him, 'If it weren't for you we wouldn't be here.'" And very likely, without Paul VI, they would be nowhere to be found.
However, it is in the big picture that the evil inherent in a contraceptive mentality is most evident. We are now facing a crisis quite different than the one predicted by Paul Ehrlich. Given the choice between a hard road of struggle raising children or the easier way of contraception, most couples are choosing to have less or no children. They cannot be persuaded otherwise.
The result? It is literally nothing less than national suicide. Russia is losing a million people a year and the rate is accelerating. Vast tracts of land are already empty and depopulated. It is estimated that in 50 years half the population could be gone. Russians are beginning to realize that so dire a crisis is upon them, that it threatens the country's very existence. Soon there will not be enough young people to maintain an army or industries or care for an aging population.
No children's songs
The same story is true almost everywhere in the developed world. In village after village in Italy and Spain the sound of children at play is more and more a thing of the past. Europe expects to suffer a net loss of 70 million people by 2050 and things are only slightly better in North America. Canada recently reported the lowest birth rate in our history - well below the replacement level. It is a demographic nightmare and each year the biological window of opportunity narrows still more.
Which, I ask you, of the two Pauls in this story, is the true and which is the false prophet? With the passage of time the answer is becoming abundantly clear. None of what Paul Ehrlich prophesied has come to pass - while all that Paul VI warned of is coming true with a vengeance.
While there are many other factors at play in this crisis it can certainly be argued that a mentality that sees contraception as good when in fact it is intrinsically evil is certainly a key issue. Each of us must decide where we stand. Do we truly believe the words of Christ to the Twelve, "Who hears you hears me." Can we accept it? Will we be able to say with Paul VI, "I did not betray the truth.