I strongly recommend this article by Anthony Esolen, “Everybody to Pope Paul: Drop Dead” [link].
There is a lot packed in here, relating to things I have discussed in the past (here and here, for instance) and which I have plans to address again in the future. Today I’ll just highlight a couple of major points:
First, Esolen draws out attention to something that, if not the cancer eating away at Church and society, is at least one of the more malignant tumors: contraception (don’t roll your eyes, now!). Widespread contraception, both in its direct consequences and also the mindset and worldview it nurtures is an essential element in the breakdown of the family and resulting societal problems such as poverty, promiscuity and all manner of unhealthy, harmful and anti-social pathologies.
Next, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s beautiful and prophetic 1968 encyclical [link], which is the particular focus of Esolen’s piece. This magisterial teaching was the occasion of a pre-planned explosion of theological dissent that is still reverberating today, with untold damage along the way. While the teaching on contraception is still at the center of the dissent and defiance that has grown in many parts of the Church in the past four and a half decades, the baleful spirit it has engendered has spawned a whole culture of disobedience. This document is too important not to be read and understood by anyone, and certainly serious Catholics, concerned about the state of the Church and the World.
I recommend the following resources in addition to the links above: the best Episcopal treatment of Pope Paul’s encyclical that I have read, Archbishop Charles Caput’s pastoral letter on Humanae Vitae, published in 1998 when he held the See of Denver [link], Janet Smith’s eye-opening essay, “Contraception: Why not?” [link], and her web-site, which is filled with other resources [link].