Social media conversation opens on contraception, Humanae Vitae

A month-long social media conversation on Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) began this week.

The conversation, which will be facilitated by the United States Diocese of Arlington, is open to all.

Its focus is on the encyclical which reaffirms artificial birth control is “intrinsically wrong”.

People interested in participating can follow the Arlington Diocese on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as Pecknold on Twitter. Two hashtags will be used: #HV50 and #AskTheQuestion.

Those who do not use social media can visit a website with all the conversation content from each day.

The social media forum will include two or three tweets a day for the first three weeks, and then a social media symposium on 25 July – the encyclical’s 50th anniversary.

Dr Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America, will host the primary conversation on Twitter.

He will provide some content and will also address questions from participants.

He says he is encouraging “everyone to think out loud on social media about the points that are made in Humanae Vitae.

“I hope young people will do what they do in the classroom, which is to try to be courageous and formulate a question,” he says.

Besides its affirmation of the church’s stance on contraception, Humane Vitae also talks about the dignity of human life and sexuality, and outlines the use of Natural Family Planning as a morally valid method of planning and spacing children.

In the encyclical, Paul VI predicted that if the use of contraception became widespread, society would see devastating consequences.

These consequences include:

  • an increase in marital infidelity
  • a general decline of moral standards
  • the possibility of governments using coercive measures to force contraceptive use upon people
  • a loss of respect for women
  • a general decrease in humility regarding humanity’s dominion over the human body.

Each of these predictions has come true in the modern era, says Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.


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