By Ligaya Acosta, Ph.D
A Paper Prepared for the Study Seminar marking the 25th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem Pontificium Consilium Pro Lacis October 10-11, 2013 Vatican City, Rome.
“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.”1
The beautiful words of Pope Paul VI, from his address to women during the closing of the Second Vatican Council, were remembered in the first paragraph of St. John Paul II’s great apostolic letter, Mulieres Dignitatem. Indeed, this is a clear recognition of the crucial role of women in the world, and a prophetic pronouncement of what would be needed today.
As we face an increasingly secular and materialistic world, the role of women as bearers of life is consciously and masterfully being turned upside down. Today very sadly, fertility is considered a disease, treated with dangerous contraceptives that are now considered “essential medicine!” And when the same contraceptives fail — which they often do – abortion, called a “woman’s right,” conveniently becomes an option even though it takes another life! And of course, when children see that their mother can kill their siblings through contraception and abortion, what is there to prevent them from killing us when we become old? When we consider children as burdens easily disposed of through abortion, for sure the weak and the elderly can also be easily disposed of, and thus euthanasia sets in. These are fruits of the same poisonous tree.
In China, which implements a strict one-child policy, there is what is called the “8-4-2-1 society”: one child taking care of two parents, four grandparents, and eight great grandparents.2 More likely to be spoiled and self-centered, these children often neglect their parents later, causing a great deal of loneliness on the part of the elderly, and a host of other related problems.
And as this demographic winter becomes more pronounced, governments are beginning to argue that the elderly are consuming too many resources through pensions and health benefits, hence the need to legalize euthanasia! Euphemized as a “patient’s right to die” or “death with dignity,” in truth it is still laying the groundwork for widespread murder of those deemed unfit.
How warped indeed have our values become! Many fail to realize the important mission of the elderly in being a witness to the past and a source of wisdom for the young and the future. They are, as Pope Benedict XVI once said, the memory and heritage of families.
Truly the world is forgetting or has forgotten what is most basic — that life is God’s most precious gift. And since it is God who gives life, it is only He who can take it away. When we take God out of the equation, perversion follows. This we see today all over the world.
I visited a home for the aged recently on a trip to Taiwan. Despite their air-conditioned beautiful building, with plenty of food and earthly comforts, the residents had faces which looked like Good Friday. In Taiwan, as in many other developed countries in the world, I was told people are too busy filling their bank accounts — working even on supposed rest days to bring in more money — and thus, they don’t want children. Then when they become old, they realize money can’t buy them happiness.
In contrast, developing countries like my own, the Philippines, defy the error that wealth makes happiness, as attested to by the smiles on their faces. The elderly are surrounded by loving children and grandchildren. Foreigners are perplexed. I only have one answer to that: we may be poor materially but we are so rich spiritually. It is a joy only God, who is love, can give.
Of course one cannot condone extreme poverty. Often, I cry seeing the horrible conditions and ask myself how on earth can the world, which is supposed to be modern and civilized and can spend mind-boggling amounts of money for weapons and entertainment, allow this to happen? Very sadly, their solution is to provide more contraceptives and legalize abortion, a case of eradicating poverty by eliminating the poor. Troublingly, several of these leaders discuss the need to use supposedly disease-preventing vaccines to decrease population! And, since the promotion of the Culture of Death is greased by billions of dollars annually, governments and non-government organizations toe the line.
If we truly care for the poor, why don’t we use the billions of dollars given as “aid” for contraceptives, abortion, and population control, to fund genuine livelihood opportunities for them, build houses and schools and fund their education? If we sterilize people or give them pills and condoms, is it going to put food on their table? No: we will only succeed in making large poor families into small poor families, and this certainly will not solve poverty.
But of course we know that massive promotion of contraceptives, divorce, euthanasia, population control and homosexuality are part of a global anti-life agenda used by unscrupulous governments and groups in the “developed” world to control the world and get the natural resources of the poor countries, for their own selfish ends. They fail to realize or perhaps refuse to acknowledge that there is enough for everyone’s need, but not for anyone’s greed.
In the once top secret document National Security Study Memorandum 200 written by then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, it mentions “women’s empowerment” as one of the strategies for population control: taking women out of their homes to work, because if they stay at home, they will produce more children. They want zero population growth by promoting one- or two-child policies, promoted with the language of “sustainable development.” The document discusses using the United Nations agencies the World Bank and the World Health Organization, among others, to implement their agenda, as well as withholding of aid to countries that don’t follow along. And this is exactly what we see around the world today.
Very sadly, countless women have fallen into the trap without knowing the many horrors of contraception and abortion until it is too late. No less than the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization has from 2005-2013 consistently classified hormonal contraception as a Group 1 Carcinogen — which means the highest level of cancer risk!3 To quote IARC: “Women increase their risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer if they use oral contraceptives and the greatest cancer risk is to young women, particularly teenagers, who use the pill.” These and other killer effects like high blood pressure; increased risk of stroke or heart attack; osteoporosis; blurring of vision/blindness; infertility; birth defects; gall bladder disease; liver tumors; increased risk of getting HIV/AIDS; mood disorders; and loss of libido or sexual pleasure, among many others, are very amply demonstrated by scientific evidence. We see the same disconnect with abortion, which is also proven to cause breast cancer, as well as many other physical and emotional ailments.4 Yet we should not be surprised: the Bible tells us “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Gender feminists position themselves as “pro-women” and yet promote contraceptives and abortion which kill women! They also say they want a safe and satisfying sex life, which means sex for pleasure only, free of the possibility of pregnancy and children. But research has also proven that the use of the Pill results in a loss of libido and sexual pleasure,5 as well as mood disorder,6 leading to divorce and broken marriages and families. In their quest for false freedom, they become slaves of their own passions, and thus become unhappy.
Truly indeed what is happening today vindicates Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae, which predicted that contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity; a general lowering of morality; lead men to treat women as “mere instruments of selfish enjoyment” rather than as cherished partners; and finally, that widespread acceptance of contraception by couples would lead to a massive imposition of contraception by unscrupulous governments.
How dreadfully his prophecy has been vindicated. Worse, in some countries like India and China where there is a preference for males, female babies are intentionally murdered in the womb.
As Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura has said, “Through the spread of the contraceptive mentality, especially among the young, human sexuality is no longer seen as the gift of God, which draws a man and a woman together in a bond of lifelong and faithful love, crowned by the gift of new human life, but rather as a tool for personal gratification.”
“Correcting this contraceptive thinking is,” Cardinal Burke said, “essential to the advancement of the Culture of Life.”
I love how Pope Paul VI says it in Humanae vitae:
When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that GOD the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as arbiters of the divine plan and they manipulate and degrade human sexuality — and with it themselves and their married partner — by altering its value of total self-giving.
By breaking the natural and divinely ordained connection between sex and procreation, women and men especially, would focus on the hedonistic possibilities of sex. People would cease seeing sex as something that is intrinsically linked to new life and to the sacrament of marriage.
The theologian of the Papal Household, Rev. Wojciech Giertych, OP, expanded on the problems of severing sexuality from its healthy, natural effect of procreation:
When sexuality is not tied with the virtue of chastity, which trains the person how to integrate the sexual desire within charity, then everything is rocked…once contraception became so easily available we see distortions of sexuality, and problems on the level of human relationships, of marriages breaking down, of a violent aggressiveness of women who are discovering that they are being abused as a result of contraception, and so they’re landing in an aggressive feminism, with rage against men. …Contraception is leading to abortion, because it treats the potential child as an enemy, and if something goes wrong and a child is conceived, then the child is easily aborted.
Of course the relationship between contraception and abortion is well-established. Even the pro-abortion Allan Guttmacher Institute, research arm of the number one abortionist organization in the world the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), has found that “54 percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually condom or the pill), during the month they became pregnant.”8
Dr. Malcolm Potts, former Medical Director of IPPF said decades ago, “As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate.”
Thus, we now have abortion on demand. Mothers have become the killers of their very own children. Women, who are supposed to be bearers of life, are being devoured by the serpent. Certainly the devil wants to destroy the womb of the woman for it was through it that he was defeated. And of course, knowing that every human being is made in the image and likeness of GOD, the devil would always want to obliterate every reminder of God’s face, power, love, and mercy.
It is in this vein that promoters of the Culture of Death are desperately trying to take God out of the consciousness of people. They know that the source of all truth will always illumine one’s heart and mind. And thus, they attack the Catholic Church and its teachings, and frantically portray the pro-life position as being merely a religious opinion, malevolently insisting on the separation of Church and state. They label the Catholic Church as “archaic” and say that we need to keep up with the modern times. But as Pope Paul VI said, the Church is a repository of truth. It cannot change the teachings that Christ Himself taught.
Thus, there is a need to recover an awareness of the primacy of moral values and recapture the ultimate meaning of life and its fundamental values. We need to ally science with Divine Wisdom to bring about the true advancement of woman in her whole truth, freedom and dignity.
Once and for all, women need to understand that as St. John Paul says in Mulieres dignitatem, “God entrusts the human being to her in a special way.” As bearers of life, women need to understand that motherhood is the privilege and greatness of a woman, as it means the power to bear life and the capacity to nurture life. Without children, there is no future. And, even if they enter the religious life, women can be spiritually fruitful — the father and mother of many by nurturing the moral, emotional and spiritual lives of others.
Thus woman, says Blessed John Paul, becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. And these women, he says in the same encyclical, “are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations.”
And this can only happen when the woman herself is as Paul VI said, “impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel!” Unless she understands and lives the basic tenets of her faith, and knows the logic behind the Church’s teachings on life and family, it would be easy for her to fall.
Indeed, there is an urgent need to bring back women, and men for that matter, to the basics, and reclaim the world for God. We start this journey within ourselves, and ultimately giving to others God’s grace — blooming wherever GOD plants us, so that others, especially those who are lost will find its way back.
Just as it was Mary that gave birth to Christ in the world to restore the fullness of life, women can be the inspiration to all men to bring the image of God in marriage and the family back into the world.
It is thus very timely and urgent for us to revisit Mulieres Dignitatem, and proclaim its wisdom with urgency to the whole world.
Let us call on Mary, our Blessed Mother and most powerful intercessor to always hold us close to her bosom, and envelope us and the whole world in her mantle of love and protection.
1 -Closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Address of Pope Paul VI to Women, 8 December 1965. http://www.vatican.va/holy_ father/paul_vi/speeches/1965/ documents/hf_p-vi_spe_ 19651208_epilogo-concilio- donne_en.html.
- Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II on the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year, Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s on 15 August, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 1988.
2 “China: One Child Is Not Enough”, Newsweek Magazine, March 17, 2008.
3 Monographs of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, 2005-2013. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/ Classification/ ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf
- Also see: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO) Press Release # 167, July 29, 2005
4 Please also read among others:
- Summary of findings published in August 2005 issue of Lancet Oncology, a British Medical Journal.
- Yager Davidson, “Estrogen Carcinogenesis in Breast Cancer”, New England Journal of Medicine, January 2006, Vol. 354, No. 3, 270-282).
- Overall cancer risk from several cancers due to oral contraceptive use: Kahlenborn C. Breast Cancer, Its Link to abortion and the Birth Control Pill, 2000. One More Soul, 2000, 228-229.
- Kahlenborn C, et al. “Oral Contraceptive Use as a Risk Factor for Premenopausal Breast Cancer: A Meta-analysis” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2006: 81(10):1290-1302.
- Kahlenborn C. Breast Cancer, Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill, One More Soul. 2000, 229-231.
- Hume K. Effects of contraceptive medication on the cervix. The Biology of the Cervix. Retrieved on Apr 11, 2008 from http://www.billings-ovulation- method.org/omrrca/bulletin/ vol25/no2/effects.shtml.
- Allen S, et al. Human immunodeficiency virus infection in urban Rwanda. JAMA. 1991; 266:1657-1663.
- Simonsen JN, et al. HIV infection among lower socioeconomic strata prostitutes in Nairobi. AIDS. 1990
- Mali JKG, et al. Contraceptive use and the risk of HIV infection in Nairobi, Kenya. Inter J Gynaecol Obstet. 1995; 48(1):61-67.
- Panzer, Wise, Goldstein, et. Al, “Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women with Sexual Dysfunction”, Journal of Sexual Medicine, Jan. 2006, Vol 3, Iss. 1, 104-113).
- Hvistendahl, Mara, “Birth Control Pills Shown to Alter Structure of Women’s Brains”, October 1, 2010 (popsci.com), also discussed in a study published August 2008, Royal Society Proceedings B, by evolutionary Psychologist, Craig Roberts.
- thepillkills.com, accessed 20 April 2013
- Malignant hypertension associated with use of oral contraceptives. Dunn FG, Jones JV, Fife R.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/1138738, accessed 25 July 2013
- Tanis BC, et al. Oral contraceptives and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction.
New England Journal of Medicine 2001; 345:1787-93.
- Gillum, LA. Ischemic stroke risk with oral contraceptives. JAMA July 5 2000;284:72-78.
- ( Dolle J, et al. Risk factors for triple negative breast cancer in women under the age of 45. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(4):1157-65).
- National Cancer Institute: Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk (March 21 2012) citing Moreno V, Bosch FX, Munoz N, et al. Effect of oral contraceptives on risk of cervical cancer in women with human papillomavirus infection: the IARC multicentric case-control study. Lancet 2002;359(9312):1085-1092.
- Francesci S, et al. Genital warts and cervical neoplasia: an epidemiological study. Br J Cancer1983;48:621-28.
- Wang CC, et al. Risk of HIV infection in oral contraceptive pill users: a meta-analysis JAIDS1999;May 1 21(1):51-58.
- Hefforn R., et al. Use of hormonal contraceptives and risk of HIV-1 transmission: a prospective cohort study. Lancet Infec Dis 2012;12:19-26, also appeared on the front page of the New York Times in October 2011.
- See WSFT amicus curiae brief footnotes for list of references at http://p0.vresp.com/pZg1sR.
- See more at: http://culture-of-life.org/ blog/medical-health-risks- contraception#sthash.bfyBn8op. dpuf, accessed August 10, 2013.
- B. C. Tanis, Oral contraceptives risk of myocardial infarction Department of Haematology and Clinical Epidemiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Building 1, C9-P P.O. Box 9600, Leiden 2300, The Netherlands European Heart Journal, http://eurheartj. oxfordjournals.org/content/24/ 5/377.full accessed August 10, 2013.
- Kahlenborn, Chris, M.D., What a Woman Should Know about Birth Controlhttp://onemoresoul.com/ contraception-abortion/risks- consequences/what-a-woman- should-know-about-birth- control.html, accessed September 6, 2013.
5 Panzer, Wise, Goldstein, et. Al, “Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women with Sexual Dysfunction”, Journal of Sexual Medicine, Jan. 2006, Vol 3, Iss. 1, 104-113.
6 Mara Hvistendahl, “Birth Control Pills Shown to alter Structure of Women’s Brains”,(popsci.com), October 1, 2010. (also discussed in a study published August 2008, Royal Society Proceedings B, by evolutionary Psychologist, Craig Roberts.)
7 Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI to His Venerable Brothers the Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See, to the Clergy and Faithful of the Whole Catholic World, and to All Men of Goodwill on the Regulation of Birth. http://www.vatican.va/holy_ father/paul_vi/encyclicals/ documents/hf_p-vi_enc_ 25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html .
8 2011 Research: Pro-Abortion Allan Guttmacher Institute http://www.trying-to-conceive. com/womens-life-health/news/ birth-control-not-preventing- unwanted-pregnancies/, accessed 25 April 2013.