The following comes from a Jan. 16 story on Catholic News Agency.
Pope Francis took the opportunity during an address to families in the Philippines to praise Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical opposing contraception and affirming Church teaching on sexuality and human life.
The Pope spoke Friday to families gathered at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila during his Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines.
After discussing various threats to the family, including “a lack of openness to life,” he deviated briefly from his prepared remarks, transitioning from English to his native Spanish in order to speak from the heart about the subject.
“I think of Blessed Paul VI,” he said. “In a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life.”
In 1968, Pope Paul VI released the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld Catholic teaching on sexuality and the immorality of artificial contraception, predicting the negative consequences that would result from a cultural acceptance of birth control.
“He knew the difficulties that families experience, and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases,” Pope Francis said.
“But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem that it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today.”
Pope Francis’ comments come in the wake of Philippines president Benigno Aquino’s signing a highly controversial reproductive health bill in 2013 that drew strong protest from local bishops and members of the faith.
The legislation requires government-sanctioned sex education for adults, middle school and high school students, as well as a population control program that includes fully subsidized contraceptives under government health insurance. The nation’s bishops spoke out strongly against the measure.