SYDNEY, Australia, March 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Restoring the “respect for the integrity of the conjugal act” and correcting the contraceptive mentality that “fears procreation,” is “fundamental” to the New Evangelization and its effort to transform Western culture, said Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, earlier this month.

In a March 11th address to the Australian Catholic Students Association, the prelate offered reflections on the “crisis of Christian culture in the West” and the effort to build a Catholic culture “in fidelity to our vocation to give witness to Christ and, therefore, to be martyrs for the faith.”

He said the world today faces a “profoundly disordered moral state,” emphasizing the current “plague of procured abortion.”  He likewise decried the “abhorrent practices of the artificial generation of human life and its destruction,” the “mercy killing” of the elderly and weak, and the “ever advancing agenda” of those seeking to redefine marriage and family life to suit homosexual advocates.

Lamenting the fact that today Christians face persecution for opposing “the ever advancing anti-life and anti-family agenda,” he said we face a “similar challenge to our faith” as did 16th century martyr St. Thomas More.

“We recognize in certain so-called free nations and in some of their policies and laws an opposition to the Christian’s adherence to the natural moral law,” he noted.  He cited in particular the fact that pharmacists have been required to fill prescriptions for abortifacient drugs, and that priests have been charged with ‘hate speech’ for preaching on the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts.

“Not without reason, there is greater and greater fear that the Church will be unable to carry out her educational, health-care and charitable works in certain nations because the civil law requires that such Church works cooperate in acts which are always and everywhere wrong,” he said.

The prelate stressed the relationship between “the living of the truth regarding human sexuality and human life” and “the practice of justice.”  “The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn, for example, has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act,” he explained.

Invoking Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s condemnation of contraception, the cardinal contested claims that the conjugal act can maintain its integrity or remain unitive and loving while the procreative nature of the act is “radically violated” through use of contraceptives.

“In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union,” he explained.  “The so-called ‘contraceptive mentality’ is essentially anti-life.  Many forms of what is called contraception are, in fact, abortifacient, that is, they destroy a life which has already been conceived, has already begun.”

He also highlighted the prime importance of respecting human life in the Church’s development activities, highlighting the fact that Pope Benedict XVI made “special reference” to Humanae Vitae in his encyclical on human development, Caritas in Veritate.

“Humanae vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics,” the pope wrote.

“Individual freedom and the freedom of society, in general, depends upon a fundamental education in the truth about human sexuality and the exercise of that truth in a pure and chaste life,” said Cardinal Burke.

When facing resistance in the effort to uphold the moral law, he said, “we must recall that we, alive in Christ, are a sign of contradiction to the world’s way of thinking.”

“Our lives are a rebuke of the violation of the moral law, not for the sake of rebuking, but the sake of the salvation of our world,” he explained.  “We must also remember that our witness, like the witness of the martyrs, will work a transformation in our society, will redound ultimately to the safeguarding and fostering of all human life.”