The Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Family, taking place in Rome from October 5-19, will not be successful unless it addresses the failure of clergy to preach the Catholic teaching on sexuality found in Humanae Vitae, says a U.S. Catholic priest of 56 years.
Father Daniel McCaffrey, from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, served as a military chaplain in Korea, Pakistan and during the Vietnam conflict and now travels throughout the country preaching God’s truth on sexuality, marriage, and family-life. He spoke to LifeSiteNews by telephone.
“For four decades and more, the people have not heard the message of the Church on marriage,” McCaffrey said. If the Synod does not address this problem, “we’re going to have a very cold dark winter ahead of the Church,” he predicted.
Father McCaffrey, who works with Natural Family Planning Outreach, may sound like a fire-and-brimstone kind-a preacher, but his message about the Church’s clear teaching on marriage and sexuality is one of love, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.
“I don’t come on in such a way that I’m talking down to the people or criticizing them. I come on as a shepherd. I tell the people that I’m here not to criticize or put them down or condemn, but that I’m here to enlighten them about a truth that’s going to make their life happy here and hereafter,” he said.
“Once they know you’re there because you love them, they listen.”
Father McCaffrey’s main message given to parishes and colleges nationwide as well as in Canada is that “contraception is a cancer destroying our Church today.”
The Catholic Church teaches that God created marriage between a man and woman to be “fruitful” in imitation of God’s own Trinitarian life, wherein God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through the mystery of the “divine processions.” Seeing openness to life as an essential part of the sexual act, the Church teaches that each and every marital act must remain open to the transmission of new life.
Pope Paul VI warned in his 1968 watershed encyclical Humanae Vitae that a wide social acceptance of closing the sexual act to the gift of life would increase rates of infidelity, lower morality, and lead to a loss of respect for women. Many note that his warnings have proven to be totally accurate.
Father McCaffrey said that contrary to the expectations of parish priests and religious coordinators — who invite him to speak with apprehension, fearing a loss of parishioners — when people hear what the Church actually teaches about marriage and sexuality, they love it. It is very common for listeners to erupt into spontaneous applause at various points during the delivery of his talk.
“You can’t tell me that this is not a teachable subject and a preachable message,” he said.
Father McCaffrey puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of bishops and priests for the laity being largely unaware of this teaching. He lamented that contraception and divorce rates within the Church are practically identical with those outside the Church.
“The horrible thing today is people have not heard this teaching of Humanae Vitae explained clearly and in a loving way. That’s the real problem,” he said.
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“And that’s why I say to this Synod: ‘Please send a questionnaire, out to all of the bishops, priests, and deacons of the world, asking them why they are not getting the message of Humanae Vitae and [Saint John Paul II’s] Theology of the Body out to the people in the pews.”
Father McCaffrey called the social acceptance of contraception the “root of the problem” facing the Church today regarding the issues of marriage, divorce, and homosexuality.
“It’s the root cause, in my opinion, for much of the heartache that the Church has today with regard to marriage.”
Homosexuality is “part and parcel of the whole thing,” he said, adding: “Once you separate the unitive from the procreative, you can do anything. You can perform any perverted act that you want. And that’s why this is a root issue.”
“That’s why I’m so adamant about proclaiming this, because, if we don’t settle this matter clearly, I don’t see the Synod doing very much in this area of evangelization in the married life.”
“It’s very sad, and it breaks my heart that we have the light, the truth, and why don’t we share it with the people forcefully and lovingly? We are the last hope of the world. Why don’t we get up and bring the message of God to the people?” he asked.
Hear Father McCaffrey preach a homily on openness to life here.