In 1968 Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). The Holy Father warned the world what would result if contraception was introduced as an alternative means of birth control:
“Good people can become more fully convinced of the truth of the doctrine which the Church teaches on this issue, if they think about what will follow from the ways and means proposed for limiting births by technical measures. They will first reflect how wide and easy is the road this policy opens up, both to marital infidelity and to a general decay in morals. Nor does one need long experience to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings-and especially the young, so subject to desires – need incentives to keep the moral law, and ought not to be offered an easy way to violate it. It is greatly to be feared, too, that men grown use to contraceptive methods will become unmindful of reverence for women – that, disregarding the woman’s physical and emotional equilibrium, the man will make of her his instrument in the service of his self-centered desire, no longer regarding her as a companion owed ongoing respect and love”. (Humanae Vitae p.14.)
Sadly, many many Catholics did not heed the Pope’s warnings; all his predictions have come true. However, it was not just lay Catholics who did not listen to the Pope, many seminal theologians also rejected the divisive encyclical.