It's clearer than ever from this papal address, given two days before Christmas, that Catholic teaching on the full truth about human sexuality - "the nature of the human being as man and woman" - is intimately linked with Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life.
In an illuminating passage, Pope Benedict urges the world to re-read Humanae Vitae. He reminds mankind, showing no fear of the hostility of politically-correct opponents of church teaching: "The great Scholastic theologians have characterised matrimony, the life-long bond between man and woman, as a sacrament of creation, instituted by the Creator himself and which Christ – without modifying the message of creation – has incorporated into the history of his covenant with mankind ... Beginning from this perspective, it would be beneficial to read again the Encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sexuality as a consumer entity, the future as opposed to the exclusive pretext of the present, and the nature of man against its manipulation ... "
I have referred in previous posts to how "the nature of man" has been manipulated, in fulfilment of Pope Paul VI's prophecy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, as a result of ignoring, and ignorance of, the message of Humanae Vitae: the promotion of abortifacient birth control and abortion, without parental knowledge or consent, including in Catholic schools, in England and Wales; coercive abortion in China, funded by the overwhelming majority of the world's governments (including the Republic of Ireland); the countless lives destroyed through IVF practices - also so widely accepted amongst Catholics.
Pope Benedict echoes Pope John Paul when he says the devaluation of the "language of creation" leads to "the self-destruction of man". In paragraph 97 of Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul teaches that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.
All of this is very timely for us in England - the Pope's address and Bishop Campbell's speedy translation of it - especially when the link between the sanctity of life and the church's teaching in Humanae Vitae has been so unfortunately challenged in an interview in The Catholic Herald this past week.