'Life + Love' celebrates marriage, family life

Friday, August 31, 2018 - Updated: 10:05 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

The sexual revolution of the late 1960s promised “free love” and sex without consequences. But in reality, it damaged the profound connection between men and women and impacted the bond of family life.

“If we simply let the data speak, we see the catastrophic results of the sexual revolution,” Father Joe Freedy said. 

Father Freedy, parochial vicar at Holy Child Parish in Bridgeville, was among a panel of speakers Aug. 11 at a screening of the musical documentary, “Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae.” The evening at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton was part of “Life + Love: A Weekend Celebration of Marriage and Family,” which commemorated the anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.”

The celebration concluded the following morning with a family liturgy celebrated by Bishop David Zubik.

The documentary was set against the backdrop of the encyclical and tells the story of Alana Newman, a musician who, through efforts to know the father she never met, discovers the riches of “theology of the body” and “Humanae Vitae.” The documentary examines parallel developments of the birth-control pill and natural family planning by telling the story of the founders, Dr. Gregory Goodwin Pincus and Drs. John and Evelyn Billings.

“Humanae Vitae” advocated that “the transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.”

Natural family planning involves methods based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is not the “rhythm method,” but is a holistic approach to family planning. It promotes openness to the transmission of human life and recognizes the value of children. Sexual relations is recognized as love-giving as well as life-giving.

Father Freedy pointed out that the teachings of Blessed Paul VI and later, St. John Paul II, were a roadway out of the effects of the sexual revolution. “God’s plan for marriage and family is ‘gloriously beautiful,’” he said.

David and Rebecca Belczyk are NFP advocates. David spoke of how it has strengthened his relationship with Rebecca, his role as a father and his relationship with his children. It also helps him stay in touch with the creative power instituted by God.

“It opens you up to the wonder and mystery that is your wife,” he said. David added that it has helped him to become a father in a real way and has marked a change in his life.

Father James Holland, pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Russellton, has a long background in nursing and has seen the effects of contraception. Only 2 percent to 6 percent of health care professionals know about NFP, he said, but there is hope in that many young doctors and medical students are interested in it.

Father Adam Potter, parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi in Finleyville, St. Isaac Jogues in Jefferson Hills and St. Benedict the Abbot in Peters Township, said that “Humanae Vitae” addressed issues such as the collapse of morality, the loss of respect for women by men and the domination of the human person, in which people wish to control things that should only be controlled by God.

Dolores and Michael Shipe are the parents of four sons. Dolores spoke of the importance of NFP and church teachings, adding, “It’s part of our lives. Part of our family. It’s how we live.”

Michael noted that he was “sensitive” with his sons when they were younger, but is now “brutually honest” in discussions with them. “It’s all about respecting other people,” he said.

In comments from the audience, one woman spoke of how the encyclical was required reading for her as a 14-year-old, and she knew the effect it had on her.

“This is hard teaching, but it is true,” she said. “I want to live my life living the truth.”

The celebration was sponsored by the Department for Family Ministry and Faith Formation. Judene Indovina, director, also was a member of the panel.

More information on NFP programs in the diocese is available by contacting the Department for Family Ministry and Faith Formation at 412-456-3112, or by e-mailing religiouseducation@diopitt.com. A schedule for local NFP classes can be found by visiting www.fertilitycare.org/pennsylvania. More information on the documentary can be found at www.SexualRevolutionMovie.com.

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