Certainly, the “long-range significance” of this document is already upon us, not as future but as present reality. We have already taken the steps. Most of them are now law, or soon will be. But still, what I have always found fascinating about the general subject matter of this encyclical is its “logic.” Everything is connected.
Aristotle and Aquinas talked of those connections that are only apparent to the wise. Aside from the fact that the supposedly “wise” have been the chief promoters of the logic of dissent, the point was well made. We are not dealing with a group of separate issues—marriage, fornication, adultery, contraception, abortion, in vitro conceptions, surrogate mothers, frozen fetuses, divorce, artificial insemination, stem cells, gay activities, sperm and ova providers, population control, infanticide, euthanasia, human experimentation, polygamy, gene-enhanced babies, parental selection of child features, selective elimination of retarded children, and on and on. These are not really different issues. One follows from another once the initial step is taken.
Everything has been done to make these issues appear as separate categories of reality, whereas one follows from the other by a logic that is almost frighteningly consistent. What is at work here is the order that is in fact within our nature. Everything relates to everything else. Things cohere. And we are to “obey” the commandments. We thought that this “obedience” was a kind of irrationalism.
But now we see what happens to societies that do not have babies of their own. They find themselves being replaced by other peoples’ babies. We hear talk of manufacturing a kind of human-animal slave who could be mass-produced to provide cheap labor. People who do have their own children find them taken over by an eagerly expanding school system that seeks to control everything that crosses its threshold. —from “On Human Life — an Anniversary”