I remember well my first meeting with Pope John Paul II on 17 November 1979.
"Thank you for condemning contraception," I told him. "I have been in 48 countries around the world. I have always found that contraception leads inevitably to abortion. I can find no exception to this rule, and no one has ever been able to point one out to me."
The Pope agreed wholeheartedly. "I am thoroughly convinced of the same relationship," he nodded. "I have promoted Natural Family Planning in my marriage preparation courses in Polish parish centers."
I told him that I had held a dozen conferences on Natural Family Planning to promote this wonderful method for regulating human procreation. There was a pause in the conversation-I think that he was praying-and then he said, "You have lots of experience. You must bring this pro-life movement all over the world. If you do that, you will be doing the most important work on earth. Surely the Americans will help you."
In the years that followed, Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke many times against the related evils of contraception, sterilization and abortion. He consistently presented a positive vision of human sexuality. If there is one thing a married couple should understand on their wedding day, he made clear in Familiaris Consortio, it is how to control their fertility responsibility, lovingly, and generously.
Totally in touch with God, and therefore His instrument, Pope John Paul II had a way of always saying the right things in the right way for the right people-never mincing words, never being misunderstood, never having to explain what he really meant. Visiting India, the Pope cited Indian hero Mahatma Gandhi in condemning artificial, inhuman methods of birth control in that country. The Indians cheered wildly.
Visiting the U.S. in 1987, the Pope reminded us: "That is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition of her survival, yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weak and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn."
Father Paul Marx, of the Population Research Institute recalls: