The Aftermath of Humanae Vitae | 2/5/2018 | Gary Potter
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Humanae vitae, Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical reaffirming the Church’s defense of the sanctity of human life, was promulgated fifty years ago this year. It was dated July 25, 1968.

When July rolls around later this year I shall have some things to say, God willing, about the encyclical’s content. What I’m talking about here is some of the aftermath of the document’s promulgation.

Picture - Words - Instance - Epic - Fight

Only some. I’m going for a broad picture and in as few words as possible. I shall not deal, for instance, with the epic fight of Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle to preserve doctrinal orthodoxy at the Catholic University of America, the pontifical university in the United States, only to have the rug pulled out from under him by brother prelates. The aftermath is important because the confusion and disarray that have marked the life of the Church during the past fifty years are owed more to it than to Vatican II, which usually gets the blame. Such is my view anyway.

It is no exaggeration to say that the entire world, at least the world outside the then Communist parts of it, had awaited appearance of the encyclical with extreme interest. (I can write here of events and developments as I do because I was reporting them at the time as a journalist.) The interest was due in large part to Blessed Pope Paul’s immediate predecessor, Pope Saint John XXIII, having set up a commission to study the question of life prevention (aka birth control) in light of the development of the Pill in the early sixties, and news had been leaked to the press that a majority of the panel favored scrapping the Church’s prohibition of contraception. In reaffirming it Blessed Pope Paul went against the recommendation of the majority.


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