Cardinal James Francis Stafford looks back 40 years, to “A Bitter Cup”


Humanae Vitae

The Year of the Peirasmòs – 1968
By Cardinal James Francis Stafford

It was the year of the bad war, of complex innocence that sanctified the shedding of blood.  English historian Paul Johnson dubs 1968 as the year of “America’s Suicide Attempt.”  It included the Tet offensive in Vietnam with its tsunami-like effects in American life and politics, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee; the tumult in American cities on Palm Sunday weekend; and the June assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in southern California. It was also the year in which Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical letter on transmitting human life, Humanae Vitae (HV). He met immediate, premeditated, and unprecedented opposition from some American theologians and pastors.

By any measure 1968 was a bitter cup.

On the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, I have been asked to reflect on one event of that year, the doctrinal dissent among some priests and theologians in an American Archdiocese on the occasion of its publication. It is not an easy or welcome task. But since it may help some followers of Jesus to live what Pope Paul VI called a more “disciplined” life (HV 21), I will explore that event.

Click here for the whole, remarkable story

1968 Vatican plea for teaching support on Humanae Vitae

Read the Encyclical

George Weigel on The Humanae Vitae Controversy

1 Comment

  1. Although the last forty years have been tumultuous in the life of the Church I believe that the future looks brighter. The priests infected by dissent in the sixties are gradually retiring and being replaced by more orthodox men. Their numbers may be fewer for now in the English speaking world, but the Lord will provide.

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