They have been dramatic and especially n the areas of protecting life, as witnessed by the recent storm after a prominent Catholic politician tried to counter the Church’s teaching on abortion; but it wasn’t always so, and this column remembering the whirlwind of protest that broke out when Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968.
“Where did Nancy Pelosi come by the notion that she could offer alternatives to “official” doctrine and that this was actually the Catholic thing to do? Where would she have acquired the confidence that abortion is a live option, that everyone could just follow his own “conscience,” that moral absolutes are no more? The answer is simple. She is a typical product of Catholic education.
“In the forty years and more since the close of Vatican II, those with a claim to authoritative credentials in the matter have been saying the sort of thing Nancy Pelosi said, and worse, in season and out, in the halls of Catholic academe, warping the minds of the young, offering stones rather than bread.
“The revolt of the theologians began much earlier, but it came out of the closet with the appearance of Humanae Vitae in 1968. The day after the encyclical appeared, a full-page ad in The New York Times announced that the undersigned theologians rejected the teaching of the Holy Father. The pope was wrong and the laity were to listen to dissenting theologians rather than to the Vicar of Christ. It was a heady moment.
“Cardinal Stafford’s recently published memories of what it was like to be a young priest in Baltimore during those tumultuous times reveals them to be even worse than I had thought. There was open revolt of the clergy and it was given a patina of respectability by the leadership of moral theologians in seminaries and universities.”