Thursday, October 23, 2014


Please bear with me and read this extended quote from John W O'Malley's A History of the Popes:

By 1968 five years had passed since John XXIII established the [secret] commission on birth control.  The very fact of the commission's existence indicated a reconsideration of Pius XI's prohibition in [his encyclical] Casti Cunubii, and the passing of years without a definitive statement on the matter from the Holy See seemed to suggest that a change was in the wind.  For most Catholics, including probably a majority of bishops, the silence indicated consent.  On July 25, 1968, however, [Pope] Paul [VI] issued Humanae Vitae, his most famous and controversial encyclical, in which he renewed the prohibition.
...The encyclical, more often criticized than studied, is a rich meditation on married love.  What the world seized upon, however, was the reiteration of Pius XI's strictures [against artificial contraceptives].  The reaction was fierce.

I write this because there are many, many comments about what was discussed in the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  By turns the report of the conversations has been either praised or vilified--even though it is not only a preliminary presentation of the discussions, but also (even in any "final form") simply a prelude to the actual synodal Round 2, not to be held until October of 2015.

In other words, to reckon that change is "in the wind" (either rejoicing in or lamenting the possibility) is utterly premature.  Let the other shoe fall first, and that won't happen until some time after the October 2015 Synod, in fact.  Hopes and fears need not be very high at this point...

I will make one final observation about the Synod, Round 1:  the negative comments of bishops like Raymond Burke and Charles Chaput are simply to be expected.  They are playing Alfredo Ottaviani and Marcel Lefebvre to Pope Francis' St John XXIII and Bl Paul VI. 

It's all OK:  life goes on, and the Holy Spirit (thankfully) is ultimately in charge.

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