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Friday, July 25, 2008

40 Years

Biblically speaking, 40 is a significant number. 40 days and night of rain in the days of Noah. 40 years of the Hebrew people wandering in the desert in Exodus. 40 days that Christ spent in the wilderness prior to His ministry.

And now, this month, 40 years since the publication of Humanae Vitae. It remains a watershed moment in the modern age of the Church. Quite possibly it is the divisive issue among Catholics, maybe more so than abortion, so-called same-sex marriage, and divorce and remarriage. Why? Because the mess we're in today can find its big-bang event in the dissent from this important and critical encyclical.

A number of dissident groups and individuals placed an open letter to the Holy Father that appeared today in the Italian newpaper "Corriere della Sera", that really comes down to being a paid advertisement. It's basic statement: HV is wrong, the Holy Father ought to change Church teaching and allow use of contraceptives. Though not explicitly stated in the letter, these dissenting groups contend that Humanae Vitae is the source of division within the Catholic Church.

In reality, it is the dissenters who are the source of division within the Church.

In my surfing this evening, I came upon this reflection in the Catholic News Agency written by Cardinal Francis James Stafford, entitled The Year Of The Peirasmos. It is a recounting of August 4, 1968, when he was invited to attend a meeting of priests called by Charles Curran. It is poignant, personal and pain-filled. It is a testimony of a then-priest who experienced what it truly meant to be an altus Christus. If you haven't read it, I invite you to do so. It provides a perspective that can give all of us who are faithful to Church teaching encouragement and hope. The reflection is a catechism of what how to live each moment like Christ. As Cardinal Stafford writes, “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.”

Feel free to discuss in the combox any statement by the Cardinal that speaks most to you.

Check out CMR's Humanae Vitae article, too: There Are None So Blind. Provides juxtaposition with the Cardinal's reflection.