Monday, August 4


If you read only one article for Humanae Vitae's fortieth...

This should be it.

In it, Cardinal Stafford offers his personal reflections on the events surrounding the release of the encyclical. He writes of dark times for the Church, and yet his message is essentially one of hope that speaks to us even today:

But that night was not a total loss. The test was unexpected and unwelcome. Its unhinging consequences continue. Abusive, coercive dissent has become a reality in the Church and subjects her to violent, debilitating, unproductive, chronic controversies. But I did discover something new. Others also did. When the moment of Christian witness came, no Christian could be coerced who refused to be. Despite the novelty of being treated as an object of shame and ridicule, I did not become “ashamed of the Gospel” that night and found “sweet delight in what is right.” It was not a bad lesson. Ecclesial obedience ran the distance.

My discovery that Christ was the first to despise shame was gut-rending in its existential and providential reality. “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Paradoxically, in the hot, August night a new sign shown unexpectedly on the path to future life. It read, “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.”

It would be cliché to write that one encounters much bitterness and complaint regarding this moment in Church history. While the Cardinal's article certainly does not fail to mourn what was lost, there is, ultimately, a refusal to give in to despair or malice. Rather, even in that darkest hour, he finds hope in the knowledge that the Church will continue to endure, and joy in sharing in the sufferings of Christ. It is a moving story, and an example we can learn much from.

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