Tag Archives: Pope Paul VI

True Devotion: It began so simply

FrankDuffReginaCoeli
Pioneer of the lay apostolate, Frank Duff

Story Credit: Alive! Br. Steven Hackett OP

The Second Vatican Council, opened in Rome on 11 November 1962 by Pope John XXIII, continued until 8 December 1965, when it closed under Pope Paul VI.

Bishops from every part of the globe took part, many of them famous names, most of them unknown outside their own territory.

In August 1965 an Irishman was appointed as a lay auditor to the Council, the first Irish layman ever to have been invited to sit in on Council sessions.

Aged 76 at the time, he had “some misgivings” about going to Rome, given the state of his health. At Easter, in danger of death, he had received the anointing of the sick. But he was determined to be there.

At the moment when he arrived in St Peter’s Basilica, where the Council meetings were taking place, Cardinal John Heenan of Westminster was addressing the assembly.

He observed the Dublin man quietly slipping into his seat. At once the Cardinal interrupted what he was saying to announce that Frank Duff had arrived.

Immediately, and as one, the 2,500 bishops rose to their feet to give the Irishman a warm and prolonged ovation.

“It was an unforgettable moment,” wrote Cardinal Suenens, later, “the thanks of the universal Church to the pioneer of the lay apostolate.”

Though he would never accept the title, Frank Duff was, in fact, the founder of the Legion of Mary, the only global organisation ever established by an Irishman, and probably Ireland’s greatest contribution to the universal Church.

Born on 7 June 1889 in Dublin, Frank entered the civil service after leaving school.

In 1913, aged 24, he joined the St Vincent de Paul Society. Until then, he said, he was “a very casual Catholic. I wouldn’t miss Mass, but that’s all you could say about it.”

From this point his religious commitment began to grow, particularly under the influence of an uneducated shoemaker, Joseph Gabbett, a recovering alcoholic.

Gabbett had developed his own apostolate to Dublin’s poor and Duff was drawn into it more and more.

“I was incredibly captivated by Gabbett, because I had never met anyone like him,” he wrote. In particular, Gabbett’s devotion to the Mother of God made a deep impression on him.

About this time he began to recite the rosary each day, and during Lent in 1914 he began to take part in daily Mass, a practice he continued until the end of his life.

A couple of years later he began a League of Daily Mass, enlisting others who promised to attend Mass each day. A register from that time contains more than 1,000 names, most of them inscribed by Duff himself.

By this time too, prayer and spiritual reading were taking up more of his time, increasing his dedication to his work with the poor.

It was, however, his discovery of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St Louis Marie de Montfort, that was to change his life.

Some members of the St VdeP would sit around after the weekly meeting discussing various topics. One week the topic was the True Devotion.

Duff tried to read the treatise half a dozen times, but couldn’t take it. Then came “the sudden realisation that the book was true.”

In the summer of 1921, now aged 32, Frank was among a group of Pioneers who organised a meeting to discuss the True Devotion. The meeting took place in mid-August.

From this meeting a number of Pioneers, including six women, decided to begin visiting the patients in a local hospital for the poor.

This led to the forming of an association which placed itself under the patronage of Our Lady of Mercy. On Wednesday 7 September, at a meeting attended by Duff and the local curate, officers for the group were appointed.

Mrs Elizabeth Kirwan, aged 64 and the only woman of mature years, became the president, and the meeting followed the general pattern of a St VdeP meeting.

In time this would be recognised as the first meeting of what would later be called the Legion of Mary. The group expanded rapidly to 70 members and it was decided in July 1922 to begin a second group.

In November 1925, when a new title for the organisation was being discussed, Duff suggested that the name not have a national tag as the organisation might expand more widely than Ireland.

The Legion of Mary was Duff’s suggestion, and though there was some resistance to it, the name was finally chosen and would, in time, become famous through the whole world.

A clarification on seeking orthodoxy within the two forms of the Roman Liturgy, ordinaria and extraordinaria

Received a fraternal correction today on Facebook concerning the orthodoxy we seek within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass… First, my comment on the release of INSTRUCTION ON THE APPLICATION OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM :

“It’s about time, it’s about space, it’s about orthodoxy taking its rightful place…”

The correction came…

The absence of a Mass in the Extraordinary Form is not an indication of a lack of orthodoxy. Indeed, the Holy See’s instruction itself says: “6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church.”.

I couldn’t agree and support this statement more. It’s a teaching of the Church.. However, I could supply ample proof(s), from this blog alone, of disobedience to mass norms and resulting unorthodox liturgical practices played out within the Mass. The crisis of disobedience and irreverence seemingly ever-present within the Church in our days is exemplified here, and like many I’m just simply tired of abuses found within the Mass. Not to mention having to sit through Protestant-nized masses offering us musical treats similar to the following…  

END OF POST

(Full Texts) About John C. Ford, S.J. — Newly released records reveal advisers to Pope Paul VI Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate were stacked in favor of changing church teaching on contraception

During an audience of Pope Paul VI in 1977
Pope Paul VI in 1977

“In 2011, Grisez judged that he was no longer bound to keep these documents secret for two reasons: (1) he never undertook to keep them secret; and (2) after more than 44 years, the publication of these documents is hardly likely to harm the Church and may well benefit her.”

Germain Grisez’s explanation of the release of commission documents

EDITOR NOTE: As you read on, keep in mind the uncountable times during the last 44 years that this very same commission has been used by modernist’s as justification to bludgeon the hierarchy of the Church on the issue of contraception…

First, the OSV story followed by texts.

Church birth control commission docs unveiled

New records show pope’s advisers were stacked in favor of changing Church teaching. Intentionally?

By Russell Shaw – OSV Newsweekly, 2/27/2011

Information provided by a prominent American theologian close to the famous papal “birth control commission” of the 1960s shows it was tilted in favor of changing Church teaching on contraception from the start. Pope Paul VI eventually said no to the commission and reaffirmed Church teaching in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”).

The new information depicts the commission’s secretary general as a supporter of change who influenced the commission’s proceedings to produce that result. It also suggests a substantial number of members and advisers of the body were predisposed in favor of change, or at least more than merely open to it.

Jesuit Father John C. Ford, an American moral theologian with the commission who opposed change, is quoted as saying that far from pushing the commission the other way, Pope Paul “wanted to give the proponents of change every opportunity to make their case.”

Favoring an outcome

The new disclosures are contained in a biographical sketch of Father Ford by Germain G. Grisez, who worked with the priest in Rome during a critical period in the commission’s proceedings. The sketch appears together with several previously unpublished documents on his website (www.twotlj.org). Grisez is the author of numerous books and articles, including an influential three-volume treatment of moral theology.

In brief, the story he tells is this.

Blessed Pope John XXIII established the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate — popularly known as the birth control commission — in March 1963, shortly before his death. Its job was to prepare for the Holy See’s participation in a conference organized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Dominican Father Henri de Riedmatten of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State was named secretary general of the new body. According to Grisez, the priest “single-handedly managed the commission’s work,” even after Pope Paul, who succeeded Pope John, appointed Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its president. The priest’s support for change could be seen in arranging meeting agendas and shaping documents — including his final report to the pope — to favor this outcome.

Pope Paul expanded the commission’s membership and mandate in June 1964. In October he named Father Ford, then teaching at The Catholic University of America, to serve with the body. At that time considered possibly the leading Catholic moral theologian in the United States, the priest had drawn attention during World War II with a stinging critique of American and British saturation bombing of German and Japanese cities.

Teaching ‘reformable’

By the time the commission met in the spring of 1965, Grisez reports, 12 of 19 members of its theological section thought the Church’s teaching on contraception was “reformable” — it could be changed. Father Ford did not.

The Second Vatican Council, then nearing its close, left the contraception issue to be resolved after the commission finished its work. The pope now reorganized the commission, naming the previous members “expert advisers” to a group of 16 cardinals and bishops who were the actual members. Father de Riedmatten then scheduled a cluster of meetings in spring and summer of 1966, culminating in a June 20-25 gathering of the 16 prelates to reach conclusions.

Father Ford by now was one of a minority of four within the 19-member theological section who supported the Church’s teaching against contraception. The others were moral theologians Jesuit Father Marcelino Zalba, Redemptorist Father Jan Visser and sociologist Jesuit Father Stanislas de Lestapis. All were prominent scholars.

At the climactic meeting of cardinals and bishops, Grisez writes, there was “little discussion, and no minds were changed.” On the crucial question of whether every contraceptive act is wrong, the vote was 9 no, 3 yes, and 3 abstentions.

Of the commission’s three American members, Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore and Archbishop (later, Cardinal) John Dearden of Detroit voted no, and Archbishop Leo Binz of St. Paul and Minneapolis voted yes. Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow — later, Pope John Paul II — who was expected to be a solid vote against contraception, had been prevented from attending the meeting by the communist authorities in Poland.

Cool reception

Father de Riedmatten prepared his final report and submitted it to the pope on June 27. Grisez recalls that he and Father Ford were “appalled” by how biased it was. At Cardinal Ottaviani’s request, he and the priest prepared a document rebutting the pro-contraception arguments, and that document also presumably went to Pope Paul.

In the spring of 1967, selected theological documents from the commission, misidentified as the “majority report” and the “minority report,” were leaked to some media, evidently to put pressure on Pope Paul. But in July 1968, the pope issued Humanae Vitae, which unequivocally affirms that every contraceptive act is wrong.

Back in the United States, Father Ford returned to the seminary in Weston, Mass., where he had taught for many years, but was received coolly, especially after Humanae Vitae came out. Grisez describes him as “dismayed but not surprised” by dissent from the encyclical on the part of many academics and some bishops. Retiring from teaching, he spent his last years doing pastoral work and died Jan. 14, 1989, at the age of 86.

Russell Shaw is an OSV contributing editor.

Benefit (sidebar)

“Certain official documents of the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate are published here [http://osv.cm/hjcyaA] without permission under the limitation of copyright called fair use, inasmuch as the documents on which [Jesuit Father John C.] Ford and [Germain] Grisez collaborated could not be accurately understood and fairly evaluated without the otherwise unavailable commission documents to which they were responding.

“In 2011, Grisez judged that he was no longer bound to keep these documents secret for two reasons: (1) he never undertook to keep them secret; and (2) after more than 44 years, the publication of these documents is hardly likely to harm the Church and may well benefit her.”

— Germain Grisez’s explanation of the release of commission documents

Text(s) source…

About John C. Ford, S.J.

This biography includes links in red both to some of the official documents of Pope Paul VI’sCommission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate, and to a response to that body’s final report, prepared by Ford and Grisez at the request of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and delivered by him to Pope Paul VI.

John Cuthbert Ford, S.J., was born on December 20, 1902, at 151 Stanwood Street, in the Massachusetts town of Dorchester. His grandparents were Irish immigrants. His parents, Michael Ford and Hanna Cuthbert, married in St. Joseph’s Church, Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1900. They had three children. John, their second child and only son, was baptized on June 4, 1903.

The family soon moved to a nicer neighborhood in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the boy’s parents sent him to a public grade school. While in grade school, he became an altar boy at his parish, and eventually head altar boy. His pastor recommended that John enroll in a college preparatory program at the Jesuits’ Boston College High School.

Impressed by the piety and character of his Jesuit teachers, John awakened one morning during his final year at BC High with the clear conviction: “I am going to be a Jesuit!” Confident that this was God’s call, he at once committed himself and never looked back. On August 14, 1920, he entered a two-year novitiate and began his formation as a member of the Society of Jesus.

During the first year, especially as he finished a thirty-day retreat according to St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises,Ford joyfully felt that all was well. But in 1921 he contracted tuberculosis and was laid up much of the time. In July 1922, he was sent for treatment at a Jesuit nursing unit in Monroe, New York. In October he was told he might be dismissed from the Society.

He recovered sufficiently, however, to be allowed to make his first vows on February 8, 1923. That fall, Ford began his first two years of college at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts. During 1925–28, he studied philosophy and other college-level courses at Weston College in Weston, Massachusetts. He received his A.B. in 1927 and Ph.L. in 1928.

In the fall of 1928 Ford began what normally was a three-year “regency,” a period of service—in his case teaching Latin to freshmen at Boston College. Around the end of the first year, however, he suffered a recurrence of tuberculosis. His superiors curtailed his regency and, in the fall of 1929, sent him back to Weston to study theology. Though recovering only gradually from his illness, he did well in his studies, was ordained to the priesthood on June 20, 1932, completed his seminary work, and received the S.T.L. in 1933.

To compensate for his abbreviated regency, Ford was assigned to teach philosophical psychology at Weston College in 1933–34. In 1934–35, he completed his formal Jesuit formation by doing tertianship (a year of study and prayer rounding out the spiritual formation begun in the novitiate). In the fall of 1935, Ford’s superiors sent him for two more years of intellectual formation, this time in moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He received his S.T.D. in 1937. His doctoral dissertation was:The Validity of Virginal Marriage. The topic pertained to canon law and sacramental theology as well as to moral theology.

Returning to the United States, Ford made final profession on August 15, 1937. With that, the thirty-four-year-old John Cuthbert Ford, S.J, S.T.D., was ready to begin his career as a moral theologian.

In Rome, Ford had studied with two leading moralists of the time: Arthur Vermeersch, S.J., a Belgian, who died in the summer of 1936; and Franz Hürth, S.J., a German, under whom Ford completed his dissertation.

Ford greatly admired Vermeersch’s creativity, rejection of moral minimalism, and tough-mindedness. The Belgian Jesuit had broken fresh ground, not least with a book on tolerance. As the framework of his systematic moral theology, Vermeersch used the virtues rather than the Ten Commandments, and not only catalogued sins to be avoided but dealt with the positive side of Christian life. He was careful not to use weak philosophical arguments and scriptural texts taken out of context to support the Church’s moral teachings.

Reflecting on Vermeersch’s approach, Ford asked himself: “How do we know that the Church’s moral teachings are true?” His conclusion: Because Jesus commissioned the Church to teach the baptized all that he commanded, she teaches in the name of Christ. Thus we can be sure that all the moral norms the Catholic Church has taught constantly and firmly are true. That she has taught them as she has makes it clear that they must be grounded in divine revelation itself, even if no Scripture text mentions them.

Throughout his career, therefore, Ford regarded as unquestionable all the moral norms that the Church had constantly and firmly taught as binding on the consciences of the faithful. At the same time, he seldom offered scriptural or philosophical arguments for any of them, urged care in applying them, and was open-minded about matters regarding which the Church had not yet taught at all or had not taught constantly and firmly.

From 1937–45 Ford was Professor of Moral Theology at his alma mater, Weston College. During the early years, he also studied law at Boston College Law School, where he received his LL.B. in 1941. In 1940 a group of Jesuit scholars, including Ford, founded the journal Theological Studies. The plan called for an annual survey of current developments in Catholic theology. Initially, Ford contributed a section on moral theology, but beginning in 1942 he (and later others) made “Notes on Moral Theology” a regular and distinctive feature of the journal.

During those years a topic Ford worked on made him famous: In 1944 he published a forty-nine page article cogently arguing that the rights of the innocent were being violated by the obliteration bombing which the United States and the United Kingdom were even then conducting. In 1945, having mentioned in “Notes on Moral Theology” the atrocities committed by the Soviets, Nazis, and Japanese, Ford spoke bluntly of “the greatest and most extensive single atrocity in the history of all this period, our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Musically talented and gregarious, Ford enjoyed playing the piano and partying with his fellow Jesuits. In the early 1940s, his drinking got out of hand. Realizing this, he obtained treatment from Dr. William Silkwood at Towns Hospital in New York, regained his sobriety, and became friendly with one of A.A.’s co-founders, Bill Wilson. Finding that A.A. was more effective than previous organizations at helping alcoholics remain sober, Ford subsequently sought to ensure that A.A. would not be problematic to Catholics and would be recommended to Catholic alcoholics by their pastors. In 1948 he participated in a summer program of Alcohol Studies at Yale University; he then served as a regular lecturer in that program for many years. He also personally helped many fellow alcoholics, especially after he retired from teaching in 1969.

The experience of alcoholism nurtured Ford’s previous interest in the psychological aspects of moral life and in people’s complex, psycho-moral problems. Through the 1950s and ’60s he continued reading in psychology, conferring with professionals in the field, and addressing psycho-moral issues in his writings. Catholic professionals and pastors, including bishops, as well as many lay people with problems increasingly sought his advice and help not only with alcoholism but with other addictive behaviors, sexual problems, scrupulosity, and so on. Competent, compassionate, and generous with his time, Ford by his confidential pastoral work provided great though little-noticed service to the Church.

From 1945–59 his superiors also used him to meet various urgent needs. In 1945 he was called to Rome to serve as Professor of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University. In 1947–48 he was back at Weston, but from 1948–51 he taught ethics and religion at Boston College. Then, while continuing at Weston from 1951–59, he spent several semesters at Jesuit theologates in West Baden, Indiana, and St. Mary’s, Kansas.

When Ford went to Rome in 1945, he gladly handed over the task of doing “Notes on Moral Theology” to Gerald Kelly, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at St. Mary’s College in Kansas, and a friend since their years together as graduate students in Rome; Kelly continued the annual survey through 1954. Over the years, their friendship grew closer. The two shared the view that moral theology needed a renewal that would be both thoroughgoing and faithful to Tradition—that is, to the moral truths the Church had received and handed down.

Ford liked to analyze issues and formulate reasoned judgments on them, but he disliked research work, which Kelly enjoyed and was good at. In the early 1950s, the two men decided to collaborate on a series of volumes developing and systematizing their work on matters that they, and others after 1954, had dealt with in “Notes.” The general title of the volumes would be Contemporary Moral Theology.

The first, Questions in Fundamental Moral Theology,was published in 1958 and was reprinted five times in six years. The second volume, Marriage Questions, appeared in 1963. Well received initially, it was reprinted the following year. In it, Ford and Kelly clearly explained and confidently defended relevant constant and firm teachings of the Church, including that on contraception, while exercising their usual care to promote sound and gentle pastoral practices, and not to overstate moral responsibilities.

Meanwhile, important changes were occurring. Pius XII died in 1958 and Cardinal Angelo Roncalli became Pope John XXIII. On January 25, 1959, he announced that he had decided to convoke Vatican II. In the fall of that year, Ford began seven years as Professor of Moral Theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., looking forward with enthusiasm to both the new pontificate and his new assignment.

Though Ford never publicly criticized Pius XII or the Roman Curia, he shared the dissatisfaction then common among theologians with the overly cautious attitude of the Holy See toward innovations of any sort. He also thought Pius XII had attempted to settle some difficult moral questions without adequate study and reflection. Thus, Ford was pleased by the more open approach of the new pontificate and looked forward to the coming Council in the hope that it would pave the way for needed renewal in the Church, not least in moral theology.

The last months of 1962 were good neither for the Church nor for Ford. The first session of Vatican II ended with much less accomplished than Pope John had hoped, and the Pope himself was mortally ill. Ford had been working too hard and became exhausted. There was no recurrence of tuberculosis, but the disease had weakened him, and he now became diabetic. Hospitalized in January 1963, he obtained a semester’s leave-of-absence and spent much of the following eight months regaining his health.

While Ford was recuperating, John XXIII created on April 27, 1963 (thirty-seven days before his death), a Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate. Its specific purpose was to prepare for the Holy See’s participation in a coming conference sponsored by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. For that reason, the Rev. Henri de Riedmatten, O.P., who worked in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, was named the Commission’s Secretary General, and de Riedmatten single-handedly managed the Commission’s work even after Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was named its President in February of 1966.

Pope John died on June 3, 1963. Cardinal Giovanni Montini, a man more inclined to entertain possibilities for doctrinal development than his three immediate predecessors, began his pontificate as Paul VI on June 21.

Until then, hardly any Catholics publicly defended contraception. By the end of that year, however, three European theologians had published articles challenging the received teaching. Others, who had been added to Pope John’s Pontifical Commission, urged Paul VI to expand that body’s mandate to consider the questions being raised about contraception, including whether using the birth control pill might be morally acceptable. Soon many other Catholics spoke up, including the Dutch and English bishops, who disagreed with one another.

Early in 1964, at Paul VI’s direction, a confidential inquiry was carried out among the bishops around the world about developments on these matters in their territories, and about their own views. Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle of Washington, D.C., then head of the U.S. bishops’ conference, asked Ford to help prepare the report for the United States. On June 6 Ford had the first of several private audiences with Paul VI on what was becoming a challenging problem.

Confident of the truth of the Church’s teaching on contraception that Pope Pius XI had reaffirmed in his encyclical, Casti Connubii, and reassured by the reports he was receiving from bishops around the world, Pope Paul had nevertheless been persuaded that use of the birth control pill might not be contraception. He therefore believed that a thorough study was needed to ensure that the Church would not ask more of faithful Catholic married couples than God did.

Because of the complexity and delicacy of the matter, Paul VI thought that the Council was not the suitable place to consider it. So, he decided to expand the Commission again and announce its work, which he did on June 23, 1964. In doing so, he did not spell out his mandate to the expanded Commission, but indicated it by mentioning, not the teaching of Pius XI (who had taught that contraception is always gravely wrong) but that of Pius XII (who had rejected a forerunner of the pill).

That same spring, Grisez had written his first book,Contraception and the Natural Law. Having read Marriage Questions, he asked Father Ford to review the manuscript before submitting it to a publisher. Amidst a great deal of other work that summer, Ford read it, made helpful suggestions, and strongly encouraged publication.

On August 2, 1964, Gerald Kelly, Ford’s collaborator and his close friend of almost thirty years, died.

In October, Paul VI appointed Ford to the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate. Grisez congratulated him, and over the following months the two occasionally had telephone conversations about developments, although Ford, respecting the confidentiality of the Commission’s proceedings, said little about what he was doing. Thus, while mentioning his participation in a meeting in the spring of 1965, Ford told Grisez nothing about what had happened and shared none of its documents with him.

However, Dr. John R. Cavanagh, a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist who had also been appointed to the Commission, was less concerned about confidentiality. That summer, he discussed the meeting at length with Grisez and others, and having received the official English translation of the Report on the Fourth Session of the Commission Set Up by the Holy See to Study the Problems of Population, Family, and Birth-rate, he shared it with Grisez. After studying it, Grisez called Ford, and the two then freely discussed the Commission’s work.

It was clear that de Riedmatten, the Commission’s Secretary General, had skillfully managed the session.

Philosopher and lawyer John T. Noonan, Jr., was about to publish a book about the Church’s doctrine on contraception that was in effect a massive brief for the view that the teaching could change, and de Riedmatten had arranged for Noonan to summarize his case in a two-hour plenary meeting that opened the session’s discussions.

Then, instead of focusing on the question of the birth control pill or even on the truth of the Church’s constant and very firm teaching, de Riedmatten focused on the question of whether, as he put it, the teaching was “reformable” or “irreformable.” Twelve of the nineteen members of the theological section thought that the teaching was reformable—that it could be changed.

Although aware that Paul VI was willing to have the expanded Commission examine every aspect of the matter and make as good a case as possible for any view that might be true, Ford was surprised to find the theologians so predisposed to change. Significantly, the other members of the Commission—physicians, demographers and sociologists, married couples, and pastoral workers—sat in on almost all the discussions of the theological section. As Grisez was told by Dr. Cavanagh, he and other non-theologians began to think, for the first time in their lives, that using contraceptives might be accepted by the Church.

Having heard beforehand about Noonan’s work, Ford had hoped it would be helpful. Now he was severely disappointed. In discussing the book with Grisez, Ford raised many questions about its historical accuracy, and Grisez researched some of them. Impressed with the results, Ford tried but failed to get Grisez appointed to the Pontifical Commission. From then on, however, he regarded Grisez as a junior colleague, and in the fall of 1965 the two often talked as Ford prepared to see Pope Paul again.

By then Ford had resigned from his position at the Catholic University of America effective in 1966, and had already stopped working there. But he was still living in the Jesuit residence near the University, and Grisez often visited him there.

Early in November Ford requested an audience with the Pope and was soon called to Rome. The section on marriage in Vatican II’s almost-finished document, The Church in the Modern World, was unclear about contraception, and wanting the Council to reaffirm the teaching of Casti Connubii, Pope Paul put Bishop Carlo Colombo, his personal theological advisor, to work drafting amendments. On Monday, November 22, the Pope, having called Ford in for an hour-long private audience, enlisted him to work with Colombo and told him to return the next day with the draft amendments.

When Ford returned, Paul VI told him not to leave Rome as he had planned. Ford and some of the other theologians from the Commission were sent as theological advisors to the conciliar subcommission that would deal with the amendments. However, the subcommission did not welcome the Pope’s initiative. Wishing to avoid open conflict as the Council drew to a close, Paul VI allowed the subcommission to revise the amendments. The result was that the Council left “certain issues” about the morality of contraception to be resolved after the Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate completed its work.

That outcome greatly increased both the importance and the urgency of the Commission’s work. Ford and Grisez thought Paul VI should more clearly define the questions to be addressed and should direct the Commission to deliver to him, as soon as possible, the strongest cases that could be made both for and against the propositions on which its members disagreed. Ford tried to convey that idea to Paul VI and also urged de Riedmatten to organize the Commission’s work in that way, though Ford had little hope that the Secretary General would do so without a direct order from Paul VI.

Ford’s plan was not adopted, but the Pope did reorganize the Commission, so that all its previous members became expert advisors to sixteen cardinals and other bishops, newly named to constitute the Commission.

Once again, de Riedmatten organized everything. The experts were to meet in Rome, beginning with the theologians April 19—29, 1966, continuing with various groups including a second session of the theologians May 23–28, and wrapping up with a plenary session of the experts June 5–8. The members—the sixteen prelates—were then to consider the disputed matters June 20–25, and to deliver their findings and advice to the Pope.

Easily fatigued and never entirely well, Ford found the Commission meetings tedious and disheartening. Two of the seven members of the theological section who had held the previous year that the Church’s teaching on contraception could not change were no longer meeting with the experts and one other had switched sides. So Ford now found himself a member of a minority of four.

His three colleagues were good company, however. Marcelino Zalba, S.J., and Jan Visser, C.Ss.R., were leading Catholic moral theologians who had published updated versions of multivolume manuals of the moral theology that until then was typical of their religious institutes. Stanislas de Lestapis, S.J., was not only a sociologist who had published a book, Family Planning and Modern Problems,but a truly compassionate pastor, who foresaw that Catholics who were abandoning the Church’s teachings on marriage, sex, and innocent life would experience the disastrous consequences already experienced by many non-Catholics who had embraced a secularist ethics.

Almost all the laypeople now supported change. Patrick Crowley, a Chicago lawyer, and his wife, Patricia, who had founded the Catholic Family Movement, were given ample opportunity to present anecdotal data about birth regulation gathered by methodologically questionable surveys.

At one point, de Riedmatten himself invoked certain responses Paul VI had received to questions he put in 1964 to the bishops of the world; when Ford challenged the Secretary General to produce the documentation, de Riedmatten refused—and offered the excuse that it was confidential.

One of the Commission’s most able experts was Josef Fuchs, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University and a scholar whose earlier work Ford knew and respected. The previous spring Fuchs had declared that the Church had not taught on contraception in a way that precluded change. But although proponents of change had cast about for an argument that would win his support, he had not then been willing to say that the teaching was mistaken. Now, however, Fuchs had found a satisfying rationale for the moral acceptability of using contraceptives, and was prepared to say that the Church should change her teaching. The Commission’s other proponents of change, most of them not moral theologians, gladly embraced Fuchs’s new rationale.

Delighted with the emergence of what he called “substantial consensus”—fifteen members of the theological section denied that using contraceptives is in itself morally bad, while only four still held that position—de Riedmatten quickly recorded their votes (April 28). The Secretary General later put the tallies near the beginning of his Rapport Final (see pp. 8–10) and made them one of its central features.

For the experts of the theological section, the May sessions were an anticlimax. However, a proposal was made to facilitate the work of the Commission’s members—the prelates who would meet in June—by preparing papers summarizing the opposing cases on the question: Is using contraceptives always gravely wrong? Convinced that the case for the Church’s teaching is far stronger than the case its opponents had cobbled together, Ford and his colleagues enthusiastically accepted the proposal. The other side also agreed, and a date was set for delivering the two papers.

Ford drafted the principal parts of the paper for his group; to most of his draft, his three colleagues offered only minor amendments. However, although all four favored giving an account of the other side’s underlying theory, they lacked time to work out an account they could entirely agree upon. So, the others accepted Ford’s draft with an indication that not everyone agreed with everything in that section. Fr. de Lestapis also prepared a pastoral supplement, which his three colleagues gladly included.

On the agreed day, Ford delivered the completed paper, which was in Latin: Status Quaestionis: Doctrina Ecclesiae Eiusque Status. Those on the other side gave an excuse for lateness and delivered their paper, also in Latin, a few days later: Documentum Syntheticum de Moralitate Regulationis Nativitatum. When later telling Grisez what had happened, Ford wryly observed that the document’s drafters had made good use of the extra time.

During those spring sessions, Ford had sent Grisez occasional letters, briefly reporting developments and asking him to research a few things. Contrary to later reports, however, Grisez was not at all involved in the preparation ofStatus Quaestionis. He first learned of it and of Documentum Syntheticum when both documents arrived in his mail at Georgetown with Ford’s request for comments. Just finishing the spring semester at the time, Grisez set to work and soon sent many pages of comments: Grisez’s Critique of the Two Papers.

Ford received the first batch of comments just as the final session of the experts (June 5–8) was about to begin. Most of the experts would leave after that session, but some, including ten of the theologians—seven from the majority and Visser, Zalba, and Ford from the minority—would remain to sit in on the session of the members (June 20–25). With little time and much to do to prepare for that session, Ford telephoned Grisez and asked him to fly to Rome to lend a hand.

Grisez arrived in Rome on June 8, and was helped by Francis Furlong, S.J., Rector of the Collegio Bellarmino, to settle in a room near Ford’s. That evening, Ford took Grisez out to dinner and sightseeing. The next morning, the two began what would be a daily routine: Mass, a quick breakfast, and work.

Ford explained that the prospects for the coming session were not bright. Karol Wojtyła, Archbishop of Kraków, would have been an able defender of the Church’s teaching, but the word was that harassment by the Polish authorities would keep him from coming. No doubt he would in due course make his contribution directly to Pope Paul.

Five of the fifteen members who were coming—Cardinals Suenens, Döpfner, and Joseph Lefebvre (not to be confused with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre); Archbishop Dearden; and Bishop Reuss—were known proponents of change on contraception. Cardinal Shehan and Bishop Dupuy of Albi probably shared their view. Cardinal Gracias from India, Archbishop Zoa from Cameroon, Archbishop Palido-Méndez from Venezuela, and Archbishop Morris from Ireland were unknown quantities.

In 1964 Cardinal Heenan had led the British bishops in countering the Dutch bishops’ support of the pill, but lately he seemed more hesitant. Only Cardinal Ottaviani, Archbishop Binz, and Bishop Colombo were certainly opposed to change, and Colombo still thought the pill was somehow different from the contraceptives that had always been condemned. Plainly, Ford observed, when Pope Paul reorganized the Commission, he hardly tried to load it against change; rather, he wanted to give the proponents of change every opportunity to make their case.

Ford wanted to meet, if possible, with Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop Morris, and other prelates when they arrived in Rome and before their session was to begin—in just eleven days. They would have already received Status Quaestionis,but he wanted something else to give them: a presentation of the case against change such as a skillful debater would make. He hoped it would not only firm up their thinking on the issue but make its way into de Riedmatten’s report, thus providing Pope Paul with a more rounded case than Ford had been able to present in Status Quaestionis.

Grisez proposed making the case by formulating a series of questions and treating each in just one page. Ford at once accepted the idea. The two formulated thirteen questions and outlined the answers, and Grisez set to work drafting. As he completed each page, Ford worked on it. Then they revised the entire draft, and Grisez typed what they expected to be the final version, which they titled: The Church and Contraception.

Ford and Grisez were able to meet with, and deliver the document to, Cardinals Heenan and Gracias and Archbishop Morris. Cardinal Heenan was noncommittal, and Archbishop Morris was anguished and considered himself unable to judge what Pope Paul should say about contraception. Cardinal Gracias, surprisingly, welcomed what Ford and Grisez had prepared, and at once began skimming it. In the event, Cardinal Gracias used a few of their pages during the members’ session, but de Riedmatten did not mention them in his report.

Ford had heard that some of the theologians promoting change were working on a schema—that is, a draft—of a possible papal document promulgating what they expected to be the Church’s new doctrine. While nothing had been said about such a schema during the sessions of experts, the plan seemed to be to put something before the fifteen prelates at their upcoming session. Ford did not know what he would do if that happened, but he thought he should have an alternative schema ready in case it was needed.

So, the two developed an outline, and Grisez produced a draft. After fifteen minutes of generous praise, Ford offered many “suggestions” to “improve” it. Accepting Ford’s devastating critique, Grisez scrapped most of the draft and wrote another. This one was close to what Ford had in mind, and the two worked together in correcting and polishing it. Pleased with the result, Ford translated it into Latin: Schema Quoddam Declarationis Pontificiae circa Anticonceptionem.During the whole of their stay in Rome, however, Ford never found an appropriate moment to make use of their alternative schema.

On Monday morning, June 20, Ford was among the theological experts sitting in as de Riedmatten began the session of the Commission’s members—the fifteen cardinals and bishops who were present—with a lengthy summary of the work of the Commission, from its foundation by John XXIII until the end of the recent experts’ sessions. This wasDe Riedmatten’s Relatio Generalis.

The Commission had been asked in June of 1964 to examine the precise problem of the pill; in their most recent session all the theologians but one or two had agreed that it presented no special problem. However, de Riedmatten focused in his presentation almost entirely on whether contraception is intrinsically evil. He framed his summary of the Commission’s work in quasi-factual observations suggesting that the widespread use of contraception made pastoral acceptance of it virtually inevitable. While inadequately summarizing the arguments set out by Ford and his colleagues in Status Quaestionis, he presented those inDocumentum Syntheticum at length and sympathetically.

Each of the prelates—except Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Binz, who remained silent—presented his more or less prepared intervention. There was little discussion, and no minds were changed. Some of the prelates put questions to the experts, and a few of the non-theological experts were allowed to have their say in favor of change. Before noon Wednesday, there was nothing more to say, and the prelates could have gone home. But their formal vote was not scheduled until Friday.

It was proposed that a schema be prepared for a document to be issued by the Holy Father announcing the Church’s new doctrine. The members discussed the idea and accepted it. The theologians supporting change readily agreed to deliver a draft the next morning—that is, Thursday.

Obviously prepared in advance, the draft—Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate (Schema of a Document on Resonsible Parenthood)—was discussed that day and part of the next, and some amendments were offered. Bishop Dupuy also produced a document he had brought with him entitled Pastoral Indications, which was well received by the other prelates who shared his position. With time running out on the members’ session, they left it to the theologians present who supported change and to de Riedmatten to complete the revision of the schema for delivery to Pope Paul along with the rest of the Commission’s documents.

On Friday, the prelates voted on three questions.
(1) “Whether it is the case that every contraceptive intervention—abortion and irreversible contraceptive sterilization excluded—is intrinsically illicit?”
• Nine voted no; three voted yes; and three abstained.
(2) “Do the members hold that the licitness of a contraceptive intervention— in the terms described by the majority of the Commission’s theological experts—can be affirmed in continuity with the Church’s tradition and the supreme Magisterium’s declarations about the goods of matrimony?”
• Nine voted yes; five voted no; and one abstained.
(3) “Should the supreme Magisterium speak quite soon?”
• Fourteen voted yes, and one abstained.

The nine votes firmly favoring change were those of Cardinals Suenens, Döpfner, Lefebvre, and Shehan; Archbishops Dearden, Zoa, and Palido-Méndez; and Bishops Reuss and Dupuy. The three votes that firmly rejected change were those of Cardinals Gracias and Ottaviani and Archbishop Binz.

Cardinal Heenan thought that a simple reaffirmation of the received teaching would not solve the existing problem, but he was not convinced that a new teaching along the lines supported by the majority of the theologians was possible. Archbishop Morris was the one persistent abstainer. In a written explanation, he said neither side’s arguments convinced him; he suggested that the issue be submitted to the bishops around the world. That proposal was supported by Cardinal Ottaviani, but opposed by others. Put to a vote, it was rejected eleven to four.

None of those prelates’ views surprised Ford, but the view of Paul VI’s personal theologian, Bishop Carlo Colombo, did. Colombo held that there were methods of contraception that the Church had always condemned, but he left open the possibility that the condemnation admitted exceptions in some cases. Although he thought the view of the majority theologians was at odds with the past teachings requiring respect for the “integrity of the conjugal act,” he also thought there might be contraceptive methods, presumably including the pill, compatible with it.

Bishop Colombo’s views surely contributed to Paul VI’s conviction that a thorough study of contraception was necessary. In rejecting Colombo’s peculiar view, as Paul VI ultimately did, the Pope—on the issue that had mainly concerned him—acted in accord with the nearly unanimous advice of the Commission’s experts and members.

Although Cardinal Ottaviani was the President of the Commission and realized that de Riedmatten’s final report to Pope Paul would be biased in favor of change, Ottaviani made no attempt to influence the Secretary General. Even before the members’ session ended, however, the Cardinal called Ford aside and asked him to stay in Rome for another week or two, to prepare a response to de Riedmatten’s report. Ford told Ottaviani about Grisez, and the Cardinal agreed that he should help.

On Saturday, June 25, the members left Rome. Six of the theologians who supported change and de Riedmatten put the finishing touches on their Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate, which was to be the final part of the Secretary General’s Rapport Final, and he put the finishing touches on the Rapport as a whole.

After delivering the document to Paul VI on Monday afternoon, June 27, de Riedmatten was to deliver a copy of it to Cardinal Ottaviani. The Cardinal asked Ford and Grisez to meet with him immediately after that. So they spent the weekend beginning to plan the response they would put together for the Cardinal.

Meanwhile, Grisez had been thinking about the poor options the Holy Father now faced, and drafted a short paper on that matter to give Ottaviani on Monday. He finished it on Saturday, and an Italian friend had a translation ready on Monday: Quali Sono le Alternative che Rimangono Aperte per il S. Padre?

Ushered to a corridor on the top floor of Palazzo del S. Uffizio late Monday afternoon, Ford and Grisez watched de Riedmatten cross the courtyard below as he arrived and, a short time later, departed. Less than a half hour after that, the door at the end of the corridor opened, and Cardinal Ottaviani, who was alone, warmly welcomed them into his private apartment, sat down with them at a low table, exchanged pleasantries, gave them a copy of the Rapport Final, and began a remarkably frank and collegial discussion of the job he wanted them to do. He was unhurried, and waited patiently as Ford translated for Grisez.

Regarding the response Ford and Grisez were to prepare, Ottaviani specified only two things. First, he wanted it in a week or ten days, if possible, for he wished to deliver it to Pope Paul soon. Second, he wanted it to answer a question he was sure the Holy Father would ask: How could all these good men have come to this conclusion? The Cardinal thought it would be very difficult for the Pope to disagree with the proponents of change unless he had a satisfying answer to that question. Ottavani did not suggest an answer; perhaps the question puzzled him too.

Ford described the thirteen questions and answers he and Grisez had written, and proposed to include them in the response. He also proposed to make a few important points about the Rapport Final rather than undertake a systematic critique. Ottaviani readily agreed to both proposals, and discussed the second with Ford in some detail. When their conversation drew to an end, Grisez presented the memorandum about options he had drawn up, and the Cardinal, apparently sincerely interested, graciously thanked him.

Skimming de Riedmatten’s final report, Ford and Grisez were appalled but not surprised by how biased it was. Toward the end, the Secretary General even rationalized its one-sidedness on the ground that those favoring change had, after all, prevailed. The two men spent many hours discussing how to answer the question Ottaviani had raised. The section ofStatus Quaestionis with which Ford’s colleagues had not completely agreed touched on the question. Grisez proposed additional ideas; Ford questioned and developed them. Grisez took notes, and they soon had an outline.

During the next week, Grisez spent almost all his time drafting and redrafting that single document, while Ford spent almost all his time drafting general and specific observations on the Rapport Final and on the Schema Documenti—which, by putting it at the Rapport’s very end, de Riedmatten made out to be the consummation of the Commission’s entire work.

On Monday, July 4, Grisez completed his assignment, and Ford completed his general observations. Ford sent Ottaviani those two parts along with a third consisting of the thirteen questions and answers, while promising delivery of a fourth part, consisting of specific observations, two days later. Ford wrote a covering letter but did not give the packet of materials a single title. It may be called Materials Prepared by Ford and Grisez at the Request of Cardinal Ottaviani.

On Wednesday, Ford completed his work on part four, and the Italian friend who had translated for him and Grisez treated them to a fine farewell dinner. Thursday, July 7, Ford and Grisez flew together to New York, and there parted. Grisez headed home for a needed week’s vacation with his family, and Ford went for health care and prepared to return to Rome to participate, from September 8 to November 17, in the second session of the thirty-first General Congregation of the Society of Jesus.

Ford never said much about that Congregation’s affairs—just enough so that Grisez realized that there, too, Ford was in a minority on many matters and that he found that work as burdensome as his work on the Commission.

During the whole stretch he worked with Ford, however, Grisez never saw him depressed or gravely anxious about how things would turn out. The key to Ford’s inner peace and unwavering hope was his childlike faith in providence. He used to say: “No matter how bad things seem, when I go to bed at the end of the day, I know I am in God’s arms and am sure everything will be all right.”

That fall, while Ford was still in Rome, there was publicity in the U.S. about a public conference to be held in Washington, D.C., involving the former Commission experts, other than Ford, from the U.S. De Riedmatten was scheduled to give the keynote address. The word was that the organizers planned to publicize the outcome of the Commission’s work so as to prepare people for a coming papal statement along the lines of the Schema Documenti.

Apparently hearing of the plan, the Pope took action. Addressing the Italian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology on October 29, 1966, just 124 days after de Riedmattten had delivered his Rapport Final, Paul VI said that the Commission’s conclusions, “it seems to me, cannot be considered definitive, because they have serious implications with respect to not a few weighty questions—questions of a doctrinal, pastoral and social order—which cannot be isolated and put to the side, but require a logical consideration in the context of the issues under study.”

Reading the address in L’Osservatore Romano, Ford airmailed that page of the paper to Grisez with a jubilant note. The day he received it, Grisez showed it to a priest-theologian who, though pro-contraception, respected Grisez’s book on the subject and remained his friend. He had come to Washington to hear de Riedmatten and the others. On reading the passage, his face went white. In the event, De Riedmatten’s presentation at the public conference was so reserved it received hardly any coverage.

About six months later, in the spring of 1967, translations of four Commission documents were leaked and published in English and French, obviously to put pressure on Pope Paul. The Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate, which de Riedmatten had included at the end of his Rapport Final, was labeled The Majority Report and misleadingly presented as the counterpart of Status Quaestionis: Doctrina Ecclesiae Eiusque Status, which was labeled The Minority Report. The latter document’s true counterpart, Documentum Syntheticum de Moralitate Regulationis Nativitatum was labeled The Majority Rebuttal.

Finally returning in January 1967 to Weston College, the place he regarded as home, Ford found that many confrères who had been friendly were so no longer, and at best treated him with cool politeness. Boston College and other Jesuit schools in the U.S were about to hire non-Catholics to teach undergraduate theology courses, and the opposition to doing so—in which Ford wholeheartedly joined—was a losing cause. Plans were being made to move the entire Weston theology program to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to be near Harvard University. Ford expected nothing good from that move, but opposing it was another unpopular and losing cause.

Amidst the abject surrender of academic authorities to the student rebellion of the late 1960s, many of the young Jesuits whom Ford strove to teach in 1967–68 treated him without respect, and some with manifest contempt. Empathetic and friendly, Ford suffered terribly from the unfriendly, even hostile, attitude of those men. Given a sabbatical for the following year, Ford offered to retire from teaching as of Janaury 6, 1969, and his resignation was readily accepted. His plan was to continue serving as well as he could, especially by carrying on the unobtrusive pastoral work he loved so much.

Meanwhile, Paul VI finally concluded his conscientious study of birth regulation. He issued Humanae vitae on July 25, 1968, but released it for publication only on Monday, July 29. The central teaching seemed to Ford entirely sound, precisely formulated, and complete. The explanation of it, however, seemed unclear and incomplete. (John Paul II would set out one theological explanation at great length in what is called his “theology of the body.”)

In preparation ever since Paul VI’s statement of October 29, 1966, a tide of straightforward dissent by many Catholic academics and more or less guarded dissent by a substantial minority of bishops, including some conferences of bishops, began. It crested only after about three months. Ford was dismayed but not surprised.

One of the few bishops who strongly and steadfastly opposed dissent in his diocese was Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Some theologians and other clerics teaching at The Catholic University of America, who provided little or no pastoral service in the diocese, issued a statement on Tuesday morning, July 30, initiating so-called theological dissent throughout the U.S. Their proximity to and relationships with certain disaffected priests serving the diocese encouraged some of the Washington priests to subscribe to a statement of pastoral dissent, which was issued Tuesday evening, July 30. (The number of signers varied, as priests added or removed their names; it peaked at fifty-four and ended with thirty-nine.)

Archbishop O’Boyle (as he preferred to be addressed) at once called on Ford for help. Ford, along with the staff members closest to the Cardinal, quickly helped him work out the policy he adopted and held to. Dissent from the teaching of the encyclical by those engaged in pastoral ministry in the diocese would not be tolerated; yet those dissenting would not, strictly speaking, be punished for doing so. Rather, their faculties—that is, the Archbishop’s official authorizations, required by Church law—to hear confessions, to preach, and/or to teach would be withdrawn unless the priests agreed not to apply their dissenting opinion when using those faculties. The rationale for this policy was that the Archbishop could not in good conscience authorize priests assisting him to do what he believed it would be wrong to do himself—wrong because potentially disastrous to souls entrusted to his care.

O’Boyle also wanted Ford to draft a pastoral letter and in other ways help deal with the dissent. On August 1, Ford called Grisez, who the evening of July 30 had been one of the few to speak out against dissent at the mass meeting at Catholic University in which the leaders of academic dissent publicized their view. Late in the afternoon of August 2, Ford and Grisez delivered their draft to the Archbishop and his inner circle. With a few amendments, he was satisfied with it, and said it would be read at all the Masses in the diocese on Sunday, August 11.

Grisez at once argued strongly and bluntly that a week’s delay was pastorally unacceptable. Startled, O’Boyle said nothing for nearly a minute. Then he asked key staff members if they could get the pastoral out that same weekend. They quickly devised a plan for doing that and began to implement it.

That evening, O’Boyle and his closest associate dined with Ford and Grisez, and the four men discussed three possible projects— a substantial pastoral booklet, clearly and briefly answering the questions the faithful were actually asking; a letter for the Archbishop to send his dissenting priests, examining the position they had taken, explaining his own, and asking them to retract; and a critique of claims made by the academic dissenters together with proposals for dealing with them. The Cardinal asked Ford and Grisez to begin work at once on the pastoral booklet; within a week they were working on the other two projects as well.

O’Boyle had provided a two-bedroom suite in an apartment hotel near his own office for Ford. He and Grisez worked there during most of August; Grisez often staying overnight. This time, they were full partners. The two also enjoyed each other’s company, and became closer friends.

The forty-eight page pastoral booklet, Sex in Marriage: Love-Giving, Life-Giving, was distributed to every family in the diocese on September 8, and subsequently reprinted by many other bishops and Catholic organizations. Eventually, more than one million copies became available in the English-speaking world. The letter to the dissenting priests became ten pages; O’Boyle completed work on it on August 10, and it was mailed out August 14. It was a factor in reducing the size of the group subscribing to the dissenting pastoral statement. The critique of claims by the academic dissenters was soon supplied to the Archbishop, but that group was dealt with by all the bishops on the board of Catholic University, and the majority, on the advice of the University’s lawyers, chose to tolerate the faculty members’ dissent.

Around the end of August, Ford returned to Weston. Although he occasionally provided helpful advice during the following months, Grisez alone continued to work full time for O’Boyle during the academic year 1968–69. (The Cardinal obtained a leave of absence for Grisez from Georgetown shortly before classes were to begin.)

At Weston, Ford found himself unable to concentrate on paperwork. He immersed himself in pastoral service, and ignored the troubling things happening in the Church and the Society of Jesus. From time to time during the following years, Grisez, usually accompanied by his wife, Jeannette, visited Ford, who always arranged a guest room for them and often took them out for sightseeing and a great meal.

For many years, Ford said Mass at a home for the elderly where he befriended the residents and served as their pastor. He also regularly visited disabled people in other institutions. Some were bitter about their sufferings, and Ford strove to promote their faith and hope—to get them to forgive God. He also spent many hours on an alcohol hot line, listening patiently to fellow alcoholics. The Grisezs always found him vivacious and happy with his work.

In 1976, in connection with a catechism project, Grisez for the first time carefully studied some of the documents of Vatican II. He realized that a passage in the Council’s document on the Church (Lumen gentium, 25) provided the basis for a powerful argument that the Church had infallibly proposed her teaching on contraception long beforeHumanae vitae. Ford had thought and argued that in 1966, but without reference to the conciliar teaching.

Grisez proposed to Ford that they publish an article together making the case. At first, Ford flatly refused. But Grisez went to work on a draft, eventually got Ford to read and criticize it, and finally persuaded him to study it sentence by sentence. The two worked together until Ford was satisfied with every sentence of the final draft, which they sent to Theological Studies, with Ford’s name first. The journal reluctantly accepted the article— “Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium” —and published it on the tenth anniversary of Humanae vitae.

During their work together over the years, Ford taught Grisez a great deal of what he knew of the classical moral theology and its methodology. In that way, Ford was Grisez’s theological mentor. That theological formation greatly helped Grisez when he undertook to write The Way of the Lord Jesus.

For the next ten years, Ford continued his pastoral work. His mind remained clear and sharp, but he gradually became less and less able to get about. He joked that they no longer made spare parts for a 1902 Ford.

On September 24, 1988, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars gave Ford its Cardinal O’Boyle Award for Defense of the Faith. The meeting was in Boston. Friends brought Ford from the Jesuit residence at Weston to receive the award in person. Grisez read the citation (in the opposite column on this page, after the publications list). Ford, plainly delighted, responded appropriately.

There was little opportunity that evening for the Grisezs to chat with Father Ford, and they never saw him again. He died less than four months later, on January 14, 1989. He was eighty-seven years old and had celebrated the sixty-eighth anniversary of entering the Jesuits the previous August.


Some of the factual statements in the preceding biography were drawn from or verified by: William P. Fischer, John C. Ford, S.J.: A Mid-Century Reformer Revisited, 1937–1969 (Ph.D. dissertation, The Catholic University of America, 2004)

Communion in the Hand? — A website with answers…

CREDIT: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

EDITOR NOTE: The Orate Frates is delighted to preview and support a new website dedicated to promoting reception of Holy Communion according to the norms of the church, and in union with the will of the holy father, Pope Benedict XVI.  In the following article you will find explanations and answers to the question of whether or not one should receive Our Lord in the Eucharist by hand or tongue?, from priest or extraordinary minister?, standing or kneeling?… I encourage all to pass this information and new site on to all you know…. JME

Extraordinary Ministers

“Extraordinary ministers” are to be employed only in extraordinary circumstances

For close to two thousand years a multitude of Church apologists believed that only those fortunate few who were ordained had the right to touch the Body of Christ. Roughly eleven centuries ago the practice of communion-in-the-hand was forbidden, and for a thousand years the Real Presence was received exclusively on the tongue.

"Very Extraordinary" Eucharistic Ministers...

In the 1960’s the Catholic Church in Belgium and Holland accepted the Protestant idea that anyone could touch communion. These early adopters of communion-in-the-hand failed to realize that Protestants had nothing to lose: only those ordained in the Catholic Church are capable of turning bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Savior – transubstantiation.

Protestants don’t believe in the Real Presence and have nothing to lose by touching “communion.” It is merely bread and wine. On the other hand, Catholics have everything to lose by treating the Real Presence carelessly or irreverently. Roman Catholicism is the cradle of the Holy Eucharist, a gift from Jesus Christ Himself at the Last Supper – an incalculable treasure available to all those who believe in and adore the Real Presence, which is God Himself.

From Belgium and Holland the practice of laypeople receiving communion-in-the-hand soon spread to other countries. Desiring not to correct a bishop of the Church, Pope Paul VI concurred and – in 1969 – issued Memoriale Domini, allowing communion-in-the-hand under specific circumstances.

By 1977 the practice of communion-in-the-hand in the U.S. was successfully sponsored by then-Archbishop Joseph Bernardin, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. By then Rome had introduced and allowed “extraordinary ministers,” laypeople who could distribute Holy Communion under “extraordinary” limited circumstances. The document authorizing the introduction of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist is an Instruction of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, issued on January 29, 1973, entitled Immensae caritatis. It authorizes the use of extraordinary ministers in “case of genuine necessity.”

What are those circumstances of genuine necessity? They are listed as whenever…

  • there is no priest, deacon, or acolyte;
  • these are prevented from administering Holy Communion because of another pastoral ministry or because of ill health or advanced age;
  • the number of the faithful requesting Holy Communion is such that the celebration of Mass or the distribution of the Eucharist outside Mass would be unduly prolonged.
  • The Instruction stipulates that:

    Since these faculties are granted only for the spiritual good of the faithful and for cases of genuine necessity priests are to remember that they are not thereby excused from the task of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful who legitimately request it, and especially from taking and giving it to the sick.

    The problem is the wording in Immensae caritatis – “unduly prolonged,” which could be 5 minutes or 55 minutes, and is completely arbitrary. Latching onto this excuse, some clergy flooded churches worldwide with volunteer extraordinary ministers. To shield the error, “extraordinary minister” was eventually dropped in favor of the more acceptable term “eucharistic minister.”

    Yet even this euphemism cannot hide the simple fact that the practice is reserved for “extraordinary circumstances,” and not for everyday usage. Thus the abuse of communion-in-the-hand was mirrored by laypeople who – in the vast majority of cases – should never be allowed to touch the Real Presence for the simple reason that circumstances seldom demand it. Their hands, simply put, are not ordained.

    Receive Holy Communion reverently on your tongue and, if possible, kneeling.  Never accept Holy Communion in your hand. No priest in the world has the right to deny communion on the tongue.

    Avoid receiving Holy Communion from “extraordinary ministers” except, possibly, in extraordinary times – which seldom occur. If necessary, switch lines. The example you set will encourage more and more people to reject this unfortunate Indult.

    If you agree that communion-in-the-hand is a grave error, please tell the world!
    Forward the www.communion-in-the-hand.org link to everyone you know.
    Post it everywhere you can think of.

    Understanding The Assumption of Mary Into Heaven

    “It is sometimes said that many spiritual writings today do not sufficiently reflect the whole doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit. It is the task of specialists . . . to meditate more deeply on the working of the Holy Spirit in the history of salvation, and to ensure that Christian spiritual writings give due prominence to His life-giving action. Such a study will bring out in particular the hidden relationship between the Spirit of God and the Virgin of Nazareth, and show the influence they exert on the Church. From a more profound meditation on the truths of the Faith will flow a more vital piety.”

    Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 1974

    There is a enlightening article entitled ‘The Holy Spirit and Mary’ by Dwight P. Campbell over on Catholic Culture [CLICK HERE]. The focus of his work is on St. Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941)… “who spent much of his life developing a Marian theology which revealed “the hidden relationship between the Spirit of God and the Virgin of Nazareth”. Below is the encyclical of Pope Pius XII, declaring as dogma the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Heaven.

    Munificentissimus Deus

    Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII issued November 1, 1950

    1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

    2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

    3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has “when the fullness of time came”[2] put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

    4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.

    5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

    6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church’s supreme teaching authority.

    7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

    8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.

    9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.

    10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated.[3]

    11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” a letter in which these words are contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?”

    12. But those whom “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God”[4] gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This “outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,”[5] affirming that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church’s ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.[6] Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,[7] and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith.”[8] Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church’s ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, “all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.”[9]

    13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.

    14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.

    15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.

    16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ’s faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, “because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine.”[10]

    17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”[11]

    18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary’s as “an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin’s Assumption is something unique among men.” And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God’s Providence. “God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”[12]

    19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,[13] has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.[14] Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.[15] Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which “the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.”[16]

    20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

    21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”[17]

    22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. “You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”[18] And another very ancient writer asserts: “As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”[19]

    23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.

    24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

    25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

    26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers,[20] have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”[21]; and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.[22] Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned.[23] These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.

    27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.[24] Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,”[25] since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.

    28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care.”[26]

    29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet’s words: “I will glorify the place of my feet,”[27] he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that “you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord’s feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified.”‘ And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification “has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling.”[28]

    30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true.”[29] And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.[30]

    31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul.[31]

    32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.[32] Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: “Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?”[33] and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: “From this we can see that she is there bodily…her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude.[34]

    33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul-a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly Kingmakes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is.”[35] Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.[36]

    34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”[37]

    35. In like manner St. Francis of Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: “What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?”[38] And St. Alphonsus writes that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust.”[39]

    36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle[40] and is called by the Apostle “the pillar and ground of truth.”[41] Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady’s Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word “assumption” signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary’s Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: “This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”[42]

    37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that “keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence.”[43] Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.

    38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.

    39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium,[44] would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.[45] Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: “When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”[46]

    40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,[47] immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.[48]

    41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith-this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians-we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.

    42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.

    43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

    44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

    45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

    46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

    47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

    48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

    I, PIUS, Bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed, so defining.

    ——————————————————————————–

    ENDNOTES

    1. Rom 8:28.

    2. Gal 4:4.

    3. Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in Caelum Definienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).

    4. Acts 20:28.

    5. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.

    6. The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.

    7. Jn 14:26.

    8. Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.

    9. Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.

    10. The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).

    11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.

    12. Menaei Totius Anni.

    13. Lk 22:32.

    14. Liber Pontificalis.

    15. Ibid.

    16. Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.

    17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.

    18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.

    19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.

    20. Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St. Modestus.

    21. Ps 131:8.

    22. Ps 44:10-14ff.

    23. Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.

    24. Rv 12:1ff.

    25. Lk 1:28.

    26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.

    27. Is 61:13.

    28. St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. Mariae Virginis Sermo.

    29. St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.

    30. St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. also Mariale, q. 132.

    31. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., Illa; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2.

    32. St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.

    33. Song 8:5.

    34. St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.

    35. St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.

    36. Ibid.

    37. St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.

    38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.

    39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.

    40. Eph 5:27.

    41. I Tm 3:15.

    42. St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.

    43. Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.

    44. Gn 3:15.

    45. Rm 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.

    46. I Cor 15:54.

    47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.

    48. I Tm 1:17.

    What has been the result of the Second Vatican Council?: ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE ROMAN CURIA OFFERING THEM HIS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS Thursday, 22 December 2005

    [picapp src=”e/f/5/d/Pope_Benedict_XVI_004e.jpg?adImageId=4864100&imageId=5047489″ width=”500″ height=”377″ /]

    Your Eminences,
    Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
    Dear Brothers and Sisters,


    Expergiscere, homo:  quia pro te Deus factus est homo – Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man” (St Augustine, Sermo, 185). With the Christmas celebrations now at hand, I am opening my Meeting with you, dear collaborators of the Roman Curia, with St Augustine’s invitation to understand the true meaning of Christ’s Birth.

    I address to each one my most cordial greeting and I thank you for the sentiments of devotion and affection, effectively conveyed to me by your Cardinal Dean, to whom I address my gratitude.

    God became man for our sake: this is the message which, every year, from the silent grotto of Bethlehem spreads even to the most out-of-the-way corners of the earth. Christmas is a feast of light and peace, it is a day of inner wonder and joy that expands throughout the universe, because “God became man”. From the humble grotto of Bethlehem, the eternal Son of God, who became a tiny Child, addresses each one of us:  he calls us, invites us to be reborn in him so that, with him, we may live eternally in communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

    Our hearts brimming with the joy that comes from this knowledge, let us think back to the events of the year that is coming to an end. We have behind us great events which have left a deep mark on the life of the Church. I am thinking first and foremost of the departure of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, preceded by a long period of suffering and the gradual loss of speech. No Pope has left us such a quantity of texts as he has bequeathed to us; no previous Pope was able to visit the whole world like him and speak directly to people from all the continents.

    In the end, however, his lot was a journey of suffering and silence. Unforgettable for us are the images of Palm Sunday when, holding an olive branch and marked by pain, he came to the window and imparted the Lord’s Blessing as he himself was about to walk towards the Cross.

    Next was the scene in his Private Chapel when, holding the Crucifix, he took part in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, where he had so often led the procession carrying the Cross himself.

    Lastly came his silent Blessing on Easter Sunday, in which we saw the promise of the Resurrection, of eternal life, shine out through all his suffering. With his words and actions, the Holy Father gave us great things; equally important is the lesson he imparted to us from the chair of suffering and silence.

    In his last book “Memory and Identity” (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005), he has left us an interpretation of suffering that is not a theological or philosophical theory but a fruit that matured on his personal path of suffering which he walked, sustained by faith in the Crucified Lord. This interpretation, which he worked out in faith and which gave meaning to his suffering lived in communion with that of the Lord, spoke through his silent pain, transforming it into an important message.

    Both at the beginning and once again at the end of the book mentioned, the Pope shows that he is deeply touched by the spectacle of the power of evil, which we dramatically experienced in the century that has just ended. He says in his text:  “The evil… was not a small-scale evil…. It was an evil of gigantic proportions, an evil which availed itself of state structures in order to accomplish its wicked work, an evil built up into a system” (p. 189).

    Might evil be invincible? Is it the ultimate power of history? Because of the experience of evil, for Pope Wojty³a the question of redemption became the essential and central question of his life and thought as a Christian. Is there a limit against which the power of evil shatters? “Yes, there is”, the Pope replies in this book of his, as well as in his Encyclical on redemption.

    The power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy. Violence, the display of evil, is opposed in history – as “the totally other” of God, God’s own power – by Divine Mercy. The Lamb is stronger than the dragon, we could say together with the Book of Revelation.

    At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.

    What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it – this is how he says it – is God’s suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross:  “The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others…. In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order:  the order of love…. The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within…. It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love…. All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;… evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering…. Christ has redeemed the world:  “By his wounds we are healed’ (Is 53: 5)” (p. 189, ff.).

    All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering. Of course, we must do all we can to alleviate suffering and prevent the injustice that causes the suffering of the innocent. However, we must also do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ.

    In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world.

    The response across the world to the Pope’s death was an overwhelming demonstration of gratitude for the fact that in his ministry he offered himself totally to God for the world; a thanksgiving for the fact that in a world full of hatred and violence he taught anew love and suffering in the service of others; he showed us, so to speak, in the flesh, the Redeemer, redemption, and gave us the certainty that indeed, evil does not have the last word in the world.

    I would now like to mention, if briefly, another two events also initiated by Pope John Paul II:  they are the World Youth Day celebrated in Cologne and the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, which also ended the Year of the Eucharist inaugurated by Pope John Paul II.

    The World Youth Day has lived on as a great gift in the memory of those present. More than a million young people gathered in the City of Cologne on the Rhine River and in the neighbouring towns to listen together to the Word of God, to pray together, to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, to sing and to celebrate together, to rejoice in life and to worship and receive the Lord in the Eucharist during the great meetings on Saturday evening and Sunday. Joy simply reigned throughout those days.

    Apart from keeping order, the police had nothing to do – the Lord had gathered his family, tangibly overcoming every frontier and barrier, and in the great communion between us, he made us experience his presence.

    The motto chosen for those days – “We have come to worship him!”, contained two great images which encouraged the right approach from the outset. First there was the image of the pilgrimage, the image of the person who, looking beyond his own affairs and daily life, sets out in search of his essential destination, the truth, the right life, God.

    This image of the person on his way towards the goal of life contained another two clear indications.
    First of all, there was the invitation not to see the world that surrounds us solely as raw material with which we can do something, but to try to discover in it “the Creator’s handwriting”, the creative reason and the love from which the world was born and of which the universe speaks to us, if we pay attention, if our inner senses awaken and acquire perception of the deepest dimensions of reality.

    As a second element there is a further invitation: to listen to the historical revelation which alone can offer us the key to the interpretation of the silent mystery of creation, pointing out to us the practical way towards the true Lord of the world and of history, who conceals himself in the poverty of the stable in Bethlehem.

    The other image contained in the World Youth Day motto was the person worshipping:  “We have come to worship him”. Before any activity, before the world can change there must be worship. Worship alone sets us truly free; worship alone gives us the criteria for our action. Precisely in a world in which guiding criteria are absent and the threat exists that each person will be a law unto himself, it is fundamentally necessary to stress worship.

    For all those who were present the intense silence of that million young people remains unforgettable, a silence that united and uplifted us all when the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar. Let us cherish in our hearts the images of Cologne:  they are signs that continue to be valid. Without mentioning individual names, I would like on this occasion to thank everyone who made World Youth Day possible; but especially, let us together thank the Lord, for indeed, he alone could give us those days in the way in which we lived them.

    The word “adoration” [worship] brings us to the second great event that I wish to talk about:  the Synod of Bishops and the Year of the Eucharist. Pope John Paul II, with the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia and the Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, gave us the essential clues and at the same time, with his personal experience of Eucharistic faith, put the Church’s teaching into practice.

    Moreover, the Congregation for Divine Worship, in close connection with the Encyclical, published the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum as a practical guide to the correct implementation of the conciliar Constitution on the liturgy and liturgical reform. In addition to all this, was it really possible to say anything new, to develop further the whole of this teaching?

    This was exactly the great experience of the Synod, during which a reflection of the riches of the Eucharistic life of the Church today and the inexhaustibility of her Eucharistic faith could be perceived in the Fathers’ contributions. What the Fathers thought and expressed must be presented, in close connection with the Propositiones of the Synod, in a Post-Synodal Document.

    Here, once again, I only wish to underline that point which a little while ago we already mentioned in the context of World Youth Day:  adoration of the Risen Lord, present in the Eucharist with flesh and blood, with body and soul, with divinity and humanity.

    It is moving for me to see how everywhere in the Church the joy of Eucharistic adoration is reawakening and being fruitful. In the period of liturgical reform, Mass and adoration outside it were often seen as in opposition to one another:  it was thought that the Eucharistic Bread had not been given to us to be contemplated, but to be eaten, as a widespread objection claimed at that time.

    The experience of the prayer of the Church has already shown how nonsensical this antithesis was. Augustine had formerly said:  “…nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit;… peccemus non adorando – No one should eat this flesh without first adoring it;… we should sin were we not to adore it” (cf. Enarr. in Ps 98: 9 CCL XXXIX 1385).

    Indeed, we do not merely receive something in the Eucharist. It is the encounter and unification of persons; the person, however, who comes to meet us and desires to unite himself to us is the Son of God. Such unification can only be brought about by means of adoration.

    Receiving the Eucharist means adoring the One whom we receive. Precisely in this way and only in this way do we become one with him. Therefore, the development of Eucharistic adoration, as it took shape during the Middle Ages, was the most consistent consequence of the Eucharistic mystery itself:  only in adoration can profound and true acceptance develop. And it is precisely this personal act of encounter with the Lord that develops the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and desires to break down barriers, not only the barriers between the Lord and us but also and above all those that separate us from one another.

    The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicea:  he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things:  “The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith…” (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

    We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises:  Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

    Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

    On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

    The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

    These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

    In a word:  it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

    The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

    Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord’s gift. They are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be “faithful” and “wise” (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord’s gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator:  “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs” (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

    These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord’s service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.

    The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council’s conclusion on 7 December 1965.

    Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”. And he continues:  “Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us…”. It is necessary that “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness…” be presented in “faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another…”, retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

    It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

    However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.

    In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.

    In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other (cf. ibid.). The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term “contemporary world”, we opt for another that is more precise:  the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.

    This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described “religion within pure reason” and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.

    In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the “hypothesis of God” superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

    In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.

    The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.

    So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.

    Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.

    It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

    Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

    Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance – a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

    These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

    It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.
    On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

    Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

    It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

    The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

    The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith – a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God’s grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.

    At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for – a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.

    The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

    The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues “her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

    Those who expected that with this fundamental “yes” to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the “openness towards the world” accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

    They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.

    In our time too, the Church remains a “sign that will be opposed” (Lk 2: 34) – not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel’s opposition to human dangers and errors.

    On the contrary, it was certainly the Council’s intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.

    The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as “openness to the world”, belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.

    In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3: 15).

    This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.

    When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time. There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

    Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.

    This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council:  if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.

    Lastly, should I perhaps recall once again that 19 April this year on which, to my great surprise, the College of Cardinals elected me as the Successor of Pope John Paul II, as a Successor of St Peter on the chair of the Bishop of Rome? Such an office was far beyond anything I could ever have imagined as my vocation. It was, therefore, only with a great act of trust in God that I was able to say in obedience my “yes” to this choice. Now as then, I also ask you all for your prayer, on whose power and support I rely.

    At the same time, I would like to warmly thank all those who have welcomed me and still welcome me with great trust, goodness and understanding, accompanying me day after day with their prayers.

    Christmas is now at hand. The Lord God did not counter the threats of history with external power, as we human beings would expect according to the prospects of our world. His weapon is goodness. He revealed himself as a child, born in a stable. This is precisely how he counters with his power, completely different from the destructive powers of violence. In this very way he saves us. In this very way he shows us what saves.

    In these days of Christmas, let us go to meet him full of trust, like the shepherds, like the Wise Men of the East. Let us ask Mary to lead us to the Lord. Let us ask him himself to make his face shine upon us. Let us ask him also to defeat the violence in the world and to make us experience the power of his goodness. With these sentiments, I warmly impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing.

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    On the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae by Fr. John Corapi, S.O.L.T.

         The Catholic Church is in the process of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the prophetic and landmark encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, on human life. At the time the Holy Father promulgated the encyclical there was a general spirit of dissent in the air. This inspired document put the dissenters into yet a new orbit, even further from the center of Church teaching. Their lack of humility resulted in disobedience, ultimately resulting in moral death for them and countless others.

         What has resulted from the rejection of the principles contained in this great document is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. “Life begins at conception. Abortion begins at artificial contraception.” Pope Paul VI prophetically predicted that if artificial contraception were to become generally acceptable in society, then abortion would inevitably become just another means of artificial contraception. Today, not only have what is approaching one billion children been murdered in the name of “choice” worldwide, but a host of incredible evils have followed in the wake of the rejection of the Holy Father’s teaching on life.

         Pope John Paul II called abortion murder in the clear and inspired language of his encyclical Evangelium vitae. If a single abortion is homicide-and it is-then the cumulative result of abortion on demand is genocide. Numbers of innocent and helpless children totaling more than the population of large countries have been annihilated. Can a society that elevates such an outrage to the noble status of law be pleasing to God? Or, will God’s patience soon run out and visit an avalanche of natural disasters, wars, chaos, and economic collapse on the perpetrators of such violence and evil?

         I have no doubt whatever that the Western world is headed for collapse and annihilation, and it will be by suicide, not at the hand of terrorists or enemy states-although that may well facilitate the demise. As Abraham Lincoln asserted, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

         The Western world’s wholesale rejection of the teaching of “Humanae Vitae” ushered in a death wish that is even now well on its way to completion. Pseudo-Christian Europe has had an extremely low birthrate for decades, while the burgeoning Muslim population is growing exponentially. With the average European family having less than 2 children and the average Muslim family having 8-10 children it won’t be long until Europe as we know it will be no more. Muslims vote and they will vote to radically alter laws that facilitate gross immorality. God may use them to chastise a decadent West. I assure you they will not need bombs and bullets; mathematics will more than suffice.

         The unspiritual person cannot see reality as it is, hence they cannot discern the advancing disaster of our rejection of both common sense and proper morality. The spiritual person must pray fervently for the Spirit of God to discern reality as it is. (i.e., 1 Corinthians 2:12-16). Things such as artificial contraception, abortion, homosexual sex, and euthanasia all have something in common-They have no life in them. They are part of a death wish that when brought to its inevitable conclusion will result in the annihilation of the West as we know it, if something isn’t done to change course immediately.

         Every one of us, as disciples of Christ, must pray and sacrifice for the cause of life, and do so with earnest. The hour is late and time is now short. The battle between truth and lies, good and evil, life and death rages on toward its consummation. We know the ultimate outcome-truth, the good, and life is victorious in Christ the Conqueror. We, however, must fight the good fight. How we shall live forever is determined by how we live now. We are being called upon by the Spirit of God to be the saints of these times. How we respond to the call will dictate the rise and fall of nations, and the eternal salvation of many.

    “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

    God bless you,
    Fr. John Corapi

    Fr. John Corapi WebsiteThis blog highly recommends all the works of Fr. John Corapi and encourage you to visit his site for sound teaching on the Catholic faith.