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Memories of the Humanae Vitae furore

SIR – In last week’s Catholic Herald (July 20) Stephen Bullivant accurately and comprehensively describes the feelings and responses of Catholics in this country before and after the release of Humanae Vitae in 1968.

In my own family at the time, all not long married and with children, there was much debate. Personally, I was prepared to leave the Church had Paul VI’s encyclical given assent to artificial contraception.

And that is a point overlooked in much of the analysis of those days: the great number of Catholics – people who believed that the Church also had to make sense – who might very well have left the Church had the encyclical not insisted on upholding the traditional teaching. (Stephen Bullivant cites the clear words in Pope Pius XI’s Casti Connubii in 1930.)

Conversely, I, personally, never knew or heard of anyone leaving the Church specifically because of Humanae Vitae. Would the dissenters truly have wished their Church put itself in a state of moral contradiction? And what might that Church look like today? May I suggest a lot worse.

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