September 17, 2002

Okay I'll admit it. I am a secret fan of Pope Paul VI. Perhaps because in his indecisiveness I see some of myself; I can emphasize. This man who was thrust into the malestrom of it all by good Pope John XXIII and the Holy Spirit was assigned an extremely difficult task and he saw it through. I'm reading Hebblethwait's biography now, and you have to love Paul's humility. He was so different from our current Holy Father yet but both are so saintly.

One could say his sense of timing was off; Humane Vitae was promulgated at just about the worst possible moment in Western history and the defections from trust and belief in the Church were massive. But that he made the decision in the midst of a storm makes it all the more poignant. He stood like Don Quixote, making seemingly impossible demands of the late 1960s moderns. Or perhaps I should say he stood like Christ. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote:"It was the Catholic Church's firm stand against contraception and abortion which finally made me decide to become a Catholic . . . As the Romans treated eating as an end in itself, making themselves sick in a vomitorium so as to enable them to return to the table and stuff themselves with more delicacies, so people now end up in a sort of sexual vomitorium. The Church's stand is absolutely correct. It is to its eternal honour that it opposed contraception, even if the opposition failed. I think, historically, people will say it was a very gallant effort to prevent a moral disaster."

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