In this weekly email newsletter, President of Human Life International, Father Thomas J. Euteneuer, shared a letter he received that caused him “to shed tears of gratitude.” The author, a former priest who had protested Humanae Vitae in 1968, had written to tell Fr. Euteneuer about his conversion from dissident priest to his acceptance of the controversial and prophetic encyclical.
The writer of the letter had decided to sign HLI’s “Humanae Vitae Pledge,” promising loyalty to the teachings of the Catholic Church, obedience to the teachings of Humanae Vitae, and “to embrace God’s precious gift of life.”
“There is for me a special significance in signing this Pledge, and [it] will give me a peace of mind and heart that I have not experienced since 1968. In 1968 I was a young Franciscan priest studying in the Graduate School of Religious Education at Catholic University,” the man wrote.
The writer knew many who signed the document in protest of Humanae Vitae such as Fr. Charles Curran, Fr. Dan Maguire, and Fr. Robert Faricy, S.J. “Since they, as well as many other professors and graduate students were signing the Protest Document, I went along and did so also.”
“In 1975 for personal reasons not related to any doubts or questions about the Faith, or the Church, or the Religious Life...I requested and obtained...a dispensation from Pope Paul VI returning me to the Lay State. Later, I was married in the Church and raised my two children in the Faith....I have had many conversations with my Pastor and with his assistant (who is my spiritual director) about my days as a Franciscan Priest, and have been active in many of our parish's lay apostolate and ministries.”
“But I have always regretted having signed the Protest Document against Pope Paul's teaching in 1968, and having learned a few years ago that Fr. Faricy had publicly repudiated signing the Protest, I had wished that I, too, could repudiate in some official way, having signed the Protest....And so your ‘Pledge’ document offers me an opportunity to correct my mistake, and find healing - and telling you about all this helps me to feel that my repudiation of the Protest is now known and accepted in a kind of semi-official sort of way by an ‘authority’ in the Church.”
“And thank you for reading this, thereby humoring an old man, who despite everything else, knows that he is a ‘priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek.'"
Fr. Euteneuer explains that this conversion story demonstrates that: “in Christ’s Kingdom it is never too late, even after forty years, to fully embrace the Truth. All of us make mistakes and all of us sin, but He gives us all a chance to be reconciled with Him and turn our sorrow into joy.”
The HLI president chose to share the letter to honor the “priest's desire to let his repudiation be a public testimony to others.”
The pledge can be found on CNA’s site for the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae.