Pope Paul encouraged the commission to pursue this line of inquiry – not expecting that the commission's work, after being leaked to the public, would be set on the same plane as his judgment.
“He never intended the commission to be a public body, or that its study should be publicized in print,” Grisez emphasized. “He thought they were going to study, and make their presentation to him, so he would understand it and think the matter through.”
This spirit of inquiry, however, had consequences he did not intend.
“When the documents were leaked in 1967, Paul VI was extremely upset about it. He sent a letter to all the bishops and cardinals who were on the commission, about the documents. It wasn't what he had in mind at all.”
In the end, the majority of commission members actually lost interest in attempting to argue that contraceptive pills could be squared with “Casti Connubii.” Instead, they simply advocated the acceptance of contraception, without attempting to reconcile this prospect with the previous teaching of the Church.
“Almost nobody, in the end, was arguing that the pill was anything different,” Grisez recalled. “In the commission documents, you wouldn't find much of a case anywhere for that – although that was the starting point for the whole thing.”
Pope Paul VI considered their work, but grew more convinced than ever that the majority position was not correct. “He became absolutely clear, in his own mind, that the pill was wrong. That led to the declaration in 'Humanae Vitae.'”
But in the public realm, the groundwork had already been laid for the disastrous reception of “Humanae Vitae” in 1968, through the leaking of the majority report that supported contraception.
Grisez hopes the new documentation he is providing might undo some of that damage, and help many people open their minds to the Church's teaching on sexuality.
“It would help the Church now, if people had a more sound notion of what did happen – an understanding of Paul VI's actual mentality, wanting to study the question without intending to hand over his authority.”
“If that were better understood,” he noted, “I think a lot of the resentment surrounding 'Humanae Vitae' could be dissolved.”
(Story continues below)
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