Over Eighty American Catholic Leaders Urge Support of Humanae Vitae

Deal W. Hudson
October 29, 2007

Over 80 national Catholic leaders, meeting October 25-26, adopted a statement celebrating the upcoming 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and predicted the “Church will regain Her voice… and will once again boldly proclaim to all mankind that children are the solution, not the problem.”

At its 10th annual meeting in Charleston, SC, the Catholic Leadership Conference unanimously adopted, “Humanae Vitae at 40: Why the Church Lost the Battle; How She Will Win the War.” The statement calls the July 28, 2008 anniversary of the papal encyclical on human life “an extraordinary teaching moment for the universal Church.”

A panel discussion of contraception discussed the resistance within the Church to the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Popular lecturer and writer, Christopher West, underlined the importance of the following line from the statement: “A lingering spirit of Puritanism in the culture had infected the Church, muting her voice on the glorious gift and transcendent mission of human sexuality.”

West, an expert on John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” believes that Catholics, especially in the U.S., are simply not aware of their Puritan distrust of the body that contradicts Catholic teaching on the unity of the human person.

Fr. Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life, reminded CLC attendees of the widespread dissent against the teaching on contraception. As the statement summarizes the response: “Too few bishops taught it, too few priests preached it, too few laity lived it.”

Brian Gail, the moderator of the panel, believes the “Theology of the Body” will become the heart of a “New Evangelization” that will address the individual and social problems caused by two generations relying on the pill to embrace the sexual revolution.

As the statement boldly puts it, “John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body,’ which has been likened to a theological time bomb, will detonate in our time.”

CLC participants strongly affirmed the statement’s commitment to integrating John Paul II’s teaching on marriage and sexuality into Catholic education at every level, especially “into existing teen chastity, Pre Cana, RCIA, and other engagement and marriage renewal programs.”

The focus on contraception came at an interesting moment for CLC because of the national media coverage of the decision of the Portland, Maine school board to offer contraceptives to middle-school students, ages 11 to 14. (In the wake of the coverage and the ensuing outrage, members of the school board have been back-pedaling on the decision.)

No one at CLC expressed surprise at the Portland decision. Many who spoke told of how the “contraceptive mentality” was affecting the lives of their children and the public institutions in their communities.

Brian Gail believes the struggle against contraception is far from over, even though recent medical research is revealing the dangers of it. For example, he cited a Mayo Clinic study showing that 36% of women who use hormonal contraception for a minimum of eight years prior to their first full term pregnancy will develop breast cancer.

Gail further notes the rise in sexually transmitted diseases, increased sterilization, and the drop in the birth rate among U.S. Catholics from 5.5 in 1960 to 2.1. He thinks this lower birth rate is not unrelated to the downward trend in the number of seminarians during the same period (from 50,000 to 5,000).

Compare these statistics to the 1% divorce rate among U.S. couples who use natural family planning to space children, and you see why Gail is optimistic that the wisdom of Humanae Vitae will one day be recognized.

That day may arrive sooner than we think. As Robert Novak reported on October 25, in “A New Front in the Abortion Wars,” a group of anti-abortion leaders have sent a letter to all members of Congress asking them to suspend more than $300 million of federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is the defendant in a major lawsuit in Kansas alleging “unlawful late-term abortions,” “unlawful failure to determine viability for late-term abortions,” “making false information,” and “unlawful failure to maintain records.”

The defunding of Planned Parenthood would be a historic setback to this nation’s leading broker of contraception and abortion. Indeed, it may be that in Kansas we see the first successful battle in what the CLC statement calls “an epic war for the family and civilization.”

You can download the complete Catholic Leadership Conference statement here.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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