Humanae Vitae at 50
A MISUNDERSTOOD DOCUMENT
For over 25 years I have been studying, writing, and speaking about Bl. Pope Paul VI. I did research at the Paul VI Institute in Brescia, Italy; corresponded with his personal secretary, Msgr. Pasquale Macchi; visited his home church and the surrounding locale; interviewed countless persons about him; and accumulated a substantial Paul VI library (including a copy of his Testament in both Italian and his own handwriting). I reviewed his teachings and life exhaustively both before and during his papacy. I wrote a book about him entitled Pope Paul VI: Christian Values and Virtues (Crossroad Publishing Company) and have two more coming out this year (from New City Press and TAN Books) in anticipation of his canonization.
I have come away from my explorations not only with a deepened personal and professional appreciation of Paul VI, but a strengthened conviction that he was the most administratively competent, cultured, prophetic, and misunderstood pope of the 20th century, and that his most criticized endeavor, Humanae Vitae, is a watermark in Church history for reasons that are rarely understood. This encyclical is most accurately perceived as both a tragedy and a triumph that has greatly affected the identity and self-understanding of the modern Church.
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