"Decisive moments in history shape the lives of individuals and institutions, for good or ill," writes psychologist Sidney Callahan in the foreword to Robert McClory's 1995 book Turning Point: The Inside Story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and How Humanae Vitae Changed the Life of Patty Crowley and the Future of the Church.
"For good or ill." On whichever side one falls on that question, few would dispute the assertion by Callahan and McClory, a longtime NCR correspondent who died in 2015, that Pope Paul VI's issuing of Humanae Vitae in July 1968 was a history-shaping moment.
This multipart series by NCR contributors maps the influence of Humanae Vitae, the impact this teaching on birth control has had in the Catholic community and where it might be pointing us in the future.
Humanae Vitae at 50: Those who believe that that church's ban on artificial contraceptives does not matter need to hear this wake-up call: Untold numbers of women and children have died, will die and are dying right now as a direct consequence of Humanae Vitae.
Humanae Vitae at 50: The present situation rests on a significant difference between the official hierarchical teaching and the position of Catholics. The total church should be primarily concerned about moral truth, but the contemporary situation prescinds from this important issue of moral truth.
Humanae Vitae at 50: The encyclical unintentionally transformed Catholics' relationship to church authority, so that today two-thirds (66 percent) of American Catholics say that individuals should rely on their own authority in making decisions about contraception.