Backbone award: Cardinal Stafford

James Preece, Catholic and Loving It, has a fascinating piece by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, describing a meeting held in Baltimore in 1968 at which a gathering of priests agreed to sign up to a statement dissenting from the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Last in the line, he refused to assent to the dissent and was sworn at and ridiculed. (Cf. The Bullies of 1968.)

The article reconstructs the intimidation, bullying and hysteria of those times. Eight years on from that, I was a young adult, going through the first year of seminary, and then on to three happy years at university before going to Rome. It was an era in which one learnt how to be the only one in the room who said the "wrong" thing, how to flop to your knees when everyone else stood or sat, how to say "yes" to the teaching of the magisterium when almost everyone else said "no", how to gather a few comrades of like mind and establish a beach head, how to believe that the Church and her teaching would survive all this.

To hear of Cardinal Stafford standing firm in his "Πειρασμος" or trial immediately causes me to look on the man with a renewed respect.

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