In the course of my week I get many letters from all kinds of good people (and a few not-so-good ones…) who express their sentiments on how Human Life International impacts their lives; and every now and then I get a letter that literally causes me to shed tears of gratitude. This week was one of those weeks. I received a letter from a former priest who had signed the “protest document” just after Humanae Vitae was released forty years ago last week, and it is one of the most touching testimonies that I have read in a long time. I would like to share the joy of this particular Humanae Vitae conversion story with you in the hope that it will touch your heart as it did mine.
Dear Fr. Euteneuer,
I have signed and am returning the Pledge of Assent to Humanae Vitae for the Laity. There is for me a special significance in signing this Pledge, and [it] will give me a peace of mind and heart that I have not experienced since 1968. In 1968 I was a young Franciscan priest studying in the Graduate School of Religious Education at Catholic University. I personally knew Fr. Charles Curran and Fr. Dan Maguire, and was a student of Fr. Robert Faricy, SJ. Since they, as well as many other professors and graduate students were signing the Protest Document, I went along and did so also.
In 1975 for personal reasons not related to any doubts or questions about the Faith, or the Church, or the Religious Life…I requested and obtained…a dispensation from Pope Paul VI returning me to the Lay State. Later, I was married in the Church and raised my two children in the Faith….I have had many conversations with my Pastor and with his assistant (who is my spiritual director) about my days as a Franciscan Priest, and have been active in many of our parish’s lay apostolate and ministries.
But I have always regretted having signed the Protest Document against Pope Paul’s teaching in 1968, and having learned a few years ago that Fr. Faricy had publicly repudiated signing the Protest, I had wished that I, too, could repudiate in some official way, having signed the Protest….And so your “Pledge” document offers me an opportunity to correct my mistake, and find healing – and telling you about all this helps me to feel that my repudiation of the Protest is now known and accepted in a kind of semi-official sort of way by an “authority” in the Church.
And thank you for reading this, thereby humoring an old man, who despite everything else, knows that he is a “priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek.”
I can’t tell you how much good this letter did for me! It reminded me that in Christ’s Kingdom it is never too late, even after forty years, to fully embrace the Truth. All of us make mistakes and all of us sin, but He gives us all a chance to be reconciled with Him and turn our sorrow into joy. Truly this dear soul has found his peace and healing through our campaign, and in some small way we have been for him a sign of God’s infinite Mercy that knows no bounds for those who truly repent! I have chosen to spread this word far and wide today as a way of honoring this priest’s desire to let his repudiation be a public testimony to others.
As the Lord said of Zacchaeus, “Truly, this day, salvation has come to this house!” (Lk 19:9). Let us all rejoice in such a complete and blessed return!