Next Docentium to address ‘50 years of confusion and moral free-fall’

In July 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI released an encyclical which would send tremors through the church, which continue to reverberate today.

This watershed encyclical came less than three years after the closing of the Second Vatican Council on Dec. 8, 1965. Furthermore, other events such as the high profile assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, freedom movements in Eastern Europe, and student and labor protests throughout the month of May which nearly sent France into civil war, just to name a few, make 1968 perhaps the most socially strained year since the conclusion of World War II.

How would the church respond to the cultural changes which promoted unrestrained license in all areas of life, particularly regarding sexuality? These ideas would be endorsed and epitomized, for example, in the United States at Woodstock the following summer. Catholics all over the world were waiting for an authoritative voice on these issues, particularly on the question of contraception.
Some authorities, for example many Catholic academics, preemptively rejected the forthcoming teaching of the church by declaring their independence from “authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself” (from the Land O’ Lakes Statement, July 1967). Although this statement, drafted by Notre Dame’s Father Theodore Hesburgh and his peers, was only formally endorsed by a select number of invited theologians, priests – including two bishops, and one future bishop and cardinal, the now disgraced Theodore McCarrick – its ideas were endorsed by many more throughout the world.

The moral questions addressed by Humanae Vitae cut to the heart of the main questions the world was struggling with in 1968, and continues to struggle with today, namely: What is the definition of human freedom, and what place does the Magisterium have in setting its parameters?

Please join us at the Spiritual Life Center on Thursday, Nov. 15, for the next session of our Docentium lecture series. We will talk in detail about the moral norms envisioned by Humanae Vitae, how they correspond to our unique dignity as men and women created in God’s image and likeness, and the cultural and social ramifications that come with the affirmation or rejection of those norms.
The three-fold Mission of Docentium is: To form and equip disciples of Christ with sound teaching, faithful to our Tradition; to build camaraderie in shared belief and shared interest, in the context of a shared meal; and to inspire more courageous witness in our families, parishes, workplaces, and communities.
Gates is director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center.

Want to attend?
The Docentium at the Spiritual Life Center is an evening of food, friendship, and learning.
Doors open at 6 p.m., food is served at 6:30 p.m., and at each session a new lecture will be given on some topic related to religion and culture.
The cost is $15 per person. To register, visit