Item description for Turning Point: The Inside Story of the Papal Birth Control Commission and How Humanae Vitae Changed the Life of Patty Crowley and the by Robert McClory...
Overview This eminently rereadable account of the birth control commision is a fine popular history and an incalcuable contribution to ongoing discussion about conception and the Catholic Church.
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Studio: Crossroad Classic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.96" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.67 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2000
Publisher Crossroad Classic
ISBN 0824516133 ISBN13 9780824516130
Availability 0 units.
More About Robert McClory
Robert McClory is an author, journalist, professor, and former Roman Catholic priest. He is the author of six books and a professor emeritus at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Robert McClory currently resides in the state of Illinois. Robert McClory was born in 1932.
Reviews - What do customers think about Turning Point?
Contemporary History Jan 14, 2008
"Turning Point" by Robert McClory is fascinating contemporary history. It's essential reading for those who are interested in knowing how the Catholic Church got where it is today in terms of the contraception issue.
McClory briefly discusses the history of the contraception condemnation in the church- from Pius XI's condemnation of contraception in Casti Cannubi to Pius XII's endorsement of the "rhythm method" in his address to the Italian Midwives. McClory quotes the respected historian John Noonan in saying that the condemnation of contraception has varied widely throughout history. In Leo XIII's (1878-1903) letter on the duties of married couples, he didn't even mention it. The great moral theologian Alphonsus Ligouri, in a manual for confessors, instructed them not to pry about married couples' sexual lives. But in the late 19th century, when birth rates in Europe seemed to be on the decline, the Vatican tried to take a strict policy against contraception, but without much success. In the early 20th century, a Belgian priest named Vermseersch persuaded Belgian bishops to take the Vatican directives seriously and take a hard-line stance on contraception. The hierarchy in other countries soon followed suit. After the Anglican Lambeth Conference in 1930, when the bishops allowed contraception, Vermseersch was convinced that a response to the Anglican "apostasy" was needed, and so Casti Cannubi was born. In 1951, in his address to Italian Midwives, allowed for the rhythm method. That is, if there were grave reasons for limiting births, such as economic hardship, then couples were allowed to refrain from intercourse during the wife's more fertile times of the month. These fertile times were determined by a complicated system of temperature readings.
When John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council, he was persuaded by some theologians, including the Belgian Cardinal Suenens (who would play a major role in many of the council's documents), that the teaching of Casti Connubi should at least be re-examined, and so the Papal Birth Control Commission was formed. It originally consisted of only about 15 theologians, and was mostly a discussion group. After John XXIII died, Paul VI expanded the membership of the Birth Control Commission to include laity. Among the most prominent were Pat and Patty Crowley, the founders of the Christian Family Movement (and pre-Cana, which most dioceses now require before couples can be married in the church). The Since the Crowleys' organization consisted of married couples, they were asked to survey their membership about the effects of the rhythm method on marriage. The overwhelming response was negative. Most couples wrote that it debilitated conjugal spontaneity, since they were always worried about showing too much affection to each other during the fertile periods, and since temperature readings were often inaccurate. To make a long story short, the commission voted overwhelmingly to recommend a change in the church's teaching. Jean E. Pouliot has related how Paul VI was influenced by members of the commission who came to him with their own report, and rejected the majority's advice. The main motives of the minority members, such as Fr. John F. Ford and Cardinal Ottaviani, was to preserve the teaching authority of the church, not to consider what was best for the laity. The result today is largely a "don't ask don't tell" situation in the church regarding contraception.
Anyone interested in church history and/or contemporary history will enjoy this book. In particular, I think Catholics need to read it. "Turning Point" helps readers to understand the present in terms of the past, which every good history book is supposed to do.
A betrayal most shocking, but not the last Nov 26, 2005
To everyone but diehard Catholic conservatives, the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" was a watershed papal instruction. Judging by the polls of Catholic laity on contraception and abortion, HV either spelled the end of taking Church teaching seriously or the confirmation that the Church had betrayed lay Catholics and the spirit of openness promised by Vatican II.
Robert McClory's "The Turning Point" tells the story of the papal commission on birth control, inaugurated in the early 1960s by Pope John XXIII and continued by Pope Paul VI. McClory recounts the history of the Chruch's opposition to abortion and intervention into pregnancy from the ancient world on to the anti-contraception encyclical "Casti Conubii" written under Pope Pius IX. McClorey tells how the papal commission began its work fully expecting to confirm current Church teaching on contraception. Gradually however, especially after the commission took on a few lay members, the tide began to shift. Members like Pat and Patricia Crowley of Chicago put the theologians face to face with the effects of their decrees. For the first time, Catholics who had tried their best to practice the church-approved rhythm method of contracetion were able to tell their stories. The tales they told were of strained marriages, lack of spontaneity, and "love" regulated by charts and thermometers. The commission's final report recommended a change in the Church's position on birth control.
"The Turning Point" also tells the story of how the commission's report was subverted by Vatican conservatives who valued the fantasy of Church immutability more than the truth. With admirable dispassion, McClory shows Paul VI's cowardice, indecisiveness and lack of trust in any but the most recalcitrant of his advisors. Humanae Vitae, the encyclical that resulted from the commission's work was received so poorly by the world's bishops and laity that Paul VI never wrote another encyclical. It took the iron-fisted tactics of John Paul II to force the appearance of Church unity on the topic, whether to the Church's weal or woe remains to be seen.
McClory tells his story matter-of-factly, letting the vile and the guileless speak for themselves. Of course, a factual telling of this story makes McClory an enemy in the eyes of Church partisans. And it's disquieting to witness the Church treat its children with so much malevolence and distrust. McClory has done a service to the Church that may not bear fruit for decades or centuries. The "turning point" he lays out, begun in the modern era with Humanae Vitae, is gaining strength with every Church scandal and refusal to play by moral rules that are accepted in the supposedly godless secular world.
Nearly 40 years after Humanae Vitae, the Church has become smaller, more insular, more dismissive of its members, more authoritarian and more entrenched than ever. That it has become so in the spirit of the openness of the Second Vatican Council is a betrayal of epic proportions. The question is whether the Church can redefine itself in terms of simple truth, or whether it will continue as an empty shell - acting in direct contradiction to its own sacred precepts, in ignorance of its own evil and in disdain for those it intends to protect and teach.
What If? Sep 12, 2004
A fascinating study, written in an easy to follow and understand journalistic study, of the little know Papal Commission on Birth Control which in 1966 recommended to Paul VI by a lopsided majority that the Church reform its position banning all forms of artificial birth control. Not only did the Commission make this recommendation by it was endorsed by a solid majority of a special committee composed of bishops and cardinals selected by the Pope to review the Commission's recommendation. McClory than explains why and how this recommendation was subverted by a the minority holdouts resulting in the "reconversion" of Paul VI, who initially was favorably disposed to a change, and the issuance of Paul's encyclical which banned birth control, but which failed to stifle dissent or be honored by the faithful.
McClory's book, however, is more than a history of the Commission and the politics which subverted its recommendations. It is an equally clear explanation of the arguments on both sides of the debate, as well as how and why so many members (clergy and laity) of the Commission who started out with the assumption that Church's historic position could not be altered, changed their minds during the course of the examination.