By Patrick B. Craine

June 30, 2009 ( – In an interview with Legatus Magazine, to be published in the July/August issue, Fr. John Corapi criticizes the Canadian bishops for their rejection of Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae in their signing of the “infamous Winnipeg Statement.” The statement, released shortly after the release of the pope's encylical, undercut Paul VI's unambiguous denunciation of all use of contraception, indicating that Catholic couples might be able to use contraception in good conscience.

“One can recall what happened during the tenure of Pope Paul VI,” says Fr. Corapi in the interview, “when he came out with his landmark and prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae. Significant numbers of bishops, priests, theologians and others rejected it. They absolutely rejected it. The majority of Canadian bishops signed the infamous Winnipeg Statement that just categorically rejected Humanae Vitae. That kind of rebellion is catastrophic.”

On September 27th, 1968, two months after Humanae Vitae was put out, the Canadian Catholic Bishops released their controversial Winnipeg Statement.  The most infamous passage, paragraph 26, opens the door for the moral use of contraception, in contradiction to the pope's encyclical, saying that if a couple has “tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.”

Last September, at their annual Plenary Assembly, the Canadian Bishops released a pastoral letter entitled Liberating Potential, encouraging faithfulness to Humanae Vitae. This letter appeared to reverse the former position of the bishops, as some critics of the Winnipeg Statement have said; however, it makes no mention of the statement, and the bishops have never officially retracted the document.

The long-term effects of rejecting the papal encyclical are “profound,” says Fr. Corapi.  “The argument can be strongly made that the proliferation of abortion can pretty much be traced to artificial contraception,” he said.  “It's almost a cause-and-effect kind of thing, and Paul VI warned about that. But large numbers [of] Church leaders rejected it and were so bold as to even reject it in writing, and that's not without consequences. There were profound consequences not only in the Church but in the United States, Canada and the whole world. It's had a profound effect on de-Christianizing the culture.”

In the interview, Fr. Corapi says he blames the leadership of the Church, namely the bishops, priests, and theologians, for the large numbers of Catholics currently not attending Mass.  “You have to ask yourself why people have drifted away,” he says.  “We have control over the reasons inside the Church. You can start with the top.”

He says that he traces the problem to unfaithfulness. In the Old Testament, he says, “leadership was removed from the people of God, the chosen people, because of infidelity to the covenant.” 

To see the full interview click here:

For related coverage:

Canadian Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter Encouraging Faithfulness to Anti-Contraception Encyclical Humanae Vitae 

Canadian Catholics Ask Bishops to Retract Winnipeg Statement – Recommit to Humanae Vitae

Ottawa Archbishop Thanks Canadian Catholics who Promoted Humanae Vitae in the Last 40 Years