By John-Henry Westen

Msgr. Vincent FoyTORONTO, July 25, 2008 ( – In the upcoming edition of Catholic Insight magazine, Canada’s greatest defender of the Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae – 92-year-old Monsignor Vincent Foy – concludes his lifelong championship of the papal position on birth control.  Released today, on the 40th anniversary of the encyclical, Monsignor Foy calls on the Bishops of Canada to revoke their “Winnipeg Statement”, which he says is an unacceptable document of dissent.

Humanae Vitae presents the teaching against contraception as stemming from the law of God, not the Church, and thus as universally applicable not merely to Catholics.  However, Msgr. Foy points to a devastating letter sent by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to politicians which permits even Catholic legislators to support the legalization of contraception.

Msgr. Foy writes: “On Sept. 9, 1966, the CCCB addressed a document To the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and Welfare: on Change in the Law of Contraception. The bishops said in part: ‘We consider Article 150, which forbids giving information about contraception, as well as the sale or distribution of contraception an inadequate law today…A large number of our fellow citizens believe that this law violates their rights to be informed and helped towards responsible parenthood in accordance with their personal beliefs.’”

The CCCB letter added: “We do not conceive it our duty to oppose appropriate changes in Article 150 of the Criminal Code. Indeed, we could easily envisage an active co-operation and even leadership on the part of lay Catholics to change a law which under present conditions they might well judge to be harmful to public order and the common good.”

Msgr. Foy comments: “This incredible betrayal of Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception was a factor in the passing of a bill by the Liberal government under Pierre Trudeau, legalizing contraception (June 27, 1969).”

But that was only a lead-up to what Foy calls, “the Winnipeg disaster of Friday Sept. 27th, 1968.”   On that date, he recalls, “the Canadian bishops, gathered in Winnipeg for their annual meeting and published a Statement on Humanae vitae. After denying the sufficiency of grace for some (n.17) the bishops embraced the error of allowing married couples to break God’s law by the subterfuge of the subjective conscience. They said there were circumstances in which the couples ‘may be safely assured that whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience’ (n.26).” (see the full Winnipeg statement here: )

In his article Foy names some of the most prominent players orchestrating the original dissent from Humanae Vitae in Canada, including: Cardinal Emile Leger, Cardinal Leo Suenens, Archbishop Aurèle Plourde of Ottawa, Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, Karl Rahner, SJ, Bernard Häring, CSsR, Bernard Lonergan, SJ, Enda McDonagh, Gregory Baum, OSA, Stanley Kutz, CSB, and Leslie Dewart.

Neither the letter to politicians nor the Winnipeg Statement has ever been revoked by the Bishops of Canada.  “For forty years rebellion has been widespread in Canada,” says Foy.  “For forty years we have experienced the deadly fruit of turning away from Christ in the most critical area of life and marital love . . . Pope John Paul II called dissent from Humanae vitae the ‘Great Lie.’ This lie remains in Canada like a festering, cancerous wound.”

Despite over 40 years of struggle against the dissent, the 92-year-old prelate still sees hope.  “Yet there is hope on this 40th Anniversary of Humanae vitae,” writes Foy. “God’s grace, always sufficient, will be given mercifully and generously if there are faithful bishops, priests, religious, and laity prayerful and ready to make the sacrifices required.”

“It is a most urgent responsibility of our Canadian bishops to seek to undo the betrayal of the Winnipeg Statement,” concludes Foy. “Canadian Catholics have a right to ask their bishops for a revocation of that Statement . . . In concrete terms it is not defiance of our bishops but love of the episcopacy which leads Catholics to ask our bishops to restore orthodoxy.”

See Msgr. Foy’s full article in Catholic Insight here:

A website devoted to asking the Bishops of Canada to revoke the Winnipeg Statement: