The history of Catholic bishops working for the enemy—consciously or unconsciously—is well-known and captured in the famous saying that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.

This article from Phillip Lawler in Catholic Culture describes what happened in the 1960’s around the issue of contraceptives

An excerpt.

“In 1966, Massachusetts became the last state in the US to legalize the sale of contraceptives. When the state legislative voted to repeal the law prohibiting their sale, the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts celebrated—and said that the victory was due to the cooperation of the Boston Catholic archdiocese.

“Legislation calling for an end to the ban on contraceptive sales was originally introduced in 1965 by a young legislator named Michael Dukakis—who would eventually become Governor of Massachusetts, and the Democratic candidate for the US presidency in 1988. When the bill finally passed, a year later, Dukakis too said that the Archdiocese of Boston was responsible.

“Is it really possible that a Catholic archdiocese was instrumental in promoting legislation that allowed for the acceptance of contraception? That is the thrust of an an astonishing article published in Boston College Magazine.

“In my book The Faithful Departed, I wrote that Cardinal Cushing was the first prominent American Catholic to advance the now-familiar argument that it is morally permissible to vote for acceptance of a practice that the Church regards as gravely immoral. Today, that “personally opposed, but…” argument is regularly invoked by supporters of legal abortion. But in the 1960s, it was used by Cardinal Cushing to justify acceptance of legal contraception.

“In 1965, as the state legislature discussed the repeal of the contraceptive ban, Cardinal Cushing said that he personally opposed the use of contraceptives. But he added, significantly: “I am also convinced that I should not impose my position—moral beliefs or religious beliefs—on those of other faiths.” To legislators weighing the merits of the bill, he said: “If your constituents want this legislation, vote for it.”

“Thus did the leader of Boston’s Church signal an end to any active Catholic opposition to legalized sale of contraceptives. But the Boston College Magazine article reveals that the archdiocese had begun quietly planning for a change in the law even before Dukakis introduced his formal bid for repeal.

“In 1963, the article reports, Cardinal Cushing was a guest on a radio call-in show. One caller asked the cardinal about his stance on the contraceptive ban, and he replied: “I have no right to impose my thinking, which is rooted in religious thought, on those who do not think as I do.”

“At the time of that broadcast, listeners in the Boston area did not know the identity of the woman who called in with the question that drew that response. But now, thanks to Boston College Magazine, we know that it was Hazel Sagoff, the executive director of Planned Parenthood. There is reason to believe that both Sagoff’s call and the cardinal’s response had been arranged in advance. Prior to the show, Sagoff had been conferring with Msgr. Francis Lally, the editor of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, and a trusted adviser to Cardinal Cushing. Sagoff had said that a bid to repeal the contraceptive ban was doomed to fail, unless legislators were confident that the cardinal would not fight the measure. Msgr. Lally had indicated that he favored an end to the ban—although he hoped that the courts would settle the issue, making legislative action unnecessary.”

Lawler writes more about a Boston bishop in in relation to the sexual abuse scandal in the Church in the paperback and Kindle edition of his book in the new preface.

“…in Boston the head of the archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, eventually accepted responsibility for the disaster and resigned. Dozens of other American bishops were equally culpable; dozens of others coddled predatory priests and covered up the evidence of their crimes. But while a number of bishops have stepped down after public revelations of their own misconduct, Cardinal Law is the only U. S. prelate who has resigned because of his failure to curb the misconduct of others.

“Looking back now [Spring 2010] on the sequence of shocking revelations that became public in 2002, it is astonishing that the casualties among the American Catholic hierarchy have been kept so low—that only a single bishop was held fully accountable for the outrage in his diocese. Thousands of children have been molested; more than $2 billion [$700 million of that in the Los Angeles Diocese] has been paid to settle legal claims; thousands of parish churches and parochial schools have been closed down so that dioceses can pay off the cost of criminal activity; countless souls have turned away from the Catholic Church in disgust. And only one Church leader has lost his job.” (Phillip Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture, Preface, (3rd page) Kindle Edition of July 2010)

The Church is not only an earthly institution for it has been destroyed in many countries in the past, yet the faith always remains, for as long as there is a priest to deliver the Eucharist bringing physical communion with Christ to the faithful, and prayer bringing spiritual communion, the Church exists, as real as the day it was founded, as real as the promise of Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail.

As the Catechism teaches:

” #752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.”