Certain official documents of the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate are published here without permission under the limitation of copyright called fair use, inasmuch as the documents on which Ford and Grisez collaborated could not be accurately understood and fairly evaluated without the otherwise unavailable Commission documents to which they were responding.

In 2011, Grisez judged that he was no longer bound to keep these documents secret for two reasons: (1) he never undertook to keep them secret; and (2) after more than forty-four years, the publication of these documents is hardly likely to harm the Church and may well benefit her.


Report on the Fourth Session of the Commission    
Set Up by the Holy See to Study the
Problems of Population, Family, and Birth-rate
Rome  —  25–28 March 1965

This document reports on the first session of the Commission after it was expanded and given a broader mandate by Pope Paul VI on June 23, 1964. Dr. John R. Cavanagh, a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist, who was appointed (as Ford also was) when the Commission was expanded, received this English-language copy of the official report from the Rev. Henri de Riedmatten, O.P., Secretary General of the Commission, and gave it to Grisez. The document bears marks Cavanagh made as he worked through it.

De Riedmatten says in the Report that he takes full responsibility for it and acknowledges that most members of the Commission were given no opportunity to check it out. However, he also mentions that he received the help of a dozen members of the group, who worked over and discussed the report with him immediately after the session ended.

Cavanagh, who had published a book on marriage in which he had faithfully adhered to the Church’s moral teachings, told Grisez that he and most of the other laypeople who participated in the session had been surprised by the views of the theologians who favored change. Hearing those views, almost all the non-theologians began to think, for the first time in their lives, that contraception might, after all, be—or be about to become—morally permissible.

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Status Quaestionis: Doctrina Ecclesiae Eiusque Status    

Ford mailed this and the next document to Grisez late in May 1966, and deleted from both documents indications of exactly what they were and who had signed them. Ford also omitted the pastoral section contributed by Fr. de Lestapis. (Although de Riedmatten included both this and the next document as appendices [6 and 5, respectively] to his Rapport Final, the copy of that report later received by Grisez lacked the appendices.)

This Latin document and the next one were among the items leaked in 1967 by proponents of change in an attempt to press Paul VI to yield—or at least to remain silent—on the morality of contraception, and probably also to foment rejection of his reaffirmation of the teaching should he eventually dare to issue one.

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Documentum Syntheticum de Moralitate Regulationis Nativitatum    

Because Ford requested comments on this document when he mailed it, Grisez made marginal notes on its pages and marked them up as he worked on it. Those notes and marks have been removed insofar as possible.

The central paragraph in this document is (4) on page 5, in which the majority theologians say that “biological fecundity . . . is to be assumed into the human sphere and regulated in it.” By that statement, they inadvertently reveal a dualistic notion of the human person, according to which human bodily functions are in themselves subhuman and become human only by being consciously taken up and rationally regulated.

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Grisez’s Comments on the Two Papers    

Ford did not explain what the two theological papers were when he sent them to Grisez with a request for comments. However, Grisez realized that they were summaries of the views of the two opposing groups of theologians participating in the Commission’s work. He consulted no one and did no research on the matters the documents treated, but made a few notes while reading them carefully and then dashed off his comments. They were meant only for Ford’s use, and Grisez was confident they would be used judiciously.

In publishing them here, Grisez asks that they be regarded as what they are, not as his considered opinions, much less as his mature views, on the matters treated.

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The Church and Contraception    

Grisez failed to save a copy of the first version of this document, which he and Ford very slightly revised and included in both English and Italian as part III of the Materials Prepared by Ford and Grisez at the Request of Cardinal Ottaviani, which is listed below.


Schema Quoddam Declarationis Pontificiae circa Anticonceptionem    

This document, prepared by Ford and Grisez, includes both the final English text, on which both men worked and on whose text they fully agreed, and the Latin translation, made by Ford alone.

With the benefit of more than forty-four years of hindsight, Grisez notices much in the draft that could be improved or even corrected. Nevertheless, he publishes this schema here because it reveals elements of his and Ford’s thinking at the time, elements not manifested in any of the other documents.

Ford never mentioned this schema to Grisez after the two returned from Rome. Did he, without telling Grisez, eventually see to it that it made its way to Paul VI or, more likely, to Ford’s fellow Jesuit, Gustave Martelet, who was widely rumored, after Humanae vitae was published, to have been its principal draftsman?

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De Riedmatten’s Relatio Generalis    

At the end of the first morning of the members’ session (June 20, 1966), during which de Riedmatten made this presentation in French, Ford sent it to Grisez with a note asking him to read and comment on it. Some of the marks Grisez made as he read it still appear. Ford had no opportunity to make use of Grisez’s comments on this document, and they were not saved.

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Rapport Final    

De Riedmatten surely was working on this report, which is written in French, throughout the spring of 1966. Parts of his Relatio Generalis, at the beginning of the members’ session, are similar to it. Since most of the report consists of tedious details, one easily sees why those who leaked certain Commission documents in 1967 chose only the Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate (which de Riedmatten put at the very end of his Rapport Final), Bishop Dupuy’s Indications Pastorales, and the summary papers of the two opposing groups of theologians.

One also can see why those who leaked the documents cleverly referred to the Schema Documenti as the “Majority Report” and the theological summary opposing change as the “Minority Report,” despite the fact that the two documents were not counterparts.

Unfortunately, the copy of the Rapport Final that Grisez received from Ford, and perhaps even the one that Ford received from Ottaviani, did not include the appendices. However, de Riedmatten in the report itself summarizes the votes by the theologians and other experts.

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Quali Sono le Alternative che Rimangono Aperte per il S. Padre?    

Grisez does not recall what led him to prepare this memorandum, but thinks it was something Ford said about his conversation with Ottaviani. Ford was not involved in planning or drafting this document, but thought the Cardinal might find it helpful. Both the English original and the Italian translation are available here.

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Materials Prepared by Ford and Grisez at the    
Request of Cardinal Ottaviani

While Ford did not assign a title to this group of materials as a whole, each of the parts either had a title or a precise description.

Part I, which Ford had contributed to but which he attributed to Grisez alone, is “Memorandum Concerning the Mentality of Those Who Would Approve Contraception” in English. Ford’s general covering letter and his summary of Part I (both in Latin) are included at the beginning of this file.

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Part II, which was entirely Ford’s work in Latin (except for two pages in 2, Appendix 2, which Grisez drafted in English), is “A Commentary in Six Rather General Points on the ‘Relatione Finali’ [that is, the ‘Rapport Final’] and on the ‘Schemata Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate’.”

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Part III is “The Church and Contraception: Thirteen One-Page Analyses of Selected Questions,” in both English and Italian. This document was a lightly edited retyping of the thirteen pages Ford and Grisez had prepared and given, before the members’ session, to Cardinals Heenan and Gracias and Archbishop Morris.

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Part IV is “Five Briefer Comments in English on ‘Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate’ prepared by Dr. Grisez and Five Longer Comments in Latin on ‘Relatione Finali’ [that is, ‘Rapport Final’] prepared by Fr. Ford.”

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The state of this entire set of materials reflects the difficult conditions under which Ford and Grisez were working.


Sex in Marriage: Love-Giving, Life-Giving    

Although Ford and Grisez did most of the work involved in preparing this booklet, a professional writer interviewed them at length, made a first draft, and later helped polish the document; several of Archbishop O’Boyle’s advisors helpfully commented on a penultimate draft; and he personally studied the final draft and amended it before approving the booklet’s publication.

Those reading this booklet today should bear in mind its purpose and the context in which it was written. It was not meant to be a theological treatise, and it responded to questions formulated as closely as possible to those actually being asked.

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