Until reading this book, I was unaware of Father John C. Ford, S.J.'s contribution to the defense of the innocent in warfare. While he acknowledges this and some other contributions by Ford to moral theology (with particular regard to alcohol/substance abuse and upholding Church teaching on contraceptives), Father Genilo does a poor job of conveying the legacy of Father Ford. More seriously, this work seems uninformed by Pope John Paul II's magnificent encyclical on moral theology, Veritatis Splendor.
If we were to only consider Father Ford's contributions with regard to alcohol/substance abuse, his legacy would still be magnificent. As per a 1996 article by Robert Aufill in This Rock magazine, Father Ford was "one of the earliest Catholic proponents of addressing alcoholism as a problem having spiritual, physiological, and psychological, dimensions. Ford said that alcohol addiction is a pathology which is not consciously chosen, but he rejected the deterministic idea that alcoholism is solely a disease without any moral component....Ford's contribution to AA was therefore twofold: He drew on both religion and psychology to show alcoholism as a synthetic problem requiring a synthetic remedy, and he took seriously the quasi-compulsive nature of addiction while rejecting both absolute determinism and the attendant pitfalls of a purely therapeutic approach....In so many ways, Ford's approach to addiction and recovery remains a model of spiritual discernment for our own time."
In 1930's Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI had offered a powerful message, with regard to the clerical mandate to teach the truth on marriage and marital relations: "If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust." For his entire priesthood, it is clear that Father Ford took these words with the utmost seriousness.
As a young man, Dr. Germain Grisez collaborated closely with Father Ford. Grisez's position on contraception was explained by Russell Shaw in a 1996 Catholic World Report article: "In much over-simplified terms, the argument is this: The choice to contracept is a choice against the human good of procreation and as such can never be justified, since it is never morally right to turn one's will against a good of the person, not even for the sake of some other good...From June 1965, on, Grisez collaborated closely with Ford on [so-called papal birth control] commission-related work....[After Humanae Vitae,] The Archdiocese of Washington, DC rapidly became a center and focal point for...dissent....Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle....called in John Ford to help, and Ford called in Grisez." Considering his historic collaboration with Father Ford, Grisez receives incredibly scant treatment from Father Genilo.
While no promoter of Humanae Vitae, Leslie Woodcock Tentler explains in "Catholics and Contraception: An American History" how hints of dissent started to crop up in the mid twentieth century. For far too many years, the Catholic University of America even kept dissenter extraordinaire Father Charles Curran aboard its faculty. Why on earth would Father Genilo prominently feature Curran's feedback on the book jacket! This makes about as much sense as an endorsement from the Joker on a biography of Batman!
It is interesting that Tentler acknowledges the impact from a large scale, silent, clerical rejection of Humanae Vitae: "The result was a church where sexual ethics were seldom discussed, despite rapid change in the cultural values.... Divorce rates rose, even among regular churchgoers, as did the practice of premarital cohabitation. Birth and marriage rates declined....Many Catholics...were newly tolerant of abortion" (pp. 276, 277). Father Genilo offers no such acknowledgement. He evidences no awareness 1.) that the pill has been subsequently found to sometimes work in an abortifacient manner or 2.) the magnificent development of knowledge with regard to natural family planning - particularly NaPro Technology. He does not even bother to comment on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
According to a New Year's Day 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, it was toward the start of the 1970s that "Politicians...began to realize that, despite the Catholic Church's teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda. In some cases, church leaders actually started providing 'cover' for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights. At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a 'clear conscience.' The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen....writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion." It should be noted that Fuchs, McCormick, and Curran are treated as royalty by Father Genilo.