In the week before the fateful meeting of Canadian bishops at Winnipeg in 1968, I accidentally met Father Edward Sheridan, S.J.. I knew that he was to be a “peritus” or advisory expert at the Winnipeg gathering. I knew also that he was of the opinion that we could rightly dissent from “Humanae Vitae”. He told me that he had just received in German an article by Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. upholding the right to dissent from the encyclical and that he hoped to take a translation of it to Winnipeg. This I found disturbing. The day before I had seen the article in English in the U.S. Catholic paper, the National Catholic Register.
That evening I phoned Bishop Ryan of Hamilton and told him of my meeting with Father Sheridan. He asked me to prepare a short note on the Rahner article with my opinion of its orthodoxy. He suggested that I send a copy for each bishop by priority post to Father George S.J., the secretary to the English speaking bishops. This I did.
After the Winnipeg meeting Bishop Ryan phoned me to say that he thought I had “let him down.” I assured him that the letter had been sent. Bishop Allen, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, told me he had not seen the letter and that it had not been circulated… Apparently Father George had shown it to Archbishop Pocock of Toronto who ordered it suppressed. Archbishop Pocock wrote me from Winnipeg and said that he had seen my letter and that I need have no fear “for the orthodoxy of the Canadian Bishops”.