The Wineskins Burst
Between the Catholic school studies of 1963 and 1974, NORC studied the priesthood for the Catholic hierarchy, the last venture into sociology that the hierarchy would assay (NORC 1972). I shall return to this study in subsequent chapters. However, there were several items in the study that provided ominous signs for the structures of Catholicism. In the summer of 1968, after a papal commission recommended a change in birth control teaching, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae vitae, which rejected the recommendations of the commission and dismissed its arguments for change. Unfortunately for the pope, the establishment of the commission and the subsequent leaking of its majority report had already created an expectation of change. Many priests in the United States (and elsewhere) were advising married men and women to make their own decisions about methods of birth control.
When the encyclical appeared, the negative reaction throughout the Catholic world was such that Pope Paul VI never wrote