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Fifty-four years ago today began a small retreat in the remote place of Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin.
It would change the Church and the world.
At the bequest of Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, then-president of Notre Dame University, 26 people signed a document that declared academic freedom from Church authority. It was, in essence, Catholic academia's declaration of independence from the Magisterium of the Church.
Fr. William Leahy, Boston College president: "It's too bad that it was called 'a true autonomy' rather than 'a necessary autonomy.'"
The following 50 years saw Catholic higher education become secularized, losing its Catholic identity.
Fr. Joseph McShane, Fordham University president: "Our institutions have evolved, and they have always evolved to become more attuned to what the culture was about."
In 1968, one year after the infamous signing, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae to combat the world's contra-love movement of contraception. In 1967, the Land O' Lakes document had an explosive impact as a contra-truth movement, by ignoring doctrine and embracing the winds of the world.
Fr. McShane: "Prepare people for positions of real leadership by making them recognizably excellent in ways that American society would see excellence."
The Land O' Lakes document symbolized another Adam, this one in a Wisconsin paradise, pridefully choosing his own path rather than God's. As a result, countless young people lost their faith, and the United States, its soul.
One of the signers of the document was the notorious Theodore McCarrick, who would go on to become the cardinal-archbishop of Washington before being defrocked for sexual abuse and cover-up.