Father Daniel McCaffrey, STD, (on the left) in Vietnam during the war in 1969
Q. Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in the Bronx, NY. I was raised in upper Manhattan and attended Catholic schools through high school.
Q. What inspired you to become a priest?
A number of things. My mother had two brothers who were priests in the Diocese of Buffalo, NY and the fact that I was an altar boy from the 7th grade through high school. So, I was associated with priests from my earliest years. To become one was my only ambition.
Q. Then, what happened?
I was accepted into the minor seminary at Providence College in Rhode Island. After that I went through the required studies and was ordained a priest in Washington, DC in June of 1958.
Q. Where were you first assigned?
I volunteered for the Pakistan Mission in 1959 and landed there on a liberty ship in December of the same year.
Q. How long were you in Pakistan?
All together about seven years. I was the pastor of a large parish in the port city of Karachi and was able to supervise the construction of a church and rectory while there.
Q. Where did you go after Pakistan?
In 1967, I came back home on leave with the hope of returning to Pakistan to teach at the regional seminary. So, I went off to study at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy and succeeded in receiving a Doctorate in Theology.
Q. Then what?
At that time the Vietnam Conflict was raging and our country was extremely short of Catholic chaplains. I felt it was my duty to volunteer in the United States Army Chaplain Corps.
After a year in Vietnam, I spent another nineteen years on active duty serving in Korea, Germany, and Honduras as well as numerous Army installations throughout the United States. I retired from active duty after 20 years.
Q. Where did you go then?
Archbishop Beltran of Oklahoma City welcomed me into his archdiocese and encouraged me to proclaim Humanae Vitae. I’ve been doing that ever since!
Q. It’s interesting you mention Humanae Vitae and its affirmation of responsible parenthood. Tell us more.
These issues have been front and center during my 61 years as a priest. I was just ordained when the birth control pill came out on the market. Almost everyone jumped on it as a great panacea. Pope Paul VI carefully studied its ramifications and finally declared it to be contraceptive. This ruling created a tremendous push-back that has continued to this very day.
Q. Why do you think the clergy has failed to preach on this matter?
I don’t want to judge, but the fact is they didn’t! Many excuses are put forth. Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in a 1998 pastoral letter, relates what a priest told him. “I’m a priest. If I preach about what’s wrong with contraceptives, I’ll lose people.” The archbishop responded, “If priests don’t preach the Church’s message about contraception, Heaven loses people.” Well said!
Some clergy excuse themselves from mentioning the subject from the pulpit for fear of scandalizing the children. However, I can tell you from experience that a homily may be delivered in an engaging manner without scandalizing anyone while at the same time giving a clear, well-reasoned doctrinal explanation. Father Matthew Habiger, OSB, PhD and I have put together a pamphlet “Getting Beyond I Can’t” enumerating eight excuses given by clergy for not preaching Humanae Vitae. I’ll send a copy free of charge to anyone requesting it by calling my office at 405-942-4084.
Q. What can be done now?
Well, whatever it is, it must be done quickly. Today we have an urgent life and death situation on our hands.
A bishop in Germany 30 years ago begged me never to stop preaching on this cancer of contraception that was eating away at the Church. I assured him I’d always do so. Unfortunately, today the cancer has metastasized beyond one’s imagination. It has brought our Church and country to near destruction. However, I know Our Risen Lord’s promise to His people will never fail.
Q. Could you be more specific?
Well, let me tell you what I did many years ago at St. Stephen’s Church in Midland, Texas. The bishop there asked me to fill in as administrator for seven months due to an emergency situation. This gave me a chance to test out a plan to implement NFP in a parish. So, I preached at all the weekend Masses in a loving, non-judgmental way inviting them to an introductory NFP session on Monday evening. A skilled NFP instructor from Austin and her husband drove up to teach it. One hundred parishioners showed up for the class! Almost all of them signed up for further instruction. So, I flew in two other teachers from El Paso on various weekends to teach the NFP classes in order to accommodate the parishioners while they were there attending Mass, including Saturday and Sunday evenings.
To make a long story short, at the end of my stay at St. Stephen’s, 43 couples were trained in the theology and methodology of Humanae Vitae & NFP.
It’s a very preachable message! However, it must be continually proclaimed by gentle, persistent preaching at least five times over the course of a year at all the weekend Masses. Topics to be discussed may include pornography, modesty, contraception, sterilization, IVF, abortion, etc. This is not asking too much since the Culture of Death is everywhere doing the work of Satan. But to be successful, it must be done by the local priests and deacons. Our people have not rejected this teaching. They have just not heard it proclaimed!
Q. What is the role of the NFP instructor in all of this?
More than you might think! An American diocesan bishop wrote to me not so long ago that he thought, “…the Lord was lifting up many faithful and articulate lay persons to be engaged in this vital work and wondered if the Holy Spirit wanted them to be the primary servants of this task.” He may be right!
Q. What can an NFP instructor do in a parish setting?
Plenty! To be successful at this, a church community needs at least one highly-trained NFP couple salaried by the parish. This couple would be a wonderful asset for RCIA, CCD, adult education, marriage and baptismal preparation programs. Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne, Australia says without this, a parish is not serious about the prophetic teaching of Pope Paul VI and his liberating message of life and love.
Q. Where do we go from here?
I welcome the opportunity to give parish missions. As I like to say, “Have chalice, will travel!” To learn more about the possibilities just go to our website: www.nfpoutreach.org.
Q. Any final thoughts?
President Teddy Roosevelt, a Presbyterian, told a group of mothers in 1905 that the country that buys into contraception commits national suicide – a prophesy coming true today. We have the saving truth, so let your light shine!
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