More excellent reporting from NRO’s Rod Dreher in Dallas today:

The liberal Appleby made an excellent point in his address to the bishops, saying that the crisis began, in a sense, with the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, which forbade artificial birth control for Catholics. A large majority of American Catholics rejected the ruling, and a large majority of American bishops (and priests) declined to defend and promote the teaching. This event, Appleby said, marked the beginning of the bishops and the laity living in bad faith.

As Lawler, who agrees with Appleby on this diagnosis (if not the solution), wrote yesterday, the bishops “have, in short, ‘looked the other way.’ Over the years the habit has become ingrained. On one issue after another — contraception, homosexuality, abortion — bishops have developed the practice of looking the other way, papering over the gap between teaching and practice. Meanwhile, the ordinary Catholic faithful became accustomed to this mode of behavior, so that they began to view bishops as distant, abstracted figures. And so we come to today’s scandal.

“Yes, the path leads back to Humanae Vitae. And we wish to address the fundamental causes of today’s distress, we cannot avoid that history.”

This is why anybody who thinks the Friday vote on sex-abuse policy will be the end of the matter is dreaming. The battle for the Catholic Church in America has only just begun.