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Posts Tagged ‘Sexuality’

Light of the World

I’m very saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, to see the liberal media bandwagon spinning and twisting the Pope’s comments on condoms.  The reality is the Church continues to rightfully teach that the use of artificial contraception in any form is dangerous due to the “de-humanizing” such practices have on human sexuality – and by extension the human person.  Despite the “spin” on the Pope’s comments by the liberal media and progressive liberal “Catholics,” nothing has changed in Church teaching.  Neither the Church, nor the Pope, approves the use of condoms or other artificial conception in any case.

First, one must understand, as many do not, that the Pope is allowed to express personal opinion on any matter he wishes – just as we all have that right.  Despite what some think, Catholicism does not hold that whatever the Pope says is automatically “official” teaching of the Church.  The Doctrine of Papal Infallibility only applies to teachings related to faith and morals, and even then, it must be specifically and clearly invoked.  Most people don’t know that the popes have very, very rarely exercised this authority, despite their voluminous writings from audiences, homilies, letters, etc.  To make an infallible statement on the teachings of Jesus Christ is a very serious process and never something done in mere casual conversation with a reporter.  In this situation, namely an extended interview with a reporter, the Pope’s comments are personal opinion, not “official” Church teaching.  Even so, again despite the “spin” put on his words, what the Pope said is consistent with Church teaching and actually shows tremendous charity on his part.

Second, most people, including many Catholics, completely fail to understand Church teaching on human sexuality.  Briefly, the Church teaches that since God is infinite love and created everything out of His infinite love, all His creation is good.   It is actually a very old heresy going back to the early days of Christianity to claim the body and sex are somehow “bad” or inherently evil.  We must also understand God created not because He had to create, but because He wanted to create out of His free will and His infinite love – which again reinforces the very goodness of His creation.

When it comes to humans, not only are we part of the goodness of God’s creation, we are even more special since we are created in His image.  How are we taught to treat gifts of great value, like a special family heirloom?  We’re taught to treat it with great care as a sign of respect to the giver of that gift – we honor the person by cherishing the gift he or she gave us.  Our humanity, which includes our sexuality, is the greatest gift we can ever receive, for it is only because of that gift that we exist.  Therefore if we truly desire to love, honor and serve the Lord, we must treat His gift, our humanity, with the absolute greatest respect.  Consequently, we must refrain from doing things which “dehumanizes” or goes against the nature of humanity – which includes things like promiscuous sex, unmarried sex, engaging in homosexual acts, abortion, artificial means to prevent the gift of human life and so forth.  All these things work to destroy our human nature – we need only look to today’s society for abundant proof of this fact.

Pope Benedict XVI, as anyone who reads his writings comes to know, is a very intelligent, scholarly and intellectual person.  While on one hand, this is very good as one can gain very deep insights by reading his work, on the other hand his is not writing which lends itself to the short sound-bites so many rely on as their sole source of information today.  As we see in this situation, one comment in a book-length interview, before the book is even released, is taken out of context and twisted to mean something else.  A society fed on nothing but sound-bites eats it up and never bothers to discover the truth for themselves.

All the headlines completely ignore this line from the Pope’s comments: “[The Church] does not regard it [use of condoms] as a real or moral solution.”  Saying it’s not “a real or moral” solution means it is not the right choice, not an “acceptable” choice and not a moral choice – in other words, it is bad and immoral.  If one bothers to read the Pope in context, he makes it clear up front that he does not approve of condom use by anyone.

However, and here’s where the charity I mentioned comes into play, the Pope goes on to say that if someone infected with a STD uses a condom to prevent disease transmission that fact (again, while not the right choice or moral choice) might indicate the beginning of a proper understanding of human sexuality in that person.  He’s really saying the first step to fixing your problem is the recognition you have a problem in the first place.  If we never recognize we have a problem, especially a moral problem, we can never begin taking steps to resolve that problem.  Only if we begin taking personal responsibility for our actions can we begin moving into the light of understanding and Truth.

Unfortunately, in all the media “spin,” we completely fail to grasp the Pope’s real message, a message applicable to all of us.  For far from being an affirmation of condom use, the Pope’s message is actually an affirmation of hope.  The hope we should all share as Christians that even the greatest sinner will eventually recognize his sins, open his heart to God, beg forgiveness and redemption and thereby gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is the Pope’s real message.  The headlines should actually proclaim:

“Pope says Hope of Redemption Possible for even the Greatest of Sinners”

Here are some links which further expound on the Pope’s true message:

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/11/excerpt-pope-benedict-xvi-discusses-condoms-and-the-spread-of-hiv.html

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/11/what-does-the-holy-father-really-say-about-condoms-in-the-new-book-janet-e-smith.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/11/the_pope_condoms_and_confusion.html

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2010/11/new-developments-on-the-pope-and-condoms.html

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Monsignor Charles Pope posted an excellent piece on the Archdiocese of Washington blog entitled “The Politician and the ‘Private’ Sin: Christine O’Donnell Runs Afoul of the ‘New Morality.’”  Msgr. Pope uses the “controversy” generated by recent airing of old video showing O’Donnell denouncing masturbation as a springboard for a discussion of the Catholic view of sexuality and masturbation.  Please follow the link above and read his full article.  Msgr. Pope’s teaching is spot-on and delivered with excellent pastoral care and wisdom.

I’m firmly convinced one of the greatest causes for a negative reaction against the Catholic Church today and for producing dissent from Church teaching by many “Catholics” is the very “closeness” of the Church herself.  Because the Church is so “familiar,” many people believe they’re complete experts on what the Church teaches based on nothing more than their own opinions and hearsay, particularly “Catholics” who vaguely recall Sister So-and-so (often a feminist dissenter – such as in my “Catholic” grade school) saying something about something in grade school Catechism class during the 1970s or 1980s.  Yet, what they think the Church teaches has little to no connection to her actual teaching.  Sexuality is a prime example.

Most people, and far too many “Catholics,” believe the Church teaches that anything connected with the body or with sex is “evil” and “dirty” – and that we should feel “guilty” for having any sort of “sinful” thought or feeling about sex.  This is pure rubbish!  Nothing could be further from the truth regarding actual Church teaching on human sexuality and the human body.

The Church has consistently taught that because Jesus was fully divine and fully human (two natures in one person), the human body is not inherently “dirty” or “evil.”  Any teaching to the contrary is heresy – and in fact the Church has fought many heresies founded upon the notion of the human body as “dirty” or “evil” since the days the early Church.  God would not have become fully human if He viewed our bodies and our sexuality as “dirty” and “evil.”  Instead, He gave us our bodies and everything associated with them, including our sexuality, as a gift of His free will.  Therefore, the Church has always held the body, and sexuality by connection, are wonderfully beautiful gifts from God.

The Church teaches that, as a gift from God, we should treat our sexuality with the utmost reverence and respect as we’d treat any other great gift given us by someone who cares deeply about us (and no one cares more about us than God).  As part of caring for and treasuring this gift, we should keep it oriented towards its divine purpose – the physical union of man and woman in marriage to produce children.  We don’t like to hear it today, but orienting our sexuality towards any other purpose goes against its nature and against God’s intention.

Instead of treating our sexuality with such respect, many of us discard it to the dung heap.  In a perverse twist of reality, our secular society claims this dung heap is “good” while Church teaching (which is the message of God and not man) is “bad.”  Secular society completely objectifies sexuality.  We are consistently taught, particularly through pornography, to treat people as nothing more than sexual objects for our self-centered sexual pleasure – including even our own bodies.  We’re taught to not worry about the true purpose of sexuality (little lone its beauty) by using contraceptives, and if those don’t work, “eliminating” the “accidental” “product” of a sexual encounter “gone wrong.”  After all, as Barack Obama believes, we wouldn’t want to “punish” anyone with a baby for a “mistake.”

We’ve truly become blind people wondering around in the dark eating from the trash heap while believing it’s a gourmet meal.  God offers us true light, true vision and a Heavenly banquet, yet we refuse His offer, believing we know better than Him the purpose of our humanity and sexuality.  The Church offers a guiding hand to help lead us blind souls into the light, yet we slap it away.  Why have we allowed Satan and his demons to blind us so?

It’s not a new problem.  It’s actually a very old and very simple problem.  From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have acted like unruly children by “playing God” and thinking they know better what’s best for them than the Father.  The solution is likewise abundantly simple.  We must submit our wills to the will of God.  We must trust that the Father does know what’s best for us.  Only in this decision do we find true freedom and authentic expression of our humanity and sexuality.

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