The Catholic Church will not be changing its views on sex. It cannot and it should not .

from The Daily Telegraph

by Dr. Tim Stanley

 

The media presents us today with a typical non-story that tells us two completely unsurprising things about the Roman Catholic Church. A) The results of its family survey reveal that millions of Catholics ignore doctrinal teachings on sex and contraception and B) the Church wishes to show greater tolerance to those in broken or non-heterosexual families.

The first proposition is so unremarkable as to be not worth remarking upon. Except to say that one of the chief causes of the laity’s ignorance of what their Church teaches on sex is down to the fact that – despite the media’s claims to the contrary – the Church never talks about sex. I have never once sat through a sermon in which a priest has railed against the evils of condoms or given an illustrated lecture on the benefits of the withdrawal method. Not that I would wish Fr MacKenzie to do either. But the fact that the laity’s family and religious lives are sometimes lived at odds with each other cries out for the Church to catechise them better, preferably in school.

What the situation does not call for is a rewrite of Church doctrine: something that will not happen and which, thankfully, cannot happen. The Church cannot be wrong about one thing because it casts doubt on everything else. In other words, if the Church got it wrong on divorce, did it get it wrong on the divinity of Christ or the virginity of Mary? Every aspect of doctrine corresponds to each other – think of Catholic theology as a delicate, perfect spider’s web whose integrity of structure depends upon preserving each, precious strand. The use of contraception betrays the Church’s teaching that all sex must be unitive and procreative. The Catholics have believed that going all the way back to the early Church fathers – and they ain’t gonna change their minds now.

Indeed, the Church’s response to the survey was a very orthodox one. It has affirmed its essential teachings, including in the area of contraception. True, it has spoken of the need to “simplify and streamline procedures for the annulment of marriages” – but annulment is a perfectly Christian idea that the Church has always endorsed. True, also, that it has said that gays and lesbians should be treated in a “respectful, non-judgmental” way – but, again, this is entirely congruent with a Church doctrine that says that LGBTQ people have as much human dignity as everyone else. The Church added that there will be no movement on the subject of gay marriage. Anyone expect such a thing would be a fool: it would require a complete overhaul of the faith. Moreover, anyone who thinks that Catholics might shift on divorce is not only living in another universe but unfamiliar with Matthew 19.

We did learn some interesting things from the survey. One, as the ever incisive Luke Coppen points out, is that the laity has varying views on what the Church’s priorities should be: “While Europeans may be concerned with Communion for the remarried, Latin Americans are preoccupied by the plight of poor single mothers, Africans worry about the prohibitive cost of weddings and Asians fret about excessive pressure on schoolchildren.” In other words, obsession about sexual freedom is a Western thing. In other parts of the world, folks are more concerned with feeding themselves.

Another discovery is that Pope Francis’ determination to make the Church more humble is having an effect. The Vatican acknowledges that the child abuse scandal has shaken faith in the Church and this survey process should be seen as an effort to reconnect clerical leadership with the laity. That can only be a good thing.

Francis’ papacy represents a revitalisation of the spirit of the Church. The Pope is a perfect example of what every priest should be: energetic and compassionate. But he does not support a revolution in Church teaching and critics are deluding themselves if they expect to see one. The Catholic Church does not do change, and it shouldn’t. Not if it believes that what it believes is the Truth.

• 

 

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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20 Responses to The Catholic Church will not be changing its views on sex. It cannot and it should not .

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    “I have never once sat through a sermon in which a priest has…given an illustrated lecture on the benefits of the withdrawal method.”

    Sniff, as one wag pointed out on Tim Stanley’s blog, that’s because the Church doesn’t condone it.

    Like

  2. Toad says:

    “I have never once sat through a sermon in which a priest has railed against the evils of condoms…”
    Really, Tim? Are you very young?
    I sat through several million such sermons as a boy in the ’50’s.
    If not actually condemning condoms – then I don’t know what. “Mutual masturbation,” I remember one claret-faced cleric from Clonmel referring to their use – blushing even deeper as he did so.
    In those pre-abortion days, the clergy seemed to harangue congregations interminably about little else, eh, Gertrude?
    True, nobody seems very interested nowadays. Tempi cambi. Bigger fish to fry, possibly.

    “The Church cannot be wrong about one thing because it casts doubt on everything else.”

    Really, again? What about Limbo, then?
    And is it still all right to roast heretics, in that case?

    Like

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Roasting heretics is still encouraged, metaphorically speaking.
    http://www.cafepress.com/newoxford.37000222

    Which reminds me, I must renew my print subscription to the New Oxford Review, a great hard-hitting Catholic monthly published (of all places) in Berekely, California. Founded by an Anglo-Catholic and Catholic convert (hi, John!) about 40 or so years ago.

    Like

  4. Toad says:

    Looking at JH’s link, we get the impression that these days, we’d not only barbecue the heretics, but then eat them with a side order of fries. Unlike in The Good Old Days
    Well, why not? Is eating people wrong?
    (Depends on the person, I suppose.)

    Why shouldn’t a magazine be published in Berekley?
    You gotta a problem wid dat?

    Like

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    You say Berekley, I say Berekely. I know, let’s ask the mayor!

    Next up: Pairacleez

    Like

  6. Toad says:

    Do’h.
    Idiot Toad.

    Like

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    Not an idiot. Just a berke.

    Like

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    But you missed my point, which is that we’re both dyslexic.

    Like

  9. Toad says:

    Do you know what a “Berk” is, JH?
    In case you don’t, a hint – it’s rhyming slang. You do?
    OK.

    Like

  10. Toad says:

    …anyway, I’m up the apples to my Uncle Ned.

    Like

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    Note that I misspelt “berk”, Toad? And that was only to escape Kathleen’s vigilant eye for unwelcomed crudity, and to continue our Berkeley patter, but also to see you ask me about the Hunt, as if I was a mere colonial.

    Like

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    And that was not only to escape… is what I meant to say.

    Say hi to Uncle Ned. I’m off, too. Watching Endeavour (Inspector Morse: The Early Years)

    Like

  13. GEOFF KIERNAN says:

    All this drivel in one place at one time? Come on people lift your game, raise your sights, try a little harder…..

    Like

  14. johnhenrycn says:

    “All this drivel…”?

    I don’t mind marginal comments, but that seems a tad harsh, especially from a fellow who chooses an octagram (a gnostic symbol btw) for an avatar 😉

    Like

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    So let me call an end to all this drivel and lift my game with our National Anthem as we celebrate our nation’s founding today, July 1st. God keep our land glorious and free>

    Like

  16. I enjoyed reading your post, but I am astound from your tone and tenor. It seems you are more beholden to Church doctrine than what Jesus teaches in the Holy Book.

    Like

  17. GEOFF KIERNAN says:

    John Henry: I Just watched your video and I am as confused as ever…. What has it to do with anything???? I must stop responding, it only encourages you

    Like

  18. Toad says:

    …Well, Geoff, at least we kept off cubism.

    ” ..annulment is a perfectly Christian idea that the Church has always endorsed. “
    For annulment, read busting up established marriages (generally at a stiff price) so people can remarry.
    But let’s not call it d*v*rce.
    Or is this drivel?

    Like

  19. John says:

    As I understand Catholicism, the truth is not up for discussion, neither should it be. This is part of the appeal of Catholicism to someone who has spent years (as a heretic) trying to find the truth amidst a sea of liberalism dressed up in the albeit very colourful and exotic garb of Anglican liturgical splendour, and supposed “reason” – a “reason” which I believe, runs riot within its cloistered walls like an uncontrolled beast with the name of “freedom of thought”.
    It is to me nothing less than ridiculous for any thinking Christian to suggest that Our Lord in the Holy Spirit can hold several opinions at once, and yet that is what some of us who are as it where “outside the fold” are faced with having to reconcile as we talk about being guided by the Holy Spirit when each of us comes up with the most diverse of opinions about subjects, be it Gay marriage, Divorce, Women Priests….. and look at the mess that all that has got us into !.
    Yes God works differently in each of us through his Holy Spirit and has a plan for each of us within his body the church, but there is only one plan for his church, and that plan is based on the truth as laid down in the New Testament and taught by the fathers of the Church for 2000 years and held in trust and guardianship for future generations.
    In the final analysis of any debate on doctrine, surely one has to refer back to both traditional teaching and orthodox New Testament truths that have existed for 2000 years, rather than let debates on matters of what we should be doing, be allowed to run free and unchecked for the sake of political correctness, or the whims and fancies of today’s liberal thinkers.
    Each community has its own needs and its own priorities, yes… but the Church is one foundation with one set of rules, and I believe it is the church’s job to continue to teach what is has taught for 2000 years with love, understanding, and respect, in the knowledge that we are all human, we are all sinners, and we are all of us going to get it wrong frequently. In the end the responsibility for going against what the church teaches will be ours. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
    If we go against church teaching wilfully, then we have sinned and we will be called to account on the day of judgement. We can’t get out of that because if we believe in Catholic orthodoxy and have accepted it, then how worse the sin will be in expressly turning away from it. In the end it is not the church’s fault. The church can only tell us what is, guide us on our path, and be there when we fall, but the responsibility is ours and lives within our individual consciences; and in no way should the church “bend” to accommodate us to make our lives any easier. Being a Christian is not, and should not be an easy option. It was not easy for our Lord or his followers, so why should it be easy for us?

    Like

  20. GEOFF KIERNAN says:

    John: Sound words… Individuals in the Church make mistakes but at the assurance of Our Lord His Church, his bride, does not. “and in no way should the Church bend to accommodate us to make our lives easier” We should bend to accommodate the Bride of Christ

    Like

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