Skip to comments.A return to orthodoxy
Posted on 04/24/2002 11:04:04 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
Linda Chavez (back to story)
April 25, 2002
A return to orthodoxy
As the cardinals of the American Catholic Church return from their meeting with Pope John Paul II this week, expect the drumbeat to increase for the Church to abandon its teaching on human sexuality. Though cloaked in legitimate concern about the sex abuse scandal among Catholic priests, many of those leading the charge for reform have far broader aims than ridding the Church of pedophile priests.
For some 40 years now, elite opinion leaders have been openly contemptuous of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and would like to use this opportunity to prove their point. Some critics contend that it is the Church's attitude toward sex, which they believe fosters sexual repression, that is the root cause of the problem now plaguing many parishes. The solution, they argue, is for the Church to become more like other institutions, including other religious denominations, that have adopted a permissive attitude about sexual morality.
These so-called reformers' chief aim is not simply to convince the Church to abandon its position on priestly celibacy but to change its position on artificial birth control, divorce, homosexuality and abortion, as well.
The problems the American Catholic Church has gotten itself into lately didn't come about because it resisted the sexually permissive culture in which it finds itself. To the contrary, the problems stem from priests who have decided to embrace that culture, despite their vows of celibacy -- and bishops who ignored -- or worse, enabled -- what these errant priests were doing.
Most of the abuse cases now receiving such attention are not recent, however. Most stem from the period between 1965 and the early 1990s, and involved priests who were trained at a time when many American seminaries were awash with post-Vatican II "reformers" who disagreed with the Church's traditional teaching on human sexuality. As lay theologian Michael Novak has written, "In the name of this airy and future Church, all sorts of opinions and actions and policies were countenanced as 'forward-looking' that in other ages would have been seen as wanderings far from authentic faith."
We live in a society in which sexual images are all around us. Scantily clad women -- and men -- peer down from billboards on street corners and buses, and leap out of family newspapers in small-town America. Network television has become a non-stop dirty joke, with almost every sitcom relying for humor almost exclusively on sexual innuendo and tension -- and cable has gone increasing hard-core. And just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that buying, selling and possessing computer-generated images made to look like real children engaging in sexual acts -- no matter how depraved -- were protected under the First Amendment.
Anyone who resists the sexualization of our culture is labeled a prude, or worse, a sexually repressed neurotic. The culture condones, indeed encourages, premarital sex -- including homosexual sex -- even for teenagers. Illegitimacy has gone mainstream, with out-of-wedlock births accounting for about a third of all U.S. births today. Marriages rates are down, and divorce rates remain at historic highs.
This atmosphere can't help but infect everyone who lives in this society, even those who reside in rectories. And there is virtually no institution in American life aggressively resisting these trends -- including, unfortunately, not even the American Catholic Church.
Despite the Church's reputation and its official teachings that sex is permissible only with marriage -- I can't remember the last time I heard anything about personal sexual morality from the pulpit Sunday morning. I've heard plenty of homilies on social justice, lots on the dangers of materialism, an occasional mention of the general poor state of the culture, but almost nothing about personal sexual morality. I have the feeling too many priests are worried about alienating their congregants if they bring up private morality -- and perhaps some have guilty consciences themselves.
Perhaps the current crisis will have the salutary effect of a return to orthodoxy by the faithful -- those Catholics who attend Mass weekly, not just nominal Catholics whose identification with the Church is more cultural than religious. But it can't begin until the bishops themselves make Catholic teaching on these matters a priority.
Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a TownHall.com member organization.
Contact Linda Chavez | Read her biography
©2002 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
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Bump to Linda Chavez and kudos to her for calling Sean Hannity yesterday to correct the factual mistakes made by the two priests he interviewed.
However, Linda needs to distinguish between the Roman Catholic Church in America and the American Catholic Church. The latter is a heretical group. Her criticism of the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church is spot on.
Some people, I think, sometimes forget that a holy person is possible, that the holy or saintly person is, in fact, a large part of what the mission of the Church is about. Factional and denominational debates, unfortunately, often obscure this as well. Virtue, enhanced by grace and devotion, can be present in an extraordinary degree in those so graced with spiritual gifts. It's unfortunate that the current scandals supply more ammunition for an already jaded, secular, and anti-Christian culture. Perhaps this opportunity to suffer humiliation, visited upon all Catholics, may provide an opening for renewed dedication to our highest spiritual values and calling. What we are presented with is the Christ of the Way of the Cross, as always, but with a clearer message of gravity and concern. Those suffering spiritual starvation and moral injury in the culture of death need holy Christians, whatever nonsense the media may try to spin out of this. Perhaps God wants only those with the strength of character who will endure through such a crisis as this. Suffering has always been one means of purification.
I can. I heard about that and other rudimentary Christian truths during sermons at the Indult Mass at The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine during the 1990's
The priest was the incomparable Fr. Calvin Goodwin. At the time he was a Jesuit. He subsequently decamped (with permission) and joined the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).
Decrying the obvious collapse of the AmChurch is understandable. But it is not sufficient. Throw your money to those that deserve support and withold your money from those that don't.
Hey, HM, how do you delete old pinged posts in your self-search? Or do they disappear automatically? ;)
I agree. Teaching is going to have to come from the pulpit. Not just on this matter, but on all matters of faith, to bring the faithful back to the beautiful truth of the Catholic Church, The Holy Eucharist.
This is right on but many people don't know this and are unwitingly part of the American Catholic Church.
Amen. But SOME of these "shepherds" are hyenas. Time to sort them out. I am convinced that there are at least three of these "shepherds" who are as guilty as the "priests" they shelter and cover for. Everybody in the press keeps talking about the "priests" as if there weren't BISHOPS involved.