Archive for the ‘Evangelization’ Category

Natural Family Planning: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI essay

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:  The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse

At long last Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has commented on the priestly sex abuse scandal.  Publishing this on April 10, just six days before his 91st birthday, he has a long view of what has happened in the last 60 years.  Although I have witnessed much of this period, some of the content was surprising.   This document does not have paragraph numbers, so I have added my own (1-80).

1.  The effect of the sexual revolution on the Church (7-15). I had not realized how bad sexuality instruction was in Germany in the Sixties and perhaps even earlier.  That contributed greatly to what Benedict calls the Revolution of 1968, the year of Humanae Vitae—a battle to have an “all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms”(12).  We can see this reflected in the Majority Report of the papal birth control commission.  They proposed a big-picture morality in which contraceptive acts had no intrinsic morality but were to take their morality from those other non-contraceptive acts including those that caused pregnancy.  St. Pope Paul VI saw that their proposal could not say NO to any imaginable sex act between two consenting partners of legal age.  He called contraceptive acts “intrinsically dishonest” (HV n. 14).

2.  Problems in moral theology (16-31). I was interested in his comments about the post-Vatican II efforts to abandon a natural-law theology and to focus on a biblical theology. I’m glad that I wasn’t aware of this battle; it might have cowed me into never articulating the covenant theology of the marriage act—“Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be, at least implicitly, a renewal of the marriage covenant.”  “Covenant” is a basic biblical theme, and this brief theological statement applies to all the sexual acts condemned as sinful in the Bible.

3.  Seminaries and canon law (32-49). I had no idea how bad the situation was in some seminaries. “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries…”(33).  In the seminary I attended, the rule book instructed us not to engage in “particular friendships” if I recall the word correctly.  At the time I assumed that meant no special cliques that break up overall community.  The idea that men could be sexually attracted to other men simply did not occur to me.  After three years in the military and graduate school, I had my first real job in New York.  I replied to an “apartment to share” ad.  After a few other questions, the two guys asked me if I was gay.  I told them that I supposed I liked a good party as well as the next guy.  I did not receive an invitation to move in with them.

4.  Meaning (50-61). I very much appreciated Benedict’s emphasis on the need for meaning.  The covenant theology of the marriage act is an effort to describe the meaning that God has built into the human sexual act.  With the biblical condemnation of all non-marital sexual acts, God makes it clear that the human sexual act is meant to be exclusively a marriage act.  And God’s Church has clarified that within marriage, the sexual act ought to be a true marriage act, for better and for worse including the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.

5.  The Holy Eucharist (62-66). It may seem strange that in a document dealing with sexual abuse Benedict has five paragraphs on the Holy Eucharist.  Perhaps this struck me because my first article was titled “Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital.”  Here I proposed a five-fold analogy between the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist and the worthy marriage act.  It was published 17 months before Humanae Vitae.  (See http://nfpandmore.org/Holy%20Communion%20-%20Eucharistic%20and%20Marital.pdf ).  This is also Chapter 4 in Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality.

The Church (67-80).  In one sense, I can understand why the priestly sexual abuse of children and young men has led some people to lose their faith in the Church.  I have a 100% different take on the matter.  To me the Scandal shows what happens when priests do not accept the teaching of the Church about sexual morality.  The fundamental idea that is behind the acceptance of marital contraception is that modern men and women can take apart what God has put together in the marriage act—making love and making  babies.  Once you accept the idea that you can take apart what God has put together in the order of love, marriage, and sexuality, there is no logical stopping point short of the practical—messing with minors is against the law.

We have  been convinced from the time we started our NFP apostolate in 1971 that it is important to explain the Church’s teaching without being bashful about our Catholicity.  In recent years we have become even more clear.  That’s why we let our clients/students read and hear the threefold promise of Jesus at the Last Supper to send the Holy Spirit to lead the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth.  The question is really this:  Do we believe the promises of Jesus?  Every person taking an NFP course under any sort of Catholic auspices ought to know these promises.

I recommend reading the commentary by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  If you have read other papal documents, you may be pleased with this: it is actually easy to read.

The good news.  Putting these things on the table for all to see is a positive step towards remedying the situation and authentic renewal within the Church, ourselves, and our culture.

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are the faithful laity?

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, an esteemed Church historian, has called for a new level of cooperation between bishops and committed lay Catholics to renew and revive the Church.  This is the subject of a full-page editorial by Robert Moynihan in the November issue of Inside the Vatican.  As the Cardinal urges and as Moynihan agrees, this could be very helpful.  “The more the hierarchy, from the Pope down, feel supported by the effective resolve of the faithful to renew and revive the Church, the more a true housecleaning can be performed, he (the Cardinal) says.”

Certainly we agree.  From our experience, however, a question arises.  Where are the bishops going to find these laity resolved to renew and revive the Church?  According to surveys, 95% to 98% of fertile-age Catholics are using unnatural forms of birth control.  As Martin Luther pointed some 500 years ago, unnatural forms of birth control are a form of sodomy.  And the sin of marital sodomy is in the same class as sins of mutually acceptable sodomy by the unmarried, whether lay or priests.  Both marital sodomy and priestly sodomy are violations of their respective covenants, both take apart what God has put together as the norm for human sexuality, and thus both are intrinsically dishonest.

Thus it is important that a screening process takes place before numbers of laity are called upon to work with the bishops for authentic renewal within the Church.  At the very least, all prospective lay cooperators should sign a statement of full acceptance of the teaching of Humanae Vitae And, of course, that should be required of all bishops who are engaged in any effort to bring about authentic renewal within the Church.

John F. Kippley

 

4. Why Believe? by J. F. Kippley

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Why believe what the Catholic Church teaches?
At the Last Supper Jesus promised three times that the Holy Spirit would guide the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth:
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you” (John 14:26; see also John 15:26; 16:12-15).
I believe that Jesus keeps his promises.

Why believe in Jesus?
     I believe that Jesus is worthy of belief because of His resurrection from the dead.  That is not true about any other religious leader.  St. Paul was emphatic: “…and if Christ has not risen, vain then is our preaching, vain too is your faith (1 Cor 15: 12-19.)  The apostles—ordinary folks, not dreamers or religious fanatics—went to their deaths witnessing that they had seen and eaten with the Resurrected Christ.
It is vitally important to realize in our hearts that God really does love us and that His commandments are for our good.  Then we will want to love Him in return and say “Amen” to the Last Supper  words of Jesus, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Replies to two common questions.
     Conflict between the Catholic faith and science?  Not true.  The Catholic Church founded most of the ancient European universities.  A list of Catholic scientists would be very long indeed.  For example, the pasteurization of milk is named after its developer, Catholic scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).  There is no contradiction between the Catholic Faith and true science.
     Moral evils by churchmen?  Of course.  Ordination does not eliminate free will and temptations.  For what the Faith looks like in practice, look at the lives of the recognized saints and also the millions of Catholics who do practice what the Church teaches.

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I wrote this brochure initially for prison inmates who asked for help to respond to attacks on their faith.  It probably has much wider applicability.   © 2017 John F. Kippley

Permission is hereby given to download single copies for free. Additional copies may also be downloaded without charge provided they are distributed for free.  See http://www.nfpandmore.org/brochure.shtml .