Pope: Church needs to promote, explain teaching on sexuality

Details, from CNS:

Permissive attitudes toward sex, cohabitation before marriage and acceptance of same-sex marriage can damage individuals and are harmful for society, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of U.S. bishops at the Vatican.

“It is in fact increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible, mature sexual ethic grounded in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost,” the pope said March 9.

Meeting the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, who were making their “ad limina” visits to report on the status of their dioceses, the pope said ignorance of or challenges to church teaching on marriage and sexuality were part of the “intellectual and ethical challenges” to evangelization in the United States today.

The pope did not focus on current tensions between the U.S. bishops and the Obama administration, particularly over health care coverage of contraception and other practices that violate church teaching. But at the beginning of his speech, Pope Benedict reiterated his concern about “threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship which need to be addressed urgently so that all men and women of faith, and the institutions they inspire, can act in accordance with their deepest moral convictions.”

Concentrating his remarks on the need to promote and explain church teaching on sexuality, the pope said the church’s key concern is “the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships.”

There’s much more.  Read it all.


  1. Why can’t he just “get on board” with the 43% of American Catholics who favor same-sex marriage….

    Some CNN anchor actually put that question to a bishop the other day on national TV. “Why can’t you just get on board????” I wish the bishop had said, “Get on board to where?”

  2. Maybe it’s time for this Pope to issue an Encyclical on human sexuality pointing out how modern notions of sexual behaviors today are de-stabilizing society.

  3. I love the Pope’s we have had in my lifetime. Each has brought new insights. Of course Pope JPI was very short time. I also find it amazing how their teaching stand up against the test of time as we are not seeing with the wisdom of Humanae Vitae. Imagine if the Bishops around the world had done then what this Pope is advising needs to be done today how our entire culture might have been far different. It should teach us all to listen when the Pope talks and bury or pride and learn to obey. I pray each day for the Pope and all our clergy for each is carrying the cross in a world that tempts them each and every day to surrender to the world. Now is the time like none other in my lifetime to stand up for our clergy and our Catholic Church. I have been focused on Bonhoeffer during this lent because of the times he went through and in many ways how similar we see things developing today. He did everything possible to try to unite the all the various faiths to come out to fight the evils very early in 1933 and to many pastors were afraid or unable to see or saw and refused to fight prefering the go along get along answer. Again, it was a time when those of faith could have made a difference. It seems like every time evil pops up, we fail to take up the call to be strong in the face of evil. The battle now is not about birth control, but overall control with the real aim of abortion forced on us all. Pray and be bold.

  4. Bonhoeffer talked about those calling for him to get on board with the Nazi’s. His reply that those who board that train will one day realize it is going to a place no one ever wants to go and those crying get on board will find themselves desperately running down the moving train in the opposite direction with obviously no postive results.

    Also, I think it is interesting when we are fighting this battle over the go along crowd now as this administration goes after core religious liberty, that we have a Pope who was a young child in Nazi Germany. I think it might give him some very special perspective on what happens when the government becomes god.

  5. Done. Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body.

  6. The Popes have been very clear on the teaching–but it has been far less clear in parish homilies, RCIA, marriage preparation and catechism classes. I usually hear about “the primacy of the individual conscience” with no reference to Church teaching.

  7. TOB is not an encyclical, and it needs to be put into a form that the common person can use. JPII’s addresses are too spread out, and the material is very dense for the the average person.
    We need more than HV and EV today.

  8. Many people have a mistaken notion of what primacy of conscience is, and how one is supposed to form their conscisnce.
    Most people think that if they disagree, and “feel” that they are right, that they are free to do what they want. And those that go a step more, claim that they have formed their conscience based on criteria that simply don’t apply because it is biased toward what they are already inclined to want to do.

  9. All aboard!! Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman, this train will be making stops at Abortion on Demand, Infanticide, Euthanasia, Polygamy, Eugenics, and then express to Religious Persecution. Please have your tickets ready.

  10. midwestlady says:

    Excellent reply which gets right to the heart of the question. We still do believe in heaven and hell, you know. Always have. It’s in scripture.

  11. midwestlady says:

    It’s already been done. What has to happen is that the Church must insist all the way down to the parish that this is what the Church teaches. No excuses, no exceptions.

  12. midwestlady says:

    They leave out the part that says the conscience must be well-formed in the teaching of the Church. And unformed conscience is not a good guide, but a map for disaster. Many people don’t possess well-formed consciences and they must be instructed to obey in that case, whether they agree or not.

    The fact that many people have lousy consciences doesn’t change what the Church teaches.

  13. midwestlady says:

    The Church’s teachings on abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization and divorce MUST be preached from the pulpits of local Catholic churches and reinforced in the normal lives of people in parishes. Only then will people take this seriously.

  14. midwestlady says:

    That’s their investment in the culture speaking, not their commitment to God. This needs to be pointed out to them. Repeatedly if needed, until they get it. The Church’s teachings need to be repeated from the local pulpit, in the confessional, from Catholic to Catholic, in the Church’s programs until it is well understood that this *IS* what the Church teaches. And the Church’s teachings are what they are to use as a “yardstick” for deciding the morality of any act.

    People now are incredibly arrogant. They all think that they are on a par with Aristotle. They’re not, and it’s shocking that I even have to say this. Most people are stuck at very low levels of moral development on instruments like Kohlberg’s scales. They simply are not capable of making moral judgments and must be told to obey. It’s the only thing large numbers of people understand.

  15. midwestlady says:

    Kohlberg’s scales:
    Stage 1: It’s only bad if you get punished, act by act.
    Stage 2: Morality is a deal you make with someone else to escape punishment, which is a risk.
    Stage 3: Moral things are conventionally good. Social pressure defines what’s good and bad. Go along to get along.
    Stage 4: Good things are things that maintain the social order. The law and order view of good & evil. Rules define morality.
    Stage 5: Emergence of talk about freedom and decision, but only from a logical point of view using tokens for authority.
    Stage 6: The actual use of universal principles that start to speak of what human persons are. This is the actual use in personal moral decision-making, not just sloganeering or repeating what the person has heard.
    What distinguishes between Stages 5 & 6 is whether civil disobedience would be an actual issue. A stage 6 person would suffer for their moral decisions; a stage 5 person is far less likely to do that, but may talk about it.

    Most of the population is very low on these scales when they make their own moral decisions, around stages 2-4 even though they may repeat things that the minority at stage 5 say in public. Stage 6 is quite rare, as you may see if push comes to shove with this religious freedom issue.

    People need to be told very plainly from the pulpit what the Church expects and what the Church will accept from them. No ifs, ands and buts. It will be the only thing more than half of them will ever comprehend. Seriously. Scientifically shown to be a fact.

  16. More on the Loss of Faith spoken about in the above linked article:

  17. midwestlady says:

    The good thing for Catholics is that the penitential cycle of going to confession after having lived and learning from repetition tends to teach moral development over a person’s lifetime, to the degree that the individual has the capacity to learn it.

    When it says in Scripture that we are made in the “image and likeness of God” it means a few things, among them that we have moral agency, we choose. It never says we are all as perfect as God in our choices while we are on this earth. We are not God.

  18. Pope Benedict speaks beautifully about love and eros in his encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”.
    “Amid this multiplicity of meanings (of “Love”), however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison.”

    This seems to me to be the greatest challenge of our time…understanding and teaching the meaning and purpose of love.

  19. Dan,

    Our priests and deacons are superbly qualified to unpack JP II’s language and make it accessible. How few there are who do so at all, and fewer still who do so regularly from the pulpit.

  20. midwestlady,

    I agree that most people are incredibly arrogant, though I don’t think that they perceive themselves on par with Aristotle. In fact, most don’t know who he is.

    A big part of the problem is the mental illness that accompanies narcissism and hedonism, which are all-pervasive today. These disorders cloud capacity for the objective thinking and rational self-assessment necessary to make it up Kohlberg’s scales.

    Because sex is not only the expression of the self and an act of spiritual surrendering of self to spouse and God in marriage, that entire anthropological paradigm gets short-circuited in habitual fornication where love is supplanted by hedonism. I think at that point people get caught between Kohlberg’s stages 2&3 as you list them below. Even here, simple obedience won’t work.

    What will work is some intervention by a gentle, pastoral soul after the individual suffers a great deal of wreckage wrought by their hedonism. At that point, they can usually be brought solidly into stages 4&5.

  21. naturgesetz says:

    I’m generally very supportive of our bishops, because they have been put in place by God as our shepherds, to exercise a threefold office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the church (diocese) under their care. In this role they have great responsibility to act in ways that draw people to Christ and to avoid driving people away. And they must rely on the clergy of their diocese to assist them in their work.

    But I think His Holiness has identified a major problem: the failure to teach effectively, the need for better catechesis.

    Some people want morality preached from the pulpits. The problem with that, as I see it, is that Catholic moral theology is highly nuanced. To really teach it requires much more than simply saying, “The Church teaches that you must not do such and such. It is gravely wrong.” There has to be a thorough explanation of the reasons why it is wrong, with clear distinctions between precisely what is wrong and what is permissible, with reference to basic moral principles such as double effect, where applicable, and temptation versus sin. You can’t reduce an encyclical to the length of a Sunday homily. From the pulpit you can tell people what they already know — the Church says this is wrong — but you can’t catechize them to the point that they see that it is not an arbitrary Church-imposed rule, but a part of the beautiful God-given human nature. There just isn’t enough time.

    IMO effective catechesis can only take place in the classroom and in study groups, and it needs to take place while people are still forming their adult consciences. Therefore the bishops need to be much more active and forceful in insisting on teaching Catholic morality in depth in schools and religious education programs, in colleges and in on-campus ministry at secular colleges. We may have had a generation in which many priests and producers of catechetical texts soft-pedaled the hard truths whether because of their own doubts, or because they were afraid that the truths would be rejected or because they thought the truths were beyond the intellectual capacity of high-schoolers; and it seems that the bishops generally kept hands off. Thankfully, our younger priests seem more attuned to presenting the moral teachings of the Church. I hope that with the guidance and encouragement of their bishops they will find ways to do so effectively through the parish schools and religious education programs.

  22. midwestlady says:

    We don’t have time to wean great masses of people, like hapless infants, off of thinking with their groins. The time that it takes for that luxury to happen has long since passed. We must teach the truth. NOW.

    The great majority of people are not CONSTITUTIONALLY ABLE to attain Levels 4 or 5 in the best of times. This has been well-shown by many studies. You have to go to where they are, which is levels 2&3 and teach them at that level.

    This means that the Church MUST teach plainly and non-equivocally what it EXPECTS and what it will ACCEPT from people. The Church has Revelation to tell it right from wrong, and that Revelation is very clear on abortion and marriage. Scripture is VERY explicit on these topics. Tradition is VERY explicit on these topics. The Church must leave no doubt in the mind of the average parishioner as to what is right and wrong. We no longer have the luxury of being able to be wishy-washy and halfway serious. We have blown that luxury out the window with years of loitering around trying to avoid the subject.

    When was the last time you heard a homily on birth control? Or abortion? or In Vitro fertilization? Or divorce? Or remarriage outside the Church? Shall I go on??

  23. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    True story: a couple years ago at my in-laws’ parish, a young priest gave a homily on artificial contraception and offered to make himself available for confession after Mass, if anyone wanted to “get right” with God on this issue.

    A sizable number of people got up and walked out. Some applauded, Letters were sent to the bishop. Within two weeks, the priest was reassigned.

    Dcn. G.

  24. midwestlady says:

    There is nothing nuanced about abortion. It’s always wrong. Period.
    Scripture speaks against it without equivocation. Tradition speaks against it without equivocation.

  25. midwestlady says:

    Deacon. That was several years ago before this showdown on the mandate. This is now. We do not have the luxury of pussyfooting around to avoid offending people any more. It never worked anyway.

  26. EKA, this was used at my wife Greta’s funeral mass in the sermon by one of the priests. I meant to ask him again afterward where it came from but never managed. Thanks for this info. I means a lot to me.

  27. midwestlady says:

    Also, people are very thin-skinned now. They are willing to swallow and elephant to avoid looking at a gnat.

    This issue with nuance is not whether the truth should be preached or not. It should because it is the truth. The nuance is in the reception. Some people will not receive the truth no matter how clearly or how plainly it is preached to them; some will. That is their choice because they, like we all, have free will. That cannot be finessed away by our fake politeness and avoidance of the topic.

  28. midwestlady says:

    I agree that a program of evangelization within the Church is necessary, and I believe that has begun in response to this crisis, and also in response to the wishes of Benedict XVI who is wise and knows we need it.

    There are many new evangelization programs, including the Catholicism project by Fr. Barron which is excellent.

  29. One of the things I discovered a long time ago is that complex issues are hard to convert into sound bites. A lot of us say I want to have something simpler, easier to understand, shorter, etc. The minute somone does, we start to look for loopholes and weak points or areas not covered as we think they should have been. I also wonder how easy it is to write something that will be translated into a zillion languages. Owners manuals or installation instructions use to be a lot better until it became neccessary for them to be transilated and they seem to have take the route of using real lousy picture diagrams. Maybe we need to have a picture book TOB. :)
    However, I think some things need to be written and spoken more directly. I know, we are supposed to teach with love, but something we get so worried about how it comes out that the message gets buried. We could have two versions. One said with love and less offensive and one for guys. :)

  30. I use to say this to a local diocesan priest friend. He invited me over to help him write the sermon for the next week. At best, with the time available for a sermon, you can mention the teaching, but it is not a place to teach it. Yet in many of these parishes, if the priest wants to devote his time to teaching, he often finds classes on the actual teacing on contraception and IVF have about 6 people show up and many already of them know as much as the priest. It is not going to happen in the sermon. At best you can try to get folks interested and remind them that it is Catholic teaching.

    There is a huge amount of information out there on the internet and in other forms for the lay person to take the time to learn. We also have to organize in the parish groups to take up the task of teaching and marketing our teaching. This made a huge difference and I give credit to my wife for the work she did over the years to put many programs together that has pulled in an educated two generations of Catholics. When she left this earth, she was averaging over 200 emails a day and I cannot even guess the number of phone calls. While some in the layity are worried about how to take up the role of the priest, they would do well to look at the role of the layity and in obedience and humility do their damn job.

  31. Good info. I need to learn more about this.

    Looks like you have a lot of talent. Curious how you work with the parish to help?

  32. We had the same thing in this dioceses a couple years ago. I have not met too many Americans that like to be given an ultimatum. We were founded by people who didn’t want to take orders and it should have been a surprise to no one when we wanted to be free of authority from England.
    Ever look at the number of people that know we are going in the wrong direction or the low rating of the government, state and federal? Even in good times we have a close eye on those in authority. We have the second amendment rights to keep and bear arms just in case they aren’t listening. However, we also have an impatience if we think someone is trying to blow smoke in a part of our anatomy off limits. We like someone who is willing to go out and lay it on the line.

    I have been thinking about a combo approach to different topics on say contraception. a straight talk mention in the sermon of the teaching and its importance, and then both an insert handout outside of mass with a write up and links on the parish website. Haven’t work out all the details yet, but meeting with our website folks to discuss it . Do a series for a month where it is mentioned at every mass, with more info added each week in the info pack handout and on line. I am putting up the money to cover the cost of a trial run.

    Does anyone have any examples of this being done successfully they can share or links?

  33. Even when the teachings on human sexuality have been very clear — and in some cases, very beautifully and positively set out — there is the big 6000 pound elephant in the room: many, many members of the hierarchy of the church (bishops, archbishops, cardinals) systematically ignored and/or covered-up devastating insults to human dignity and human sexual integrity in the form of crimes committed against children. (You can make a pretty good case, too, that John Paul II was, at best, indifferent — due to his prolonged poor health — to the horrible allegations of abuse he was hearing. At worst, John Paul stubbornly refused the supposed pleadings of his right-hand man, head of the CDF Cardinal Ratzinger, to investigate and discipline people such as Marcial Maciel and to give the CDF greater authority in quickly removing abuser-priests from the priesthood.)

    No, I am not saying the church does not have a right to speak out on matters of sexual morality and the beauty of human sexuality. What I’m saying is that there is a tremendous cost to bishops sweeping child sexual abuse cases under the carpet for decades and then (in a great many cases) using lawyers in an attempt to evade responsibility and transparency. (2002, the year the Dallas Charter took effect, ain’t ancient history. And in some dioceses — for instance, in the case of Bishop Finn in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and with Card. Rigali in Philly– it’s questionable whether the lessons of the abuse scandal have truly been taken to heart.

    There’s a cost to those sorts of crimes and that degree of deception and disregard happening IN THE CHURCH (not just in the culture at large). The first cost is that incurred by the victims and their families — the wounds that in some cases may never fully heal. The secondary cost is the way the Church’s credibility on matters of sexual integrity has been put through the ringer. And the Church really has no one to blame but itself on that one. Let’s be honest about that.

  34. midwestlady says:

    No problem with being honest about that. Yet more evidence that we don’t pay enough attention to the realities of moral development. A man should never be accepted to the seminary unless it has been ascertained that he has a very realistic potential of rising above the average level of moral development seen in the general population. What we saw in the child abuse scandals were very, very immature and stunted men with psychological defects and moral defects, preying on children.

    And the church has paid, is paying now, and will keep on paying for a while more. This paved the way for where we are now and increased our likelihood dramatically that we would become a target in the culture.

    The problem has been dealt with to some degree. The remaining part of the solution is to admit in public that homosexuality is a disorder in every case, and such behavior is never ever compatible with Christian morality or ministry.

  35. midwestlady says:

    Yet, most of the people in the Catholic church are not direct descendants of these people, most British settlers, who founded the nation in the 17th century. In fact, rather few cradle Catholics are of English ancestry, in my experience. The problem is one of rebellion that has been made possible by soft teaching and subtle encouragement among people who had neither the training nor the development to understand & apply such soft teaching. They took the soft teaching to mean latitude and have run with it.

  36. midwestlady says:

    And of course, according to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, this change in public behavior & unwillingness to obey makes perfect sense.
    If a person is level 2, as the risk of getting caught becomes less, the act becomes more moral, or at least less immoral, right?
    If a person is level 3, and social pressure rules the day, and social pressure to conform becomes less, then the act becomes more moral, or at least less immoral, right?
    If a person is level 4, and the rule is changed, then the immoral becomes moral outright in an almost magical manner, correct? Thus the defiance sometimes seen, aka the good Deacon’s example.

    See how this works?

    Of course, the person who starts to really ponder & pray about why the Church might say that abortion, contraception, homosexual behavior etc are immoral, is sometimes not swayed behaviorally by these things depending on their moral condition and how much they understand. However, this is not the norm–as you can see by the statistics and claims of many Catholics about what they think they can be told and expected to do.

  37. Deacon Norb says:

    I’m responding here because there was no reply button on your posting of 3:56pm.

    I don’t know how to respond to your comments about English Catholics. For starters:

    –English Catholics landed at Point Lookout Maryland in November 1633 on the small boats the “Ark” and the “Dove.” From there they moved into Western Kentucky immediately after the American Revolution. Thus many of the current descendants of these folks can usually claim memberships in such groups as the “Sons of the American Revolution” and “Daughters of the American Revolution.”

    –In fact, there were so many English Catholics in that area, Bardstown Kentucky became the THIRD diocese created within the territorial limits of the United States (Baltimore and New Orleans preceded it). The canonical diocese of Bardstown was later relocated to Louisville KY.

    If you are really from the Midwest, you ought to know all this.

  38. midwestlady says:

    Your proposal is really a good idea. A coordinated approach like that is far more likely to be effective than a scattershot approach. People are more likely to pay attention to something that they can confirm is the “real message.”

  39. midwestlady says:

    My family came from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. My forefathers came here 400 years ago. I’m a convert. This is sort of besides the point, anyway. I only said something about it because I don’t think that rugged puritanical style heritage is the reason we see this rebellion in the Church. I think it’s much simpler than that and easier to explain, using well-known laws of human behavior.

  40. midwestlady says:

    And indeed, the diversity of moral development in any particular culture or nation probably is somewhat irrespective of history. There is much evidence that the slothful as well as the virtuous have always been with us, and I expect that to continue as long as there are people. We have free will, after all.

  41. Deacon Norb says:


    “My family came from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. My forefathers came here 400 years ago. I’m a convert. This is sort of besides the point, anyway.”

    I agree. . . cultural heritage is rather “beside the point” in this line of discussion — as you note in a subsequent posting. BUT that is also why I challenged you.

    BTW: I am “English Hillbilly Catholic” and I am NOT a convert. In fact, our family’s Catholic roots stretch back in time from Kentucky and Maryland to the “Bonnie-Prince-Charlie” revolt and beyond. Someone even suggested that our line goes back to a Northumbrian landowner who pledged his allegiance to Duke William of Normandy shortly after Hastings.

    Discreet warning: there are several regular contributors to this BLOG who are — like myself — experienced Church Historians and who teach it in Roman Catholic settings. Be cautious what you assert.

  42. OK, fine, your point about the 600 lb gorilla (the public perception that arises from the way sex crimes against kids were handled) is noted. But there is nothing we can do about that perception.. A bad memory can’t be erased, but it can be merely superseded by a better, happier memory of a subsequent event/moment. Besides, gorillas eventually die :-)

    In the meantime, we go about the urgent task of promoting theology of the body and Church teachings. We do this out of love, especially, for the young people, who are sadly being misled by the “world” about norms of human love and sexuality. I’m a catechist in my parish, and I worry for these kids and feel sorry for them, as I know the pain and loneliness and alienation that these kids will experience if they go down the wrong path.

    Yes, there is public opposition to what we do and preach. So what? No one said Christian discipleship was going to be easy or that we would be welcomed with open arms by the world. Christ wasn’t.

  43. I read a lot of theology and philosophy here and if one more person writes that the Church needs to teach its’ beliefs more effectively, I’ll scream. Doesn’t anybody understand what’s going here? The people in the pews don’t care about all the nuances etc, they live a tough, real world, NOT some college philosophy class. They have to make tough choices every day and so, they “cut to the chase” when it comes to the Church’s teaching on sexuality and see if it makes sense to them in THEIR everyday lives and it general it doesn’t, so they simply reject it as simply nonsense that has nothing do with THEIR lives. They KNOW what the Church believes. They simply DON’T believe it.

  44. midwestlady says:

    It’s nice to meet a fellow Catholic of English heritage! In the upper midwest, there aren’t very many. Anyway, the main point of my post concerns Kohlberg’s moral development scales, about which I wrote above.

    To make a long story short: St. Thomas Aquinas taught that grace builds on nature. People are integrated beings with various faculties. The grace of continuous conversion is applied to the properties of those faculties, including those springing from the will and the mind. Kohlberg’s moral development scale is a method for determining the level of moral behavior at which any particular individual operates. See the scale above. I don’t think I need to repeat it here. It’s at: 11:07 AM.

    Any time there are perceived changes in risk (stage 2), social acceptance (stage 3) and rules (stage 4), the moral behavior of individuals at any of those stages will tend to be affected, since these are the practical drivers, respectively speaking.

    Of course THE privileged methods of advancing in moral growth are the Sacraments and Prayer. But since grace builds on nature, and humans are integrated beings, the level at which a human being works morally is crucial in determining the choice array that is apparent to a particular person, at a particular stage of development.

    The IMPORTANT part of all this is that research shows that in the population, most people function at levels 2-4 on the scale, with a minority at level 5, and very few at level 6, based on what you do rather than what you say.

    Therefore, preaching in very general terms that do not touch these drivers directly is not likely to produce a change in the hearers. One of the very real difficulties that evangelism faces is not being heard. This is one of the chief reasons why that is so. We’re preaching over their heads morally. They may repeat what they hear, or not, but they’re not likely to change until you *connect.* You do that by accessing the drivers: risk, social acceptance, and rules. And also by providing a model for applying the newly-found access to the drivers. If people understand it, see it lived out and THEN the most important part, use their free will to CHOOSE it, you will get change.

  45. midwestlady says:

    That’s absolutely correct, pol. Tell them clearly what the Church teaches. Model it for them simply, and then let them choose. Look if we make it easy to go along and not get caught, if we never press the point, and they don’t have to choose openly, it solves nothing. THEY STILL CHOOSE. They always will choose. People choose; it’s what they do. It’s how we’re built.

    It makes rather little difference to any one person’s salvation if they commit a mortal sin in private and hide it, or commit it in the open and fail to mention it, or if they just do it and be done with it. A sin is a sin. GOD HASN’T SUDDENLY GONE BLIND. A sin doesn’t cease to be a sin simply because we don’t get caught. That’s stage 1 or 2!! Your dog may know better than that! Really, people are much more callous now than they used to be. You & I see it all around us. It won’t hurt them to hear about the things they may be doing at home that very day. They all know about it. Let’s not be naive at this late stage of the day.

    It does make a difference to the people who would follow the Church if only they knew what she taught. So many people flounder in uncertainty or believe things that aren’t true because the truths of salvation haven’t been taught clearly and simply. People are losing their souls over this, and we may well lose this battle in society over this. It’s serious.

  46. Nazis are staunchly anti-liberal. Liberals are staunchly anti-Nazi. Please acknowledge that.

  47. Just a warning: That video links to a known extremist traditionalist website. Please consider looking at this.


  48. midwestlady says:

    Careful about terms here. Not taking sides, just making a technical distinction, okay?

    On the one hand, there is a political spectrum from right to left. Right is conservative; left is progressive (sometimes called liberal which may have more than one meaning, careful). A totalitarian right government is Nazi; a totalitarian left government is Marxist (sometimes called communist).

    On the other hand, there is a cultural spectrum from right to left. Right is traditional; left is non-traditional.

    These distinctions should not be blurred or the whole thing goes meaningless and starts to consist of nothing but name-calling. Easy does it.

  49. Mark…it’s Providence at work again!
    Still praying for you and your dear Greta.

  50. I frankly don’t care about the terms when you start going back into history because they change and as midwestlady points out they also vary depending how you look at them.

    However, much of what Bonhoeffer faced with the state attack on religious freedom certainly looks similar to what the Bishops are fighting here. The attempt in germany to create a godless big government controlling state is certainly in evidence here as well. There appears to be in both Germany and the USA today an issue with the value of human life whether death camps or abortion mills. One major difference is Hitler and his administration were evil and I do not think this administration or party is evil in the same way, just terribly wrong on abortion and gay marriage. They also seem unable to face up to certain realities such as their big government programs have been failures and are driving us to bankruptcy. It has become, for democrats, a way to retain power without really ever helping anyone to escape once they are hooked into these big goverment programs.

    Republicans have made what to many seem half hearted attempts from time to time to come up with some ideas that might be worthwhile to help the people, but it is never sustained. Yes, they face a united front with the democrats on what for them is signature programs they have tied to the word “entitlements” thus making any attempt to really evaluate them and make major changes to fix them almost impossible. It might have been smart politically for votes, but it is crippling this country where soon one worker will be trying to fund multipel programs for the poor and elderly. Any attempt even if it has good ideas thus starts out with democrats saying no even when common sense tells us it is going to explode.

    So I think taking comparisons between current and history off the table makes very little sense. Trying to tie words like liberal or conservative can be hard to fit into a box when looking at history.

  51. Talk about something missing from sermons. How about sin and Satan. I remember growing up and our parish priest was a huge guy with a booming voice and at least once a month we got a blast about sin which usually had a huge impact on the lines for pennance the following week. If he had seen everyone coming up for the Eucharist, he would have stopped the mass and asked what we thought we were doing, don’t we realize we have to be in the state of grace first? As I read about the priest confronted by the lesbian with her partner coming up before the mass to tout her relationship, I thought about old Father Miller and what he would have done. He would have escourted her out of Church and told her to return when she was ready for the sacrament of pennance and to abandon her life of grave sin. And he was far from alone in how he dealt with sin and the sacraments. And every mass was standing room only for if you missed mass, you realized this priest seemed well aware and would comment when you came back. He use to come to the school on report card day and every kid went up and got their report card from him. If you had a checkmark on effort or not respecting the teacher, he would glare at you and ask you who you thought you were with sacrifices being made to give you and education. If it happened again, there might be a call to your parents demanding they come in with you to see him. He ran that parish for over 40 years and never let up and he was massively respected not only in the parish, but also the community. he was hard, but you always knew that he did it because he wanted you to be the best you could be and aim at being a saint. When he died they had people lined up for blocks outside to pay respects and standing room for his funeral. If you go to visit his gravesite on any day, you will find flowers on his grave decades later.

  52. The abuse was a failing of a small group of people in the Church. However, the Church has paid a huge price. Now I am still waiting for the rest of the people in other places who have done more abuse to pay a similar price. Many say that the reason they are upset is the kids, but if that is the case, we would see the same huge focus on abuse anywhere it is seen. I have no doubt that those who disagree with the Catholic Church teaching and those who hate the Church in general used this crisis for their own goal of silencing the Church because She was and continues to stand for values that the world wants ended.

    The Church has put in place a massive system of checks to give kids more protection with a priest than they have in the public school system. I would like any location where kids are present to adopt the Catholic school zero tolerance policy today. There are still humans, so nothing devised by man will be able to have zero failure, but it certainly is a good system. Still any topic at all will often bring the same people out with the same stories and insistence that the Pope’s were involved with no solid proof of the claim. Lets fight for the kids and set up a plan that anyone that abuses a child up to the age 18, goes to jail for enough years that society can be assured they will never touch another kid again. lets go after child porn that even smacks of child involvment with the same long sentences.

  53. Pol, you are correct. They are making their choice for this world. If that is all they care about, they will not choose the narrow gate, to pick up their cross. What is missing in my view is that we have stopped teaching about that this life is a very small window compared to eternal life. We have allowed them to believe that how they life has no connection to the final destination and that Jesus loves us all and His Mercy in unending. We hint that Jesus did not let the rich young man who kept all the commandments walk away or those who said his teaching was too hard to walk away. Where did they walk to when they walked away from Jesus? Where did Judas walk away to? We put our a voter guide so as not to give anyone the impression that choices they make here impact our entire society and that the wrong vote has for deacdes kept the abortion mills kill 4,000 babies a day or distorted the long held teacing on marriage between on man and one woman.

    It is like parents who want their kids to grow up believing the most important thing in life is their self esteem. We don’t want to have winners and losers, smarter or dumber, hold kids back when they can’t read and so graduate kids who can’t get a job. If this is love, give me another dose of something else. Choices and actions have consequences and if they are evil enough, there is also justice that would demand a price be paid.

    The people making the choices to ignore Catholic teacing and pretending to be Catholic need to understand this out of love. We don’t want to see them end up in hell for all eternity. Teach, love, and allow them to choose with full understanding of consequences and then honor God’s gift to mankind of free will to choose. We have enen seen this distorted with the free will right to choose to kill babies in the womb. If my child is on drugs which will kill him and I do not make sure he sees where he is headed and give him support including tough love if necessary, they are doomed. We are the producers of cheap grace and it shows in our society and even in our church.

  54. Bill McGeveran says:

    I agree to some extent with pol, at 5:52 above, about the way people often look at moral choices. I do think people can be influenced by arguments up to a point—but they are also powerfully influenced by experiences and values that develop independently of supposedly intuitive principles of natural law, or any abstract argument. (And I dont thinki they are as morally ignorant as some commenters have implied.) In the case of, e.g., something like birth control, if the assertion is that all forms other than some form of abstinence are always wrong, I don’t think explanation or “catechesis” will be effective as many claim, whether it means trying to present the church teaching in a persuasive way or, still less, simply asserting it as true based on the church’s authority. I do believe the church has important things to say, for example about moral values needed to sustain a committed and lasting marriage. But there is too much legalism going on, and it is not working.

  55. midwestlady says:

    Correct, Bill. All the legalism has everything to do with the number of Stage 4 individuals in society. They believe that if they can change the rule, they can change whether something is moral or not, and that’s why they approach rules with such vigor.

    But you know, the fact of the matter is that if something is, in fact, immoral for religious reasons, it’s immoral because it’s inherently immoral in the order of nature and creation. Put another way, God has willed it so. Thus, it’s part of natural law that it’s immoral. If the rule or custom is changed so that it no longer reflects reality, it only makes us more primitive in our understanding of the world and makes us wrong to boot.

    Some of the legalistic looking pushback comes from a variety of sources, some of them merely trying to “fight fire with fire.” This doesn’t work really well in the long haul, although it can delay things somewhat.

    The real way to deal with stage 4 individuals is consistency and clarity. Stage 4 individuals are also prone, as are we all, to strategies appealing to the stages below where they are. So a combination of social strategies and consistency & clarity will work with them as well as Level 3 individuals. This is what the Church SHOULD be doing to stem this onslaught, and indeed some of the cooler heads in the Church are engaging in self-evangelization techniques & programs with their congregations that do include social strategies & clarity. The programs “Discovering Christ” by ChristLife and the Catholicism presentations are very good examples of this.

    BTW, I want to insert a clarifying point here. It’s perfectly possible to have a phD and be a stage 2; likewise, one can be completely unlettered and be a stage 6. There are numerous examples of both extremes down thru the ages. Most people of course are in-between those two in both educational status and moral development. Many people have some college and are stage 3–very common, and they are being swayed significantly by what’s going on in the culture right now.

  56. midwestlady says:

    Examples: The “Discover Christ” series, as one example of a program, has a weekly structure that includes social time, a shared supper made by volunteers, a video and then a discussion time with small groups and a facilitator trained to keep things informative and flowing smoothly toward answering questions and concentrating on the teachings of the church. It’s socially pleasant for the participants, the teaching is clear and basic, and it’s well-planned.
    The popular Catholicism series is similar. And I’m sure there are others. This is the idea that the Church should be pursuing, among other similar things to “warm up” parishes and get people on board socially, spiritually, morally & intellectually. Again people are a composite being, and we have to deal with that in a sensible way, feeding all their faculties.

  57. midwestlady says:

    Edit: A person is a composite being. People are composite beings. Grammar. Sorry.

  58. midwestlady says:

    Mark’s idea of coordinating the various parts of the parish message is excellent also: homily, bulletin insert, webpage, weekly class and other programs. It’s important that people realize that this clarity on church teaching really is the message that the parish or diocese is sending out. We’ve heard so many competing things for so many years, that if a person hears it once, they often think it’s isolated, an opinion, an entertainment or something of that sort. People need warm and certain clarity and they need to see it in a coordinated fashion like this over time. When this is done, coordinators of the effort are often surprised at the high degree of reception it receives from people. It’s what they ultimately want; it’s why they show up at church in the first place; they deeply want to know what God asks of them even if they can’t articulate that or access it for themselves.

  59. Not a bad proposal, Mark. I only wish that Bishop Finn in KC had been willing only two years ago to take a line as tough as the one you set out. Unfortunately, the bishop did not capitulate — did not end his role in covering up suspected sexual misconduct by a priest against a child, going so far as to personally hand over a computer with suspect images to the priest’s family members, who promptly destroyed the computer — until the county prosecutor came into the picture. Nope, sadly, the abuse scandal is NOT completely a thing of the past. And that’s one reason why many non-Catholics look at advice from the Church on sexual morality with wry amusement or great cynicism. It’s not the media that’s created that problem. It’s a significant number of individuals in positions of leadership in the Church. Ten years of good policy (since the Dallas Charter was approved in 2002) does not a great track record make, not when the record of abuse and cover-up stretches back many, many decades.

  60. Post- Vatican 2 theology is very much rooted in personalism. When you speak a different language that so much of the 60s crowd and the liberal media does. It’s hard to join in the conversation.

    We need to stay informed and be able to convey this to people.

  61. I do not have all the details on the sitution in KC. However, keep in mind that even laws created by God are failed every day by man. I still think that what has been created by the Church should be adopted by schools systems as well as any other organizations that deals with kids.
    If man fails, they have to pay the price no matter who is at fault.

    Which law created by man has worked for almost 10 years with one incident if the one you list is the only failure? I do know that I have to go through a lot in the volunteer work I do with kids in the Church and am glad to do it. Now if we can get everyone else to sign up and go throughbackground checks and finger printing to work everywhere else and do it for the kids, we will see a dramatic reduction in attacks on the kids.

    Rather than try to find fault with the Church, why not give credit to the good idea and admit we need it wherever children are present.

  62. Midwestlady, we had our first meeting on Saturday and also met with the ArchBishop who gave it his full approval for test runs with 4 parishes. I donated the first $50,000 in my wife Greta’s name to kick it off. I met with the base team this afternoon in my home. We are starting to lay out the entire program and I am meeting with the three other parish’s next week to have them organize their parish teams. If successful, I will work to gain full funding from friends around the city to insure that there is no cost to the Church. If it works well, we will expand across the city and then release all the information to others who might want to start this in their own areas free of charge. We have some great ideas for specific software we will use to tie it all together and will give that away for free as well.

Leave a Comment