The Vatican Stance: Affirmative Orthodoxy

John Allen writes week and positively here on the events in the Vatican this week. The most interesting section is on the Vatican’s stance on sex and family life.

Allen calls this “affirmative orthodoxy”. That is, we are trying to communicate what is beautiful, good and true rather than condemning what is lacking.

Some years ago I coined the phrase “affirmative orthodoxy” to capture what Pope Benedict XVI was up to on the subject of sex. It was an attempt to explain the curious fact that whenever people expected the Vatican’s infamous “Doctor No” to wag his finger against sexual sin as pope, he typically served up elegiacs about love instead.

Both elements of the formula count.

Benedict’s line was “orthodox,” because he certainly wasn’t changing doctrine, but “affirmative” in that he wanted to emphasize what the church supports rather than what it opposes. The idea seemed to be that church teaching might find a new lease on life if it came off as something more than a litany of “thou shalt not’s.”

Judging by a key Vatican document released Thursday, affirmative orthodoxy is alive and well, even after the resignation of the pontiff who pioneered it.

Read the whole article here.


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