Sunday, January 6, 2013

Venerable Paul VI



From William Doino Jr. at First Things. 

On December 20, 2012, Pope Benedict declared Paul a Christian of “heroic virtue,” granting him the title, “Venerable.” Paul VI is now one approved miracle away from beatification, and a second from formal canonization...

Against a world (and even Church) largely seduced by the errors of the sexual revolution, Paul publishedHumanae Vitae, the most prophetic papal document of modern times, and certainly one of the bravest. He upheld and championed priestly celibacy; re-affirmed and explained the importance of an all-male priesthood, while advancing the true dignity of woman in all other ways; issued a clear declaration on sexual ethics, and a decree against abortion and on behalf of life. Both John Paul II and Benedict built upon his teachings, and extended them to the modern world. 
Pope Paul VI has been called a weak and indecisive pope, but no one who lacked true courage could have issued the powerful statements he did, or done so under the circumstances he faced.

Humanae Vitae is the most courageous and prophetic document of modern times. Venerable Paul VI defied the zeitgeist of the 20th century to tell the truth about sexuality. I pray for sainthood for this brave and holy Pope.

An excerpt from Humanae Vitae, on the consequences of contraception:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and ageneral lowering of moral standards. 
Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. 
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them,they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Limits to Man's Power 
Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII.

The Church was and is right about sexual morality, and specifically was right about contraception. The Pill has ushered in a fundamental change in civilization-- a tipping point. By every imaginable measure of human sexual well-being-- divorce rates, marriage rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases, rape, sexual abuse and molestation, pornography-- the Church's warnings about the consequences of contraception were obviously right.

The irony, of course, is that the people who got it right, and still get it right, are ridiculed and despised for their wisdom.

St. Peter explained it (1 Peter 4:3-4):

... what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.



32 comments:

  1. On matters of sexuality and gender, the Roman Catholic Church is way behind the curve.

    Clerical celibacy makes no sense. Russian Orthodox and the Protestant priests can marry and live a happy family life. Catholic priests lead a life of sexual frustration. No wonder some of them end up molesting children.

    Discrimination against women in the hierarchy of the Church is also an archaic feature that makes no sense. If women can be heads of state, why can't they lead a congregation?

    And don't get me started on contraception. Roman Catholics practice birth control. They are just told to rely on the least reliable method: having sex during the woman's infertile days. Prohibition against condoms is silly.

    The RCC came close to overturning the prohibition on contraception in the 20th century. It will get there sooner or later. Same with women priests. The Church will take time as it did with Galileo. But it will eventually adopt. Everyone will be scratching their heads: "Why did it take you so long?"

    Hoo

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    1. I'll forward your recommendations on reorganization of the Catholic Church to the Vatican pronto. They've been waiting for your input.

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    2. Well, given that you think it is fine for a collection of celibate men to feel themselves perfectly competent to opine on sexual practices, it would seem that Hoo's suggestions are more rooted in reality than those of the people you revere.

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    3. Thank you for being a good sport, Dr. Egnor. I should say, however, that the Church is not unaware of these recommendations. It received plenty of input during Vatican II. Most of the people consulted recommended to amend the Church teaching on the matters of contraception. In the end, the Pope decided against it.

      There will be another time.

      Here is Patty Crowley's brief memoir for your enjoyment.

      Hoo

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    4. @Hoo:
      Clerical celibacy makes no sense. Russian Orthodox and the Protestant priests can marry and live a happy family life.

      The practical reason for this practice is that it allows a priest to commit himself and his life fully and forever to his vocation, without the tension experienced by other Christian ministers between liturgical and familial responsibilities. Buddhist monks are also required to be celibate; is that also nonsensical, or is it only nonsensical when Catholics do it?

      The discipline of priestly celibacy has some exceptions in certain situations, and is subject to change. It's the way the Latin Rite currently handles marriage and ordination, and there are good reasons for it. Even in the Orthodox church, bishops may not marry. No doubt it is a huge sacrifice to make, and I thank God for the selfless men who make it for the sake of the rest of the Church.

      Catholic priests lead a life of sexual frustration. No wonder some of them end up molesting children.

      It's just not true that priestly celibacy causes a higher rate of abuse. Put blame where blame is due, make sure priests who do abuse are brought up on charges, and that no one is allowed to cover for them, but please don't make counterfactual claims about abuse being caused by celibacy. It sounds logical to people who accept Freudian ideas about sex, but it isn't borne out by the facts.

      

Discrimination against women in the hierarchy of the Church is also an archaic feature that makes no sense. If women can be heads of state, why can't they lead a congregation?
      Women can't celebrate Mass, and men can't be mothers. The Eucharist can't be confected with corn tortillas and apple juice, and people who are born with XY sex chromosomes are men, regardless of how much surgery they've had. It's how we understand God to have ordained things. Call it discrimination if you like; I won't argue. I will simply say that it's discrimination between things that are actually different, and that such discrimination is warranted.

      And don't get me started on contraception. Roman Catholics practice birth control. They are just told to rely on the least reliable method: having sex during the woman's infertile days. Prohibition against condoms is silly.

      The teaching on birth control is pretty complex, and is difficult to accept, I know. It makes a little more sense if you view it in the light of teachings about lifelong chastity (e.g. no masturbation, no fornication, no adultery, no divorce/remarriage.) Following Church teaching on sex is hard, particularly in the modern era.

      It makes still more sense when viewed in the light of the Catholic understanding of sin as a barrier between a human soul and God. The teaching is not arbitrary; deliberately rendering the sex act sterile (as opposed to abstaining during fertile times) drives a real spiritual wedge between a man, woman, and God during an act that is supposed to be an act of communion. It's not a sin because the Church says so; the Church says so because it's a sin.

      Personally, I think birth control does encourage unfaithfulness and discourage marital intimacy, but I can't offer any objective evidence for that because the evidence available right now is not really ready for prime time. All I have is anecdotal evidence and the impression I get from the people I have known.

      -JH

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    5. JH,

      As Gloria Steinem wrote, "there are really not many jobs that actually require a penis or a vagina, and all other occupations should be open to everyone."

      There used to be a time when men went to work and women stayed at home. We don't live in such a time anymore. The Catholic Church is a bit too slow to adapt, but adapt it will.

      Hoo

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    6. As Gloria Steinem wrote, "there are really not many jobs that actually require a penis or a vagina, and all other occupations should be open to everyone."

      There used to be a time when men went to work and women stayed at home. We don't live in such a time anymore. The Catholic Church is a bit too slow to adapt, but adapt it will.


      Interesting. I suppose the Hasidim and Orthodox and Baha'i will be adapting any day now too, right?

      I also find it interesting how often I hear the Catholic priesthood criticized for not being open to women, but never hear similar complaints about Orthodox Jewish rabbinate, NFL rosters, or Playgirl centerfolds. Seems like these are considered private matters, but people seem to intuit that what happens in the Catholic hierarchy is everyone's business. There's a truth in there somewhere...

      -JH

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    7. JH,

      I am not sure what purpose it serves to compare a mainstream Christian denomination (Catholics) to an extreme religious group (Hasidim). Of the 13 or so million Jews of the world, maybe a quarter million identify as Hasidim. Maybe you should rethink that.

      Hoo

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    8. @Hoo: I've thought about it, and I'm comfortable with the comparison, as far as it goes. My point was that plenty of other religious sects are showing no signs of opening their priesthoods (or equivalent roles) to women. Why are you so sure the Catholic Church will? And why do you care?

      -JH

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  2. The usual hypocrisy. Do as we say not as we do.

    Paul VI had quite a reputation as an active homosexual. Allegedly, he was even arrested by the police for soliciting sex from male prostitutes. When he was raised to the papacy, jokes about pink smoke over the Vatican did the rounds...


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    1. Beyond the unsourced slander, to you have any meaningful comments?

      Delete
    2. The current pope is also gay. He has a very handsome boyfriend: Gorgeous George.

      Ratzinger's effeminate voice is also a bit of a give away. I love it when he speaks Italian with his strong German accent. It reminds me a bit of like Lieutenant Gruber.

      I wonder how close he was to Paul VI.

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    3. I of course contemplated deleting this garbage. What vicious slander. I made a point about the Church's stand on contraception-- a profound philosophical, moral and theological issue, and the atheist answer is... well, you see what it is.

      I think that it's better to leave these comments, so folks can see even more clearly the kind of people who hate the Church.

      Delete
    4. I always wonder about these kinds of statements. What is your point? Are you saying "Pope So-and-so was gay, therefore Catholic doctrine is wrong?" If so, that's lousy logic. If not, what is your point?

      -JH

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. NEWSFLASH!
    To you closet homophobes (who think the worst thing you can call a Catholic is 'gay'), and the wannabe hedonists:
    The office of the Papacy is celibate by oath.
    Back to (your) programming as usual

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    1. Crus:

      Welcome back, by the way. Sorry I forgot to answer your greeting yesterday. Happy New Year!

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    2. Good point, Crusader. I had almost forgotten that once you make an oath it is impossible to break it.

      Happy new year

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    3. Happy New to both of you! I hope the holidays all went well.
      Troy,
      Sure, some people will break solemn oaths.
      People do bad things. But an oath is an oath and if you actually live by an oath of celibacy, then you are not engaged in ANY sort of sexual lifestyle.
      Unless you believe being gay is some sort of genetic disorder (ie freaks of nature in English), the CHOICE that has been made is celibacy. A man chooses to be monogamous, a man chooses to live a gay lifestyle, a man chooses to be promiscuous, or a man chooses to be celibate! One cannot be properly called a celibate gay, or a promiscuous monogamist.
      Rumours and hypocritical attempts at libel mean nothing.

      Delete
  5. “Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

    This incredibly sexist statement reduces women to mere chattel. This pathetic fool doesn’t seem to realize that women can enjoy sex too. Of course they never have in his experience. Why anyone would listen to a celibate weirdo on the subject of sexuality is beyond me.

    -KW

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    1. Clearly the statement is meant to apply to both men and women. It is modern secular society - led by MTV, the porn industry, and Planned Parenthood - that objectifies women, not the Catholic Church. "(R)educ(ing) women to mere chattel" is exactly what this encyclical is hoping to prevent.

      And who better than a celibate priest to instruct the laity on matters of chastity? These "celibate weirdos" often have very good insights into matters of sex and marriage.

      -JH

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    2. JH,

      True to some extent, but scratch beneath the surface and your argument falls apart. The TV screen and the porn industry do not seem to be good reference points. If you look at business or academia, you can see women in position of power. There are female generals in the US Armed Forces. Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister. Yet the Catholic Church cannot admit women to any position of power whatsoever? It is misogynistic by modern standards.

      Hoo

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    3. [Yet the Catholic Church cannot admit women to any position of power whatsoever?]

      Mary?

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    4. @Hoo:

      Name the women at the forefront of the New Atheist movement.

      Delete
    5. Michael,

      'Mary?' LOL. She's long dead, if she ever existed, and isn't capable of filling a position of power within the Catholic Church. The adulation of Mary only started in the 14th century.

      Delete
    6. The TV screen and the porn industry do not seem to be good reference points. If you look at business or academia, you can see women in position of power... Yet the Catholic Church cannot admit women to any position of power whatsoever? It is misogynistic by modern standards.

      One of the things I like about the Church is that it is not run according to what you call modern standards. The priesthood is not properly about power; it's about sacrifice and service. Women have plenty of opportunities (within and outside the Church) to serve and sacrifice, but the Catholic priesthood is not one of them. It has nothing to do with oppressing women, and everything to do with how we understand the priestly vocation.

      -JH

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  6. The new atheists have no hierarchy like the RCC, so the question makes no sense. But if you are interested in finding out about active female new atheists, here's one example: ERV, aka Abby Smith. Google her. She at one point schooled Mike Behe on the subject of HIV.

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    1. Shouldn't you worry about the misogyny of your own atheist pack, before you go lecturing the Catholic Church, which has, more than any other institution in human history, defended and advanced the rights and dignity of women.

      Surely you're aware of the civil war going on in atheist circles over the gross mistreatment of women among atheists.

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    2. I am not a New Atheist, Dr. Egnor. No need to lecture me about "civil wars" in their circles.

      I named a prominent New Atheist (Abby Smith). It's now your turn to name one female Cardinal.

      Best,

      Hoo

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    3. I did google her, Hoo. I had never heard of her, or perhaps did not recall her name.
      From one of the first links that I read, it seems she has been the target of hateful sexists nonsense on the New Atheist websites.
      BTW Very glad to hear you're not a new atheist.
      I suspected as much, actually.
      We may not agree on many subjects, but you come off as far too rational for that set.
      As to your question about the Cardinals: I think you're comparing apples and oranges. A Cardinal is an official appointment in an ancient institution, Smith is simply a thinker on a philosophical subject - a player in the debate. I do not mean to demean her position by noting that, simply to point out that she does not hold any sort of institutional position within a organized religious body granted for a lifelong service to that body.
      But the question, I believe, is meant to draw attention to the fact that a woman may not be a cardinal. This is true.
      Further, a man cannot be a nun or an abbess either.
      These are gender roles within the Church. Is that sexist?
      I don't see it as such.
      The real question, if you want to compare a real 'player' role in the Christian churches is a 'saint'.
      It is still a slanted comparison, as Ms Smith would surely agree. She is no saint.
      But, can a woman be a saint? Is it permissible for members of the RCC or any orthodox/Catholic Christian church to revere and honour a female saint? Have their been recognized female prophets or visionaries? Do women contribute to the corpus of knowledge gathered by these churches? If the answer is yes, then we must ask ourselves if these honours were extended to a time pre-dating the so called 'sexual revolution' and the actual suffragist period (ie real women's rights).
      We all know the answers to these questions.
      Women are revered as saints, they can hold very important positions that men cannot hold, and they have been credited with wondrous works (and even miracles!) by the faithful.
      Further we know these ideas date back many centuries and that Christians have revered the Blessed Virgin since the earliest days of the faith. There have been many women martyrs, saints, and contributors.
      Perhaps the truest comparison would be to ask if there has historically ever been any major Catholic figures in history who are women. Women free to express themselves and excel at what they do. Women with power and influence. Surely the answer to this is YES.

      Delete
  7. “Further, a man cannot be a nun or an abbess either”

    That’s like saying that women can’t be doctors, but that’s compensated for by the fact that men can’t be nurses. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    “The real question, if you want to compare a real 'player' role in the Christian churches is a 'saint'.”

    Most (all?) saints are only made saints after they are dead. They are only players in your desperate attempt to defend sexism.

    -KW

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