Margaret Farley and the Mystery of Human Sexuality

This homily, delivered on the Feast of Corpus Christi, comes courtesy of Rev. Robert Beloin, the Catholic chaplain at Yale University:

It’s been a busy week for Catholics! Following on the heels of recent leaked papers from the Vatican, the firing of the head of the Vatican bank, the arrest of the pope’s butler, in-fighting among Curial cardinals…on Monday of this week, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published its ‘notification’ about Margaret Farley’s book, Just Love: A Framework For Christian Sexual Ethics.


The ‘notification’, signed by Cardinal Levada, pointed out that some conclusions that she holds are contrary to the official teaching of the Church. That is true. But, in her statement, she points out that she did not set out to write a book about Catholic moral theology. (It’s like if I sat down and wrote a homily for a wedding and someone came along and said “well, that’s not an appropriate homily for a funeral.” I didn’t set out to write a homily for a funeral.) Well, Margaret did not set out to write a book reiterating Catholic positions on some contemporary moral issues. She set out to explore some moral issues from the starting point of Scripture, Tradition, anthropology and human experience. She brings a different methodology to the table.

On Thursday of this week, the members of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America issued a statement concerning the “Notification.” In part, it states: Professor Farley’s purpose in her book is to raise and explore questions of keen concern to the faithful of the Church. Doing so is one very legitimate way of engaging in theological inquiry that has been practiced throughout the Catholic tradition. The statement goes on to make an important point: The “Notification” risks giving the impression that there can be no constructive role in the life of the Church for works of theology that 1) give voice to the experience and concerns of ordinary believers, 2) raise questions about the persuasiveness of certain official Catholic positions, and 3) offer alternative theological frameworks as potentially helpful contributions to the authentic development of doctrine.

Such an understanding of the nature of theology inappropriately conflates the distinctive tasks of catechesis and theology. With regard to the subject matter of Professor Farley’s book, it is simply a matter of fact that faithful Catholics in every corner of the Church are raising ethical questions like those Professor Farley has addressed. In raising and exploring such questions with her customary sensitivity and judiciousness, Professor Farley has invited us to engage the Catholic tradition seriously and thoughtfully.

I think that it is helpful to remember the document, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria published by the International Theological Commission, signed by Cardinal Levada, in March of this year. Over a seven year period, the Commission took up the issue of the relationship between theologians and bishops. The report acknowledges that there will be “inevitable tension” between theologians and the Magisterium for bishops and theologians have distinct callings and must respect each other’s distinctive competence, lest the Magisterium reduce theology to a mere repetitive science or theologians presume to substitute the teaching office of the Church’s pastors. In her book, Margaret makes no claim to be the Magisterium!

The report states that bishops, in their pronouncements, should draw on the work of theologians in order to demonstrate a “capacity for critical evaluation.” And, the document acknowledges the plurality of theologies within the Church (that was not the case in patristic times). There is within theology more and more internal specialization into different disciplines: e.g., biblical studies, liturgy, patristics, church history, fundamental theology, systematic theology, moral theology, pastoral theology, spirituality, catechetics and canon law. This development is inevitable and understandable because of the scientific nature of theology and the demands of research. (76)

The plurality of theologies is undoubtedly necessary and justified. It results primarily from the abundance of divine truth itself, which human beings can only ever grasp under its specific aspects and never as a whole and moreover never definitely but always, as it were, with new eyes…Because of the diversity of the objects it considers and interprets…and the sheer diversity of human questioning, theology must inevitably have recourse to a plurality of disciplines and methods…The plurality of theologies reflects, in fact, the catholicity of the church which strives to proclaim the one Gospel to people everywhere, in all kinds of circumstances. (77)

Taking up that task is an exciting enterprise. Personally, I don’t get discouraged by the controversies before us because, honestly, it is what we Catholics do. There have been controversies since the ministry of Jesus. There were controversies in apostolic time. Read Galatians. I am energized to be living in a Church where there is conversation going on in homes and gatherings and in Small Church Communities during the week about the real issues with which people struggle that is at the heart of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes. It has taken us FIFTY years; we’re right on schedule! When you look at the 21 ecumenical councils in the Church’s history, it took at least fifty years for what the Council taught to get into the consciousness of people. So, here we are, fifty years later, taking seriously the challenge in the opening words of Gaudium et Spes: The joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people (men) of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. (1) And later: The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in light of the Gospel.(4) And later: A change in attitudes and in human structures frequently calls accepted values into question…The institutions, laws and modes of thinking and feeling as handed down from previous generations do not always seems to be well adapted to the contemporary state of affairs. Hence arises an upheaval in the manner and even the norms of behavior. (7) We have arrived, finally!

The fundamental issue before us, I think, is that of the development of doctrine. In our first Calabresi Fellowship lecture, Judge John Noonan of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and a devout Catholic, delivered a lecture entitled The Church that Can and Cannot Change that he later published in a book by the same title, in 1995. It is well worth the read.

The challenge is to figure out what changes may reflect a justifiable, even necessary, adaptation to new knowledge or circumstances or be a watering down and contradiction of religious truth. The messy task is to reconcile an authentic development of doctrine with the church's claim to preach the same essential message that Jesus did 2,000 years ago. How do we achieve that goal?

Noonan clearly showed that some Catholic moral doctrines have changed in the course of history. History, he shows, does not support the comforting notion that the church simply elaborates on previous teachings. He examines Church teaching on slavery, usury, religious freedom and marriage law as four particular examples. His four case studies clearly show the fact of the Church’s change in teaching. (Change is marriage law is easily seen in the introduction of the Pauline Privilege in 1803 and its extension into the Petrine Privilege in 1924. They both concern circumstances where the pope can dissolve a marriage – a power that had never been previously claimed.) But how does one identify a legitimate development of doctrine? Noonan points to an unchanging element in Catholic teaching: a core continuity from Jesus to our present day. He insists that genuine development arises from experience deepened by empathy. St. Paul wrote, (Phil 1:9-10) I pray that your love abound more and more in knowledge and in insight of every kind so that you can test what really matters and Noonan repeatedly refers to this linking of love, knowledge and insight. He adds St. Augustine's rule of faith: a true understanding of divine revelation is one that will 'build up that double love of God and of neighbor.'

The great Jesuit theologian, John Courtney Murray declared 40 years ago that development of doctrine 'is the underlying issue' of Vatican II. It remains fundamental for Catholicism, (Judaism, Islam and other faiths too.) And so maybe Margaret is right and what she is teaching will be the official position of the Church in a hundred years. And maybe she is wrong and further research will prove that. But as we sort out the messiness of theologies, we hold together the unity of the community gathered around the Lord’s table as we work and pray together trying to be faithful ministers of the gospel.

And with that acknowledgment, we come to today’s feast: Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It offers us a wonderful opportunity to see how Church teaching has changed over the centuries. Most Catholics think of the presence of Christ in terms of transubstantiation.

The Fourth Lateran Council in 13th century, spoke of the bread and wine as "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Christ: (I quote) His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been transubstantiated, by God's power, into his body and blood. The Council of Trent in the mid-16th century defined transubstantiation, using it as a noun, for the first time.

So, for more than 1,000 years the Church understood the presence of Christ in the Eucharist without even using the word. When you are in conversation with Catholic friends or also in ecumenical dialogue, instead of focusing on the meaning of the term transubstantiation, read the sixth chapter of John’s gospel together and discuss that!

For those who think in terms of and understand Aristotelian natural philosophy, it can be helpful language. But say that to a person studying quantum physics, and their eyes glaze over. There is not one language for talking about mystery. That pertains to the mystery of the Eucharist and to the mystery of human sexuality.

But, if I am excited by the challenges before us, I know of many who are frustrated. And so I close with Fr. Jim Martin’s Prayer for Frustrated Catholics, which he posted on Wednesday of this week.

Rev. Robert L. Beloin

Chaplain, Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Angel Hugo Guerriero
8 years ago
As argentine, it is for me a great pleasure to take part in this commentaries about HV, I beg your pardon for my elemental English, and with my compliments, shortly and with humility, I say: 1) The sexual act is intrinsically “good”, independently of been procreative, or not (on the contrary, sterile people would not be able to marry). 2) Extrinsically, the sexual act has the same purpose of the matrimony (the opposite is not logical), i.e. the procreation, of which can not be voluntary separated without just cause, not even using NPF-PC. That is said by HV, whose doctrine, as the other of Magisterium, can not be changed by somebody who want to be catholic. 3) The arguments against HV have no philosophical consistency. 4) But, in practising of HV, as in the same commandments of Mosaic Law, as in the all laws, is necessary to apply the general principles of the right and of the moral, such as: a) is imprudent to pretend that all the people live heroically (Commisione Teologica Internazionale y cf. Mat. cap. 20). b) what is extremely just is not just (summum jus summa injuria est: Cicero). c) the objective doesn’t justify the means achieving it, but we must distinguish what is  just of the explainable. One act may be not just by itself, but without guilt, because it’s explainable by just and in proportion cause, like vis major (irresistible force), or been in urgent need of something. d) the human actions aren’t just because its consequences wood be good (the “consequencesalism” of  George E. Moore) 5) Therefore, in sexual acts of people married, if there is just cause, on conscience, it is licit to use the NPF-PC, but if it wood be morally impossible, is allowed to get, temporally, the contraceptives. The cases are, for example, the incurable irregularity of the periods, the inevitable absences from the home due to work or to legal services of one of the spouses, physic or psychological illness or serious emotionally problems with which is impossible to the spouses to have one ordered and healthy sexual life. When they had got over there problems, they must to return to the NFP-PC..
                                          ANGEL HUGO GUERRIERO (      
Robert O'Connell
8 years ago
One beauty of the Church will always be "The parishioners who remained . . . overwhemingly poor and working-class immigrants with English as a second language; whether they stayed due to piety, culturally inculcated obediance, apathy around the issue, convenience, or robust approval . . .  I couldn't say. The parish continues to struggle economically . . . ."

After 60 years with my wife, I must add that another is the teaching of chaste love. There is a mystery couples experience when they live in accord with deference to the will of God; the affection, romance, understanding are part of it but there is also a grace that enables us to save a child with cancer, raise grandchildren in joy and live in peace.  

Please know that I have sinned.  I just think we should share our faith, encourage each other and never fail to teach good news.
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

After 40 years with my wife, I add that there are many ways to love God, but one of the surest ways is to love thy neighbor as thy self. The supernatural virtue of caritas, of love or charity is key to this. 

In a loving marriage, one must be open to new life, even a new life born by accident regardless of birth control method. However, the Church teaches that spouses who do not practice NFP-PC as the only licit means for regulating fertility, their marital acts will become acts of lustful pleasure, without remainder. These acts are a false love, a love that destroys the mutual and unitive love between spouses. This false love will tend to lead to abortion when contraceptive methods fail. However for couples who practice NFP-PC and a child is conceived by accident, these couples will welcome the child into their family with unconditional love. Unfortunately, this so-called teaching is in profound tension with human experience.  

These legalistic norms are based on erroneous misunderstandings about human sexuality, marriage and conjugal love practiced within responsible parenthood. They are and act-centered theology and do not take into consideration the love in relationships or the person integrally and adequately considered.
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Angel #26
You are exactly right. Welcome to the conversation.
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Michael #17
In case Bob hasn't read your many posts on contraception (your personal crusade), I feel it is important to point out that your description of the Church's teaching as legalistic and in error is your opinion, and is in direct conflict with the Church's Magisterial teaching, as you have admitted elsewhere.

By the way, you might find an evangelical understanding of contraception (which agrees more with you than the Church) interesting to read. Albert Mohler is a very well respected Evangelical writer and preacher.

My point in sharing his reflections on contraception is that, while he does not agree with the Catholic Church's view on the immorality of all artificial contraception, he does admit that the contraceptive mentality has been very harmful to our society.
Angel Hugo Guerriero
8 years ago
Tank you Tim.Your opinion is confortable to me. Ángel
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

My "personal crusade" is not very different from "your own".....when you claim that unless Catholics obey all teachings of the Magisterium, without remainder, they are not "faithful Catholics".

My opinion is what is necessary to move the conversation forward about Humanae Vitae and contraception. In 1968 this encyclical introduced a new moral absolute, the inseparability principle, that changed sexual ethics for the next 44 years. This central precept was a novum and was not a constant teaching of the Church. Don't misunderstand me, I find HV to offer a solid ideal, but its central precept is too much of a moral certitude. Yes, it is my opinion, but also the opinion of most Catholics and theologians, and many bishops and priests.

Disagreement does not mean disrepect or being unfaithful. 

Thanks for the article. I do appreciate it as well as our dialogue. When you find an article published in a respected scientific journal and accepted by a scientific peer-leading institution that contraception is the cause of marital infidelity and abortion, or a propensity to commit immoral behavior, let me know.

Michael Barberi
8 years ago
I respect Angel's opinion, as well as Tim's. However, there are legitimate philosophical and theological arguments that are in tension with HV. This debate has been going on for the past 44 years and no resolution is in sight.  Angel gives examples of temporarily contraception. However, I ask both Angel and Tim to address the following "common" existential case. 

A young woman of 3 children is told that another pregnancy is life-threatening. She cannot take the pill or be sterilized because she is told that this is immoral. In this case, the hierarchy of values seems to be turned upside down. The decision to use the prudent and safest method to prevent conception and safeguard her life is less important and morally irrelevant in comparison to a decision to use risky PC to ensure that every marital act has a procreative meaning. Furthermore, the Church’s answer to this moral dilemma, namely, “the heroic virtue of PC or celibacy” seems like stoic insensibility and unreasonable in contrast to preserving the life of a young mother of 3 children and her marriage. 
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

I read Mohler's article and agree with much of it. Perhaps we have more in common that we think (I hope). As a devout Catholic, I believe that all Catholics must remain open to new life.

1. Direct abortion is immoral.

Indirect abortion is permissible but I disagree with the Church's definition of indirect abortion. For example, the Pheonix Case, is a perfect example. When the life of a young woman of 3 children is seriously and immediately threatened by a fetus, who cannot survive under any circumstances, but the mother's life can be saved by terminating the pregnancy, then this is moral. This is also the opinion of two prominent "tradition-minded theologians", Germain Grisez and Martin Rhonheirmer. 

2. An anti-life attitude is immoral. Children should be loved unconditionally and should never be viewed as an obsticle, annoyance or a problem. All life is holy and precious.

Every Catholic married couple must accept a child born by accident regardless of the method of birth control used. However, while some forms of birth control may be abortificient, other forms are controversial, and therefore not immoral based on the principle of double effect. This principle does not forbid a potential and extreme remote possibility of a bad effect, especially if there is much moral and ethical value when certain forms of contraceptive methods are used in the practice of responsible parenthood. There must also be no other viable alternative means to the good intended. NFP-PC is not a viable alternative because 30% of women have irregular menstrual cycles and PC does not work for them. 

3. Children are an end of marrige, and not the end of every single marital act.  

Both NFP-PC and artificial contraception are forms of birth regulation. Both manipulate the fertility-infertility nexus, have the same intention to avoid fertile intercourse, and both are acts performed before the marital act that make procreation during sexual intercourse impossible. Either both are a violation of Humanae Vitae or they are not. 
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Michael #19
Re your first paragraph, I chose my words carefully. I said I (referring to myself) could not be Catholic if I didn't accept the doctrine of a divinely-protected Magisterium teaching authority. I don't want to ''play Church'' for social or psychological reasons. I believe it because it captures my intellect and my heart and I submit my own prideful will to it. I also never used the phrase ''without remainder.'' Not all teaching has the same weight. I believe HV has that weight.

As regards the association of divorce, infidelity, selfishness, abortion, venereal disease, etc., etc. with marital, premarital and extramarital contraceptive use, I think it is self-evident that dissociating procreation from the sex act does have many negative effects, written about in many books and reports, obviously more so with premarital and extramarital use. Since your position is the one trying to change Church teaching, I think the onus is on you to provide data disproving those negative effects, beyond some personal or anecdotal arguments. Even Dr. Mohler accepts this. You are an outlier here.

Re your post #20, I sent you Mohler's article not because I agree with him, but to show that his nuanced view is still a Protestant view.

Finally, if you only disagreed with the Church on contraception, that would be one thing. But, your approach of thinking ''against'' rather than ''with'' the Church has resulted in you parting ways with several other doctrinal positions, listed in part in #20 but also in previous posts. I think the intellectual road you have taken will go further and further away from the Church over time (as the Anglicans have done), if not you, then with those who buy into your way of thinking. But, I pray that both the dissident Catholics and the Protestants come back to the bark of Peter to do battle with the evil secular forces so that the Western World will be saved, culturally and demographically.
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

With due respect, your posts often exaggerate my comments and frankly have an insulting undertone to them. Your comment "you don''t want to 'play Church' for social or psychological reasons" is baffling and is a far cry from what I have been saying in many blogs. It is pure unsubtantiated rhetoric and I would ask you once again to choose your words carefully.

You say that "your crusade" was referring to yourself.  So, you are not saying that Catholics would disagree with a Church teaching, e.g., Humanae Vitae, are not being unfaithful (but can be faithful)?....and that this statement only applied to your personal beliefs and not to others that disagree for good reasons? Please stop the hogwash and misdirection. 

Your opinion smacks of moral certitude when you say that "my approach of thinking against rather than with the Church....will take me further and further away from the Church over time (like the Angelicans have done)" is insulting. Shame of you when you judge the rectitude of my thinking or my faith in Christ, his Gospel and the Catholic Church. I grow closer to Christ not away for him. Before you take the speck out of my eye, take the plank out of your own eye first. Get a grip on yourself. We live in a divided Church and in a crisis of Truth. Check on those you think are in the minority. Those that disgree with many of the sexual ethical teachings of the Church are in the overwhelming majority.

If you carefully read my comments, they are respectful and civil. They never demean your beliefs and opinion, save for the facts we debate. This type of behavior is characteristic of a person who cannot win an argument, does not want to debate the issues straightaway, but rather likes to proclaim the "higher moral ground" by the agument from authority. 

Honestly, I don't have to prove something the Church proclaimed as the truth....that contraception is the cause of abortion, marital infedilty and divorce. They are the one's that have to prove it, not by Magisterial proclamation but by "evidence in human experience backed by a solid and widely accepted scientific study".  You don't want to debate but repeat the same narrative about the authority and power of the Magisterium. In your opinion the Magisterium cannot err, nor have they in the past. This is blatantly false and not supported by historical facts.

Your last paragraph is most telling of your extreme thinking. "You pray that both the 'dissident Catholics and the Protestants' come back to the bark of Peter".  The last time I checked, the word "dissident" was used by JP II to describe those Catholics that disagreed with a Chruch teaching, because they were invinciblly ignorant, infected with the evil of the secular world, and unfaithful. Well, this describes the majority of the laity, most theologians and many bishops and priests because they don't believe Humanae Vitae (or for that matter many of the sexual ethical teachings of the Chruch) is the absolute moral truth without remainder. Incidentally, most Catholics also don't agree with the definition of "direct abortion" or the judgment of the action in the Phoenix Case. All of these examples, you avoid and do not want to debate or would you give them any creditability as an argument because you have no answer except for your argument "from authority".

The many books and articles you refer to are not scientific evidence widely accepted by any respected scientific institution or a scientific journal. They are the opinions of tradition-minded authors who want to prove the Paul VI was prophetic. There is a huge diffence between a correlation and a cause. This does not mean a correlation is irrelevant but it is a far cry from a cause. Our modern liberal culture causes many ills, but culture is a phenomenon characterized many factors. Contraception does not cause abortion. The data I provided you on another blog you ignore. Get over it.
I follow the movement of the Holy Spirit and my informed conscience, but give respect to the Church's teachings. I am not drifting away from Christ and His Chruch because my faithful, prayerful beliefs are supported by legitimate philosophical and theologians arguments, much prayer and reflection, sacrament and the guidance of my spiritual and theological advisors. This is not an over-reaction, but a respectful rebuttal to your comments.
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Wow, Michael. You are over-reacting. Re your early paragraphs, I am talking about myself. It is still possible, in my opinion, to have substantial difficulties with HV and still be a faithful Catholic, but, not in my case. For you, it may be different. But, ask yourself if you are trying in most cases to think with the Church, and. not against it. One clue might be how often you align yourself intellectually against the Magisterium. 
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

I have spent the majority of my Catholic education studying the works of the saints, mysticism, the love of God, etc. For the past 7 years I have been studying moral theology. As I mentioned to you, I read the works of the tradition-minded and less-tradition minded for precisely the reason you think I err, that is to ensure I understand fully both sides of the argument, the Church's thesis and teachings and those who disagree for good reasons.

I respect both sides and if I disagree I want to be comfortable that I can defend my position, not from my own perspective and potentially false sense of pride, but from giving adequate reflection to the Church's principles and arguments. In other words, I want to be able to fully articulate the Chruch's teachings and supporting arguments, and the reasons for my disagreement. 

That is why any argument "from authority" gets us no where. It is the weakest of moral arguments. This does not mean that it is imprudent to adhere to all Magisterium teachings, but rather it means that if you want to debate an issue theologically and philosophically, you need to enter into a dialogue much broader than "from authority". 

I align myself to the teachings of the Magisterium on its social ethical teachings and most of its sexual ethical teachings. I don't believe that adherance to all Church teachings is a limus test for my Catholicity...or for that matter for my love of Christ, His Gospel or the Catholic Church per se.

I believe in the office of the papacy, but not in the manner that some who have occupied it managed and used it. In the past, the papacy was much more collegiate, relied on ecumenical councils, theologians and the majority of bishops. This has changed significantly since the later part of the 19th century and especially the later part of the 20th century. The teachings of the Church in the 20th century has been by papal encyclical, and if you seriously studied its history, you will know such pronouncements were highly influenced by politics and a fear of going against tradition. In other words, the Roman Curia feared that the Magisterium would loss its credibility as a teaching authority. This is a complex subject and not for this blog.

If I may offer some advice, it would be to ask you (us) to stay focused on the issues we both raise. Instead of absurd remarks, ignoring any reasonable fact or argument, it would be more productive to admit one has a good point, now and then. However, as much as I wish to abide by my own suggestions, I find it difficult to do so when you keep coming back to your argument "from authority", or repeat the same narrative, again and again. This comes across as dogmatic moral certitude and dimissive. 

I am not perfect, but the problematic as I see it is that the tradition-minded don't really want to debate the many issues of sexual ethics. They know they will get boxed into a dilemma, so they don't debate, they talk pass the other person and keep repeating their narrative that goes no where. 

I am sure if we ever meet and get to know each other, we would be friends but repectfully disagree. I hope this was helpful. 
Craig McKee
8 years ago
Michael and Tim: If you wish to engage in an online personal conversation, try SKYPE!
Now, back to a consideration of the article in question....
Angel Hugo Guerriero
8 years ago
Dear Michel: Thank you for your confidence. I think that in the case you mentioned, it’s explainable to use the pill, for the reasons that let me remember to you: a) is imprudent to pretend that all the people live heroically (Commisione Teologica Internazionale y cf. Mat. cap. 20). b) what is extremely just is not just (summum jus summa injuria est: Cicero). c) the objective doesn’t justify the means achieving it, but we must distinguish what is  just of the explainable. One act may be not just by itself, but without guilt, because it’s explainable by just and in proportion cause, like vis major (irresistible force), or been in urgent need of something. d) the human actions aren’t just because its consequences wood be good (the “consequencealism” of  George E. Moore. In this case there are others important reasons you can read in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 7. On the light of these principles the consultant has to proceed in conscience.ANGEL HUGO GUERRIERO
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
How do you respond to this hypothesis?
A wife's husband has AIDS and the wife does not. The wife and husband reasonably do not trust the women's life to a latex condom. Do the wife and husband have to live a celibate life or can the wife be released of her vows of marriage and find another? Or is an affectionate yet celibate life together the highest expression of Christian love?

I do not at all believe we are living in a divided Church with a crisis of Truth (per Michael's last para). I believe we have a holy and clear teaching from the Church on these issues. Yet there are specific and unusual cases where the teaching can call for heroic virtue. Almost no one's whole life is free from tough tests of our faithfulness to Christ and His Church, and the sexual area is only part of the challenges we face. When people fail to do this, there is a forgiving and loving God to judge the whole person, in the depths of their souls. For God, all things are possible.

Tim O'Leary
8 years 1 month ago
Very good article from Fr. Beloin. I have 4 points, which I offer humbly:

1) There is a distinction between ''Development of Doctrine'' and Reversal of Doctrine. To go from the verb to the noun in Transubstantiating is a development. To clarify Usury as exorbitant interest is also a development, since interest that hurts people is the issue and it did in the past without a modern banking system. But, the Anglicans reversed themselves 180 degrees on contraception in 1930 Lambeth conference, and there have been multiple reversals in moral theology among our Protestant brethren since then (at least). It does seem from Sr. Farley’s own words that she wants reversal: “Masturbation…a great good” (p236), “same-sex … activities can and should be respected whether or not they have a choice to be otherwise” p293, and her public support of a right to abortion.

2) There is a difference in the contemplation of the truths of theological faith versus in the more practical moral realm. Different analogies or definitions of language on the Trinity, or the Real Presence, can be developments, whereas the seemingly trivial linguistic difference between homoiousios (similar) and homoousios (same) nearly destroyed the Church (except that it cannot die). Likewise, changes in the Trinity based on some gender speculations would have huge consequences. In the moral realm, the good and bad of personal behavior is more fixed, as human nature hasn’t changed. There can certainly be some relaxation on how a sin is defined as venial or mortal, as better understanding of the psychological or social circumstances arises, but any reversal that makes an evil a good is impossible.

3) The Laws of Church governance or disciplinary processes and multiple prudential judgments (e.g. capital punishment, just war, celibacy for priests) can be changed to suit the times provided that they do not have doctrinal consequences or do not depart from the structure believed to be given by Christ (such as the impossibility of women’s ordination). So, as Mark Oppenheimer stated in the June 8 NYT (even!), the CDF has been “fairly benign” with Sr. Farley (no formal penalty, no prohibition on writing or teaching, just a “Truth-in-Advertising” clarification that her opinions are not consistent with Catholic teachings and should not be taught as such). I think this is way too lenient given the damage it might cause to souls but that’s just me (and I defer to the Magisterium).

4) In the end, it is up to the Magisterium (Pope, with the Bishops, Councils, ordinary and infallible, etc) to make the distinctions between what is acceptable and what is not (the power to loose and bind, Mt 16). Who else could claim that right and not cause doctrinal anarchy and loss of the faith? The Church leaders may well over- or under-shoot on the prudential, discipline and government side, but we know Jesus has promised us that the truth will not be lost (or become unknown from the Church) and She and Her children will never be abandoned by God.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 1 month ago
Michael #2
I will leave it to others to talk about the usury example. But I would point out that your idea of following a future theoretical teaching over the actual present teaching (which you concede is the firm teaching of 3 popes, the Catechism, etc) actually does away with any teaching authority and the ability to bind and loose doctrine. Or rather, you (and Sr. Farley, with her use of the word ''current'' teaching in her response) think you have an alternate way of knowing true doctrine (the academic intelligentsia). That is a very Protestant idea that I covered in my number four above.

Michael Barberi
8 years 1 month ago

With due respect, you exaggerate what I write and distort its reasoning. The current teaching of the Church you are referring to is Humanae Vitae, and as you well know disagreement with this teaching is not based on "a future teaching" but on solid philosophical and theological arguments by most theologians and informed laypersons. This is similar to the current arguments that both theologians and the laity had in past centuries when they disagreed the 3 papal bulls on Usury.

The examples of Church teachings that have been reformed for good reasons, e.g., Usury, was based on the gift of re-thinking, something that Benedict XVI has encouraged. This guides our Church and makes it a learning and teaching Church.

We benefit from those in our Church (theologians) with the responsibility of moving our understanding of the truth forward through scholarship, interpretation of the past and present, the signs of our times and the enlightenment and progress in the sciences, philosophy, socialogy, anthropology, theology, ontology, scripture and human experience. The help bishops and popes to formuate and modify doctrine and the application of teachings.

You suggest that the bishop of Rome and his encyclicals and teachings must always be obeyed. I agree that all Catholics must give respect to a Church teaching. However, if we always obeyed all Church teachings without remainder, then slavery, usury, freedom of religion, the torture of heretics and the ends of marriage would never have been changed. Few would argue we would be living in a better world if this happened.

Your argument is an argument from "authority" which many philosophers and particular members of the most common schools of Catholic teaching...consider to be the weakest argument. 

Kindly temper your accusations. I never profess to know the truth, nor condemn others for their opinions, save for scandalous proclaimations. I offer in humility what I believe to be my reasoned and faithful thoughts. I am a pilgrim like you and others who are striving to love God and neighbor in accordance with the Gospel of Christ.  
Maggie Rose
8 years ago
idle thoughts of a pew-sitter (who's also observing): perhaps the magisterium could return to their original charism, as shown by jesus: who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped but rather emptied himself and who had table fellowship with sinners and who suggested taking only one cloak on the road when setting out to spread the word of his father and who preached the beatitudes ...

perhaps this return to the original charism is both too simple and too complex an idea to be possible ... and we strongly suspect it is not likely ...

i sometimes imagine (thank you st. ignatius) that peter, now in his glory long these many centuries and knowing what he knows now, wishes that the magisterium weren’t quite so literally like he was but rather would take jesus more literally ... i can’t help but wonder what type of example following the charism of jesus would be for us  
Michael Barberi
8 years ago
Thank you Maggie for your enlightened and inspirational thoughts. If the magisterim applied the underlying theology of the Chruch's social teachings to its sexual teachings, we would be following the charism of Christ. 
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Michael #4
You are overly defensive. I agree we are both common pilgrims, still striving to follow the Gospel. My post #3 was not an accusation but a calm reaction to your use (in #2) of 3 terms that refer to an expected or hoped-for change in doctrine in the future: “in waiting” and “current prohibition” and “some day will.” Sr. Farley also was careful to say in her writings that she departed from “current” teaching, leaving open an anticipated obedience to a future teaching. My point is that if everyone did that about their own pet doctrinal peeve, they could not honestly be said to be like Mother Esperanza of Veracruz “being in the church, with the church and for the church' (quoted by Bishop Sartain in a recent post).

Moreover, once one takes that first step, says that first but definitive “No” to the teaching (not just the practice, we all sin), greater deviation from the faith becomes easier: from contraception for hard cases, to a form of family economics management, to pleasure alone in marriage, to premarital and extramarital sex (initially for rare “situations”), to seeing nothing wrong with abortion (personal “choice”), to homosexuality and beyond. People become blinded to the virtue of chastity. They ridicule it, say it is unhealthy. I know you will protest that those other steps are not necessarily consequent, but it does happen more often than not (see Sr. Farley). Just look at the polls on people who call themselves Catholic but disagree with the Church. It’s rarely one issue.

You describe my reliance on the Magisterium as an appeal to authority for the Truth. But you too appeal to authority, that of the academic intelligentsia. Just as most people who make claims from science are not making those claims after they themselves have done the science. They appeal to the authority of scientists. My point is that reason, experience, academic discipline, specialization, etc. all have their place, but the Catholic Magisterium has all that, coupled with the promise of Jesus.

Maggie #5
I think Jesus knew full well what the Church would do over history and yet He still set it up as is. On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said the following with respect to Baptism: “Renouncing the glamour of Satan in today’s age means rejecting a culture where truth does not matter.” With Baptism we are now in the life of the Trinity: “uniquely united to God, with a new life that belongs to God, we are immersed in God Himself.” He explained: “Yes, my decision is necessary, but ultimately, it is an act of God within me.”  “I do not decide to become a Christian. I am … chosen by God, and by saying “Yes” to this action of God, I become a Christian.” We are in good hands.
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

You misinterprete the words I say. I will take responsibility for this.

If I may try again in a spirit of love and respect, I base my judgments about contraception on my informed conscience and legitimate philosophical and theological you well know. There is always some truth in the encyclical Humanae Vitae (HV), but this doctrine proclaims too much of a moral certitude.

I welcome an intelligible and convincing moral theory in support of HV and remain open to further education and reflection. This I have said many times in many blogs that you and I participated in. My remarks do not imply "too much of my own moral certitude". Like most theologians and the majority of informed Catholics, many bishops and priests, I disagree for good reasons.

When you claim the unproven consequences of contraception, as definitive human experience, I say show me any well respected scientific study or article in a widely read scientific journal that concluded that contraception causes abortion, divorse, spousal abuse et al. I already gave you statistics on this issue in another blog that gives great pause to the claims of tradition-minded theologians about the consequences of contraception. 

I am not blinded by Chastity-PC but I don't believe that without practicing PC, marital acts will become acts of lustful pleasure without remainder, as JP II asserted. Nor do I believe that contraceptive marital acts, for good reasons (no more children for good reason...Pius XII) represent a false love between responsible Catholic couples. Nor do I believe that NFP-PC is God's procreative plan. No one knows God's procreative plan and the symbolism and philosophical anthropology of Wojtyta-JP II upon which this is based is methophoric speculation and a weak moral theory. I studied his Theology of the Body and it is a creative work. There is some truth in it, but it is not the complete moral truth without remainder. This is my reasoned opinion, but it is also the opinion of many priests including my parish priest who gave me council many years ago.

I appeal to my conscience in truth, and not to the theology of disagreeing theologians. If I share their reasoned opinion it is based on much prayer, sacrament, reflection, spiritual advise of my parish priest and respect for magisterium teachings.

As for your opinion and belief in the magisterium, good for you. I am saddened that we live in a divided church and in a crisis in truth. It seems to me that according to your opinion, one cannot disagree with a church teachings, e.g. HV, and remain a faithful Catholic. 
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Michael #8
Thanks for the pat on the back for believing in the Magisterium. I do think I cannot honestly be a Catholic unless I believe in the teaching authority of the Church (which is what the Magisterium means). It is a central belief, and the key divider between us and Protestants. All other differences derive from this key divider. I have many Protestant friends, and share a great love for the Scriptures (following its meaning to the best of their understanding, as I do) with them, and many lead admirably moral lives, to the best of their ability, and most do not see a problem with contraception. But they would agree that they couldn't become Catholic unless they accepted the teaching authority of the Church.
Maggie Rose
8 years ago
tim, my good man ... not to put too fine a point on my comment please allow me to unpack what i meant (by the way, thank you for your comforting and so true perspective on ''not to worry the holy spirit has us in hand''): 

my comment attempted to see the magisterium from a radical point of view, one only imagined and never in fact actual but nonetheless this radical point of view may give additional (and helpful dare i hope) insight: it is not that the magisterium IS or that the magisterium DOES extraodinary things. they are and they do. and i am grateful! but if a person can imagine, prayerfully, that the magisterium - like the charisms of jesus - emptied itself, sat down to dinner with sinners (not their usual collection of sinners but rather unexpected sinners that they normally don't associate with), divested themselves of property and possessions, and lived out of a center of the beatitudes then ... ah then ... what would the world see?

with what voice of authority would their voice ring out for all to hear? speaking with authority as jesus did (not as the pharisees did), how could we not see the righteousness in their proclamations?  

see the difference between what we have and what might be?
Michael Barberi
8 years 1 month ago
A great article. Bravo Fr. Beloin.

Tim and I often disagree and this is another time of tension in the spirit of seeking truth and understanding.  

The example of "exhorbitant interest" harming people as a description of why the Doctrine of Usery was reformed is misleading. As a Church doctrine, Usery has a remarkably similar history to the Doctrine on Contracepion. One doctrine was reformed, the other is in waiting. Consider the real history of the Usury Doctrine  and how it represents solid evidence of how the Church has changed its teachings, a doctrine that was clearly written in Scipture of "Divine Law". 
From at least the 12th to the 16th centuries the profit on a loan constituted the serious sin of usury.... “The doctrine of usury was enunciated by popes, 3 ecumenical councils, proclaimed by bishops, and taught unanimously by theologians”. By 1565 Archbishop Charles Borrmeo of Milan found prevalent banking and business practices in his diocese in which an investor was guaranteed his capital plus a return. This was considered a mortal sin and a violation of divine law (Luke 6, 35).
At that time, the financial markets of Europe were undergoing substantial changes and innovation especially with respect to annuity contracts, exchange banking and deposits. A Church commission was set up to study these issues and enable the pope to decide the theological controversies about the moral law that had divided theologians, confused the laity and threatened to subvert the divine and natural law forbidding men to seek profit on a loan. Between 1571 and 1586 Pius V and Sixtus V issued 3 papal bulls Cum Onus, In Eam and Detestabilis Avaritia denouncing these financial practices as a mortal sin and against divine law. However, most theologians and the laity dissented to the papal bulls. The popes and their advisors feared that if the novel theories of innovating theologians were accepted the entire moral structure of Catholic thought on economic matters would crumble. By challenging established business practices, the popes anticipated objection and the continuance of sin. Nevertheless, they reasoned that the laity had to be instructed and theological innovators repressed. As it turned out, the dissent by theologians and the laity deprived the bulls of any force to influence anyone’s behavior. It was also the theologians and the laity that helped reform the doctrine of usury over papal bulls. However, at that time no one was able to explain how the Church overlooked what was clearly written in scripture as divine law. 
Today the Catholic Chuch faces similar issues of disgreement to Humanae Vitae. Three popes have issued encyclicals, an apostolic letter and a series of instructional talks all supporting the current prohibition against contraception. Like usury, most theologians and the laity disagree with HV; many bishops and priests also disagree with it. In many ways HV and the papal bulls concerning usury are "teachings not recieved". The doctrine of usery was eventually reformed. Some day HV will undergo a similar process of discernment. 


Michael Barberi
8 years ago

I am your remarks absurd. You proclaim that unless Catholics follow all the teachings of the magisterium they are not faithful Catholics.  Ratzinger in 1967, John Paul II in Veritatis Spendor, and Vatican II in Gaudium et specs, tell us that one must never go against their informed consciences, even if it goes against the pope (e.g. an encyclical).

I would like you to ask the pastor of your church if you could give a 2 minute announcement at the conclusion of Mass (from the Pulpit) to remind everyone in the church that unless they follow all Church teachings, especially the negative injunction against contraception, they are not faithful Catholics....and that anyone who received the Eucharist without confessing contraception as a sin and getting absolution, is committing a sacrilege.

Let me know what he says.
Brenda Becker
8 years ago
Michael and Tim, thank you for a civil and informative conversation-rare that comments genuinely amplify the discussion in a productive way! Michael, regarding your comment #11:
I can tell you exactly what would happen in this case, since we experienced it. We belonged to a diverse urban parish whose elderly pastor was a righteous and kindly gentleman who felt passionately (as do I) about the loss of respect for the Eucharist that he saw around him. However, he made the problematic pastoral decision to hector his parishioners almost weekly in his homilies about not receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, and in particular the sin of contraception. "Don't come up here if you're on the Pill," he would say, "and don't think you're fooling anyone if you have just one child." (This latter statement stunned me with its insensitivity: Imagine if you were struggling with secondary infertility! Oh, wait-we were!) Most everyone shuffled up to receive anyway, but within a few years, almost all the educated, middle-class parishioners fled to a more liberal ("welcoming" "progressive" etc.) parish of intention many miles away.. It was literally a mass exodus spurred by one pastor's zealous insistence on this one topic. The parishioners who remained were overwhemingly poor and working-class immigrants with English as a second language; whether they stayed due to piety, culturally inculcated obediance, apathy around the issue, convenience, or robust approval of this pastoral approach I couldn't say. The parish continues to struggle economically, the pastor has long gone to his eternal reward (and I hope he was rewarded, because he meant well despite his shortcomings and was a tireless servant of God), and we continue to attend the parish of intention, which is vibrant and experiencing growth in both members and vocations.
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Brenda #12
Thanks for your note. The experience you recount is a good reminder that there is a big difference between the teaching of the Truth and the pastoral approach to each sinner (which we all are). It is a bit like the difference between justice and mercy. Rev 21:27 says nothing impure can enter heaven, yet Jesus (Luke 23:43) said to the good thief ''today, you shall be with me in paradise.'' He was merciful to the adulterous woman but still instructed her not to sin again. Both sides of the theological spectrum have great difficulty in living out the meaning of loving the sinner while hating the sin. One side feels it cannot love the sinner without denying the sin and the other lets the hate for the sin spill over into hate for the sinner.
Michael Barberi
8 years ago
Branda#12 and Tim#13

When it comes to the issue of contraception, there is a significant contradiction and inconsistency between the word (doctrine) and the deed (pastoral practices). Bishops, priests and the laity know this well. Yet, the hierarchy does nothing to remedy this contradiction and inconsistency. One rarely hears anything from the pulpit about conscience, sin, confession and Eucharistic reception (your parish Brenda is a perfect example of this). The result is what the Church fears and does not want to face.

My current parish priest told me that contraception was controversial; both sides claim to know the truth. What is important is your relationship with Christ, and not to allow a disagreement with a Chruch teaching to prevent you from your relationship with God. Another parish priest told me, in answer to a direct question about birth control, that as long as I had children I should give respect to the Church teaching, but after prayer and serious reflection I should go with my informed conscience...and not worry about it. I suspect that this is the common answer. 

The Church suffers from a lack of an intelligible and convincing moral theoy in support of HV. Priests are given the same old narrative without any sufficiently understandable answers to the questions that many Catholics pose. This has gone on for the past 44 years. The Church is praying for an epiphany to be experienced by the laity, and the majority of theologians and many bishops and priests who do not believe HV is the complete moral truth.

Does the "silent pulpit" not undermine the credibility of the magisterim? If every priest knows that the majority of young married people practice contraception and stand in line each week to receive the Eucharist, where is the courage and bravery of the hierarchy to keep reminding people to avoid this intrinsic evil act, confess their sin, and not commit the grave sin of sacrilge? 
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

I could not help to notice your name "Brenda from Flatbush". My wife grew up and lived in Sheepshed Bay, Brooklyn, not far from Flatbush Avenue. When we got married we lived near the Kings Plaza Shopping Mall. We lived most of our married life in western New Jersey. However, we have been living in San Diego for the past 11 years. A small world. 
Michael Barberi
8 years ago
Angel: Thank your for these thoughts. I offer your the following issues that are in tension with what you propose.

1. In the example of the young mother of 3 children whose life is threatened by another pregnancy, the Church teaches that the act of taking the pill of sterilization is an "intrinsically evil act" regardless of end, intention, circumstances or act/object. 

2. As for pastoral practices, the 1997 Pontifical Counsel for the Family issued "Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life". This document considers any act of contraception, to prevent the procreative consequences of marital acts from being procreative, are intrinsically evil acts. This document offers confessors the "principle of graduation" whereby a confessor may offer absolution to a penitent as long as he or she confesses the act (contraception) as a mortal sin and has a firm purpose of amendment. This principle does not work because few Catholics confess contraception as a sin, and those that do have no intention stopping contraception (save for those few that switch to NFP). Therefore, the issue about guilt and the explanable for just and proportionate reasons do not apply to contraception.

3. As you know, there is much legitimate philosophical and theologican debate about whether contraception for just and good reasons (Pius XII) in the practice of responsible parenthood is morally good. Both NFP-PC and contraception are acts to regulate fertility and both are acts performed before the marital act to avoid fertile intercourse. Thus, it is difficult for most theologians, lay people, and many bishops and priests to see any difference between them.

4. John Paul II assseted that Catholics cannot rely of their informed consciences when it comes to acts of contraception (in the practice of responsible parenthood for just and good reasons). He asserted in Vertitatis Spendor that the Church teaches the moral truth that the consciouses of Catholics should be able to grasp. This means that when the Church says something is the moral truth, it is precisely this truth that the informed conscience of Catholics must grasp as the truth...end of discussion.

This is based on the confiction that an individual conscious can err but the Holy Spirit promises that the Church will not be lead astray. However, Christ promised this to His Church, meaning the whole Church, namely, the laity, theologians, clergy and hierarchy. History has shown us that Popes and bishops have erred. Doctrines and teachings have changed. What was once prohibited, usery and freedom of religion, has been approved; what was once approved, slavery, the torture of heretics, has now been prohibited. 

We are living in a divided church and in crisis of truth. At one time sex was only for procreation, sex during menstruation was a mortal sin, sex during pregnancy was forbidden and sex had only once licit position (Noonan). These teachings were once pronounced by bishops and theologians as the truth, but have been abandoned. Could it be possible that contraception, for just and good reasons, in the practice of responsible parenthood undergo a change. After all, a teaching that has not been received, has always been reformed. 
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

In the example you pose, a wife cannot be released from her marriage vows unless there are sufficient reasons. For example, if the groom had AIDS but did not tell the bride he had AIDS before they married, then this could be grounds for a dispensation based on fraud and disception. I know of a woman who got pregnant (by someone she was dating for one month) and told the man that she was going to have the baby and not an abortion, therefore, she argued that the right thing to do was to marry her and give the child a name. The man reluctantly agreed after trying to find some other alternative. They married and the man left for military duty. After 3 months time, the bride wrote to the groom that she decided to have an abortion because she did not want the baby and beleived the marriage under these circumstances would not work out. The groom appealed to the Church for dispensation from marriage, and got it approved based on fraud, deception and the grave sin of abortion. 

As for your case, both the husband and wife can live a celibate life if they agreed to do it voluntarily. You cannot "impose" celibacy on anyone, because it must be freely chosen. Celibacy is a gift from God given to the very few. Many seminarians drop out of seminaries because they cannot life a celibate life, despite their sincere intentions to be ordained. Therefore, forced celibacy from authority can never work. On the other hand, if this couple decided that using a "double condom" was safe and both agreed to express their love through sexual intercourse, then they should be able to do so. Such a decision would have to be based on expert facts about safety and proportionality.

Your response to Angel. Tim, I know you don't live in a fantacy world. For the past 44 years, there has been a profound crevice between most theologians, most of the laity and many bishops and priests about many of the Church's teachings on sexual ethics. These Catholics have not left the Church but remain in it to serve God. They work respectfully for reform. To proclaim that we do not live in a divided church and in a crisis of truth (as JP II has also asserted) is foolish nonsense.

What is important is that the Magisterium has the obligation to provide Catholics with a convincing rationale for a doctrine that is proclaimed to be divine law. In other words, they must make what is invisible, visible; what is counter-intuitive, intuitive; and what is unintelligble and unreasonable, must be made intelligible and reasonable. Unfortnuately, this has not happened with respect to Humanae Vitae, and the application of this doctrine to particular commons cases. I also call your attention to the Phoenix case which is an argument over the definition of "direct and indirect abortion" based on the ethical method of Aquinas. This case has divided most members of the Church as well.

Another pragmatic argument is this: If God's procreative plan (as JP II has asserted) is for spouses to abstain from sexual intercourse on fertile days, as the only licit means for regulating fertiliy, then why is it impossible to restrict conjugal acts to the 6 fertile day window that God made for spouses. Science today has not been able to devise a practical method to predict the start of ovulation a priori or retrospectively. This is the reason that most NFP-PC programs call for 12 days abtainance, double the 6 days predicted. Therefore, it is a contradiction to say that spouses can do God's will, when it is practically impossibe to do it. Should we simply say that spouse should practice heroic virtue regardless of the number of days?
Tim O'Leary
8 years ago
Michael #33
In deference to Craig McKee's comment #25, I will not keep this up. So, this will be my last comment unless 'Our Man in Hong Kong' keeps reading and asks me to. Or, maybe, Angel of the Argentine can keep the ping pong game going.

Suffice to say that I do not believe your ideas are ''foolish nonsense'' - just wrong. I believe you continue to misunderstand JPII and the teaching mission of the Church. You see contradiction and confusion where there is none. But, I would like to discuss other things than this small world of how to have sex and avoid children. 
Angel Hugo Guerriero
8 years ago
Michel: All what I know about these questions, I told to you. Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my ideas with you, and with Tim. God blessed you. ANGEL HUGO GUERRIERO.
Michael Barberi
8 years ago

It was a pleasure to discuss these issues with you. I respect your opinon. God bless you.


This blog was about Margaret Farley's book "Just Love". It was about sexual ethics, and I have discussed abortion, sterilization, and contraception. I will leave the readers of this blog to decide if there is contradiction, confusion and disagreement within the Church on these issues, or whether as you claim there is none.

I understand fully well the Church's teachings and her mission. I am a faithful informed Catholic and respectfully believe you are mistaken. I give details and adequate argumentation. You offer none but rhetoric or your argument "from authority". 

This will be my last comment on this blog, in deference to Craig McKee unless there are others who express otherwise.


The latest from america

Our Lady Queen of Angels School in the East Harlem section of New York City is seen in this 2015 file photo. On July 9, the Archdiocese of New York announced that financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing it to close numerous Catholic schools. The East Harlem school is not among them. The Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. also has announced school closures.
The schools will not reopen in the fall because of the financial fallout caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
 (CNS photo/Michael Falco, Fordham University)
Institutions of higher learning in the United States had expected a drop in international enrollment this fall. Now, they may lose all international students who typically pay higher tuition rates, a source of funding many universities have come to depend on.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJuly 09, 2020
President Donald Trump greets Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Trump seemed to acknowledge the problematic beginning of his relationship with President López Obrador when he said their friendship developed “against all odds.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaJuly 09, 2020
John Flanery, president of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools in Sioux City, Iowa, speaks to graduating seniors and their families June 27, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Jerry L Mennenga)
Absent relief, more and more private schools will close, hurting local economies on the way.
Nydia SalazarJuly 09, 2020