Sex on the brain

Our old, if critical, friend, Advocatus Diaboli, has had some spare time between Christmas and the New Year. And if the Devil makes work for idle hands, we can expect his advocate take advantage of the opportunity. I have now received a further contribution from him – and I look forward to you putting him firmly, though I am sure courteously, in his place. Quentin.

O     O     O

Thank you once again for the hospitality of Secondsightblog. I am not going to comment on the discussion which followed my last contribution, you must decide for yourselves. Instead I turn to a different subject.

An outsider, like me, might well get the impression that the Catholic Church is primarily a movement designed to control, and preclude as far as possible, anything to do with sexual activity. That impression might be formed from the fact that it is the one subject which, in different manifestations, gets the greatest column inches. And, even on a blog to which mature people like yourselves contribute, anything related to sexuality seems to get the most comments. If I may take a single example, your Bishop O’Donoghue (whose work on Catholic doctrine has recently been commended by the Vatican) was able to claim that obedience to the Church’s condemnation of all contraception was the “litmus test” of Catholicism.

This remark may seem idiotic, but – taken against history – it is typical of how Christianity can be perverted with the best of intentions. I can see very little in the Gospels about sexual sin (and what is there is compassionate), and in St Paul what is condemned is not sexuality but sexual excess. Even his cautions on marriage can be explained by his belief (based foolishly on taking Jesus’ words literally) that the end of the world was about to come. If that is what a bishop in good standing thinks being a Catholic is primarily about, he is either a fool or my case is already proved.

Where did it all start? The major authority was Augustine who was a reformed Manichean. Like many converts his reaction was extreme, and the result was his doctrine that the only justification for sexual intercourse was procreation (Manicheans believed that procreation was sinful, and advocated alternative sexual practices). Augustine believed that sexual pleasure as such was sinful, even in marital intercourse; that the terrible inheritance of original sin was transmitted through this lust. Not a very good start for an attitude which was to last about 1500 years.

About 200 years later we find Pope St Gregory the Great making it clear that the libido  necessary for sexual intercourse was in itself sinful, and should preclude a man from entering a church for a time. Aquinas takes the same general view. And so on – until the great alarm caused by Pius X1th in 1930 suggesting that, under certain conditions, intercourse without intention to procreate could be lawful and good.

Being as generous as possible I calculate that for 77% of the history of Christianity it has been generally and explicitly taught that every form of genital expression, even in the most loving expression of the holiest of marriages, is inevitably sinful. Not bad for an infallible Church, is it?

And what about those who are picked as leaders of the Church? We might think of the bright-eyed seminarians, fully infused with call of the Spirit. The only figures I have are from the 1950s but a study at that time showed that their rate of self abuse was 99%. Interestingly it was somewhat higher than most other groups. Coming to much more modern history (2002) I find that less than half the priests under age 45 believe that to be a practising homosexual is inconsistent with being a priest. How many would you guess accept self abuse? And you do not need me to turn the knife in the wound of international paedophilia.

I am not commenting on the rights and wrong of any of these practices. I am merely saying that they are grossly at variance with what your Church teaches. Fundamentally I am accusing you of deep laid hypocrisy. The only indulgence I can offer is that long, indurated culture (and 1500 years is long) has put you into denial. You may be forgiven because you do not know what you do.

Do you believe that the celibacy of the clergy is a great and sacred thing – allowing a priest to devote himself to his mission? Nonsense and double nonsense. There are plenty of monastic orders for those who choose celibacy as a free act. The secular clergy (and take that right up to the bishops and cardinals, and all the other steps on the ladder of priestly ambition) rejoice in a celibacy which allows them to conceal their lack of experience and their fear of an intimate committed relationship with the opposite sex. Don’t bother to tell me that there are exceptions, I am concerned with the many who sustain a regime of sexual orthodoxy not through a mature understanding but through warped and wounded personalities. These are the people who have the sheer impertinence to pontificate on how you should lead your sexual lives.

When your Church has rid itself of such attitudes I will listen to what she has to say about sexuality. She may or may not have a good deal to contribute. In the meanwhile I’d as soon walk down Soho and buy a dirty film. At least no one there is pretending.

Your friend, Advocatus Diaboli

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Advocatus Diaboli, Moral judgment. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Sex on the brain

  1. Ion Zone says:

    Now this is interesting, the tone of your article hints rather a lot at the person beyond it….unless you intentionally sought to create the persona I perceive through your words, the latter part of your writing could suggest either and was very emotive. I’m intrigued!

    ….

    I don’t take the church at its teaching that homosexuality is wrong for a number of reasons, but the most important is this. Human males are predisposed to be frightened of it as it has the ability to conjure phrases like ‘male rape’ and ‘not really a man’ – in many cultures it is the feminine partner who is reviled, not the mescaline, as it is seen as an unnatural and frightening thing. On one side we fear befalling it, on the other we fear enjoying it.

    I think that homosexuality and the church is an issue that needs a lot of thought, after all, the church, from what I understand, sees the act, rather than the person, as a sin, and may see that homosexuality is something partly inherent in all people which some give themselves over to, rather than a state the person is unable to change. This subject is very much seen as a very soft target in the Church, and one exploited in debates, and lack of understanding on both sides, some deliberate, it seems, in the case of those who wish to exploit it, perpetuates and exacerbates everything, turning gays off of religion and hardening attitudes towards us and our two millennia of emotional baggage.

    ….

    I admire the ideal of people within the church to rise above basic emotions like lust and anger….when and where it is strong enough. However the idea may have come about, sex has been vilified to an extent it does not deserve. It can cause great harm through rape and excess, but great joy where it is wanted. The desire to purify the self through abstinence can be a very noble thing, or not, depending on the person and the reason. After all, where it is wanted, where it is not gratuitous or hedonistic, the act itself could be considered noble, after all, is it not, when considered one way, the expression of a wish to be closer to someone than normal physics would allow?

    ….

    In regards to child abuse, as we said, and, I think, covered much ground on, in the other thread, in many or most cases, it seems that it is precisely those people who have no respect for the Church, and may even despise all it stands for, who commit the worst atrocities in its name.

    From what we could discern, the church was very much a means to an end that would easily have been replaced with another, softer, target, were there one available (From what I can remember, previous abuses by priests involved rather Satanic paraphernalia, and this one involved a crucifix). It is, I think, the silence of the bishops, a silence inherent in many other institutions at the time, but far less forgiveable here, which was the worst crime, after all, without allowance there could not have persisted abuse, abuse they most likely did not understand and hoped would go away.

    There is much to add and debate.

  2. Ion Zone says:

    I would like to add a quote from a gay Christian whom I know.

    “God is Love. Love is Love.”

    To which I would like to add.

    “True Love is true Love. All Love is equal in the eyes of God, even if it is not in the eyes of man.”

    Though I do not wish to second guess God, even as I must and others continue to do, often for their own ends or sensibilities. I say that we put them aside as much as we can so we might be judged fairly, on our own merit. Though even as I say that, I know, and am debating with, people who will believe nothing but the worst of us, regardless of what we say or do. Prove to them that we accept such a thing as evolution as viable, and watch as they demand proof anew the next time, all the time poisoning science against us even as we poison religion against them.

  3. Ion Zone says:

    That is very cheesy though!

  4. Horace says:

    “Where did it all start?”
    Worries abut sex have a long history; if we look at Leviticus 18 this is almost wholly concerned with sexual practices.

    Advocatus Diaboli declares:-
    “Augustine believed that sexual pleasure as such was sinful, even in marital intercourse; that the terrible inheritance of original sin was transmitted through this lust.”

    but when I read Augustine I find:-
    . . even such embraces of husband and wife as have not procreation for their object, but serve an overbearing concupiscence, are permitted, . . . . . For the nuptial embrace, which subserves the demands of concupiscence, is so effected as not to impede the child-bearing, which is the end and aim of marriage.

    Sounds very like HV!

    now:- Chastity is the virtue which excludes or moderates the indulgence of the sexual appetite. It is a form of the virtue of temperance, which controls according to right reason the desire for and use of those things which afford the greatest sensual pleasures. (Catholic encyclopedia)
    To me this is not “primarily a movement designed to control, and preclude as far as possible, anything to do with sexual activity.”

  5. gerry says:

    It is generally accepted that God’s greatest mistake was to choose the Jews. But, for Catholic moral theologians, His creation of sex runs it a very close second. They have put it right. Surely it is obvious to everyone that we can live like Dives so long as we don’t take the pill, how much more obvious is it that it is all right if we give up sex completely. If we deny this we are undermining the whole of Catholic Moral Theology, based solidly as it is on the very best Greek philosophy. Gerry

  6. st.joseph says:

    Advocatus Diaboli,Your comments told me a lot about you. What I am going to say to you I hope is not discourteous it is not meant to offend.
    God has given us a free will what to choose in our life. We can either descend or Ascend. He came to share our human nature to lift us up to share in His Divine Nature and showed us the Way the Truth and the Life. With the help of the Holy Spirit we have the Wisdom to choose correctly. He didn’t say it would be easy!
    You sound confused especially with the preference to walk down Soho and buy a dirty film. One must be careful with this decision as they may end up in the gutter!
    I would like to make a suggestion for some healthy reading and what the church says about sexualty.
    1. The Theology of the body. By Pope John Paul 2nd.
    2. Holy Communion: Eucharist and Marital By John F Kippley.
    3 The Gift of Life and Love/ By Dr Dr John J Billings. M.D.

    It will give you an insight into St Agustines prayer.
    Late have I loved Thee” O Beauty so Ancient and so new.
    Late have I loved Thee!”

  7. Brighton says:

    I find the comments on Advocatus Diaboli’s piece thoroughly uplifting and inspiring. Their only problem is that they do not address AD’s points.
    Is he right in thinking that the Church in practice communicates an unbalanced view of sexuality?
    Is he factually wrong about Augustine and Aquinas’s views?
    Is it not true that catholic teenagers, well within living memory, were brought up under the shadow of almost continuous mortal sin because of a habit which is practically universal among boys, and certainly common among girls? And what effect would that be likely to have?
    Is he wrong to suggest that sexual sin is really rather common among a clergy who are only too ready to condemn it in others?
    And, if he is right, might we not do better to acknowledge the facts as a starting point for a more constructive attitude?
    Or are we, too, in denial – as he suggests?

  8. Michael Mahoney says:

    Freud would surely say that it is not only the Church that has sex on the brain, but that we all have it, especially the Viagra society of the decadent West. And, why should this surprise us? Is not sex our most powerful appetite, an appetite that can supposedly lift us up in creative ecstasy or drive us insane like dogs on heat?

    We are told that we all have to struggle to channel our appetites in order to attain some harmony and sense of freedom in our lives, and this I suppose was the fundamental concern of St. Augustine and of St Paul who spoke so personally and emotionally of the enslavement of sin. And it may also be the case that Bishop O Donoghue’s litmus test for Catholics taps into the same emotion, the fear that all sexual pleasures, however trivial in the eyes of the world, will surely lead us to those dogs?

    Unsurprisingly perhaps, the bloke on his tour of the Soho porn shops probably thinks that neither Billings nor the burka will do the same for him.

  9. Superview says:

    If the Church has to defend itself against the charge of being obsessed with sex – a charge which on all the evidence it is surely impossible to resist – it has two pitiful scapegoats on whom to lay all the blame: Adam and Eve. The fact that their story in Genesis is now accepted by the Catholic Catechism as only ‘figurative’ (ref. comments 9 Jan under Autocracy and Authority) has not prevented the Catechism from attributing to them all manner of fearful and awesome consequences described in paragraph 400:

    “400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”. Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”, for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.”

    Presumably, and more particularly, when the clerical and celibate author of this imagined the contemporary world in which he lived, and his family life, he saw relations between men and women “marked by lust and domination”? Why else would he (or maybe she, but unlikely) have written this? And, presumably, the editor of the Catechism, which was revised just a few years ago under John Paul II, thought it accurate?

    As comments above have recognised, sex is about as powerful a force as it gets in nature, and is the cause of much sinfulness in relationships, yet there are clearly echoes of ancient heresy in these words.

    On this topic AD is pushing at an open door with many of us.

  10. st.joseph says:

    To address Advocatus Diabolis as Brighton suggests. I will make a few stabs at it but it may not satisfy him.
    You ask. ‘Is it not true that catholic teenagers well within living memory were brought up under the shadow of almost continuous
    mortal sin’ because of a habit which is practically Universal among boys and certainly among girls?
    I am not sure if you mean masturbation or sexual relationships”
    Would that be so wrong if that were true! Fear of the lord is a Gift of the Holy Spirit. Is it not better to have a mystical vision of Hell- if one has not the Mystical Vision of Heaven(sooner than lose it) and most teenagers don’t. We see what the lack of knowledge and self discipline is doing to our society. We see what sex on the brain is also amongst teenagers. Drugs, Abortion, Porn, Rape, disrespect, no knowledge of God etc. At least our Christian teenagers thankfully do have some morals- and it must be very hard for the to believe when they are surrounded by all to lead them astray. So our Church cant be that misleading.The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit from Pentecost.. We have just celebrated the birthday of the child Jesus. We have just celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. Also the Feast of The Holy Innocents which will remind us of the destruction of the unborn every second of the day. We cant be proud of that!To speaknof the past 1500 years of the Church, we must believe that it is evolving since the first Pentecost and The Spirit is guiding us into the New Creation until we get it right. We can start with ourselves with Original Sin in our own Souls.

    Superview your comments on the 10th January is interesting. I would like to make a point. It may not be relevant, but to me it is.
    I believe in the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother into Heaven. I believe in the Communion of Saints. The Ressurection of the body(our bodies) The New Creation Our Lord promised. Why are we looking back.

    We must make comments about our Bishops and Priests it is our duty to do so. We are apart of the Priesthood of the laity, with our own Gifts.But we must remember- without the Church that Jesus established- we would not have The Holy Sacrafice of The Mass, The Blessed Sacrament- The Pearl of Great Price Unless we become like little children, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Our Lords Words.

  11. Brighton says:

    St Joseph, I was referring to self abuse – and you have misquoted me slightly on prevalence in girls.

    Of course it’s a matter of opinion. You presumably believe that going through adolescence under a shadow of mortal sin, which you have been taught will send you straight to hell for all eternity should you be run over by a bus, is a good preparation for a balanced and mature view of both the Church and sexuality. But I would disagree.

    And so I suspect would the eminent psychiatrist, Doctor Jack Dominian (who has written so fully on Catholic sexuality based on many years study of hard evidence). He suggested that it was a natural way in which teenagers learnt about their emerging sexuality.

    I would hazard a guess that in virtually no instances would a teenager have the full knowledge and full consent required for mortal sin. But I doubt whether he would realise that since we do not ask our teenagers to have degrees in sexual psychology, and guilt is common in sexual matters.

    However I was taught (many years ago, I hope such scandalous ideas are long past) that since sexual sin was always “grave matter” even to entertain an “impure thought” was mortally sinful. Since (and I cannot reference this) I have been told that adolescents get impure thoughts several times an hour the gates of hell must have been kept continuously open for the stream of young.

  12. st.joseph says:

    Brighton I am sorry that you misunderstood that I misquoted you I quoted what you said about girls and boys!
    Unlike you I wasnt taught about the fears of mortal sin, but was made aware of my responsibilities and the consequences of my actions’ I am also sorry that you speak so highly of Dr Jack Dominian.It a pity he fell from Grace when he did. But he disennented in reality, from much more than the Church’s moral teachings and has subverted many othes into a likewise dissension, although it was unlikely that they all realise then,that it would eventualy lead, as it logically must to espousing the ’cause’ of the paedophiles;as this endorsement,this apparent approval of Johns Randall’s opinion, as expressed in his book Childhood and Sexualty’: A Radical Christian Approach’, he reviewed in 1993 indicates;
    “The author”, wrote Dr Dominian, is convinced that children are capable of sexual experience before puberty. He tears to bits a supposed sexual innocence of the first years and he is adamnent that childhood capacity for pleasure and orgasm are healthy experiences. He stresses the spontaneous sexual play of the higher apes. He is compassionate to paedophilic tendances….by men who are gentle and shy. The book claims the good doctor “has a challenging” vision worth serious consideration. which should have a wide circulation.” (Review in Catholic Herald 1993.). I could go on and on.

    I will just say. “O Brave New Church who has such perceptive people in it.’

  13. Iona says:

    Michael Mahony says, presumably rhetorically, “Is not sex our most powerful appetite?”
    I’m not at all sure that it is. If someone was starved of both food and sex, I think hunger would be much the more powerful appetite. If he was out in the cold and wet overnight, he would surely choose shelter over a sexual encounter in the snow.
    In an experiment with rats, years ago – and I am afraid that as usual I cannot remember details of the experimenter or date of experiment – it was discovered that the most powerful “drive” (as measured by how strong an electric shock the rat would tolerate in order to satisfy the drive) was not sex, not even hunger, but the maternal drive, – a mother rat separated from her babies would tolerate a more powerful shock in order to reach them than a hungry rat separated from food, – which in turn would tolerate a more powerful shock in reaching food than a sex-starved rat in order to satisfy his (or maybe her) sex drive.
    I do realise this has got rather a long way from what AD was talking about. But I also think that “sex on the brain” may just be a consequence of most of our more life-sustaining drives being largely satisfied most of the time.

  14. claret says:

    I’m told , and have no reason to disbelieve it, that the largest library of sex books is housed in the Vatican! I would hope that they are not of the sort that one could find during a stroll in Soho.

  15. Horace says:

    To take up some of the points raised by Brighton:-
    1) “Is he right in thinking that the Church in practice communicates an unbalanced view of sexuality?”
    Yes and no; it rather depends where you are when you look at it. That is why I made a point of quoting the C E definition of ‘Chastity’, rather startling at first sight but not unreasonable (at second sight?) when you think about it.

    2) “Is he factually wrong about Augustine and Aquinas’s views?”
    Yes, I think he is wrong – Augustine was especially concerned by the, to us rather arcane, problem of how an act which brings into being an individual tainted by original sin could escape being in some sense ‘sinful’, which rather confuses the issue.
    Similarly Aquinas seems mainly concerned by whether concupiscence (sexual desire) is necessarily part of our nature or truly voluntary.
    (I am totally ignorant of theology so somebody please correct me if necessary)

    3) “Is it not true that catholic teenagers, . . . ”
    Here we are talking about masturbation (self abuse). In Victorian times masturbation was considered not only wrong (sinful) but actually dangerous and the cause of various forms of mental disorder. Today it is considered by the medical profession essentially harmless, if not beneficial, and at worst a symptom rather than a cause.
    The truth is probably somewhere in-between, preoccupation with sex cannot be a good thing.
    Yes, masturbation is unequivocally considered by the Church to be a sin – but whether mortal or venial depends on circumstances.

    4) “Is he wrong to suggest that sexual sin is really rather common among a clergy who are only too ready to condemn it in others?”
    I think that we are again talking about masturbation. Here I can only say that I hope and believe that he is wrong – I have no evidence. The reference to a ‘study in the 1950’s’ is much too vague to be of the slightest use.

  16. Brighton says:

    stjoseph, I won’t go on about your misquotation; it’s a a small matter, which anyone can check for themselves.
    I can’t comment either on the the book about which Dr Dominian wrote or his review of it, because I haven’t read either. But if you are under the impression that young children do not have sexual feelings and fantasies, then you need to do some professional reading about the subject.
    I think you are wholly unfair to Dr Dominian. He has been indefatigable in his service to Catholic marriage, and his professional contribution to the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council over many years was exceedingly substantial. He has also presided over a very long term study of the marriage relationship. The problems he has had with his critics have arisen mainly from the fact that he based his views on practical evidence on not on idealistic theories.
    Any suggestion that his views have encouraged or endorsed paedophilia are strictly libellous; and I think you would be wise for your own safety to withdraw them immediately.

  17. Horace, St Augustine’s views are discussed at length in Noonan’s authoritative “Contraception”. As is Pope St Gregory and Aquinas. Of course it’s a complex issue, as you intimate, so it needs a full study. But certainly the current “virtuous” use of natural contraception would have been directly condemned by him.
    I agree that the figures on the sexual habits of seminarians are old, and we may well believe that they have all abandoned these practices. But it is as well to confirm the rate of approval of homosexuality to which AD refers. And also the high rate of seminarians with overt homosexual orientation which led to a fairly recent regulatory instruction. Does this suggest that the fidelity of priests and those seeking priesthood to the Church’s teaching has markedly improved?

  18. st.joseph says:

    Brighton, let us first of all clear up the misunderstanding of me misquoting you.If you meant masturbation you should have said so,I asked you in my comments -if you read back -,and all can see, if you meant masturbation or sexual relationships. You had the opportunity to say what you meant and didnt, only to accuse me of misquoting you. I am not a mind reader.

    On to the subject of Dr Jack Dominian. I suggest you buy the book and read it. I will not stand accused of misrepresentation, Jack Dominian has done that himself by the very fact that he reviewed the book. He has in my mind accused himself!

    We do not doubt children have a sexualty. However their sexualty remains always innocent.
    Let us not be side tracked by Randall (or Jack Dominian who fails to argue against paedophilic tendencies in this review).

  19. st.joseph says:

    Brighton I can see you are exceedingly upset by my comments. So just to clear up any misunderstanding I should make it clear that I am in no way suggesting that Dr Jack Dominian in any way approves of paedophilia nor that anything that he has written suggests it. It is a pity he did not make this clear in his review, maybe then his critics would have left him alone.

  20. Superview says:

    On 11 Jan st. joseph states his beliefs (for example in the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption) and asks me quite reasonably why am I looking back when I refer to the fact that the story of Adam and Eve is recognised (now) by the Church as figurative. I take his point to be ‘If all these things are true, what is the point of finding fault with their origins?’. st. joseph’s point is relevant and it does trouble me.

    In response I can only explain my personal desire to understand, among other things that I have been taught as part of my Catholic Faith, how the doctrine of original sin came about. I have always had a thought at the back of my mind that it was unjust that the whole human race inherited the sin of their ancestors, and been puzzled how God would create new souls stained with sin. The history is interesting and problematic. Put simply, it seems St. Augustine in the 5th century saw it as our inheritance from Adam and Eve, which he understandably accepted as a factually accurate account of the origins of mankind, and henceforth we have been required to believe it, and a whole host of other assertions about sin and death entering human history, with sexual procreation being singled out (how daft is that, given its place in the existence of life?). It will be obvious that the Immaculate Conception only becomes necessary because of it.

    In theological terms can anything be as important as filling the gap left if Adam and Eve is not literally true? Yet there is, it seems, little other than an assertion by the Church, with no evidence whatsoever, that it still ‘affirms a primeval event’. Is it unreasonable to ask what event and when? Of course, the implications are enormous because of the dependency of subsequent doctrine on this concept (although it seems the Eastern Orthodox Church manage without it), but that is all the more reason to deal with it. Would St. Augustine have thought differently if he had today’s science available to him? I suspect he would.

  21. st.joseph says:

    Superview, Thank you. I have been interested in your comments. they show you are a thinker. I am not a theologion or Bible scholar, neverthless I have thought many a time on the subjects you have mentioned. Adam and Eve I have struggled with, and I can only say the conclusion I have come to. and of course I am prepared to be shot down in flames by the experts, but they are my thoughts anyway. I have never believed that the sin of our first parents are anything to do with sex- eating the apple and all that, the serpent tempting Eve.I dont suppose many do. The story of Creation is a beautiful way described., when God made Adam and then making Eve as his help mate. Then giving them the act of Sexual union the most wonderful gift between man and woman making them one flesh in the Image and likeness of God mostly in their Souls. Then to go and fill the earth and multiply. Another thought I have come to and it is only mine alone that being, if there was such a tree in the garden that they were not to eat from ,not being presumptious and trying to know the mind of God, but to me it would be God telling them that is about their Fertility, and when they didnt want to multiply they used that time for Sexual Intercourse, and when they did they used the fertile time.To follow it through in time as we all know, man & woman needed to be restored. So we now have the new Adam and Eve Mary and Jesus and we know the rest. The Main point I am making is that the sexual Union is a wonderful Gift to be respected as something coming from God and God is Love. Thank you Superview for making me think.

  22. Horace says:

    Thank you Quentin, I stand corrected – the current “virtuous” use of natural contraception would have been directly condemned by [St Augustine].
    Nevertheless I am still not quite clear if there has been a significant change in the ‘infallible’ teaching of the church (as suggested by AD) or simply a difference of opinion among theologians.

    With regard to ‘the sexual habits of seminarians’ it was not the date of the study but the content that worried me; does this mean that 99% of seminarians admitted to having masturbated at some time in the past or does it mean that nearly all seminarians were/are masturbating regularly? I could well believe (with sadness) the former but I would be surprised to learn that any seminarian known to be masturbating regularly, unrepentant in spite of instruction to the contrary, would be allowed to proceed to ordination.

    Similarly with “less than half the priests under age 45 believe that to be a practising homosexual is inconsistent with being a priest”. If the phrase ‘a practising homosexual’ means a man who regularly indulges in mutual masturbation with another male or males then such a person should surely not be permitted to continue to discharge priestly duties (although, as I understand it, he remains a priest because ordination is irreversible). If however the phrase simply means one who admits to homosexual preferences but nevertheless lives a chaste life then this is a completely different matter.

  23. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Horace, its probably better for me to answer your questions. First, the prevalence of abuse among students of theology is given in a list of studies by Von Gagern (“The Problem of Onanism”) – but not further detailed. Interpret that, as you will. The reference to priests and homosexuality tells us about attitude not practice. Specifically the question was “(Should) a priest who practises homosexuality be barred from ministry?
    I do not understand your question about infallibility. Leaving aside formal definitions, as far as I can see your Church works by hindsight here. If you later change your mind, it couldn’t have been infallible could it?

  24. st.joseph says:

    Advocatus Diaboli. I can understand your difficulty with the churches infallability, Even catholics do have this problem. We have to be able to think for ourselves otherwise we are puppets. God has given us a free will. I may not be able to explain how I feel about it but I believe that the church is capable of discerning the Truth through the continued Revelation.as we evolve in our studing It cant remain stagnant.Speaking about the Natural Rythym, we can thank scientific knowledge now. We may think it is pre-historic but as I said thanks to science we have got it right in fact 100per cent.It only takes our human brain to Trust in the Lord.It would have been difficult for St Agustine to recognise this. I am pleased that the church with Divine Inspiration is cautious in certain matters of Truth as it is with Canonisation of Saints and Miracles.
    I would like to take this opportunity to say to my friends on the blog that I know I make a lot of spelling mistakes and if I take things out of context some times I thank you for your patience in not picking me up on this As a fairly new computer
    user and not until a short time ago I didnt know what a blog was and coming up to 3score and 10, it is a wonderful experience for me to be able to listen to all your comments it is really a new experience for me- and thank you Quinten for having the second sight blog.

  25. eclaire says:

    It is refreshing to read your contributions, St. Joseph.

  26. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Eclair. I feel the same about yours. I have only just seen your comment.

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