This post was originally posted 10/12/2009 on my personal blog. This ‘pastoral’ letter was one of those times when it became really apparent to me that I did not live in the same Catholic world this USCCB letter strongly suggests I live in……
I really did try to make it through the whole pastoral draft, but I admit, it was beyond my patience and tolerance level. In an effort to save readers some time, I’ll paraphrase the entire draft.
Everything is intrinsically evil when it comes to sex, unless sex is discretely engaged in for the purposes of procreation in a sacramental marriage.
That about sums up the entire message. No need to read the fifty or so pages which expand this basic concept–unless you want to subject yourself to excessive verbiage on the intrinsic evils of not understanding this basic concept.
The pastoral begins in the garden with Adam and Eve where we are informed that Eve is made to be Adam’s help meet and they are to be fruitful and multiply, and yes indeed they are made equally in God’s image with COMPLIMENTARY roles. This leads directly to the first of numerous cut and paste statements from one or the other of our last two popes. Oh yea, and the often stated but completely erroneous idea that the Church has always recognized marriage as between one man and woman for ever and ever amen–except for when it hasn’t, which was more or less it’s first 1100 years, which for some reason isn’t mentioned.
By the time I quit reading this pastoral it had more or less condemned 97% of American Catholics to hell if they don’t mend their ‘intrinsically evil’ ways. Which leaves about 3% of American Catholics saved and pastorally directed. A reasonable person might wonder what a Church actually has to offer when it’s leadership wipes out 97% of it’s membership in one pastoral letter.
A reasonable person might wonder if this statistical fact might just indicate that said leadership is completely out of touch with the real lived experience of their flock. Or maybe this is just an attempt to rally the true believing base, ala Rush Limbaugh. Judging from the comments on the NCR itself, it is not rallying the 97% it condemns to potential hell.
I personally agree with the NCR editorial board that the USCCB should just let this one quietly die, exactly as they did their ‘pastoral’ letter on women. At least with the pastoral letter on women they actually consulted women. Some people feel the disconnect this consultation presented between the teaching on women and women’s real experiences of the teaching is why that letter was dropped. Too much truth I guess.
This current pastoral letter most certainly didn’t consult anyone but JPII and Benedict. In my book, that’s kind of a definition of a cult when only one or two voices are consulted. This letter actually reads like most Opus Dei letters which constantly reference the thoughts of St. Escriva. I imagine a lot of members of Opus Dei are in that 3% and so they will be quite supportive of this letter. I wonder how many of them secretly wonder where God is when they sit at the kitchen table and try to balance the bills.
In this pastoral letter God is much more concerned with creating children than providing for them. In fact I don’t believe this pastoral letter even deals with any of the ‘providing for” aspects of creating the children we are to ‘raise and educate’ as our primary marital duty. Kind of like the abortion debate. There’s nary a word about providing the post birth care those potential humans will require.
I guess we are to trust in the providence of a God who lately has seemed quite indifferent to providing post birth care. Or maybe He is trying to provide–health care reform comes to mind–but His erstwhile leaders are too busy accepting provision for themselves from the very folks who aren’t interested in bringing God’s providence to fruition for the rest of us. Just a thought.
In any event, save yourself some serious frustration. Don’t attempt to read the whole thing. The NCR article and editorial has it about right. This letter is intended to be read by the Vatican for a pat on the back and career advancement. It’s not a useful or meaningful communication for American laity.
Filed under: church teaching, sexuality and gender Tagged: | Marriage, sexual ethics, USCCB, [pastoral letter