Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kama Sutra Katholicism

Remember I said something about bishops in favor of changing Church teaching on sexuality?

Retired Bishop Geofrey Robinson urges change in Church teaching...
BALTIMORE -- At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for "a new study of everything to do with sexuality" -- a kind of study that he predicted "would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."
"If [church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change," he said.
Robinson, a priest since 1960 and auxiliary bishop of Sydney from 1984 until his retirement for health reasons in 2004, told the Baltimore symposium, sponsored by New Ways Ministry, that "because sex is so vital a way of expressing love, sex is always serious."
That view, espoused by the church, stands in contrast to the general perception of modern society, which "appears to be saying more and more that sex is not in itself serious," he said.
For the church to deal with sex seriously, however, does not in itself mean that the church must continue to accept uncritically its traditional understandings of sexual morality, he said.
Robinson was a featured speaker at the March 15-17 symposium, which drew about 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning Catholics and church personnel ministering to them. The gathering's first day was devoted to a spiritual retreat guided by the bishop. - NCR

I know he's old, I know he's retired.  I know he's Australian.  I know New Ways Ministry is not approved by the Church.  But - these are not isolated theories, unknown, nor automatically dismissed, amongst sitting bishops and clergy and religious educators.  To be fair, Robinson's teaching is much more complex and is not a blanket affirmation of homosexual acts.  As the Bishop makes clear, that would require a change in Church teaching regarding heterosexual acts.  A conversation far too complex for me to get involved in here and now - but it connects to a lot of other discussions on sexuality floating around these days, from the Westian version of TOB, to the incarnational spirituality retreat at St. John's, and so on.

The agents for change are at work, in the Church...


  1. My God, but it IS exhausting, isn't it, Terry?

  2. To be fair, I wouldn't put Christopher West in there - his stuff is weird an outré, but it doesn't propose jettisoning *fundamental* sexual teachings or approving of anything that has always been condemned. I think he just makes sex more important than it is.

  3. Hilarious title

  4. You really should have spelled it "Katholicism"

  5. Merc - you are right. I need an editor!

  6. Maria - it is totally nuts!

  7. Terry,

    I think you are correct and I think alot of gay identifying, contracepting etc catholycs/katholycs are living with the hope that Church teaching on sexuality eventually and living in the present as though it has already happened. So why not be Anglican? I think this all stems from the belief in the post Vatican II era that everything regarding faith and morals is up for discussion and/or change and/or abolition. Let's face it Pandora's box was opened with aggiornamento. Perhaps its a bad analogy but I mean most Catholics haven't a clue today that you either forgo eating meat on fridays or do some other act of penance. They just see it as vatican II having abolished it altogether. Again, there is this idea that the Pre/Post Vatican II churches are two different things. I remember the key phrase of the 1970s was, "Oh Vatican II changed all that"...it was at that point that I began to read the documents myself.

  8. Back when Pope John Paul II wrote a book entitled "Theology of the Body", people in the "know" dismissed the work on the basic assumption that a celibate man wouldn't know s from toothpaste about sexuality.

    Now this bishop wants a bunch of celibate men to write about sexuality.

    I have no idea what changes he wants in Catholic Sexual Teaching, that would be different than what a Pontiff wrote a relatively short(in Vatican terms anyway) time ago, but I fear it will not end well.

  9. Servus - you are right. I have a dear friend who is a cultural Catholic, yet is convinced that the Church has to "get with it or become irrelevant". How little to people understand that a.) the Church cannot change her teachings and b.) updating things to get with the times is pointless, since it's essentially selling out to the spirit of a passing age. Oh, and c.) that the winds seem to be blowing back in the other direction, back to Tradition - most young priests are quite conservative now.

    I'd encourage you to check out Fr. Angelo Geiger's blog "Mary Victrix" - he just did an awesome post (more like a work) on how Vatican II did not break with tradition, and how both liberals and a certain type of traditionalist make the erroneous assumption that there was rupture, with the former using this an excuse to follow the Zeitgeist and the latter to make of themselves a parallel Magisterium (and they usually ignore not only Vatican II, but the entire moral and theological consensus of the early 20th century).

  10. Mercury

    Thanks for the Father Geiger blog suggestion. I've listened to Air Maria and heard his sermons. I didn't know he had a blog. I have great respect for their work and order. One of the most inspiring books I have ever read was, "Jesus our Eucharistic Love" by Father Manelli. I read it as a child in the mid 1970s and few times since. It is wonderful. It is one of those books that if I were a millionaire, I would distribute widely to every Catholic parish along with "A Penny Catechism", "The Secret of the Rosary" by St Louis de Montfort. THe Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have published a very good book, "The Ecumenical Council Vatican II A much needed Discussion" by Monsignor Brunero Gherardini. It is also a book that deserves wide dissemination especially among priests and bishops.


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