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Strange Bedfellows II: Citing the Sources

In response to my post, Strange Bedfellows, a new reader commented:

“I’m scratching my head. I can only say that your take on Catholicism is very different from that in which I was immersed”

I get that a lot.

From lapsed Catholics and Protestants, sure, but also from many current Catholics. As near as I can tell, the reaction has three basic sources: 1) for the senior set, it’s often based on memories of the time just before Vatican II, when dogma was strong but catechetical teaching was heading down the toilet; 2) for the non-Catholics, it seems to come from a view of the Church based on the narratives of popular culture, mass media, and exposure to poorly catechized Catholics; 3) for current Catholics, it has something to do with my – apparently very odd and rare – practice of actually paying attention to the doctrinally established teachings of the Church. So, in hopes of demonstrating that the claims about Catholic teaching in my earlier post were not the result of some personal, esoteric interpretation, I offer the following.
[Note: CCC abbreviates Catechism of the Catholic Church. All quotations taken from the text as conveyed on the Vatican website.]

«I hold it to be an undeniable material reality that I am male and further that, given my degree of physical maturation, I am a man.»

  • “God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (CCC 2331; cf. Gen 1:27).
  • “Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. ‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator” (CCC 369; cf. Gen 2:7, 22).

«I hold that [the] capacities, limitations, and experiences [inherent to male bodies] are qualitatively distinct from those [inherent to female bodies], and that the difference between the two…is unbridgeable from either side.»

  • Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others” (CCC 2332).
  • “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out” (CCC 2333).

«…the truth that [women] are first of all persons and that…it is personhood and not penis-possession that confers dignity…»

  • “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity” (CCC 2334)
  • “Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity ‘in the image of God’. In their ‘being-man’ and ‘being-woman’, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness” (CCC 369).
  • “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes” (CCC 370).

«…we are never excused from making a diligent effort to eradicate objectification of every sort…»
«Catholic men…would be committed to the elimination of pornography, rape, and all forms of violence against women–not because women are weak and in need of male protection but just because these violations of human dignity are intolerable.»

  • “Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is ‘an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.’ Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life” (CCC 2344).
  • “The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be” (CCC 1932)
  • “Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him” (CCC 1929).
  • Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties… It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others… Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (CCC 2354).
  • Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure” (CCC 2355).
  • Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right… It is always an intrinsically evil act” (CCC 2356).
  • “The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of ‘friendship’ or ‘social charity,’ is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood” (CCC 1939).

Finally, since I didn’t link it in the original, here is the post that convinced me to append “pro-” to “feminist.”

2 thoughts on “Strange Bedfellows II: Citing the Sources

  1. I am out of touch with the catechism and I am sure it has profound meaning for you. I do take forward some things of joy from my Catholic upbringing and I mostly sum them up in the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. It was sung at my wedding and, and apart from the last line ”and in dying that we’re born to eternal life”, seems to me to be a perfect summary of how a life should be lived.

    Tonight, in my part of the world, there is to be a super eclipse of the harvest moon, a rare event, and I shall be getting up early to see it. I still think of Saint Clare as Sister Moon (thank you Zeffirelli) and I wanted to be her as a child, but never lived up to that ideal. I was always a failure as a saint and I carry forward that Catholic guilt paradox as well. Wishing you well in your searching.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think every saint, in his or her own eyes at least, is a failure. The difference would seem to be in trying to do the work anyway. May we always have ideals and aspirations that are worth failing…

      Liked by 1 person

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