and the Church’
by Ivan Tchernegovski
A question of weather the
Catholic Church has a calling to return to
the past or being relevant and meaningful in our world.
|Dear Mr / Ms Editor,
I wish to contribute to the debate over the Catholic Church's present "unchanging" position on sex and sexuality. It concerns me that the Church is showing very little practical leadership in the arena of sexual ethics and morality in our world. There is a constellation of sex and sexuality issues where the Church authorities have painted themselves into a very tight moral corner. These issues include birth control, premarital sex, celibacy, women priesthood, homosexuality and many others. Below are listed a brief description of some of these :
The present overpopulation of the world has resulted in much third world misery and environmental degradation (As God's work, the Earth is sacred too!). The Church's stand on birth control thus appears unethical and immoral. In bygone Western history during the Barbarian invasion, Black Death, the Plague and the Protestant Reformation such mental conditioning made sense (maintain or outnumber others). However, these are not the imperatives of our time.
In our society the period between puberty (11 to 12 years) and marriage can be 15 years or more. Many young people including women choose to continue career studies well into their twenties before marriage. It was in medieval and earlier times that much sexual Church policy was formed. Then, because of poorer health and nutrition, the onset of puberty was much later (16 to 18 years) and hence marriage followed only after a few years of chaperonage. Is today's sexual continence of 15 years a realistic proposition for young people?
In a society where women are treated with increasing respect and equality, the Church's attitude to women's' ordination sounds rather absurd and out of place. There are also priests who feel deeply called to the married state and the priesthood. Are such Church bylaws frustrating the work of the Holy Spirit?
Today the Church is reeling from a series of sexual scandals. Do we have "just a few rotten apples" or is the institution as a whole suffering from sexual dysfunctionality? Can we afford in our day and age to have a group of celibate, male, ageing clergy, often fearful of sex and the body, formulating our sexual ethics?
The Catholic educational system is custodian to about 25% of Victoria's young souls. Reputable surveys now show one third of youth suicides are due to sexual confusion. Where are the counsellors, mentors and models for our Gay and Lesbian Catholic youth? Any good work done must be exceedingly discrete for fear of instant dismissal.
It is claimed that many Gay and Lesbian people live lives of unbridled promiscuity and pleasure. With a history of fear, exclusion and no social or religious recognition, is this not understandable? Is it not time to bring some social stability to Gay or Lesbian relationships by recognizing and valuing their unions, to encourage love and faithfulness? For how long will the Catholic Church disown her Gay and Lesbian children?
In conclusion, I do not wish to see the Church under siege and out of touch with the real lives of people. However the attitude of "ivory tower" moralizing and saying "the rules are set, take it or get out" has to change. This is a difficult task for an authoritarian leadership that fears the thought of being wrong and changing direction. It is unable to say, "We were wrong. We are sorry".