TOB Tuesday: Caritas in Veritate on Sex and Marriage

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I thought for today’s TOB Tuesday post it would be appropriate to point out what the pope has to say about sex and marriage in his most recent encyclical.

In paragraph 15, Pope Benedict comments on Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae:

The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life[27]. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae[28]. The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”[29]

Then, in paragraph 44, commenting on the “problems associated with population growth” Benedict says:

The Church, in her concern for man’s authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the “risk” of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality[111], as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities.

Yessss, PARENTS – thank you, Holy Father! As much as I love speaking to our young people about the Theology of the Body, chastity, purity, vocation, these things are more appropriately passed on to children from their parents. Parents are the primary educators of their children, especially in matters of faith and morals. Unfortunately too many parents have given up their duty in this field or agreed to delegate it to others, because of the difficulty and their own lack of preparation (see, here no. 1).

Sadly, this leaves many of our young people without consistent and positive guidance in this most vital and intimate part of their lives and thus more vulnerable to the influence of society and mass media which dehumanizes sex, and the male female relationship in general, as something that is, above all, self serving and merely recreational – a message that is aided and abetted by the abysmally low standards of the sex education offered many of our public schools. For that matter, how can we even expect “abstinence-only” education to have a significant impact when this is largely the case?

Parents, wake up! Our children deserve better than this and they are worth infinitely more than what our world, and often you yourselves, would have them settle for! The pressure and influence of our casual-sex saturated culture on our young people is strong enough without the added disadvantage of being let down by the very people whose duty it is to form their consciences and encourage them to seek the true, the good and the beautiful.

Educate yourselves in order to better educate your children:
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