TOB Tuesday: Beware of False Prophets

ChelseaSex, Sexuality, Theology of the Body, TOB Tuesday6 Comments

Everyday my local newspaper quotes a Scripture passage on the top corner of the “Opinion” page. Today’s passage was from 2 Peter:

There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.

These words of Holy Mother Church’s first Supreme Pontiff remind me of what his successor, JP II, says about the language of the body:

When we affirm that the “language of the body” also enters essentially into the structure of marriage as a sacramental sign, we appeal to a long biblical tradition. This tradition has its origin in Genesis 2:23-25 and finds its definitive crowning in Ephesians 5:21-23. The prophets of the Old Testament had an essential role in forming this tradition. When we analyzed the texts of Hosea, Ezekiel, Deutero-Isaiah, and other prophets [see TOB 36:5-37:6, 94:6-95b:2], we found ourselves on the road of that great analogy whose ultimate expression is the New Covenant under the form of a marriage between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:21-23). On the basis of this long tradition, it is possible to speak about a specific “prophetism on the body,” both because we find this ananlogy above all in the prophets and also in regard to its very contents. Here the “prophetism of the body” signifies precisely the “language of the body.” (John Paul II, Gen. Audience of 1/12/83 or TOB 104:1)

The Pope here refers to Ephesians 5 in which St. Paul tells us that when husband and wife come together as one flesh, the language of their bodies is a “great mystery” that is meant to prophesy to the world the union between Christ and the Church.

If we place ourselves in the future-oriented perspective of conjugal consent, which…offers the spouses a particular share in the prophetic mission of the Church handed down from Christ himself, one can in this regard also use the biblical distinction between “true” and “false” prophets. (TOB 106:4).

The body speaks. And just as with verbal speech, we can tell the truth with our bodies, or we can lie. All questions of sexual morality come down to this: Is the act a sign of God’s free, total, faithful, fruitful love or is it not? Masturbation, fornication, adultery, intentionally sterilized sex, homosexual acts: though the world doesn’t seem to have a problem with either one, none of these can claim to portray that image and those who engage in these activities commit lies and falsify the language of the body (TOB 106:3). They can, in a certain sense, be considered “false prophets” who are, as St. Peter says, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. This is not to say that those who prophesy falsely with their bodies are necessarily evil people for all are subject to concupiscence and destined to fall. Nevertheless, their behavior is destructive and they are called, through the grace of God, to repent, turn away from sin and speak the true language of their bodies.

Through marriage as a sacrament of the Church, man and woman are explicitly called to bear witness – by correctly using the “language of the body” – to spousal and procreative love, a testimony worthy of “true prophets” (TOB 106:4)

Says Christopher West:

In order to be “true to the sign,” the spouses must speak as Christ speaks. Christ gives his body freely (”No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own accord,” Jn 10:18). He gives his body without reservation (”he loved them to the last,” Jn 13:1). He gives his body faithfully (”I am with you always,” Mt 28:20). And he gives his body fruitfully (”I came that they may have life,” Jn 10:10). —God, Sex, & Babies: What the Church Really Teaches about Responsible Parenthood

TOB Tuesdays

6 Comments on “TOB Tuesday: Beware of False Prophets”

  1. Let us review the recent evidence. The American church is still shell-shocked by abuse cases that have implicated the very top of the church hierarchy in recent years. Many Catholics – from the liberals to the arch-conservatives – will never feel the same way they once did about this institution, nor should we. The church in Ireland is in tatters, attendance cratering and vocations collapsing. Yes: Ireland. This is a function not just of the abuse crisis, but it has played a central role. We just found out that the current primate, Cardinal Sean Brady,

    as a priest in 1975 … was at meetings where children signed vows of silence over complaints against pedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

    Brady refuses point-blank to resign:

    The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said this week that he will only resign if he’s personally asked to by the Pope. In Ireland increasing calls for his resignation have come amid allegations that he attended meetings were children were asked to sign vows of silence over the abuse they had suffered.

    But if the Pope asked Brady to resign, wouldn’t he also have to ask himself to resign? After all, the Pope was part of a similar cover-up in Germany in which then-cardinal Ratzinger knowingly assigned a pedophile priest to therapy, without informing the authorities that he knew that the priest had forced an eleven year old boy to fellate him, and then allowed that priest to continue in his career, with his finally being convicted of more child abuse six years later. He was only removed from pastoral duties a few days ago.

    The current moral authority for all Catholics personally put the interests of the hierarchy above the welfare of vulnerable children. He heard a case of a priest forcing an eleven-year-old to perform oral sex on him, and he did not take that priest to the police, as he should have, or removed him from his duties immediately. He sent him to therapy and allowed him to continue molesting children in future parishes, and never informed the parents of the priest’s past. Would you have done that? Would anyone you know have done that? Would anyone you know who had done that be able to sleep at night?

    I don’t know of many things I find as repugnant as knowingly putting the interests of an institution’s public relations before children’s protection from molestation. Yet this is the Pope we have. This is the moral judgment he made.

    How can anyone retain confidence in that figurehead? How can any orthodox Catholic not find this repugnant? And what has the Pope done since this has been revealed? He has said nothing, and put out a p.r. campaign to accuse critics in Germany of being anti-Catholic.

    In Mexico and beyond. the last Pope and this allowed a serial molester and cult-leader, Marcial Maciel, continue his predatory habits for decades, and postponed any serious investigation until it was too late. His theoconservative allies in America defended Maciel for years. Late theocon-in-chief, Richard John Neuhaus, attacked those investigating the abuse allegations and declared that it was “a moral certainty” that Maciel was innocent of all charges. Now, in Brazil, another dam is breaking. This new story beggars belief:

    Brazilian authorities are investigating three priests accused of sexually abusing altar boys after a video allegedly showing one case of abuse was broadcast on television, police and church officials said Tuesday.

    The case came to light after the SBT network aired a video purportedly showing an 82-year-old priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy who worked for him for four years. Other young men appeared on the report saying that they, too, had been abused by Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa.

    Also under investigation are Monsignor Raimundo Gomes, 52, and Father Edilson Duarte, 43, for allegedly having sexual relations with boys and young men…

    In its report last week, SBT showed footage of a man who looks like Barbosa having sex with the 19-year-old. It said the footage was secretly filmed in January 2009 by a 21-year-old man who charges Barbosa had abused him since age 12.

    But here’s what remains staggering:

    An SBT reporter visited Barbosa’s house to conduct an interview and confront him with the allegations.

    Before raising the allegations of sexual abuse, the reporter asks if the priest had ever sinned.

    “Who has never committed a sin?” Barbosa responds.

    The priest is then asked if the region has problems with pedophilia.

    “I think it is more (a problem) of homosexuality than pedophilia,” Barbosa says.

    Asked directly if he ever abused boys, Barbosa says he could only answer such a question “in confession.”

    How much more do we have to see, how much more damage has to be done to human beings, before the hierarchy cones to terms with its denial about homosexuality, its warped psyche on sexuality, the brutal consequences of its celibacy requirements … and the total iniquity of allowing children and teens in your care, entrusted to men of God, to be raped and abused and molested with impunity for years?

    When will this Pope step down?

  2. Frankly, Mr. Sullivan, none of what you said has anything to do with the post. Save your posturing on what you see as the evils of the Catholic Church and/or the current Pontiff for posts that are relevant.

    Jim Cole

  3. Let me get this straight: the Church’s views on homosexuality somehow lead to pedophilia? So if a man is a priest, he becomes (a) homosexual, (b) a pedophile, or (c) both? I’m not sure I follow Sullivan’s reasoning here. Where is the outcry against the public or private school hierarchies when teachers are found to have sexual relationships with their middle school or high school students? Frankly, I don’t know priests such as those mentioned in this comment, and I take offense at the Church being maligned in such a way. My question is this: When will people such as Sullivan stop slandering the Church and allow us to worship in peace? It’s time for more of us to speak up and put a stop to it.

  4. Why would Andrew Sullivan reprint a lengthy section of his blog post today (“The Daily Dish” at The Atlantic) on someone else’s blog?

    I don’t think he would.

    That would be the same Andrew Sullivan, by the way, who famously claimed that Trig Palin wasn’t really Sarah Palin’s son. She was covering for Bristol, according to his conspiracy theory.

    It wasn’t a very good theory to begin with, but it really fell apart with the announcement of Bristol’s pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her son, Tripp.

  5. I take offense at the Church being maligned in such a way

    How is reciting the facts “maligning the Church”? I take offense at the Church hierarchy putting themselves above the children.

  6. Sean,

    “I take offense at the Church hierarchy putting themselves above the children” — I like these little one-liners that attempt to pander to those with 30-second attention spans. I suppose you would have the persons in question lined up and shot at close range and tape recorders put in our confessionals? My beef with this commenter is the obvious attempt at tearing the Church to shreds. My point was this: We don’t ask the deputy director of schools to step down when we’ve heard for years of teachers sleeping with students. The underlying issue here is sexual sin: those who want vengeance for sins committed, and those who are just plain angry that the Church hasn’t changed its stance on sexual sin, even though a few within have committed those sins. The Church in its essence is sinless. People inside and outside of the Church sin — but the teachings against those sins, which the Church has advocated for more than 2,000 years — have remained the same. But nobody seems to want to discuss sin in its context. They only want to tear down the Church, forgetting the immense good it has done for society, in its hospitals, schools, and services to the poor. It currently is society’s whipping boy and one of the few remaining organizations to be ripped apart without consequence. But in our wishy-washy, politically correct world, critics are quick to tiptoe around those of other faiths and persuasions. Those of us in day-to-day contact with the Church see its immense good and its thousands of hardworking priests, sisters, and laypeople who work tirelessly with little pay and even lesser thanks.

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