Predictions and Fulfillment

In last month’s column, I surveyed several writers who viewed the Sexual Revolution and predicted dire effects, and I concluded with the predictions of Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. The Holy Father suffered greatly and was widely rejected for his statements, but the others experienced no such effects.  So, why was Pope Paul VI verbally crucified for his predictions while the others suffered no such consequences?

I think the reason why Pope Paul VI was vilified is that he spoke in the name of God and His Church.  He didn’t just offer personal opinion like the others.  He taught with authority: “Nonetheless the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life” (Humanae Vitae, no. 11). 

The Sexual Revolution was in full swing in 1968.  Crazy theories about love, marriage, and sexuality abounded.  And here was the Pope teaching that marital contraception is “intrinsically dishonest” (no. 14).  Led by a handful of liberal priests, a revolution was organized within the Church against the teaching of Humanae Vitae, and it was quickly institutionalized.  The explicit teaching of our Savior that each of us must take up our cross daily was implicitly denied with regard to sexuality.

Today we are experiencing the consequences of this revolution. The Boston scandals (and they are not unique to Boston) are too widely known to be ignored; Pope Benedict XVI alluded to them several times in his recent visit to America.  One might ask:  Is there a connection between the sins of the vast majority of married Catholics who use unnatural forms of birth control and the sins of a very small minority of the clergy who have succumbed to their particular sexual temptations?

Rephrased, the question is this: Beyond the personal weaknesses of some clergy, has the rejection of Humanae Vitae influenced the rejection of the ordinary teaching of the Church against same-sex sexual behaviors? If so, how? 

I think there’s a threefold connection: (1) ontological (at the level of being), (2) educational, and (3) psychological.

(1)  Ontological.  In 1977, Paulist Press published and widely promoted a book (Human Sexuality) written by a select committee of the liberal Catholic Theology Society of America (CTSA).  It specifically made a moral equation between the practice of marital contraception and the practice of homosexual sodomy, implicitly accepting both. The authors were logically, if perversely, correct.  The acceptance of the former entails the acceptance of the latter.  Both contradict the marital meaning of sexual activity. The book’s criteria for sexual morality can be reduced to a doctrine of mutual consent.

(2)  Educational.  The CTSA book was condemned by the American bishops, but the theories remained prominent in liberal theology. Consider seminary education from the mid-Sixties through the Eighties and perhaps beyond. I have been told that future priests were trained how to counsel Catholics to justify their acceptance of contraception. 

Now consider the case of a priest who has a same-sex attraction.  Maybe he entered the seminary with every intention of being celibate and chaste all his life, but in the seminary he learned to be liberal.  He became trained to support married couples in their choice to use unnatural forms of birth control.  He would know that one unnatural form of birth control was marital sodomy, and he would learn of the equation between marital contraception and homosexual sodomy.

(3)  Psychological, spiritual, character dimensions.  Even if a liberal priest with same-sex attraction has rationalized homosexual behavior, that doesn’t mean he will develop a desire for minors. Only a few priests with same-sex attractions give into homosexual activity. Few of these develop a pedophilic desire, and fewer still succumb. But even a few is too many, and buying into a liberal rationalization that cannot say “no” to any mutually acceptable behavior certainly can’t help a person maintain a chaste resolve.
The psychological, spiritual, and character dimensions of the problem were addressed by psychologist Richard Cross, Ph.D. in the March 2002 issue of Catholic World Report in an article entitled, “A Question of Character.”  A big problem, as he sees it, is that our priests have not been trained to lead the battle, a true spiritual warfare, against the pagan sexuality of our day.  That, I believe, is at least partly the result of a comfortable, non-challenging pastoral accommodation with regard to marital contraception.

One thing is clear. The Boston scandals did not “just happen.” God has given His Church the resources–spiritual and intellectual, prophetic and practical–to stay on the right track and to reform itself.  However, the pastoral acceptance of contraception has led also to the pastoral acceptance of homosexual activity.  These acceptances weaken individual persons intellectually and spiritually, and they weaken the Church. They create an atmosphere of permissiveness and mushy morality.  It was in this atmosphere that the problem of clerical sex abuse of minors developed.

The problems of sodomy and pedophilia in the Church will be successfully addressed only by simultaneously addressing the larger problems of marital contraception and widespread fornication. The truth is that in God’s plan sexual intercourse is exclusively a marital act. This act is intended by God to be a self-giving renewal of the marriage covenant, for better and for worse.  The body language of marital contraception, however, clearly says, “for better but not for the imagined worse of possible pregnancy.” It is invalid as a renewal of the marriage covenant and is therefore “intrinsically dishonest” (Humanae Vitae, no. 14).

The term “intrinsically dishonest” applies also to every act of adultery, fornication, masturbation, and sodomy. Such acts certainly do not renew the marriage covenant. Priests and theologians need to be prepared to teach and explain these truths. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that many recently ordained priests are rejecting the liberal theories, even though many had to listen to them in their seminary education. 

Please pray daily for a rebirth of chastity. 

John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Ignatius, 2005).  He and his wife are the co-founders of NFP International.  He can be reached through its website

2 responses

  1. “Even if a liberal priest with same-sex attraction has rationalized homosexual behavior, that doesn’t mean he will develop a desire for minors.”

    It is a risk I think formation programs do well to screen for.

    What passes as rites of passage in homosexual circles with older homosexuals preying on young men often insecure in their sexualty or questioning it is well enough accepted and ignored. Augustine Burrows (of “Running with Scissors” fame) is a prime example of this – he was involved with an older man from 14ish on… In his book and the rather awful movie made about it later, this reality isn’t depicted with any special sense of outrage, exploitation or horror.

    One of the truck drivers I employed years ago when I had a towing company was an amicable old queer that I later came to find, preyed on the periphery of cyberspace gay-inclined teenagers. Parents actually allowed their 15 and 16 year old boys to be involved with them – they knew the score. He is now in prison.

    What does this have to do with the price of rice in china?


    What no wants to talk about is that 80%+ of the alleged victims were males over the age of 14 but under 18… These (>1% of priests) men were going after teenage boys… It is the same behavior that occurs in the context of chatrooms and (a public traded company; ticker symbol LGBT) where male minors would have no difficulty seeking contact and then being contacted…

    That is in no way an effort to say what some did wasn’t deplorable… Just to point out that the double standard is obvious to anyone who wants to see it: practicing and promoting homosexuals regularly and routinely seek out younger sex partners and are not villified for it… and had these homosexuals not been priests, men who by the very nature of their collar stand in contradistinction to the wisdom of the world, it would be accepted that they were doing a favor for “young confused homosexuals seeking support and comfort!” That is right, when homosexual priests prey on teenage, late-adolescent boys they get called “pedophiles” when plain old “out, loud, and proud” homosexuals prey on teenage, late-adolescent boys , they are “providing a necessary service” and all is overlooked!

    People don’t want to talk about these correlations and understand them or see the patterns.

    I can’t be told the outrage is about the acts alleged or comitted – homosexual adults preying on adolescents is frequent enough… and understood in some circles as a right of passage for young men who – feeling alienated from their peers – turn to older “out” men.

    (All of the Sexual left loves Kinsey – In 1970 the Kinsey Institute interviewed 565 white gays in San Francisco: 25% of them admitted to having had sex with boys aged 16 or younger while they themselves were at least 21! cf:

    That is just as insidious in my book… but the “morally enlightened” are willing to throw those teens under the bus (they were “already gay”, and “needed gay companionship”!) and pass it off as something that is acceptable enough because the adolescents in question “were gay” and (I dunno, because sex is a right?) needed those relationships… In cases where practicing and promoting older men “provide first experiences” for younger men they are are seen as doing a service, not taking advantage…

    But no one dare suggest that these inappropriate contacts and abuses in 80%+ of the alleged cases were committed by men in the priesthood who – all evidence suggests – were same-sex attracted, and that could be at the heart of the difficulty with most of these contacts.

    Start to look at the studies for when men who are same-sex attracted first have sexual encounters and how common it is for them to be with men older than themselves. See if a pattern is discernable… and then wonder, “what confusions may have been exploited by these preadators to confirm these adolescents in a certain identity?”

    When 2-3% (I actually think that is rather generous of an estimate!) of priests who are homosexual exploit young men in this fashion it gets called pedophilia and all priests are now suspect, and all the Church is considered worthy of denigration… When older homosexuals routinely prey on younger men it is accepted as a rite of passage.

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