10Aug Time for dialogue on sexual ethics

34 Responses

  1. Mary Vallely

    The world and her husband know that most Catholics just ignore the catechism teaching on sex. Artificial contraception, ‘living in sin’ before marriage, gay or hetero priests breaking their vows of celibacy ( bishops turning a blind eye as long as they are ” discreet” as the late Cardinal Hume advised) etc; Of course we should have a dialogue about sexual ethics. Of course all those eminent theologians should be consulted. How many theologians and scholars have had the courage to be as open and honest as Fr Charles Curran and Sr Margaret Farley about expressing their views? God rest Fr Sean Fagan, a courageous priest who suffered grievously at the hands of RC officialdom. Fr James Martin has taken a lot of abuse from right wing Catholics for his views but I applaud him as we all should. There is such bitterness in some of those spokesmen for the likes of Catholic Militant that you begin to wonder about projection. Hmm. The lack of charity is also worrying and the pharisaical attitude deeply alarming. Does this look like a Church that follows Jesus?
    The more I think about it the more I believe that a threat of withholding financial support is the only way forward and that we need to DEMAND dialogue! Here we sit waiting and hoping and praying for more bishops like Tobin and McGrath to speak out in favour of listening to the voices of all those countless souls who have been damaged irretrievably by the past and present sexual ethics of the Catholic Church. It is criminal to waste more time complaining and doing nothing. Do centuries have to pass before constructive dialogue begins? Do more people have to suffer needlessly and can we not be honest and upfront and cease the hypocrisy when we all know what is going on?

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Reading Justin Martyr’s noble apology for the Christians, I am depressed at how much he refers to Hell and to the wickedness of the Jews. Christianity got off to a bad start. The question raised in this editorial is really directed at the early church’s obsession with virginity and continence and purity, as in the Epistle to the Ephesians and again in Justin. The rethink, if such is needed, has to begin there.

    A poster at NCR objects:”But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s pretty much from the get-go, no? Is that within your definition of an ‘obsession’ with ‘purity’?

    Reply: Good point! That text (Mt 5:28) is quoted by Justin too, 1 Apol. 15.1. The words may be from Matthew (c. 80-90 CE) or his source rather than the historical Jesus, and they are meant to show that Jesus regrounds the Torah in the heart, rather than in external acts. Jesus seems to have been pretty understanding of sexual deviations in practice, as indicated by his welcoming attitude to various “sinful” women and to the centurion in Mt 8 (if the latter’s relation to his pais is sexual, as several scholars claim to be likely). The same passage in Matthew says that “not a jot, not a tittle” of the Law will ever be relaxed (Mt 5:18), which Paul, claiming the spirit of Jesus, overrode. That statement, too, that may come from Matthew or his source rather than from the historical Jesus, and he may be reacting against Paul or some lax Paulinism. To square it with Paul we are obliged to say that the law is fulfilled to its last tittle when we fulfill the law of love.

    The themes of Hell and Jewish wickedness are also of course found in the Gospels, and may even go back to the historical Jesus. The fateful parable of the wicked tenants (Mk 12:1-12) is the very foundation of supersessionism and is from an older layer of the Synoptic tradition. To what extent does the Spirit allow us to correct the words of Jesus? Did Jesus literally expect the Kingdom to blaze out in glory in a few years (Mk 9:1), so that we are obliged to correct or at least drastically reinterpret his words? Theologically the embarrassment can be solved by distinguishing the limits of his human knowledge from the divine omniscience of the Logos.

  3. Frank

    I loved the tenderness of this article and agree with many of the sentiments that were raised.

    There is a wonderful article on the website cruxnow about Bishop Antônio Carlos Cruz Santos, of Caicó, Brazil who said that homosexuality was a ‘Gift from God’ and he wants to end ‘predjudices that kill’. Maybe the ACP might post the article on this web-site.

    To bring it home to Ireland, after the same-sex marriage referendum many people asked/called for a review of the church’s relationship with the lgbt community. Maybe now is the time for this to happen?

    Recently, 2 visiting Cardinals to Ireland has expressed a need for the Church to reach out to gay people. Cardinal Marx, (Summer, 2016) said the church needed to apologize for the way gay people were treated. Cardinal Schonborn (Summer, 2017) made a similar call.

    I would love to see this web-site could facilitate the discussion on lgbt issues/sexual ethics that the editors of the NCR desire to happen.

  4. Tony

    A timely article and hopefully discussion and debate will take place on the issues that are raised.

    I agree with Frank @3. A great article of Bishop Santos. Hopefully the ACP will post it also.

    Who am I to Judge- Was this probably one of the most merciful statements we have heard from a Pope in recent years? Along with the dialogue in Ireland on lgbt issues, I believe we need a dialogue on Amoris Laetitia.

    In a number of dioceses in the US/UK/Malta the bishop has appointed a chaplain to walk with members of the lgbt community.
    Would it be possible that some Irish bishops could appoint a chaplain to walk with members of the lgbt community and their families?
    I also think that a chaplain, maybe a lay person, would discern walk with couples in second unions to assist them in implementing Amoris Laetitia.

  5. Frank

    Mary @1, you insights, as usual are invaluable.
    Dialogue is needed, as you say. What level would you recommend for this dialogue to take place?
    Episcopal? Parish? ACP? Moving outside formal Church structures and going to support groups?
    The options are indeed endless. It’s a question of how we move forward in a healthy and constructive way.

    Pope Francis has constantly invited us to mess things up a bit, to shake them up. Maybe now is the time ahead of the World Meeting of Families.

    Maybe we need a ‘Fr James Martin’ Irish style? Do any of our clergy stand up for lgbt issues or support people in second unions who are discerning? Maybe it’s done on a local level? It might be helpful if had someone, clergy or lay person who we could turn to for support.

    Mary, maybe here is a role for you?

    Much can be achieved with small steps. There was a enlightening article in Saturday’s Irish Times about a member of the Gardaí who is gay and attending Pride in Belfast. He championed lgbt issues in the Gardaí often on his own. Maybe it’s time we had a similar voice within the Irish Church?

  6. James

    I came across a lovely story from the early Church….

    A man goes home to his parents. He has a secret to tell. He can’t keep it from them any longer.

    ‘Mum, Dad, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m a Christian.’

    ‘You’re a what??,’ they respond. ‘Are you sure it’s not just a phase?’

    How things have changed!

    Cardinal Tobin recently welcomed lgbt pilgrims to his Cathedral with the phrase, ‘I am Joseph, your brother.’ I would love to see Irish bishops welcome lgbt pilgrims to their Cathedrals. Maybe pastoral councils could facilitate this?

    Constructive and healthy dialogue is needed and maybe we are at the first step.

  7. Con Devree

    In relation to #2 those who interpret scripture professionally operate at times with reference to the original language.

    If several scholars claim that the relationship between the Centurion and his servant was sexual, then the phrase in Luke 7, 2 “the servant of a certain centurion who was dear to him” is probably the basis for it.

    Can this be compared with John 11, 36? “Behold how he [Jesus] loved him [Lazarus].” Have any scholars attributed a sexual relationship between Jesus and Lazarus? To what extent does the phrase “who was dear to him” in Luke 7, 2 differ in meaning in the original language from the word “loved” in John 11, 36?

    Did Matthew really feel a need to react against “lax” Paulinism? A read of Romans 6 and of Colossians 3, 5-7, among others, would suggest “no.”

    Which parts, if any, of Matthew should one in future not regard as instances of “duirt bean liom”, mere unsubstantiated rumours, open to rejection or reinterpretation under the guidance of the Spirit in the 21st Century?

  8. Mary

    My son is gay. His father and I love him completely. It was a big decision for him to tell us that he was gay.
    I am delighted Ireland passed the same-sex marriage. I feel his is equal under the law.
    What saddens me is that he feel oppressed by the Church. In fact, the Church is the only homophobic organisation in Irish society. I feel ashamed by this.
    I wish there was a priest he could talk to and to be honest I wish there was a priest who I could go to.
    Some other churches seem to be so well developed in this area. I wish the Irish Church, which I love so much would become renown for it’s outreach to lgbt issues.
    WE can live in hope!

  9. Francis

    Your openness and honesty Mary @8 is speaks to our hearts.
    I imagine the experience of your son is a common experience for many.
    Step by gentle step is the way forward I believe.

  10. Joe O'Leary

    Re the Centurion in Mt 8, I think the argument is based on the common connotations of the word pais in this connection at that time. It means “lad” rather than servant/slave (doulos, used in the same passage). This is the only miracle in the (oldest) Q source, the only miracle worked at a distance, and the only miracle worked for Roman pagan. The pais becomes a son in John’s version. Though Msgr Charamsa in his La prima pietra thinks Luke’s version is the most touching account of this story, I think Luke also makes the pais associations less clear (need to check this).

  11. Joe O'Leary

    Yes, Luke renames the “pais” a “doulos”.

  12. Phil Greene

    To Mary @1 and Frank @5

    My half-German teenage niece stayed with us for her holiday last month. I asked her if she goes to Mass, she emphatically said no, and said that they must pay 40% taxes in Germany to their declared Faith community.. and of course the “Bishop of Bling” immediately became part of the conversation. On the positive she did like to visit a church on her own and stay a while. A lot of Germans left the church because of this scandal and abuse of their taxes (as well as being unable to pay these taxes, another conversation!). Pope Francis dealt with the man swiftly and at the same time sent out a clear message to all clergy about squandering the Faithful’s money, but the damage was done.. and many people going forward will have no faith because of this…. And yet no real change comes forward from the Vatican/German Bishops to help people find their way back..

    In Ireland, (the UK and beyond?) we have an opportunity that they do not have in Germany.. we can practise our Faith publicly whilst deciding how much of our hard-earned money we contribute, we do not have to choose either/or..
    We also have an opportunity to nationally withhold the Sunday collection money at local level in a planned manner without formally leaving the Church , thus (unlike other countries) ensuring the conversation and accountability can start/continue in both directions… the focus remains with the problems i.e. lack of communication/dialogue, inclusiveness” … in the knowledge that the power is in withholding these funds.. ( and volunteering for admin./cleaning etc.)

    Who knows, perhaps some bishops might welcome this as it will force their brothers in mitres to talk with people rather than to people.

    A (humble) suggestion – An initiative might be considered by the lay community Faith groups “ We are Church, ACI , UK groups etc.”, to work together in asking the congregations to withhold their money on certain Sundays (including Christmas and Easter?). With the most important part of this exercise explaining why it is necessary. Hopefully priests would allow this, but to churches that don’t then some posters may be needed outside Churches .. The groups could liase with our priests ensuring that they would not go without during those times, and everyone would know that this initiative would be exercised out of need only, to facilitate change and growth within our Faith communities.
    (If this suggestion is seen as silly etc. please also let me know the reasons why so.. there is only so much bliss in ignorance ?)
    Our young adults might one day perhaps see a place for them in a loving church community that embraces Dialogue and inclusion etc. and venture safely in of their own accord..
    It can start with all of US, together…

  13. Sean O'Conaill

    As the poor have indeed always been with us, did it ever happen that the wealthier members of Christendom society were declared by a bishop to be ‘living in sin’ if they sated themselves while ignoring the poor – for example in times of famine?

    Or were the rivalries of medieval kings that so often plunged their societies into vicious violence ever declared to be grievously sinful by local clergy? Did ‘rivalry’ ever compete with ‘lust’ as a moral danger?

    Tertullian (before Constantine) could indict ’emulation’ (social rivalry) but this strong focus of many of the early fathers entirely ceased under Christendom, that long alliance of social elites and Christian clergy beginning in 312.

    The point is that the clerical fixation with the moral sphere of sexuality – and its comparative indulgence of and connivance at all social status seeking, luxury and injustice – were products of Christendom. And the conflict over this that we are now seeing (spurred on by the demythologisation of clerical celibacy) is a consequence of the collapse of the Christendom alliance between the ‘magisterium’ and social elites.

    The granting of a papal knighthood to Rupert Murdoch (the media mogul who invented the page 3 topless model) in 1998 – at a time when ‘living in sin’ applied only to those who flouted natural law sexual ethics – was a classic example of the magisterium’s desperate efforts to retain the toadyism of the vastly wealthy. Applied as they still are to the least powerful, those ethics are a relic of centuries of institutionalised moral hypocrisy.

    Margaret Farley’s brilliant question (‘How might the principle of justice illuminate sexual ethics?’) – is so obviously the right question that the mere asking of it exposes the silliness of the magisterium’s insistence that it always knows best. Everyone now knows that justice was always the major concern of the prophets, and of Jesus. *All* of his pronouncements on sexuality and marriage can – and obviously should – be interpreted in the light of that principle.

    Ireland’s own 20th century history bears witness to the appalling injustices that will inevitably follow the separation of sexual issues from issues of justice. Those injustices – and the hapless condition of the Irish church – will continue here while our own magisterium ignores that lesson and continues to cling to the self-imposed myopia of Christendom sexual ethics.

  14. Frank

    Hi Phil @12
    I hear your suggestion. The only thing about with-holding money in the Sunday collection is that it would hurt the people that truly benefit from it, i.e., the poor, needy, even colder chapels. Bishops wouldn’t even be aware why people are not paying.

    This article seems to have gotten a lot of press coverage. It was picked up by another great blog, New Ways Ministry.
    Along with another great article on the Brazilian Bishops on Amoris Laetitia.
    I am left wondering about the silence on this great document in Ireland.

    Excellent observation Joe @2 @10 @11

  15. Eddie Finnegan

    Phil@12, I think your half-German teenage niece seems to be indulging in something more than ‘leicht ubertrieben’ or a bit of hyperbole in her desperate excuse for not going to Mass. I have always understood that a German Catholic or Protestant pays as Church Tax an additional 8% or 9% of their Income Tax amount. So when your h-G-t-n grows up to hold a job earning, say, Eu.48,354.00 p.a. I’d guess her tax-free allowance of Eu.8,354.00 means she’ll pay about 20% standard rate Income Tax on Eu.40,000 to the State plus 8% or 9% of that basic tax amount to her church: i.e. a total of approx Eu.8,000 to the State + 8-9% of Eu.8,000 to her church. So your h-G-t-n will pay her church parish between Eu.640 and Eu.720 p.a. which is the equivalent of Eu.12.31 or Eu.13.85 in the Sunday envelope. This will not contribute too much to the Bishop of Bling’s gold jacuzzi fittings. It is true, of course, that in recent years the additional 8-9% has been applied to Capital Gains as well as Income Tax – so quite a few Germans past their teenage years have the excuse they’ve been looking for not to go to Mass. In fairness to your h-G-t-n, Phil, she may well drop between Eu.640 and Eu.720 in the poor box on her occasional private visits to church. My experience of German, Austrian and Swiss church tax generosity over the past half-century is that their parish and diocesan surpluses are more likely to make their way to supporting struggling parishes or dioceses or school projects in areas such as West Africa than to keep Bishops or Cardinals of Bling in the luxury to which they may have become accustomed.

  16. Phil Greene

    Hi Frank,

    My understanding is that the first collection goes to pay all the priests wages, the second is for charity and I pay separately to the parish to help with the running of the parish … therefore it would be the first collection that the bishops of each diocese would, I would hope, be acutely aware of if funds were withheld, … not something that asked lightly by the way, a last resort , and as mentioned the parish could ensure the priest does not go without, ..the other option being a withdrawal of volunteering services.. either would also get a lot of press coverage very quickly. Something must be done or eventually there will be no Masses , so no collections anyway..

  17. Mary Vallely

    To be honest I hadn’t thought this through, the suggestion of withholding finances. It arose out of a statement someone made about laity having no power. This is the only weapon we have in the armoury, the power of the purse strings. I don’t think it is taking it away from the poor as Frank@13 suggests, because we all contribute to the weekly Vincent de Paul collections and priests’ incomes are dealt with separately aren’t they, in the Dues envelopes.
    It would only work if a considerable number of parishioners were behind it and I am far from confident there would be enough in my own parish or diocese or indeed in any other northern diocese. We are slow to change or to challenge our clergy here for many reasons.
    Phil and Frank you come across as warm -hearted, thoughtful men. I don’t know where you reside and one of the drawbacks of a site like this is that comments come from all over the country and even the globe. People need to meet and discuss local issues face to face and the ACI or WAC are good starting points for anyone needing that support. I would hazard a guess that most of us here are over 60 and maybe aren’t as radically minded as we were in our youth. It is easy to throw out a suggestion or to express anger and frustration online but not so easy to follow through with an action plan, is it?
    I know that lately I have lost trust in the institution and indeed in many clergy because of scandals, mostly of a sexual nature and yet I realise it must be even more horrific for those good priests who are doing their best to keep their vows and be channels of God’s loving mercy and compassion. Speaking of which does anyone else think that St John Vianney’s belief that, ‘After God the priest is everything’ is in any way sensible to teach young impressionable seminarians who might take that too much to heart and believe that they are ‘God’s gift’ as we used to say. Just pondering here.

  18. Phil Greene

    Ah thank you Eddie for the clarification, it was wrong of me to let this go out without first checking the tax rate. Mea culpa.
    Please don’t let it distract from the rest of my comments.

  19. Frank

    Hi Phil @16
    I think every diocese might have different approaches to having taking up their collections.

    I think it is interesting/sad to read of the race reports take place in the US. Within living memory people were segregated/discriminated because of their race. In modern society this is totally unacceptable.
    I believe the a role of the Church is to speak out against injustice of every kind and the Church has been acting unjustly towards the lgbt community.

    Discussion is needed.

  20. Tony

    Came across a wonderful article on the Slugger O’Toole web-site, “Soapbox – LGBT Interfaith Dialogue – finding welcome within faith?”

    In concerned the dialogue between Christian denominations and the lgbt community.

    A Catholic mother spoke about he reaction to her son coming out as gay and about knowing gay priests.

    Maybe this is the kind of dialogue we need within the faith communities and the lbgt community.

  21. Tony

    I meant to say that the meeting took place in Rosemary St Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

  22. Phil Greene

    Hi Frank,
    You are possibly right about the approaches, I can only speak about Dublin, which in fairness covers quite a large % of the population I would think (it would appear that NI has something very similar). The church collections are centralised and the planned giving is for the parish alone. I meant US as in WE , sorry about the confusion.. where does the discussion begin Frank and when does it end in actual results/ recognition of gay people/gay priests?.. women have been talking for a long time about being unjustly used by the Church.

    Hi Mary
    I have been angry and frustrated on this website before as you know, but am quite calm when I think about this course of action. The anger and frustration arise from the inability to move further down the road or have new conversations as we change and grow as a Faith community within our changing society, with this action however I can very calmly see what could be a starting point.
    It was never envisaged that it would be easy Mary, if it were easy it would have been done long ago, around 2009 onwards… that is why the ACI and the WAC were suggested above as possible starting points.. or as possible leaders to coordinate this action.. A possible course could be that these 2 bodies meet together perhaps at first, then with the ACP, let people know the outcome and start this conversation or indeed end it rather than ending it here and now…?
    Pope Francis is 80, would he describe himself as radical I wonder?
    The issue of trust, or loss thereof, is of course a hugely important issue. The scandals are not fully resolved (by either sides) and the population at large would ask “why are the churchgoers only acting now?”.. “what has taken them so long?”, and “what is more important to them, justice or dialogue (other)..?” So yes, this would need a very clear vision as to why it is being done and would need the support of priests, and would need to be more than a once-off “disturbance”.
    Change as we all know needs courage.. a former boss of mine said once that if people feel the need to rebel/leave en masse then management has failed them,.. so what action will help this management understand their failures, a carrot or a stick? I would prefer a carrot anyday btw.

    Small clarification – my full name is Philomena, but please continue with Phil!

    Well done to the ACP by the way with recent media coverage, it’s good to see in the comments section that people are looking at the human element again!

  23. Frank

    Thanks Phil @22
    You are correct to say where will the dialogue get us, maybe just more hot air. I would like to think that sometimes giving people an opportunity to tell their story can bring great healing especially in parts of their lives where there is great hurt and pain.
    Thanks to Tony @20 I looked at the recent lgbt inter-faith dialogue that took place in Rosemary Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Has such an ecumenical event ever taken place in a Catholic Church? I’m not too sure. I believe that we much reach out and let people tell their story.

  24. Joe O'Leary

    Mary, you write: ” it must be even more horrific for those good priests who are doing their best to keep their vows and be channels of God’s loving mercy and compassion. Speaking of which does anyone else think that St John Vianney’s belief that, ‘After God the priest is everything’ is in any way sensible to teach young impressionable seminarians” — It seems to me that the clerical distinction imaged in your first sentence goes along the same lines as what you criticize in your second!

  25. Phil Greene

    Dear Frank

    I did NOT say “where will dialogue get us, may be just more hot air”. I believe in both dialogue and action, and the whole point of taking this action is to promote further constructive dialogue that brings about change and growth.. I had hoped that was very clear, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to ensure that there is no ambiguity surrounding that message.

    Your comments surrounding healing are what we all hope for and want more of. The article, to my mind, is about further dialogue between laypeople and church leaders plus a change in doctrine to facilitate change in how the LGBT community are treated and indeed divorced and remarried couples too.
    Inclusiveness includes acceptance, formal acceptance further enhances the healing process… but we must also get our leaders to talk with us (rather than to us) don’t you think..?

  26. Mary Vallely

    No, Joe@24. I believe that any baptised person can be a channel of God’s loving mercy and compassion, not just the ordained. I suppose we expect higher standards of morality from our priests and for those who are honestly trying to attain that standard it must be extremely hurtful and embarrassing when some of their colleagues are found to be living a lie. Hence my attempt at understanding how grieved those good men must feel. Do you really think it wise to instil the belief in the ordained that they are closer to God than anyone else? I do not doubt that many priests are close to God in many ways but then so are many religious sisters and many ordinary women and men. And children most of all!! I just worry that this attitude might encourage a sense of superiority in some clerics and question the wisdom of it. Saw it quoted on a priests website recently.
    My sincere apologies to Phil for my foolish assumption that you were male. A lesson to me. Always learning!

  27. Joe O'Leary

    Mary, St John Vianney was a vehicle of divine mercy in a specific sense, in that he spent huge amounts of his time in the Confessional, and that was the locus in which divine mercy was normally encountered by Catholics of the time. This is probably what the statement you quoted means. It’s not self-aggrandizement. John Paul II held him up as a model for priesthood today. But things have moved on, irrevocably.

  28. Phil Greene

    No apology needed at all Mary, i felt it more honest to mention it rather than not, that’s all! It’s always happening to me .. with mail or group bookings etc. 🙂 and totally agree .. we are always learning, love it!

  29. Frank

    Dear Phil,

    Apologies for misrepresenting you- It was not my intention.

    I agree with Joe @27.

    Great piece on RTE about the priesthood this morning.

  30. Con Devree

    This thread started as a demand for a dialogue on sexual ethics. Numbers 2, 10 and 11 introduced stuff new to me about the healing of the Centurion’s servant. I’m grateful to Joe O’Leary for stimulating some reading, the result of which is as follows.

    There is a semantic range for the word “pais.” The word was always used in secular Greek culture to refer to the younger lover of an older man of higher social status. The use of the word pais as a lover referred to a pederastic junior who, given the fact that the Centurion was Roman, not Greek, may not have had any say in the sexual relationship.

    In the New Testament, the word occurs at least 17 times. None of these would warrant translation of pais as “male lover”.

    Biblically pais can mean servant of God, minister or ambassador of God, beloved of God, and sent by Him to perform any service. The term pais is used of David as servant in Acts 4:25 “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant … David.”

    Pais refers to Israel as servant in Luke 1:54, “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.”

    It speaks of Jesus in his role as Messiah in this way in Matt 12:18, “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved [son] with whom my soul is well pleased.”

    It is similarly found in Luke 12:45-47 “But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,”

    And in the return of the prodigal (Luke 15:26): “And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.”

    In the Luke 7:1-10 passage the servant is called consistently doulos apart from Luke 7:7 where “my servant” uses the language of pais.

    In none of those roles is any sexual relationship implied. So if pais does in fact mean “lover” in Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, these would be the only instances in the New Testament or the Septuagint (i.e., Old Testament) where it means that. How probable is that?

    This evidence seems to suggest that in Matthew 8, the most obvious meaning is that the pais is a male servant of young years and the word entimos in Luke 7 refers to esteem rather than affection. To assume the sexual relationship interpretation involves first translating the word pais in a manner not used elsewhere in Scripture and secondly, accepting that the only culturally contextual use of the word pais implies exploitation of a pederastic junior lover probably deprived of any say in the sexual relationship.

  31. Joe O'Leary

    Thanks for your research. It’s interesting that the word “pais” is retained in Luke only for the Centurion’s words, “my pais shall be healed” (Lk 7:7). That “entimos” (Lk 7:2) means only “esteemed” or “highly useful” would dehumanize the story considerably. Now in Matthew there is no statement at all about what the pais meant to the Centurion. Could that be because given what was generally known about such matters there was no need to spell out that the pais was “dear to him” (or “precious”, another possible translation of Luke’s entimos).

    Of course pais is used with this connotation only here in Scripture for the simple reason that it is only here that such a usage would have any bearing (put “male lover” for “pais” in any of the other text you refer to and the result is nonsense). Pais is a common word for servant or child, but as your research confirms is was also commonly “used in secular Greek culture to refer to the younger lover of an older man of higher social status.”

  32. Paddy Ferry

    A belated contribution to the sexual ethics debate. This is a letter from Prof. Tina Beattie in the Tablet of Aug.5th in which she raises concerns about two issues that had been aired in the previous week’s edition.

    Voice of Women
    02 August 2017
    Topic of the Week
    Two related issues in last week’s edition of The Tablet underline the need for the Church to listen to the voices of women.
    In your editorial about the Polish bishops (“Democracy on the edge”, 29 July), you claimed that the Church opposed “a law subsequently dropped, to imprison women who had had abortions”. The bishops had initially supported this proposal by the government.
    In April 2016, I worked with a group of Polish Catholic women to draft an open letter to the bishops, signed by 99 Catholics worldwide, including moral theologians, obstetricians and midwives, arguing against criminalisation. In October 2016, an unprecedented number of women took to Poland’s streets to protest against this proposed change to the law; government ministers subsequently admitted it was these protests that made them reconsider.
    Contrary to what your editorial implied, it was not the bishops but the women of Poland who, in this instance, constituted “the steward of the nation’s conscience”.
    In the same issue, Fr Kevin O’Donnell (Letters) described natural family planning as “undeniably the ideal”, but cautiously acknowledged grounds for debate about the use of artificial contraception within a faithful marriage where there is an intention to procreate children. Given that a 2013 Univision poll of more than 12,000 Catholics worldwide found that nearly 80 per cent support contraception (the figure rises to well over 90 per cent in some countries), I wonder what makes him so certain that he knows “undeniably” what the ideal is for all married couples?
    I know many women who have practised natural family planning. A few find it a positive experience, but the vast majority experience marital tension, exhaustion, unplanned pregnancies, and escalating gynaecological problems with each pregnancy. Humanae Vitae acknowledges that church teaching on contraception can sometimes be observed “only with the gravest difficulty, sometimes only by heroic effort”. Marriage and parenthood do involve struggle and sometimes heroic effort, but why should a celibate male hierarchy decree that the most natural, loving and consoling aspect of married life should in itself be turned into a heroic struggle?
    Moreover, a tiny fraction of the world’s women have the kind of marriage that Fr O’Donnell suggests might allow for contraception. Many girls and women will at some time in their lives experience sexual coercion or abuse, and many husbands expect sex on demand. How are women to protect themselves in such situations?
    I read last week’s Tablet when I was with a group of religious sisters from the Congo and Rwanda. There was an abyss between this priest’s confident assertions about marriage and contraception, and the realities of rape, murder and maternal death that those sisters were describing.
    Until and unless the Church listens to women on these issues, church teaching will continue to be ignored, not as an unattainable ideal but as a cruel imposition by men who will never have to face the decisions and responsibilities of pregnancy and motherhood, nor the threat of sexual violence that haunts every girl and woman.
    Tina Beattie
    Professor of Catholic studies, 
    University of Roehampton

  33. Anne

    NFP Fr.O’Donnell states is a system that works in close harmony with nature and the body. How come then that 90%of catholic couples have rejected it . NFP is anything but reliable as women well know who have found themselves pregnant too young, too old and too often.

  34. Frank

    Wise words Anne @33 and I think what you have written needs greater discussion.


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