couple holding hands black and white - smallWritten by: Fr. Jason Kuntz

There has been much discussion about what the Pope did and did not say about condoms in his recent interview with Peter Seewald.  Many have clarified that the Pope insisted that condoms are not “a real or moral solution” to combat HIV.   Yet few have discussed what the Pope DID says was the solution to the spread of HIV: “the humanization of sexuality.” [1]

Men and women are not animals – our sexuality is not merely subject to instinct.  We have an intellect which enables us to discover God’s plan for our sexuality.  We also have freedom of will which enables us to curb our sexual desires, in order to subordinate them to God’s plan for our sexuality.  Human experience and Christian revelation teach us that sexuality is designed for the union of spouses and the procreation of children within marriage.

The spread of HIV is merely a symptom of a bigger problem.  While condoms may help address the symptom, they do not solve the problem.  The real solution is found in understanding God’s plan for sexuality and practicing self-control to subordinate our passions to this plan.   The responsible use of sexuality is the only effective way to curb the spread of HIV long term.

Nevertheless, as the journalists have pointed out, the Catholic Church’s understanding of sexuality is seen as “unrealistic and ineffective” or even “madness.” [2]   It would seem that the truly “human” approach would be to admit that most men and woman are weak and simply unable to resist their sexual impulses.

This response betrays that we have fundamentally forgotten what it means to be human.  Our experience of human nature is not exactly an experience of humanity as God intended it.   God created man with the gift of “self-mastery” – our passions were completely subject to our intellect and will.  In Paradise, our bodies would only have desired sexual pleasure when it was according to God’s plan.  As a result of the sin of our first parents, the harmony between our passions and reason is shattered.   We often desire things which are not good for us [3].

Since most people’s experience is that of fallen and distorted sexuality, they assume that these desires are normal and that the Church’s teaching is idealistic and unrealistic.  It is only through the grace of God and a long moral struggle that we are able to discover self-mastery and to experience sexuality as God intended.

Today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother Mary.  The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches us that,

due to a special grace of God, Mary preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception in the womb of St. Anne.   Unlike us, Mary does not possess a fallen nature.  Mary experienced the perfect harmony between here passions and her freedom.   She freely surrendered her body to the plan of God for her – offering her womb to be the home of God.  Mary reveals to us what it means to be fully human.   She gives us a glimpse of how God wishes to recreate all of us by restoring the harmony between our passions and our freedom.

A traditional aspiration to be said in time of sexual temptation is “O Mary conceived without stain of original sin, pray for us who have recourse unto thee”.

On her feast day, let us call upon our Mother to teach us what it means to be human – and what a true “humanization of sexuality” might look like.  Let us ask her to help us to discover God’s plan for our lives and to live it with generosity.

[1] The Pope gave this answer twice.  First when interviewed by journalists during his Apostolic journey to Cameroon and Angola in 2009.  The second time is in the much discussed interview with Peter Seewald in “Light of the world”.

[2]  See the two interviews quoted above.

[3]  See Catechism of the Catholic Church 377, 379, 400.

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If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.

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