Imagine you are loaded into the family station wagon driving south on 95, when innocently enough, your car full of children asks, “Can we go to Hardees? We’re hungry.” And imagine that because of some wise and loving parental plan, you say, “No.” But it doesn’t end here. Your children seize the moment, and start chanting in unison, “CHAR BROILED BURGERS! CHAR BROILED BURGERS!” And despite you kind and patient exhortations for silence, the chanting continues for 30 minutes. What would you do? Ok, sure, my parents gave in and we stopped at Hardees, creating a great childhood memory of the power of unified pestering. 🙂
Analyze the situation: who was obsessed with the burgers? Nobody in their right mind would say that my parents were the ones obsessed. And today I am calling out the malarky of a common accusation of the secular world that the Catholic Church is ‘obsessed with gynecology.’ Atheists argue this as proof of the Church’s obsolescence. Ex-Catholics cite this as reason for leaving. But frankly it is hogwash. The Catholic Church isn’t the one using this to sell everything under the sun. Or demanding that all actions of the lewdest imaginations be celebrated with Pride Parades. Or profiting over the internet from this obsession. Or using the topic as fodder for countless jokes at the water cooler. Yes there is an “obsession with gynecology” but it is not the Catholic Church who is obsessed.
How many references do you hear to these issues at Mass per month? Now compare that how many contrary references you hear every day? And the next time that someone says the Church is obsessed, cough loudly and call them out for their “Malarky.” (or whatever more forceful phrase you wish to use)!
This past Wednesday, was the 50th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae. Despite the incessant chanting of some Catholics for “Char-Broiled-Burgers,” Pope Paul VI kindly and patiently reiterated the constant teaching of God regarding human sexuality. I don’t preach on this incessantly because I don’t want parents to have to go home every week retranslating every homily in age appropriate language. But make no mistake, the world does not show the same restraint.
This coming year, to observe the anniversary, our parish theme will be taken from the constant teaching of the Church (with an tweak for alliteration). The theme will be FAMILY: Forever, Faithful, Fruitful. Among several programs that we are planning, this fall I will give a talk on the encyclical, it’s reception, and on the wider moral issues. This will not be a talk for children, so please don’t bring anyone who is not ready for a frank talk. God does have a wise and loving plan for human sexuality, we just have to wade through a whole lot of noise to hear it.