When I decided to become a Catholic I nervously approached a priest as he was coming out of the parish office.  I didn’t know any Catholics, but wanting in I thought I’d go to the father of the house.  He told me that since Vatican II it was not necessary for me to convert.  I didn’t know what Vatican II was, but when I went and read the documents I found out Vatican II said it was actually a duty of his office to help me become a Catholic (Presbyterorum Ordinis, especially chapter 2).  This was but one instance when the teachers and the content of the Faith seemed at odds.  I’ve had priests recommend porn to “get in the mood” for my wife.  I’ve had priests laugh off the sexual ethics of the Church as arcane.  Yes, the Church has issues in communicating the truth, but the truth itself is clearly not the issue.

It is important to note that I was one of those “at the margins” souls – a family riddled with divorce, no formal instruction in faith or participation in any church, complete confusion on sexual morality, drugs and all that, and an eyewitness witness to events as depraved as rape and domestic abuse.  May I have the Gospel please?

My wife had a similar yet debilitating introduction to human sexuality that caused her great pain. Perhaps now we are dismissed as conservatives because we so vehemently cling to the Church’s clear teaching.  But we cling to the Ark of the Church for dear life, knowing how terrible the storm and flood is outside.  No, we won’t let go.  “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter 2:20).

Both of us can tell you quite plainly: the world’s vision of sexuality and family life is putrid with death and lies.  It destroys.  The world’s lies about sexuality are an endless pit, filled with dark nothingness and causing all souls that enter to only descend further and further, foretasting hell.  To this day we pray for the grace of healing from past wounds.  Finding the Catholic Faith was a sheer gift of grace.

The world is now riddled with the pain of the sexual revolution.  What we need is clarity and charity in presenting the truth.  I am not focusing on sexuality from some Freudian need to talk about it, but because almost every “issue” that is at the same time hot button and controversial is also the source of disorder and pain in the family and in the family’s members.  Contraception, masturbation, pornography, gay “marriage”, transgenderism, divorce, etc. all come down to a confusion on what sex is and what it means.  If the word “sex” means pleasure, then anything goes, even men having “sex” with robots and each other.  If, however, sex is related to marriage and childbearing, then all of those things I just mentioned gain a little clarity.  We need some clarity.

Through RCIA and after we had to look hard, but under bushel baskets here and there we found the teachings of the Church, mostly through writers, speakers, and lay apostolates.  The Theology of the Body and the teaching on family life were the most beautiful, liberating things I had ever read.  As someone who had seen, known, and felt the world post-pill, Humanae Vitae was prophetic and staggering in its understanding of true love in a world of lying bodies. How right does Paul VI have to be before pastors of the Church don’t blush to bring it up?  Much of this was being learned during our marriage preparation, but none of it came from the pulpit or any formal instruction from parish or diocese.  We asked for bread but were given the expired saltines of the 70’s.  I have heard exactly one serious sermon on sexual ethics that explained explicitly the Church’s teaching on contraception.

There is a clear effort now to “tone down” the talk on sexuality – or at least not to “lead” with it.  This, along with the novel attempt to codify adultery, is a smack in the face of those riddled with the pain of the sexual revolution. Younger, devout, and serious Catholics continue to be mystified by the willingness of our fathers in the Church to defend that which hurts the most, ignoring the victims and seemingly siding with the ones inflicting the pain.  I hate to be cliché here as a millennial, but when will the self-serving narcissism of the boomers end?  Can we just say their promiscuity was a massive disaster and focus back on goodness, truth, and beauty?  No one benefits from skirting around the issues of sexuality, and the recent history of the Protestant communions that liberalized sexual ethics proves that it’s the beginning of the end for any church that gives up on the seriousness of the family.  The Anglican Church was the first to cave, and look at them today.  Those that followed are decaying as well.

And let’s be clear.  We don’t live in a time where the Church’s teachings are being rejected, we’re living in a time where no one knows those teachings!  And those that have a problem with the Church are not exactly on her doorstep demanding change so they can get in – they just like yelling at big targets.  There’s not a line of gay men outside just waiting for the word “disordered” to be dropped from the catechism’s description of homosexuality.  “To many [gay men], the Church still looks confused and chaotic,” explains a homosexual man named Joseph Sciambra in an excellent piece on the way gays really think about the Church. “Combined with the bad press surrounding the priest-sex-scandal, most gay men see the Church … endlessly caught within their own world of bureaucratic dialogue.”

As someone who had to walk up as an outsider to Catholic parishes and try to join the local community, I can assure you that the “unwelcoming problem” is not restricted to homosexuals.  We dialogue about dialogue as if there are lines of non-Catholics at our door just waiting for those doors to open wide to dialogue.  All evidence points to the fact that the doors are wide open, and everyone’s walking out.

I’m sad because as I lean in to hear the conversations of the bishops, of my fathers, I don’t hear the right questions being asked.  I hear about policies and practices.  I hear talk about the joy of the Gospel but it gets translated as “be nice and talk hard stuff later.”  I hear about broken families and the need for compassion and understanding.  I don’t hear them asking, “Why and how have we been so completely incompetent and impotent in teaching our flocks the truth?”  This is the elephant in the room for me.  The truth is there – teach it!   Don’t try to rework doctrine to sound good to the ears of the media – it never will.  Just come to us, the people, and teach us in love.  The truth will set us free, not vague, insider-baseball language that only excites the faculty floors of emptying seminaries.

Today its like the shareholders of a company are berating the research and development department because no one bought a product, but in reality the managers never even put it on the shelves – they buried it out of fear.  But the managers, who never put the product out, are suggesting changes to the product’s color, shape, and presentation, as if that had anything to do with it.

I wish my fathers would see the deep, boggy mire we are in, and I wish they would come to the rescue.  I wish – pray! – that they would see our chains and help us be free from them and not just paint them gold and explain that slavery is just an imperfect state that we just need to be accompanied in.  Talk to us, not the press.  We need explicit, clear, and focused teaching on how to be a human created for the glory of God, and right now sexuality is a major issue that effects my understanding and orientation toward my true end. We need fathers to point the way.

“Yet still, when he looked at the multitudes, he was moved with pity for them, seeing them harried and abject, like sheep that have no shepherd. Thereupon he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful enough, but the labourers are few; you must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send labourers out for the harvesting.” (Matthew 9:36-38, Knox)

  • Juan Pablo

    Sounds like you encountered the Springtime of Vatican 2 as an early convert. With Francis turning the modernist amp to 11, things will only get worse.

  • Caezer Ng

    It’s unfortunate you met so many priests who taught incorrectly, and even before your conversion! As a Catholic of about 4 years, and having moved several times over that period and meeting many priests, I can confidently say all my pastors’ teachings were consistent with the Church’s on sexuality. And this is in liberal Canada (but, to be fair, some Canadians can be die-hard traditionalists as well).

    Edit: for clarity.

  • Monica Kolars

    Great job! I agree with you 100%! The writings of the Pope Paul VI, St. John Paul and Pope Emeritus Benedict light the way to Christian life. What a blessing you had such tenacity to find the truth. God bless you and your wife in your journey to God.

  • John Sposato

    “BAM!” That’s the sound of the hammer hitting the nail squarely on its head.

  • “feminist and secular propaganda” <- I am not sure why this is used as what seems to be an insult (or at least what I would call an attack) at your wife's family. What exactly is wrong with "feminism"? It is usually defined as (though it varies because it is a large group of different political movements, ideologies, and social movements) "define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men."
    What exactly is wrong with that in your view?
    " we found the teachings of the Church, mostly through writers, speakers, and lay apostolates." Actually it is pretty easy to find the teachings of the Church, the Catechism.
    http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basic-html/page-I.html#

    In addition if you need clarifications/questions, the writers/speakers you speak of might be off track. I have read some books/articles about what that person thinks the Church means, and speakers trying to convince many that their view is correct. The problem again is the Church is pretty clear who you go to, the Pope, cardinals, bishops, and whether you like it or not then priests. You can also go in reverse order if you don't like one levels explanation, but to be part of the Church means that you see the Pope as the head of the Church. To find the Pope's most recent writing on this:
    https://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/world/read-pope-francis-releases-first-major-paper-on-the-family/1924/

    You seem to have some disagreements with the Pope's statements, or possible misunderstandings (media/news can only focus on parts of the document, they have limited time). I would read the whole document, not parts of it.

    • donttouchme

      Feminism is the false idea that the sexes are equal. They aren’t. The problem you point out is buried even deeper than the point he makes of the absence of discussion of contraception. That’s that women are subordinate to men. Not even a blog specifically about Catholic manliness can broach that topic.

    • Jason Craig

      Thank you for the comment.

      I [submitted a] changed in the comment about my wife’s family because it did seem as an attack on them per se – and I love them very much. However, what I was referring to was what I said: propaganda. Look up the definition of propaganda, and then imagine it coming from feminist or secular sources with overtly marxists undertones and you’ll get what I mean. I rarely talk about “the good kind of feminism” because typically in the discussion and categorization you would not expect them to accept such figures as Edith Stein, Alice Van Hildebrand, or Mother Theresa. Were they feminists?

      Yes, it is easy to find the Catholic Church’s teaching for those that do the research and read. The ecclesiastical ecosystem, however, clearly provides ways for people to learn and it is not “read this in your spare time”. Having that link to the catechism at the ready means that this article was probably not about or for you.

      The speakers/authors I speak of “might be off track,” but you don’t know who they are so you can’t speak on them. If they were off track in theological precisision perhaps we can forgive them, but it was better than the 12 minute hallmark sermonette served up at that time in my life (I am at a parish now with great preaching). I went on to study theology and love the intellectual tradition of the Church. Again, I and you “know where to go” to get the teaching, which is precisely the problem. Who is going to those that don’t know where to go? As a farmer, I think that “feed my sheep” is a proactive directive.

      I did not bring up Francis, but I know for certain that the on-the-ground dynamics of the Church are now more confused than ever. At least we can acknowledge that the lack of unity is troubling. I do think it is better when Rome does what it does best: clarify teaching and expose error. I do not think that a centralized pulpit that “sets the tone” for every clergyman in the world is a good idea. Whatever the goals, I don’t think it is working and I think the current method has been tried and found wanting in the recent past.

      • Phoebe Coombey

        Stay on point; your piece here is an excellent and accurate analysis of the leadership vacuum in the Church. Don’t get mired in responding to these criticisms which are meant to divert your attention and energies away from what truly ails the Church – a reluctance to proclaim Truth. God bless you.

      • DougP1

        Mr Craig, where to start? Well, first, I agree with just about everything you say! 🙂
        But you may have missed a point. You say, “I do not think that a centralized pulpit that “sets the tone” for every clergyman in the world is a good idea.” Yet that is just what a Bible writer wanted for us. Eph 4:5,6, NJB, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and father of all …” This is so we won’t “be at the mercy of all the tricks people play and their unscroupulousness in deliberate deception.” 4:14, ibid. From such a pulpit, using a standard all can agree on, all would be given the same life-giving spiritual food. At John 15:15 our Lord tells his disciples [us!], “I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.” Earlier, speaking to opposers FROM HIS OWN RELIGION, he contrasted true and false teachings and their sources. John 8:38-44.
        You may be interested to learn of the origin of at least some of the churches’ fuzzy teaching on sexuality. Renowned Augustine of Hippo taught that ‘spiritual love’ was to be preferred to all others, even married sex. [He called it “concupiscence”; not a good thing, to him.] Jerome went further, teaching that celibacy was the preferred state for Christians. Now, we’re all adults here, so we know where babies come from. How can we square these teachings with Yahweh’s first command to man, at Gen 1:28?
        Thank you for your kind attention, and I hope you keep learning from God’s word.

    • PJ

      I think the issue is what feminism has come to mean in modern culture. True feminism has little to do with the current political feminist power houses, that do little to support true equality and right for all. The definition does not match the practice. A glaring example is the right to life for all. And any movement (the women’s march) that would uninvite other members, who identify with equality of the sexs, because they don’t believe that a mother has the right to kill her own child, is not a movement that stands for true equality or sanctity of human life. There are plenty more examples of why the author probably refers to them with such disgust. A defining theme in the movement is to degrade human sexuality and God’s vision for the human family. Tragically, modern feminism is not what the movement could have been. It has been hijacked by sinfulness and misinformation.

      • I agree that many groups have unfortunately taken stances that are against what the Church teaches. Just using a generic term like that to refer to a few groups is dangerous, that is the same as calling all Catholics evil because of a few ‘bad apples’.

      • PJ

        I do understand your point. But the damage is almost beyond the point of no return. The majority of those that would identify as feminist would be pro-choice. And more than that, they would condemn you for not being a feminist if you were pro-life. It is a sad state to be in.

      • DougP1

        PJ, I also noticed that about the women’s march during the presidential campaign. They clamored for freedom of speech but denied it to those of their own kind who exercised it!
        It’s easy to mock or condemn such loose thinking, but I wonder if the ‘pro-life’ women weren’t more at fault, at least in wasting their time, than the ‘feeedom feminists’.
        If they were Christians they would already be aware of true appreciation of women at Pro 31:10 ff;

  • schoooter

    Great article. Thank you very much.