Thursday, April 29, 2010

Response to Senator B.J. Cruz on "Good Question" with Ray Gibson (PNC)

Senator B.J. Cruz appeared with Ray Gibson last Monday night, October 26 (2009), on "Good Question", Ray's interview show on Channel 7. Mr. Cruz made several statements about Church teaching that I thought needed addressing. Ray Gibson was kind enough to give me equal time to respond to several mis-statements by Mr. Cruz.

I was not able to address all of the items that I took issue with on the show, but feel that the problem statements by Mr. Cruz are important for us to know since he is promulgating error in the media in the name of the Church on a regular basis. We Catholics need to know truly what our Church teaches. My responses are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church with personal commentary.

Here are Mr. Cruz's comments and my responses according to the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church:

Senator Cruz: “…even Bill 212 is unacceptable because as far as the Church is concerned, anything that condones, gives any kind of safe harbor, give any rights to homosexuals...they have to oppose."

For your information, Bill 212, introduced by Senator Espaldon, would give some of the rights and benefits normally accorded to married couples to non-married couples. The bill is not sex specific and thus, the Church would not enter an opinion on this since there is nothing in the bill that would be offensive to the Church's moral teaching. However, Mr. Cruz frames the statement as the Church being opposed to the rights of homosexuals in general. This is not true. The Church does not oppose the individual rights of homosexuals. Thus the Catechism says: "Person with homosexual tendencies…must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC 2358)

Senator Cruz:“Sex is just for the purpose of procreation”.

This is Mr. Cruz's understanding of Church teaching. It is an incorrect understanding. The Catechism says: "The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses and the transmission of life. (CCC 2363)" This is also known as the "unitive" and procreative", "fidelity and fruitulness". In any event, the ends or purpose of marriage is ALWAYS two-fold and NEVER just for procreation.

Senator Cruz: “Sex is not for pleasure”

The Catechism says: "Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:  The Creator himself…established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. (Pius XII, Discourse, October 29, 1951) (CCC 2362)"

Senator Cruz: "Why do you allow people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…to get married. Why do you allow that if you know there’s no chance of them having children?

Of course this statement is based on the mistaken notion that sex must only be for procreation which we have shown is not the case. However, more can be said about this in light of Catholic teaching.  The fact is that while we as married couples, whether we be 20 or 80 years of age ONLY have control over the generative act ("having sex"). We do not have control over whether that act produces a child. Though it is a matter of science that a woman is more capable of conceiving at a certain point in her cycle, and that coitus can be timed to that point so that a couple may have the best chance of conceiving, ultimately conception is not a matter in their control. Thus an elderly couple, presumably incapable of procreation, are not prohibited from engaging in sexual intercourse 1) because sterility is not an impediment to marriage in the first place, and 2) sexual intercourse between married persons is essentially what is called the "marital act". It is an act proper to married persons and expresses the unitive aspect of marriage which essentially is all that is in their control.

Mr. Cruz at this point made a reference to "impotency" and seemed to confuse it with "sterility". Let's take a look at that.
Impotency is the inability of a man to have an erection and thus make him incapable of sexual intercourse. Sterility or infertility is the biological inability to contribute to conception or, in the woman's case, perhaps to carry a child to term. It is instructive to note that while sterility may not be an impediment to marriage in the eyes of the Church, Impotency could be an impediment to marriage. Let me explain.
The Church assumes that the married couple has not engaged in sexual relations prior to their marriage and thus would not be aware of an infertility problem (unless it was otherwise medically determined). Thus, it is not the fault of the couple that after marriage and attempts at intercourse they do not conceive. The couple still fulfills the meaning of marriage because their marital acts are unitive and procreative (open to life). Again, no one, not even fertile couples are in control of conception.

Impotency on the other hand can be an impediment to marriage and even grounds for annulment. This presents us with a curious meditation. While the Church does not demand that a married couple produce a child, it does demand that a married couple engage in sexual intercourse. The Church does not consider a marriage valid until it has been consummated - that is until the couple engages in sexual intercourse that is open to life regardless of the fertility or infertility of the couple.

In a sense, since the Church makes sexual intercourse mandatory, not just to validate the marriage, but to be the constant "language of married love", and does not demand that the act produce a child,  we can speculate that the Church even values the unitive over the procreative, not actually, but perhaps symbolically.

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