Several ideas Prof. Selling is trying his hand at selling his audience are extracted for examination and analysed by David Mills in "While We're At It - Pt. XVIII" (First Things, February 2014):
• “The vast majority of official teaching of the church on marriage and the family has been prepared and promulgated by men who have no direct, personal experience of married life in the contemporary world. They have made promises of celibacy which exclude any form of sexual relationship. As a result, relatively little of the teaching in this area clearly speaks to persons who are attempting to come to terms with their sexuality, to find and enter into meaningful relationships, and to prepare for a life of committed, mutual love that may involve the challenges of parenthood.”
So claims the Catholic Scholars’ Statement on Marriage and the Family issued by a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and signed by a variety of dissenting Catholic theologians, though apparently none of the writer’s colleagues at Louvain, and good for them. About a third were listed as emeritus or retired. Sr. Jeannine Grammick and Georgetown’s Peter Phan appear.
Some priests and bishops may not convey the teaching very well, but the Church has the laity for that. If all old Fr. Tortellini can do is recite the rules, Mr. and Mrs. Antonelli can explain how those rules work out for good in practice.
Of all people capable of rational analysis of sex and human sexuality, celibates are the most likely to examine the matter dispassionately and disinterestedly. The fact that they don’t have a dog in the fight (other than their concern for the lives and eternal destinies of their people) helps them see more clearly what’s what. But of course what the statement means by “clearly speaks” is not “explains the teaching in a way people can understand and live” but “says what we think it should say.”
• It’s a contentious claim, that celibates are the most likely to examine the matter dispassionately and disinterestedly, writes Anna Sutherland, until last May one of our junior fellows. “The fact that it’s so contentious exposes what seems to be a common but false assumption: that you can’t really understand a sin if you haven’t committed it yourself, when in fact sin has a blinding, not an enlightening, effect.”
We may be better able to relate to someone like St. Augustine who sinned and repented, she continues, “but Jesus and the saints were more insightful, not less so, because of their holiness.” This we find hard to believe, so deeply have most of us absorbed the idea that experience brings knowledge.This recalls, as one reader writes, some Frank Sheed:
"Serving God does not give us the same kind of here-and-now pleasure that sin gives. To eyes as little trained to reality as ours, there is a color and energy in sin, by comparison with which virtues look pallid and half-alive."Caveat emptor!
[Hat tip to JM]