Cardinal Dolan has candidly admitted why he doesn’t want contraception to be the issue: the bishops, he told the Wall Street Journal in March, haven’t taught Humanae Vitae for 44 years. In essence, he has admitted that, when it comes to sexual morality, our shepherds have abandoned the teachings both of the Magisterium and the Natural Law ever since Vatican II.
“We have gotten gun-shy…in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality,” he said. The “flashpoint” was Humanae Vitae: “It brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the Church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’”
Cardinal Dolan went on to regret that the clerical abuse and cover-up scandals have attenuated even more the authority of our bishops. The scandals “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’”
Cardinal Dolan proposed no program to reverse this half-century trend.
The laity have every right to know that however weak the voice of our bishops has been on moral matters in our lifetimes, the truth has not been abrogated….
Enough of the “laryngitis”! Now is the time to teach Humanae Vitae!
I have only ever heard Humanae Vitae mentioned twice in a homily (to my knowledge). One time, it was a quick reference to the Church teaching on babies and sexuality, and it was really very quick. The second time was two weeks ago when Father Shalla in Barry’s Bay, Ontario preached about what sins prevent us from receiving Communion. He was marvellous in his method here; he managed to speak facts very simply but without judgment. I recall one example: he said he had been talking to some young teen boys about going to Communion and he asked them if they knew that sexual activity would preclude them from receiving the Eucharist. They were surprised, and Father Shalla went on to explain to them that Church teaching is that anyone engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage was committing a serious sin, one that requires going to Confession before receiving Communion. One boy said “we didn’t know that Father” and Father very quickly said, with a smile, “now you do”.
He did the same thing with the issue of contraception, all of this in the same homily. He explained that the Church’s teaching was that no sexual act should be separated from the possibility of procreation. Why? because that is how God intended sexuality to be used and there are sad consequences when we don’t obey God in this area. Again, he explained that most people don’t know this, because they haven’t been taught, and then he said “but now you have”. Delivered with a smile.
I wish this priest could be cloned and put in every pulpit in Canada for one Sunday to give that homily. He might have made some people uncomfortable, but he did not offend anyone that I could see. Being made uncomfortable is one effect of the Gospel; Jesus did not come to condone our activities, but to raise us to the point that we wish to align ourselves with His Father’s will.
In a world where so many priests are too timid to speak about the issue of sexual morality and sexual sins, and where the bishops are even more quiet when they should be leading their priests, there is at least one good man who is doing the right thing. Preach on, Father Shalla!
Father Shalla is the first priest on the left in this photo taken from this year’s First Communion Sunday.