The Roman Catholic Church prides itself on having greater knowledge of God and Jesus Christ than other Christians because in addition to the written "Word of God", it boasts an "oral tradition", faithfully handed down through generations of authentic descendants of the apostles. Here's a good .oral presentation of their view, as presented by a Catholic spokesman.
Fathers and Doctors of the Church |
(The Catholic Church's
secret weapon : "Tradition" )
In contrast to most other human institutions, which strive to get better and better with time, the Roman Catholic Church argues that the principal reason that it is superior to all those other institutions is that it has not changed. It claims that the ideal is to be as close as possible to the institution created by the Son of God two thousand years ago. And it argues that - unlike those who depend mostly on the bible for their faith - the Roman Catholic church has a much better grasp of what Jesus wanted his movement to become because it has preserved and treasured truths that were not published in the bible, but which were instead handed down verbally from generation to generation through its "vicars of Christ" and its "Church Fathers and Doctors", i.e. its most distinguished and holy church teachers over the centuries.
"The list of Fathers of the Church is long and their importance to the tradition-bound Church is in giving testimony to what the Christians
believed in the early ages of the Church.
The only "Fathers of the Church" who grew up in the first century were Clement of Rome, Mathetes, Polycarp, Barnabas, Papias, St. Justin Martyr (born c. 100), and then these few who grew up in the second century: St. Ignatius of Antioch (born c ), St. Irenaeus of Lyons (born c.130), Tertullian (born c.160), Origen (born c.185),
So what kinds of things did the Catholic Church supposedly learn from Jesus and pass down through the ages by word of mouth, rather than by the written word of the bible?
The following are examples:
The Catholic Church's legacy of Contempt for the Jews :
- Twenty-seven of the thirty-two surviving works of Tertullian (160-225), a
priest from Carthage who is considered the first theologian of the West,
contain anti-Jewish discourse. In De Oratione, for example, he wrote that
'though Israel may wash all its members every day, it is never clean. Its hands
... are always stained, covered forever with the blood of the prophets and
of our Lord himself.'
- The Alexandrian theologian, Origen (182-251) preached
that 'the blood of Jesus falls not only on the Jews of that time, but on
all generations of Jews up to the end of the world'. This state of endless
and timeless culpability, says Origen, ensures that the Jews, whose
'rejection of Jesus has resulted in their present calamity and exile ...
will never be restored to their former condition' .
- Saint Cyprian (200-258), Bishop of Carthage, in his
three books of Testimonies Against the Jews, cites quotation after
quotation from the Old Testament attempting to 'prove' that the case of
Christianity against Judaism had been foreseen in that work. This became
the norm in Christian anti-Jewlsh writing. Attacks on the Jews were based
an the idea that they are Christ-killers, and were embellished with
scriptural passages (mainly out of context) defaming and besmirching Jews.
Any Old Testament prophet's condemnation of events in his time would serve
as proof that present-day Jews were hypocrites, villains, evil, haters of
and rejected by God. Cyprian, who speaks of the Jews as a 'sinful nation,
people weighed down with guilt, breed of evil-doers, lawless children',
maintains that the only way open to them to atone for their sin is
converting to Christianity. There was no salvation for Jews outside the
Church. This notion was relaxed only after the Holocaust, in the framework
of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II),
- Saint Ephraem Syrus (306-373) calls the Jews the 'circumcised
dogs' and 'circumcised vagabonds', and refers to Judaism as a worthless
vineyard which cannot bear fruit. In his writing, Ephraem refers to God's
punishment for the Jews. Because they reviled Jesus, the Lord has banished
them from their land, and now they are condemned to wander over the whole
face of the earth.
- Saint Gregory of Nyssa
(c. 331-396), with wanton
eloquence, describes the Jews as 'slayers of the Lord, murderers of the
prophets, enemies of God, haters of God, adversaries of grace, enemies of
their fathers' faith, advocates of the devil, brood of vipers, slanderers,
scoffers, men of darkened minds, leaven of the Pharisees, congregation of
demons, sinners, wicked men, stoners, and haters of goodness - a
veritable catalogue for future anti-Semites to pick from.
The fourth century was of critical importance to Jewish-Christian relations. Christianity had become the state Church and Judaism was fast losing its independent status in the Roman Empire. The writing of Christian theologians exerted a dominant influence on political
life. The persecution Jews suffered during the fourth century was largely
the result of Christian propaganda by the Church Fathers and religious
fanatics who deliberately stirred up both popular resentment and official
repression of the Jews. There was a close connection between the writings
of the Church fathers and anti-Jewish legislation by contemporary Roman
emperors. In this hour of triumph for the Church, the pens of Sts.
Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine brought
the patristic age to full flower; the Councils of Nicaea and
Constantinople canonized the essentials of Catholic belief.
Unfortunately, these pens were dipped in poison where Jews and Judaism
were concerned. Crucial to this process was the conversion of Roman
Emperor Constantine in 313 and the elevation of Christianity to be the
state religion for the whole of the Roman Empire, in 380. Christian
bishops and priests who had been pounding anti-Jewish propaganda to bring
in the flocks, now used state legislation to promote their own agenda. To
this end, every trick in the book was acceptable."
- The producer of arguably the vilest early anti-Jewish sermons was Saint John Chrysostom (347-407), Bishop of Antioch and later Archbishop of Constantinople. He is considered one of the major
Church Fathers and is still admired for the beauty of his sermons. Eight
of these sermons, which appear as Eight Homilies Against the Jews, are, as
their name suggests, violently anti-Jewish.
Chrysostom came out with his venomous attack at
a time when Christianity was already the state religion of the Roman
Empire. It was no longer fighting for recognition. He is one of fewer than
forty ecclesiastical writers who have received the title 'Doctor of the
Church', a title conferred by the Church on a teacher of the Faith,
outstanding for holiness as well as learning (eximia scientia et eximia
sanctitas), on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived
from their doctrine. Chrysostom is generally considered the most prominent
doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a
Christian pulpit. In 1909, Pope Pius X declared him patron of preachers.
Chrysostom's fanatical hatred of the Jews was clearly not considered to be
Chrysostom's eight long sermons deal with only one subject: the
despicable nature of Judaism and of 'the Jewish people (who) were driven
by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil'. Chrysostom
compared Jews to brutish animals that had grown plump and obstinate and
were hard to hold in check: 'Although such beasts are unfit for work, they
are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they
were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter'. What
Christian morality allows for such licence to kill? Chrysostom has the
answer: 'This is why Christ said: "But as for these my enemies, who did
not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them." (This is
a very unwarranted reading of the gospel account, as the words attributed to Jesus
are not those of Jesus at all, but those of a king in a fictitious parable and Jesus said nothing to suggest that this nobleman represented himself or God. See Luke 19: 12-27.) for yourself.)
Christians are warned not to come into contact with Jews, the
people in whose souls 'demons dwell'. In fact, the demons also inhabit the
synagogues, which Chrysostom describes as 'not only a brothel and a
theatre; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts'. Is it
then surprising that these terrible Jews have altars in their synagogues,
in which they sacrifice the souls of men? How long will it take from the
use of this rhetoric to the accusations that Jews actually sacrifice
Christian children and not only the 'souls' of men? After all, what else
is there to expect from these Jews, a people whose 'mothers ate their own
children'? The directive is clear - the Jews are, at best, untouchable:
"Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed, who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and
bloodshed? Must you share a greeting with them and exchange a bare word?
Must you not turn away from them since they are the common disgrace and
infection of the whole world?"
This is the same preacher who said : |
"This is the rule of the most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good . . . for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors."
Addressing the Jews, Chrysostom tells them that their case is
lost. God has deserted them, they can forget about any possibility of
atonement. 'Your mad rage against Christ, the Anointed One,' he tells them
'left no way for anyone to surpass your sin. Adding salt to the wound, he
adds: 'If God had not abandoned you, the ruin of desolation would not have
lasted so long a time, nor would your frequent efforts to rebuild the
temple have been in vain.'
The Adversus Judaeos ("Against the Jews") sermons at which Chrysostom (which is Greek for "golden mouth") excelled, led to assaults on Jews and the burning of
synagogues. In fact the immediate result of Chrysostom's sermons was the
destruction of the great synagogue of Antioch. It was also there that the
first charge regarding 'ritual murder' was brought against Jews. This did
not stop the Church from considering him to be a saint. Nor did it prevent
the twentieth-century Church from declaring Chrysostom the patron saint of
all Catholic preachers. Chrysostom's sermons continued to be taught up to
the twentieth century in Church seminaries.
- Saint Ambrose (339-397), who like Chrysostom was pronounced "Doctor
of the Church", was bishop of Milan. According to Saint Augustine's
autobiography, Confessions, Ambrose was a highly cultured, learned and
intelligent man who introduced him to his own understanding of the
existence of a spiritual world and converted him to Christianity. Saint
Ambrose, a virulent hater of Judaism, stated that he was ready to burn any
number of synagogues, 'haunts of infidels, homes of the impious,hiding
places of madmen.'
Saint Ambrose, who was and still is held in high esteem by the
Church, is credited as being a bishop who courageously and unyieldingly
fought the Church's case. She was proud of his successful intervention with
Roman Emperor Theodosius to achieve a volte-face (about-face) in his
decision to do justice. . . In a riot which took place in 388, in the
city of Callinicum on the Euphrates, Christian mobs, incited by the local
bishop, first plundered and then burned down a synagogue. The local
governor sought not only to punish the perpetrators, but also imposed the
cost of rebuilding the synagogue upon the local bishop, Ambrose, the
Bishop of Milan, came to his colleague's help. He wrote a long letter to
This letter is a masterpiece. It preaches the need for the
Emperor to be anti-Semitic, denigrating the Jews and the synagogue. It advises the Emperor
that he may not use his imperial powers to give instructions which could
result in apostasy. Ambrose quotes Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet, out
of context to 'prove' that God forbids the Emperor's intercession.
Although he expects the Emperor to revoke his edict, just in case he does
not and to ensure that the Emperor understands what is at stake for him,
Saint Ambrose warns him of the personal consequences of non-acquiescence.
The Emperor's own salvation would be at risk. Moreover, the Emperor is
warned that whereas this letter is private, unless he acts on it, he will
have to listen to Ambrose in Church. And, indeed, he did hear from the
bishop in Church. It did not suffice that Theodosius rescind the
punishment of the perpetrators and no longer demand that the bishop of
Callinicum or the Church pay for the rebuilding of the synagogue, because
the Emperor still wanted to have the synagogue rebuilt for the Jews, at
state expense. To force his views on the Emperor, Ambrose gave him an
ultimatum: he stopped the service and would not continue the liturgy until
the quest to punish the Christians of Callinicum was dropped. Theodosius
caved in and Ambrose, the saint, bishop of Milan, one of the important
Fathers of the Church, legitimising violence in pursuit of a religious
cause, actively and successfully promoted the riotous persecution of Jews.
- Saint Jerome (341-420), Church Father and Doctor of the Church,
identified all Jews with Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus in return
fur thirty pieces of silver:
Who do you suppose are the sons of Judas? The Jews. The Jews take
their name, not from Juda who was a holy man, but from the betrayer.'
(What nonsense! They were called "Jews" for centuries before Judas was
born, because they were descendents of their forefather, Juda.)
'Synagogue was divorced by the Saviour and became the wife of Judas, the betrayer.' He added, 'If it is expedient to hate any men and to loathe any race I have a strange dislike for those of the
circumcision. For up to the present day, they persecute our Lord Jesus
Christ in the synagogues of Satan.'
Jerome introduces deceit and sexual depravity as metaphors for Jewish behaviour and describes the synagogue:
'If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the devil's refuge,
Satan's fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every
conceivable disaster or whatever else you will, you are stilt saying less
than it deserves.'
- Saint Augustine (354-430), bishop of the North
African city of Hippo, was a prolific and inventive writer of sermons,
letters and books. He was one of the most revered authors of the patristic
period with nearly a hundred books to his name, and as such was
influential throughout Christian history.
The Catholic Church's legacy of contempt for S E X and for WOMEN :
- The views of another of the Church Fathers, Tertullian, on women were fairly typical:
"Do you not realise that Eve is you? The curse God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty, you must bear its hardships. You are the devil's gateway, you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the law of God, you who softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, the man Adam, you broke him, it was child's play to you. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!"
[Tertullian, Disciplinary, Moral and Ascetical Works (New York, 1959), translated by Rudolph Arbessman, Sister Emily Joseph Daly, and Edwin A Quain, SJ, and quoted in Warner, Alone of All Her Sex, p 58.]
Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome were the most prominent theologians of the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. When he was not inciting anti-Jewish hatred and defending the right of Christians to burn synagogues, St. Ambrose (339-397), Bishop of Milan and one of the four early "Doctors fo the Church", wrote treatises extolling virginity and demanding that people have as little sex as possible. At the time, priests were still allowed to marry and Ambrose demanded that they should give up sex. They had, according to him, to refrain from intercourse with their own wives. The rest of the population should be reminded that the purpose of sex was procreation. Having sex with one's pregnant wife was unacceptable. In fact, Ambrose called for his congregation to 'either emulate the beasts or fear God'. Animals, he explained, are only 'animated by the urge to preserve their kind, not by the desire for sexual union. For, as soon as they perceive that the womb is gravid, they cease to indulge in sexual intercourse.' If his audience was not convinced by the parallels to the animal kingdom, Ambrose exhorted them to 'Control your lust and look upon the hands of your Creator, who fashions a human being within the maternal body. If he be at work, will you profane the peaceful sanctuary of the maternal body with carnal desire?' He also considered it shameful for older people to have sex.
The Church's extreme discomfort with sex necessitated the creation of sex-free zones surrounding Jesus. Semen seemed especially dirty to her, In a letter to Bishop Anysius, Pope Siricius (384-399) wrote in 392,' Jesus would not have chosen to be born of a virgin had he been compelled to regard her as so incontinent that the womb in which the body of the Lord took shape, that hall of the Everlasting King, would be defiled by the presence of male seed.' Jovinian, a Catholic theologian, incurred the Church's wrath by disputing Mary's virginity; the Church continues to teach that Mary's hymen remained intact. Jovinian, who contended that` married and celibate life were of equal merit, held that Mary retained her' virginity at conception but that she lost it at child-birth. For publishing; a book containing such heretical ideas, Jovinian was excommunicated by Pope Siricius. Furthermore, Ambrose got Emperor Theodosius to flog and then exile Jovinian."
- Here is the way St. John Chrysostom viewed women:
" What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature painted with fair colours!"
For St John Chrysostom the loss of virginity brought trouble and death". [ St John Chrysostom in his homilies on the Matthew gospel, written around AD 390 (Matthew 19:10), explaining why it is not good to marry, cited by Malleus Maleficarum, Pt I, q 6.]
[ St John Chrysostom in his homilies on the Matthew gospel, written around AD 390 (Matthew 19:10), explaining why it is not good to marry, cited by Malleus Maleficarum, Pt I, q6. ]
- St. Jerome, the author of the Latin "Vulgate" translation of the bible which has been the Roman church's official bible through most of its history since the 4th century, disliked sex so much he taught that Adam and Eve would never have engaged in it if they hadn't fallen into SIN. He maintained that before the fall the first human couple were virgins in Paradise, and were only married as a result of their fall from grace, once they were cast out of Paradise. ( It was apparently contrary to God's plan that Adam and Eve would eventually get around to actually using the sex organs that God had built into them! ) Jerome taught that 'The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.'
Jerome regarded marriage as tolerable only because new virgins were generated as a result. Women were gateways to the Devil, the way of evil, the sting of the scorpion. As one modern biblical commentator has noted "The letters of Jerome teem with loathing of the female which occasionally sounds deranged".
"As long as a woman is for birth and children, she is different from man as body is from soul. But when she wishes to serve Christ more than the world, then she will cease to be a woman, and will be called a man."
[St Jerome, Comm. in Epist. ad Ephes. III, 5]
- St Ambrose (339-397) held views similar to those of St Jerome and St Augustine, and it was primarily through their combined influence that Church views on sexuality developed in the way that they did. So it was that in early Church art Satan was often represented as being female, so too the need to emphasise the virginity of Jesus' mother. It was simply too much to accept that Mary might ever have indulged in such a sordid practice as sexual intercourse. St Augustine said that sexual intercourse was fundamentally disgusting, St Ambrose that it was a defilement, Tertullian that it was shameful, and St Jerome that it was unclean; in the views of other leading figures it was unseemly (Methodius) and filthy and degrading (Arnobius).
Some later theologians developed the notion that the original sin for which Adam and Eve had been expelled from paradise was sex. Jerome likes the idea of a sexless paradise. According to him, coitus was not part of the prelapsarian (prior to the fall) world: 'And as regards Adam and Eve we must maintain that before the fall they were virgins in Paradise: but after they sinned, and were cast out of Paradise, they were immediately married.' (It was apparently contrary to God's plan that Adam and Eve would eventually get around to actually using the sex organs that God had built into them!) ...
In their decision to maintain the celibacy of the clergy, present-day popes carry the history, tradition and dogma which were developed by people of Jerome's ilk. Jerome taught that 'The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Chrlst, all sexual intercourse is unclean.' Indeed, 'A layman, or any believer, cannot pray unless he abstain from sexual intercourse. Now a priest must always offer sacrifices for the people: he must therefore always pray. And if he must always pray, he must always be released from the duties of marriage.' " (Double Cross, by David Ranan, p. 253-55)
- "Augustine was a fifth century Bishop of Hippo in North Africa and a prominent Church Father who had enjoyed a full and varied sex life before turning to God. He lived with one mistress for fifteen years with whom - through a glitch in contraception - he had one child, abandoned her, took on another mistress and finally became a Christian. At that stage, he 'discovered' how evil sex was and how offensive sexual acts were, as even birth took place between the organs of defecation and urination. He was the man, according to the Catholic theologian Uta RankeHeinemann, who was responsible for welding Christianity and hostility to sexual pleasure into a systematic whole. To Augustine, original sin was transmitted through the sexual act, thereby making copulation evil. Even when taking place within marriage, coitus was evil. It could only be redeemed by aiming the sexual act at procreation. Augustine interprets original sin as Adam and Eve's decision to have sex with lust, instead of choosing to copulate without lust. According to this theory, unless saved through God's grace, original sin (transmitted through the sexual act) condemns all human beings to eternal death and damnation.
The importance of Augustine's views cannot be overstated. His teaching continues to form part of Catholic dogma. Augustine accepted that 'The union ... of male and female for the purpose of procreation is the natural good of marriage. But he makes a bad use of this good who uses it beastially, so that his intention is on the gratification of lust.' Adultery was, of course, out of the question but Augustine developed the concept that even sex with your husband or wife could be sinful: 'The married believer, therefore, must not only not use another man's vessel, which is what they do who lust after others' wives; but he must know that even his own vessel is not to be possessed in the disease of carnal concupiscence.' Since the word "vagina" is the Latin word for "the container for one's sword", he is herein reducing women to their vaginas)... “Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards" St. Augustine wrote, "as the caresses of a woman.”
Augustine evidently found his own erections hard to come to terms with. He bemoaned the fact that unlike all other human organs, the penis had a mind of its own and would not obey the will. It was, according to him the direct result of Adam and Eve's transgressions]. An obsessed Augustine continues that 'carnal concupiscence' is acceptable for procreation but 'in no case happens to nature except from sin, is the daughter of sin, as it were, and whenever it yields assent to to commission of shameful deeds, it becomes also the mother of many sin Augustine explained how the 'seductive stimulus... produced shame, This man, whose own carnality drove him crazy, feverishly agonised over Adam and Eve's sex life and developed his theory which delivered tot Church generation after generation of fresh recruits. Through the coital act, which, ever since the expulsion from paradise, is possible only with the aid of lust, the parental lust transmits the original sin from parents to offspring. Baptism, a service offered by the Church, was the mechanism which cleansed the baptised from this burden. The attraction of the theory to the Church was obvious. If people could be convinced that the only way to prevent their children from going to hell was Church baptism, the Church would collect the worried faithful - as a fisherman gathers fish in his net.
Augustine even found an explanation for polygamy. Men, in biblical times, were permitted to have many wives 'where the reason was for the multiplication of their offspring, not the desire of varying gratification. Women, on the other hand, were not allowed such luxury. As the plurality of husbands would not result in more pregnancies, 'but only a more frequent gratification of lust, she cannot possibly be a wife, but only a harlot'. The beauty of marriage, in Augustine's eyes, was that it made the sinful lust necessary for the sexual act, pardonable. In fact, even sexual acts which served lust and not procreation - provided that nothing was done actively to impede procreation - were fine within the confines of marriage. Augustine was willing to forgive such coital acts; they are 'permitted, so far as to be within range of forgiveness, though not prescribed by way of commandment'. Human weakness, which could lead to lustful behaviour outside marriage, made Augustine accept such behaviour within marriage. They may 'be tolerated, that no lapse occur into damnable sins; that is, into fornications and adulteries. ... the married pair are enjoined not to defraud one the other, lest Satan should tempt them by reason of their incontinence 1.37
Augustine drew the line when it came to contraception, which he defined as criminal, describing 'lustful cruelty, ... [which] resorts to ... poisonous drugs to secure barrenness' .38 Knowledgeably, beautifully and attractively, Augustine describes lust and then defines it as a venial sin within the confines of marriage and a mortal sin outside or if it involves contraceptive measures. Augustine became instrumental in fusing pleasure with sin, a notion which would trouble generations of Catholics.(Double Cross, by David Ranan, p. 253-54)
"In attempting to understand the Catholic Church's abhorrence of masturbation, one must also travel back to Augustine. Solitary self-gratification, an act of pure lust, in which orgasm is sought in an environment which, by definition, cannot procure offspring is, to Augustine, the essence of sin. Thus, one of the most natural human activities, which most children start when they are two or three years old, has been and still is vilified by the Church, because of a few sexually repressed Church Fathers who lived more than fifteen hundred years ago. . .(Double Cross, by David Ranan, p. 257)
"Various penitentials which appeared between the sixth and the tenth centuries prescribed three years to life for intentional homicide as well as for oral intercourse. Penances for anal intercourse were three to fifteen years, whereas the time suggested for coitus interruptus was two to ten years. Anything from forty days up to seven years was apparently suitable for couples who had sex with the woman on top of the man. ..homosexuality was punishable by seven to fifteen years' penance, whereas manslaughter only received seven to ten years. One of the outcomes of the concerted anti-sex drive of the Church Fathers was a very wide restriction on the days on which sex was permitted by the Church. Restrictions on sex - only within marriage, ideally for procreation and thus under no circumstance in any form which precludes conception - did apparently not suffice. Sex was not to take place on Sundays, on all (any) religious holidays, over the forty days of Lent and not on the days prior to Communion. As there was nothing in the scriptures on this matter, local bishops could go wild in their battle with the evil of lust. At a synod in 966, a bishop in Verona banned sex on Fridays. For a while, in Ireland, sex was banned by the Church on Wednesdays and Fridays in addition to Sundays ... a thirteenth-century Archbishop Canterbury, Stephen Langton, considered a wife's life of lesser value than her husband's adultery-free life. If a man demanded sex from his wife even in childbed, then 'Rather must the wife suffer herself to be killed than that her husband should sin'. Rules in the Church were made men who understood the fire in male loins but had no such empathy for the female need for sex. In the twelfth century, the chancellor of the University of Paris - in those days a Church institution - told men how to treat their wives if they demanded to have sex on a holy day. A husband was to 'quell her impudence with fasting and beating'.
Theologians agonised over important issues such as whether monk and priests' wet dreams were sinful. Some were of the view that there could be no ejaculation of semen without sin. Others devised sliding scales, according to what they assumed were the reasons behind the dreams: too much food or drink; or, perhaps, erotic day dreaming which produced the nocturnal emission. Convoluted methods were devised by the Church to pinpoint exactly the aspects of sex that were sinful. Cardinal Robert Courson, who died as a Crusade preacher in 1219, explained that 'If a man know his wife for the purpose of procreation or in rendering her due, the first and last parts of that act, during which he strives after God, are meritorious, whereas the middle parts, during which the whole man is ruled by the flesh and becomes all flesh, are venially sinful."
Books on sexual positions are not a modern-day invention; thirteenth-century Church theologians gave minute instructions as to the acceptability and sinfulness of non-missionary positions." (Double Cross, by David Ranan, p. 258-60)
"Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is probably Christianity's foremost theologian. His major work, Summa Theologica, is a complete scientifically arranged exposition of theology and a summary of Christian philosophy. Next to Augustine, Thomas is also the Church's highest authority on sexual matters. It is, therefore, of some importance to be aware of the language used by the man - whose teaching still influences the Catholic Church today in matters of sexual morality - when referring to marital intercourse. Thomas's deep-rooted disgust has defined and moulded the Catholic Church's attitude to sex and impregnated the minds of her faithful. In his writings, Thomas described marital sex as: filth (immunditia), a stain (macula), foulness (foeditas), vileness (turpitude), disgrace (ignominia), degeneracy (deformitas), a disease (morbus), a corruption of the inviolate (corruptio integritatis) and an object of disgust (repugnantia). Thomas, therefore, considered 'The man who is too ardent a lover of his wife acts counter to the good of marriage if he use her indecently, although he be not unfaithful, he may in a sense be called an adulterer." (Double Cross, by David Ranan, p. 258-60)
"He (Pope John Paul II) teaches that sex is a beautiful gift of God. But he can't admit that most of his predecessors taught that it's always ugly and disgusting. Leo I (440-461) said, 'All marital intercourse is a sin,' and Innocent III (1198-1216), 'The consummation of marriage never takes place without the flames of lust.' Two 17th century popes said all foreplay, even sensuous kissing between married couples, is a grave sin.
The entire tradition was: Sex outside marriage is dirty. Within marriage it is also dirty. The only question is the degree of dirt. Marriage, said St Ambrose, is a crime against God in that it changed the state of virginity that God gave every creature at birth. During intercourse, couples should keep their minds on Jesus and the stork. All sex is pornographic, destined to deprave and corrupt. It cannot be spiritualised. Sex, said Augustine, the converted fornicator, must not be sexy. Nuns mustn't eat beans, Jerome decided, because they titillate the genitals. Today, we would send these holy popes and theologians to a sex-therapist.
John Paul praises the sanctity of marriage but can't admit that for centuries his predecessors thought it so lewd that it was never blessed by the church. At best, couples gave their legal consent outside the church, and never with the blessing of the clergy. As Chaucer's Wife of Bath, first married at twelve, put it, 'Five husbands have I had at the church door.' How could clerics bless a thing so sinful they couldn't indulge in it? Marriage was too sordid to be a sacrament until the 16th century.
Like Paul VI, John Paul tries to choreograph what couples do in bed by promoting sex during 'the safe period'. This is a bizarre idea in that human females, unlike animals, seldom know when they're infertile even after using thermometers, calendars and higher
mathematics. A case of sexual hide-and-seek. Couples had better be as accurate as a
The method might have suited clever cloistered nuns, not busy mothers, many of whom can't read or write and perhaps have no electric light. If safety belts in cars were as safe as the safe period they would be outlawed. What the Pope can never bring himself to
concede was that nearly all pontiffs condemned the safe period or what we might call 'sex
for fun'. Their view was clear: sex has only one purpose, procreation. To have sex and not intend a child, worse, to have sex and intend not to have a child is to commit adultery with one's wife.
John Paul teaches that a human being exists from the first moment of conception, hence every abortion, even of a three day embryo, is murder. Not essentially different from what Jack the Ripper did or Timothy McVeigh. Very well, but why did he not admit
that nearly all his predecessors said the opposite.
He teaches that every embryo and fetus is an innocent human being. Why doesn't he say that most of his predecessors said explicitly that every unbaptised infant, far from being innocent, is stained with original sin, a kind of venereal disease? Each babe, as part of the massa damnata, is under the devil's dominion so that if it dies unbaptized, they are
so disgusting to God they cannot look at him, nor can he at them, for all eternity. Not that
tradition ever explained how Adam could hand on original sin when sin is in the soul and
the soul comes not from parents but directly from God.
John Paul teaches that only celibacy is in tune with the sacrament of holy orders, conveniently forgetting that Jesus chose married men as his apostles. Also, if Peter were to return to earth today, not being one of the Pope's castrati, John Paul would have
declared him unfit to serve as a curate in a city slum."
an article by Peter de Rosa, the author of a history of the popes called Vicars of Christ: the Dark Side of the Papacy
For more on this topic, see my Church vs. Sex on the reasons that the Catholic Church is so obsessed with everything sexual.
For a great treatise on the history of sexual problems
the Roman Catholic Church has had over clerical celibacy, see
expert testimony, by Fr. Tom Doyle, O.P.