Dignity in Diapers?
Pope Francis’ poor word choice in describing the Church’s catechism on sexuality as ‘still in diapers’ (‘The Pope: Answers’, Hulu) can’t diminish the dignity She summons in our man and womanhood.
I for one am only grateful for the marvelous Christians who made a way for me. Many such Christians were present at a gathering of the Catholic Psychotherapist Association last week (where Marco and I had the privilege of speaking.) Jesus met me through Father Philip Bochanski (former Courage Director). He described an encounter with a young man seeking God amid a 2-year-old ‘gay’ relationship.
Phil listened attentively then asked about his friendship. As the young man described its benefits, Phil reflected that it sounded like he was gaining more than he was giving. ‘The purpose of our sexuality is to draw us out of ourselves, to stretch as to understand and serve another different from us. That is complementarity, and a same-sex bond cannot accomplish such self-giving.’
Mic drop. No drama, no shame. Just a kind man offering truth-in-love. Phil deftly made a way for more ‘sex’ conversations about what dignifies, and what doesn’t.
Maybe Pope Francis could have taken his cues from Bochanski when he agreed to film a rap session with 8 young Latinos in ‘The Pope Answers.’ Quite a crowd: most had a Catholic background but were seriously non-Catholic in their faith and practice (including a prostitute, an abortion activist, and a couple LGBTQ+ ers.)
As one might expect, the affable Pope satisfied their description of him as ‘laid back and liberal’: his self-deprecation disarmed the group as he answered hard questions while affirming what was good in them. Helpful. Not so helpful was his response to a self-described ‘non-binary’ woman who met her girlfriend on Tinder which matched them according to favorite sex practices. Francis’ response? ‘It’s good for young people to meet each other’ and the now familiar ‘don’t let the in-church haters stop you…God just loves you as you are.’ Mouth drop. Mine did.
Only one person spoke about Jesus. At 20, she seemed the youngest, a member of the Neocatechumenal Way community, and she said it all. Summarizing every person’s ‘stuff’, including her own, she said: ‘Only Jesus’ love for each of us gives hope for our lives. Only Jesus.’ She gave me hope.
The Pope spoke to the prostitute about how porn and unloving sex diminishes but gave the two ‘lesbians’ a pass (the other, an ex-nun spoke only of her spiritual abuse but was shown with her female partner.) He reserved most of his negative comments for the Church, including her ‘diapered’ catechesis on sex.
Disappointing at least, and I think, unfair and untrue. The dignity of Church teaching on sexuality and humanity (TOB, St. John Paul ll’s marvel of biblical theology and Aquinas’ take on human nature and objective reality) converted me. Through their mastery, Jesus roused this man to dignify women.
Francis is noble in summoning the marginalized. He takes risks with at-risk people. Bravo. But in carelessly defining Church teaching on sexuality as a dirty pamper, he leads at-risk people to believe that the immature Church will evolve to affirm the way that they have been living all along.
Instead of dignifying sexual humanity, the Church will diaper it.
The Church cannot and will not do that. May the Pope’s messaging shine on ‘the Bride who is making Herself ready’ through Jesus’ conversion of us all (Eph. 5:26, 27).