Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Divorce Reform: Take your stand

by Jennifer Roback Morse

 
Representative Matt Krause of Texas (pictured on left with his family) has introduced a bill to limit no-fault divorce in that state. Ruth Readers: it is time to put up or shut up about family breakdown.

We have a petition that anyone can sign. It just says we support Rep Krause’s effort to limit no-fault divorce. You do not have to live in Texas to sign it.

Conservatives complain and wring their hands over “losing the culture wars.”

We can’t honestly complain about losing a battle we never even fought.


“Kids need a mom and a dad,” the constant mantra of the pro-marriage movement, is not nearly strong enough. “Kids need their own mom and dad,” is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I’m sorry to get in your face about this. But children are entitled to a relationship with both parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent it.

  • “I’m tired of your father,” is not an unavoidable tragedy. It is very avoidable.
  • “I’m running off to marry my secretary,” is not an unavoidable tragedy. It is a selfish act of injustice to the children of the marriage.

These are the divorces that no-fault protects. When people say, “but we need no-fault divorce because fault is too hard to prove,” adultery and selfishness are sneaking in the backdoor.

Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” harming children.

No-fault divorce harms children.

Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” being un-Biblical.

No-fault divorce is un-Biblical. See Matthew 19. Don’t whine to me about the so-called “exception clause,” aka “escape hatch big enough to drive a Mac Truck through.”

Why were people against gay marriage? I don’t know about you. But I know why I was. I saw that it would harm children’s legally-recognized rights to have a relationship with both parents.

We at the Ruth Institute were virtually alone in the “Marriage Movement” in arguing this way. And I am pretty sure I know why. Once you say, “Kids have a right to their own parents,” you have to be willing to start talking about divorce, single-parenthood and donor conception. Most of the Marriage Movement bobbed and weaved to avoid these topics.

The Ruth Institute did not. I am grateful to our supporters who have stood by us as we made these arguments. I am not ashamed to say:

  • no-fault divorce is an injustice to children.
  • single-motherhood by choice is an injustice to children.
  • donor conception is an injustice to children.
  • gay “marriage” and gay parenting is an injustice to children.

The Gay Lobby accused us of hypocrisy, saying we didn’t really mean it about any of those other topics. We just really hated gay people. Divorce and single-motherhood and all the rest were just window dressing.

Too bad. We talked about children’s rights then. We continue to talk about children’s rights, now, long after the dust has settled on the whole gay “marriage” controversy. We intend to keep talking about it.

What about you? Will you sign our petition, supporting Rep. Krause and his divorce reform?



Press Release: 'Go to Confession' Campaign

 

For immediate release:

“Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins! So, go to Confession!” –Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign

(March 14, 2017, Lake Charles, LA) During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God. “Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated in announcing the campaign. “That is why have launched a series of billboards and social media messages urging people to go to confession!”


Even in cases where one person has the major responsibility for fracturing the family, all family members can benefit from going to confession. “The injured parties may need help with bitterness, anger, emotional paralysis and many other issues. The grace of confession can help them,” Dr. Morse explained. “And of course, it goes without saying: if you have injured your family through addiction, abuse, adultery or desertion, go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional and wants to forgive you. If you can’t tell him, in the person of the priest, that you are sorry, how are you ever going to be able to face your ex-spouse or your children?”

“Our ‘Go to Confession’ campaign reminds people that God is merciful and He will forgive us. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.

The Institute launched a billboard campaign in Lake Charles, LA, with messages: “Jesus is waiting for you,” “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. “Lake Charles is in the heart of Cajun Country, the Catholic buckle on the Bible belt. If we can’t publicly urge people to go to confession here, where can we? And the world desperately needs this encouragement.”

Dr. Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.” Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here and here.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.

Reply to this email if you’d like to interview Dr. Morse further about this unique and beneficial ‘Go to Confession’ campaign.




Marriage Advice: Always Keep a Sense of Humor

In celebration of National Marriage Week, Ave Maria Press is featuring a short series of stories with important pieces of marriage advice. For more information about this celebration of National Marriage Week visit, www.avemariapress.com/marriageweek.

While they probably won’t admit it, every married person holds on to some little things that annoy them about their spouse. It may be the way the other person brushes their teeth, or makes the bed, or chews their food. Or maybe it is the annoying habit that they just can’t shake. It is always something minor, yet irritating, that can turn into something very annoying.

Betsy Kerekes, author of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage, learned a valuable lesson when it came to these little annoyances.

“Keep a sense of humor,” she says, “and let minor things go.”

Betsy’s husband loves their kids. He wants them to be safe and make good choices. Like any parent, he tries to stop the kids when they are doing something wrong.

When he would see them doing something wrong, though, he would say “Stop! Stop! Stop!” three times. Always three times. He did this repeatedly.


This started to bug Betsy. It really started getting on her nerves to the point that she confronted him saying, “When the kids are doing something wrong, you can just say ‘stop’ one time! You don’t really have to repeat it over and over.”

Now, this confrontation might have led to a fight for a lot of couples. He could have gotten defensive, even angry.

Instead, he responded, “Okay . . . okay, okay, okay.”

They both laughed.

“I love his ability to keep things light-hearted,” Betsy said.

It didn’t take long for Betsy to realize that her husband was really having a hard time breaking his triple (or even quadruple) stop admonition. Instead of getting annoyed, she realized she should just let it go. He clearly couldn’t help it and what was the big deal, anyway?

Now, whenever that triple “stop” comes out again, she is reminded of their little joke. She smiles rather than getting annoyed because she’s able to keep a sense of humor about the situation. There’s no reason to turn it into a conflict because now they have a little inside joke to make each other smile.

“Little things are not worth getting upset over,” Betsy said, “and a sense of humor goes a long way to marital harmony.”


Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins


Book Summary, by Bai Macfarlane, posted here.

One quarter of today’s young adults are children of divorce (66) and a book from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute examines anew the nature and meaning of marriage: Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins.

The book’s back cover blurb shows, “After decades of talk about the rights of adults to get a divorce and the benefits for children of an amicable split between parents (a so-called ‘good divorce’), these authors—theologians, philosophers, political scientists, lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, and cultural critics—effectively unsettle conventional opinion.”


Umpteen studies have concluded that children of divorce are disadvantaged compared to children of married parents. However, Torn Asunder explains that children of divorce are deeply wounded, either parent entering a second marriage does not solve the problems (28). Contributor, Paul Sullins, sociologist, says, “[T]he effect of divorce on a child is best described as a loss of being, an impairment at the level of his or her existence” (38). Moreover, author Andrew Root, who is an associate professor of Youth and Family Ministry, finds “divorce radically changes the way the young people live their lives, because their world has changed;… this sends shockwaves back to her own being”(p. 100). Theologian, Fr. Antonio López, writes, “losing one’s place in being radically puts into question life’s meaning, that is, the unity between oneself, others, the world, and the divine source of all that is” (123).

A child of divorce herself, theologian Lisa Lickona, describes in Torn Asunder the reaction of children of divorce: “I felt that I was being extinguished, that I would fall into that abyss and disappear from the face of the earth. I did the only thing I thought I could do, the thing most children of divorce do. I tried not to think about it.” She describes this self-preservation technique as the “’bubble wrap method’: wrapping and forgetting, keeping one’s memories in check with diversion and distraction” (17). According to modernity, it is natural for the closest relationships between parents, children, and spouses, to be tenuous, explains theologian and the editor of Torn Asunder, Margaret Harper McCarthy. She says, however, that the children of divorce aren’t being convinced.

But nature has a way of rising again, and in a strange ways. … In this light, it is perhaps not so ironic that it is the children of divorce who, on the basis of their ‘experience of deprivation’—and against the many attempts to convince them otherwise—are putting their fingers on something more original—more natural—than the tenuousness between parents and their children. It is they who are putting their fingers on the necessary link between our identity and our origin (in our parents) (218).

With the enactment of no-fault divorce, policy makers rejected the notion that family is the building cell of society, replacing it with both the unhindered freedom of the individual, and the power of the state. In the eyes of the law, marriage—understood as a lifelong union between man and woman for the rearing and education of children—does not exist (135). In his essay tracing the changes in Lutheran theology in the United States, historian, Ryan C. McPherson, points out that, “It is no longer divorce, but rather its condemnation, that is become taboo for all” (148). The family is no longer the fundamental unit of society. “In its place, a swarm of isolated individuals competed, through their attorneys, for rights to property, child custody, and child visitation; … The no-fault revolution has not only severed the lifelong bond between husband and wife but is also ruptured the natural linking between parent and child” (135).

In Torn Asunder, psychologist and founder of The Institute for Marital Healing, Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, explains that counselors themselves cause the problem because marital therapists are known to adopt “the ‘psychological’ view of marriage where the primary obligation is not to one’s spouse and family but to one’s self alone” (56). Another contributing psychologist, Dr. Margaret R. Laracy, says “therapists often assess whether the marriage is working or workable, rather than focusing on marital healing from the start. This pragmatic starting point can leave therapist to support or even recommend a decision to divorce”(193). Not being able to talk together was a reason for filing for divorce in 53 percent of cases, and growing apart was the reason for 55 percent of the cases, according to study cited by Fitzgibbons (55). In his own clinical experience, he reveals, “the conflicts that most often lead to divorce are insecurity and selfishness in husbands and loneliness and selfishness in wives” (55).

Children whose parents divorce for low-conflict reasons, like those aforementioned, are more harmed by divorce than those whose parents had a high-conflict divorce due to serve destructive behaviors (85). The children of the low-conflict divorce are more likely to lose hope in the institution of marriage altogether, because, if their parents—who appear to get along—could not even hold their marriage together, then how could the young people trust the indissolubility of marriage for themselves.

To deter breakups, Fitzgibbons emphasizes the importance of everyone encouraging parties to “grow in the virtue of justice, which consists in the constant and firm decision to give their due to God and neighbor, and in this case spouses and children” (59). He says clergy should remind spouses of their marriage vows, and the need of children for their parent’s stable union (59). Laracy’s chapter is titled “Sacrifice and Happiness: Approaching an Authentic Therapeutic Response to Married Couples in Distress.” She says that therapists themselves also need to be willing to sacrifice, suffering along with clients for a greater good. In describing her own work with couples she says, “Affirming the inextricability of the marriage bond for the good of the spouses called me to forgo the easy path of passive collusion in the breakdown of their marriage.”

Besides the chapter on sacrifice in marriage, there is also a chapter about forgiveness in marriage by psychologist Andrew J. Sodergren. Forgiveness requires humility to acknowledge one’s own pain and empathy toward the offender (170). Sodergren explains stages of forgiveness, one of which is the “work phase:”

This is where the person does the difficult internal work of letting go of anger and hurt and replacing them with goodwill and beneficence toward the offender. Some key aspects of this phase include learning to see the offender and the offense in a new way. It means gaining a more complex, complete, and/or nuanced view that leaves space for the humanity of the offender.

The willingness to forgive is more potent than any evil in the heart of man (171). Forgiveness starts with the decision to forgive and does not require the reconciliation between the offender and the offended.

Torn Asunder pulls together theological, psychological, and sociological findings demonstrating the failure of the current systems of contraception, cohabitation, infidelity, no-fault divorce, and the “marriage-go-round.” The second-to-last chapter is by Jeanne Heffernan Schindler, a research fellow with the Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. She points out, “What is required to counteract the divorce culture, then, is an alternating anthropology, a different vision of man that can serve as the wellspring for a fundamentally different view of marriage, family and political community. Catholicism offers precisely this alternative. Man as Made for Communion.”

See more excerpts from Torn Asunder HERE



Premiado Arzobispo de Oregon por la defensa de la enseñanza católica sobre el matrimonio

Premiado Arzobispo de Oregon por la defensa de la enseñanza católica sobre el matrimonioPor su oposición a las interpretaciones rupturistas de Amoris Laetitia

 

El Instituto Ruth ha enviado una carta de recomendación y 24 rosas blancas al Arzobispo Alexander Sample felicitándolo y agradeciéndole por su defensa de la enseñanza católica sobre el matrimonio.


(LifeSiteNews/InfoCatólica) El Instituto Ruth ha enviado una carta de recomendación y 24 rosas blancas al Arzobispo Alexander Sample de Portland, Oregon, felicitándolo y agradeciéndole por su defensa de la enseñanza católica sobre el matrimonio.

En su Carta Pastoral «Un icono vivo y verdadero», el Arzobispo había declarado: «La indisolubilidad del matrimonio es una enseñanza preciosa y esencial de la Iglesia, revelada por Jesús y amada en nuestra intacta Tradición católica ... El vínculo matrimonial es indisoluble porque la alianza del Evangelio es indisociable, y porque el sacramento significa la unión permanente de Cristo con su Iglesia».

El Instituto Ruth es una organización mundial sin fines de lucro dedicada a encontrar soluciones cristianas a los problemas de ruptura familiar. Fundada por la reconocida autora, oradora y académica, la doctora Jennifer Roback Morse, el Instituto Ruth ha acumulado décadas de investigación para apoyar a las personas y las familias perjudicadas por el divorcio y otras formas de ruptura familiar.

El doctora Morse declaró: «Nos sentimos particularmente alentados por el hecho de que el Arzobispo Sample abordó tres posibles malas interpretaciones de Amoris Laetitia. Un primer mal uso consiste en afirmar que la conciencia legitima las acciones contrarias a los mandamientos de Dios. Un segundo mal uso es el que afirma que bajo ciertas circunstancias hay excepciones a las prohibiciones divinas. Y el tercer mal uso: que la fragilidad humana exime de cumplir los mandamientos».

Jennifer Johnson, directora del proyecto «Hijos del divorcio» del Instituto Ruth declaró: «Estamos muy agradecidos por la clara enseñanza del arzobispo Sample sobre la indisolubilidad del matrimonio. Escuchamos de personas que han sido dañadas por la ruptura familiar, literalmente todos los días. Desviarse de las enseñanzas de Jesús sobre la indisolubilidad del matrimonio ha devastado a millones de niños y esposos abandonados. Queremos que el Arzobispo sepa que estas almas heridas aprecian profundamente sus palabras».



Archbishop awarded for defending Catholic teaching on marriage against ‘misuses’ of Amoris Laetitia

This article was first posted March 2, 2017, at Lifesitenews.com.

Archbishop Alexander Sample

February 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Ruth Institute has sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, congratulating and thanking him for his defense of Catholic teaching on marriage.

In his Pastoral Letter, “A True and Living Icon,” Archbishop Sample had stated, “The indissolubility of marriage is a precious and essential teaching of the Church, revealed by Jesus and cherished in our unbroken Tradition… The marriage bond is indissoluble because the Gospel covenant is indissoluble, for the sacrament signifies Christ’s permanent union with his Church.”

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.

Dr. Morse stated, “We are particularly encouraged that Archbishop Sample addressed three possible misuses of Amoris Laetitia. Misuse One: Conscience Legitimizes Actions Contravening Divine Commandments. Misuse Two: Under Certain Conditions Divine Prohibitions Admit of Exceptions. And Misuse Three: Human Frailty Exempts from Divine Command. Time has shown the Archbishop’s foresight in this area, as many people, including people who ought to know better, are making these very mistakes.”

Jennifer Johnson, Director of the Ruth Institute’s Children of Divorce project stated, “We are so grateful for Archbishop Sample’s clear teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. We hear from people who have been harmed by family breakdown, literally every day. Straying from Jesus’s teaching on the permanence of marriage has devastated millions of children and deserted spouses. We want the Archbishop to know these wounded souls deeply appreciate his words.”

To read the Ruth Institute’s full Commendation, go here. To read the Archbishop’s statement, go here.

 



Sex Before Dating

by Penna Dexter

This article was first posted February 24, 2017, at pointofview.net.

 

sex before dating

A new study commissioned by the dating service Match.com shines a light on today’s hook-up culture, and it isn’t flattering. Match.com recently announced the results of its survey in which a shocking 34 percent of young adults report having sex before even going on a date with someone. Millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 34 — are 48 percent more likely to have sex before a first date, so they can “see if there’s a connection,” than all other generations of singles.


It’s a way to size someone up before committing time and energy to a relationship.

Match.com’s survey, that encompassed 5,500 people of all ages, also found that millennials are increasingly using Internet dating apps to meet people. Many of these apps are for the specific purpose of finding sexual partners.

But you can’t blame the apps. What has happened in the culture that makes this so commonplace?

One explanation for this phenomenon is hard to swallow: It says that young adults looking for love are simply too busy even to go out on first dates with people they have not already tested out as sexual partners. C’mon.

Another reason that’s been floated is that millennials are under so much pressure to get married. I hate to tell you girls but some things never change. This is no way to attract ‘Mr. Right.’

In reporting on this phenomenon, USA Today spoke with one sex therapist, Kimberly Resnick Anderson, who says the millennials who are engaging in sex before dating have inverted the relationship process. This, in a culture that has already destigmatized sex before marriage.

Jennifer Roback Morse is Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, an organization that deals with the fallout from the sexual revolution. Dr. Morse reminds young people of “the natural biological result of sex, bonding, and babies.”

Sex does create an emotional bond. That’s a positive if the couple is going to stay together. But when people treat sex as sort of a screening process for relationships they deny and distort that bond.

Sex is really a gift God has given us and, inside a marriage, the bond it creates enhances the relationship. Casual sex with multiple partners is really an abuse of the gift of sex. Jennifer Roback Morse says casual sex inflicts long-term damage on a person’s ability to form lasting, stable relationships. When young people do marry and have kids, these poor bonding skills will affect their children.

Dr. Morse says millennials respond better to real life stories than statistics. There’s a story that’s breaking my heart. The child of someone dear, barely 30, is ending her second marriage. Both relationships started out with sex early on, then cohabitation, then — bad marriages.

Sex before dating, even if the chemistry is great, means the parties are blinded by attraction. The couple that marries on this basis really has no idea if they are well-matched.


HEY, LIBERALS: Here’s A Pro-Family Argument Even YOU Might Like

by Jennifer Johnson

Published on March 2, 2017, at clashdaily.com.

This is an image of the Holy Family that I used to keep in my office.

holy-family

I would look at this image from time to time and pray to Jesus for wisdom for defending marriage and the family. One day I was looking at this image and saw a triangle between the head of Jesus, His mother Mary, her husband Joseph, then back to Jesus. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s the family structure! It’s a triangle! It is not only a reflection of the Holy Family, it is a reflection of the Trinity!”


This excited me for a couple reasons. For one thing, I’ve discovered that the average person doesn’t understand what “family structure” or “structural issues” mean. Policy wonks, like me, tend to take for granted what we mean when we use phrases like that. To be able to show the family as a triangle means that the average person now has a simple way to understand what those phrases mean.

I was also excited because I wondered how it would apply to my own childhood.

I had not been raised with my own married parents. My parents divorced when I was three and went on to subsequent marriages, divorces, different children, a lot of back and forth between “two homes,” and a lot of chaos.

So I went home that night and applied the family triangle to my situation.

I carefully drew it all out, using several pieces of paper. It took me several tries to get everybody to fit onto the page in a way that made sense and was proportional.

As I worked on it, I could tell that it was going to be far more complex than I had ever imagined.

This is what I saw:

chart-1

That’s me, in the bottom center circle.

What do you think? What is your gut response to this?

The first few hours after I finished the drawing were surreal, and I was in a daze.

Seriously, what is this? How was I supposed to navigate this as a child, alone?

In fact, I didn’t navigate it at all. I blocked parts out as time went on, out of necessity. That’s why it was such a shock to see it all there in a two-dimensional way.

One of the first things that stuck out at me was how ugly it is. It looked like a malformed spider’s web.

It was not pretty like the simple triangle I had seen.

I had a flood of emotions come over me, as it brought back memories of people that left my life due to divorce, so I was supposed to have forgotten them when that happened.

My initial excitement had turned to tears of sadness.

And so I cried, a lot at first.

As time went on, I became angry at God for showing this to me. I couldn’t understand why He would make me feel old pain like that. Why bring it all up again? Why have this ugly family structure burned into my mind now? Wasn’t I better off just burying it all in the back of my mind, as if it never happened? The diagram made me feel ashamed. It was always very difficult to have so many different adults and new family members to reckon with constantly, and I didn’t like having them thrust into my face again all at once.

Is it safe for me to say that I just wanted my own family? MY family, MY triad, MY home?

Social conservatives believe in equality for children, because they believe in this for every child:

chart-2

When every child has this, without the extraneous people as I had, it is a form of equality.

The problem with this argument is that conservatives are not drawn to it. Equality is not a primary ideal in conservatism. But if we stop to think about it, I think it is fair to say that our recent loss over same-sex marriage may have been because our argument did not appeal to people’s sense of fairness. The appeal to equality was an appeal to fairness, after all.

Let’s consider the pro-life movement and see if there is something there that can help us. Crux.com recently published some interesting remarks by Daniel K. Williams, author of Defenders of the Unborn and associate professor of history at the University of West Georgia. He makes the argument that the pro-life movement started as a liberal movement based on social justice and human rights. He believes that the movement gains vitality and appeal when its proponents frame the issue using liberal values.

I discovered that we can do the same thing. We can embrace the liberal value of equality. The ancient Christian teachings on sex and marriage means that every child is to be raised with his or her own married mother and father, except for an unavoidable tragedy.

That’s a type of equality that people don’t talk about, but it is real. And there are other equalities that flow out of that one. When the family breaks down or doesn’t form according to the triad, inequalities for children multiply. I think it is exciting to see that this form of equality has been the flip-side of the ancient Christian teaching on marriage and sex all along.

You can learn more about this form of equality, and about the inequalities children face who were not raised with their own married parents. Go to the Ruth Institute website and order my new Special Report, called, “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.” It includes stories and easy-to-understand diagrams that will help you reopen this discussion with your friends and family members who may believe in same-sex marriage.

By embracing the liberal value of equality we can show people that we hold an ideal that they care about. This may help them listen to what we are saying. After all, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Go here to order this Special Report now:

http://www.ruthinstitute.org/store/pamphlets-and-booklets/marriage-and-equality

I don’t want to give away too much, but remember how I said I cried when I drew the diagram of my family structure? If you order the report, you read the story of how God worked that out for good.


Practical, pastoral guidance for Catholics

A January conference in Phoenix will tackle tough issues of homosexuality, transgenderism

by James Graves at OSV Newsweekly on January 27, 2017

Clergy process out of the chapel at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., in August 2015 after the opening Mass of the Truth and Love Conference. CNS photo by Mike Stechschulte

Courage International will join with the Diocese of Phoenix to host Truth and Love, a conference intended to offer practical and pastoral guidance on the topics of homosexuality and sexual identity on Jan. 9-11, 2017, at St. Paul Parish in Phoenix. Courage is the Catholic Church’s apostolate to help men and women struggling with same-sex attraction live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Phoenix conference will be Courage’s third since its founding in 1980; a similar conference was held most recently in Michigan in August 2015.


Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s executive director, says that the conference is a tool to “share the good news that living chastely and finding our true identity as sons and daughters of God is the way to real happiness and authentic relationships.”

Welcoming, accompanying

The theme of Truth and Love is “welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”

According to a joint statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix and Courage, many of the current approaches to homosexuality “do not include the fuller perspective of the human person. Rather, they limit themselves to ‘acceptance’ and to the protection of the ‘right’ of ‘sexual satisfaction.’ Yet, as the Catholic Church has consistently taught, these approaches will never lead people to the abundant life that Christ promises.”

 

Presenters include Father Bochanski; Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam; chastity speaker Jason Evert; Walt Heyer, a former transgender person, speaker and operator of the site www.SexChangeRegret.com; Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; John Cuddeback, a professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia; and Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.

Morse is an author and speaker specializing in the area of marriage and family, and played a prominent role defending traditional marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Her conference topic will be “Understanding the Sexual Revolution.”

Her topic, she said, includes refuting the belief of the sexual revolution that happiness comes merely by having sex, an idea that she says didn’t emerge without help.

“I’m 63, and the sexual revolution has been with us throughout my lifetime,” she said. “The good news is that we have decades of studies that have demonstrated that these ideas are a failure.”

Once the ideas of the sexual revolution had permeated society, she continued, “the building blocks for gay marriage were already there in the culture. People have come to believe that sex should be a sterile activity — that people can have sex and not think about babies — and gay sex is the ultimate sterile sex.”

Coupled that with the belief that “men and women are interchangeable and that kids don’t need their parents, so why not have gay marriage?”

Speaking from experience

Also featured at the conference will be speakers who have experienced same-sex attraction or sexual identity confusion sharing how chaste friendships and embracing the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. These include Daniel Mattson, who will present “Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality has Set Me Free.”

Mattson is a professional musician from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was baptized Catholic and raised an evangelical Christian. He experiences same-sex attraction, and although he was “clandestine” about it, he was once involved in the gay lifestyle.

He wanted to participate in the Courage conference, he said, in hopes that he could “communicate that chastity is a vital part of the Good News, and part of the reason I came back to the Catholic Church.”

Mattson noted that in the entertainment world of which he is a part, his fellow musicians “would celebrate me coming out, embracing being gay and having a boyfriend.” Instead, he continued, “They are mystified that I would choose to be Catholic.”

But, he continued, it was in the Catholic Church that he has found both “truth and freedom, and I accept that truth in humility, even though that does not affect that I am still attracted to men.”

Mattson returned to the Catholic Church after attending a Courage conference in 2009. He tells his story in the Courage film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which can be viewed under the resources tab on the Courage website. He travels frequently to speak at high schools and colleges, often accompanied by Father Bochanski or Father Paul Check, the former executive director of Courage.

He recalled a question asked by a teenage boy at one of his high school presentations: “If I feel I’m attracted to the same sex, am I gay?”

“I responded, ‘No. The Church wisely teaches us that our feelings do not define who we are. Who we are made by God is what defines us.”

 

 

Mattson continued, “I do what I’m doing to help people like this boy. He’s living in a world that tells him it does mean he’s gay, but I’m here to say that he doesn’t have to follow every feeling or desire. These kids are being told lies and falling into a trap.”

Mattson also will soon release a book through Ignatius Press sharing his experiences. Mattson’s brother, Steve, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, and also is a presenter at the conference.

Pastoral presence

Mass celebrants include Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. Bishop Olmsted was pleased to have his diocese host the conference.

“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” he said. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the conference. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.”


Padres: please tell us the full truth!

by Jennifer Roback Morse on

In my line of work, people tell me their stories of family breakdown and heartbreak. I recently heard the following story. I will tell it in first person, roughly as it was told to me. My comments are in italics.

cryotanks-frozen-embryo-storage
[Pictured: Cryotanks for frozen embryo storage. Is this where you want your children to live for the foreseeable future?]

“Like you and your husband, my wife and I went through years of infertility. We decided to try IVF. I was worried that a child created by us would not be fully a child of God. I went to a priest/mentor. He told me: “you are going to a lot of trouble and expense to create a child. The child will certainly be a child of God.” I breathed a sigh of relief. The priest relieved his immediate concern. The priest also said, “I have to tell you: the Church doesn’t want you to do this.” I couldn’t tell whether the priest gave him any reasons why the Church doesn’t want him to do this: all my friend heard was, “It’s ok.”


“The IVF clinic told us that we should retrieve three eggs, fertilize and implant them, for the best chance of getting one embryo to implant successfully. Once my wife woke up from the procedure, the doctors informed us that they had retrieved 13 eggs and fertilized all of them. They had implanted 3 in my wife’s womb, as we discussed. But this was the first mention of any other eggs or embryos. Only then, did they ask us what we wanted to do with the “extras.” I have heard many similar stories of infertility clinics failing to tell the whole story. People desparate for a child do not always think clearly or listen completely. And the fertility industry does not always help them….

“I was in shock. Indeed. The man’s countenance visibly changed as he told me this part of the story. We decided to freeze them and deal with them later.

“Only one of the babies survived, and she is now a teenager. I love her. I’m glad I have her. But I have agonized over those 10 frozen embryos ever since. Apologists for the Sexual Revolution might say that this man’s guilt is a problem created by the last vestiges of religion. I say that is a crock. He instantly and instinctively knew that something was wrong with freezing his children. After all, if the one that was implanted and carried to term became his precious child, how could her siblings, conceived at exactly the same time, and under the same circumstances, be any less precious?

“My wife and I divorced. I am still struggling over what to do with our frozen embryos. I have met with other priests and counselors. I finally found one who said, “Stop calling them embryos. They are your children.” I knew immediatly that he was right. The priest gave him some genuine relief, by actually addressing the problem, not glossing over it. I don’t know about you, but I feel crazy when someone tells me “it’s ok,” when I know for a fact that it isn’t. The priest gave me an ethical path for what to do for my children. I still have to convince their mother. I don’t know if she will go along with it.”

I’m not going to share the priest’s counsel right now. I will save that for a different post. Today, I want to focus on one point: if that first priest had given him reasons to NOT do IVF, this man would not have had these years of anguish.

It is true that he would not have had this particular daughter, conceived at this particular moment and in this particular way. And of course, we must never regret the child. Each and every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift from God.* But he and wife might have had some other experience of fatherhood and motherhood, some other way, on God’s good time and in God’s good way. Who knows? They might even still be married.

Priests and other authority figures need to tell people the whole truth. Sugar-coating is not helpful. Truthful words, spoken firmly before the sin actually occurs, could prevent the sin, and save the person years of heartache.

miserere-confession
Go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you.

Please Padres, Pères and Fathers: tell us the whole truth. We promise to listen and not give you a hard time.

And my non-clergy readers, please: if you are in a situation like this, go to confession.** Trust the Lord to put you in the right confessional with the right priest. Do not delay. Trust me on this. You are going to feel better.

* I spell this out in more detail in my essay, “You were loved into existence.” We give this essay away as a free premium for signing up for the Ruth Institute newsletter.

** Or as Fr. Z would say, GO TO CONFESSION!!

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