Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Three more short must-read essays

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 13, 2015

As Pope Francis ended his trip to South America—during which he had made some memorable statements on economic affairs—Samuel Gregg observed that the Pope’s rhetoric had a familiar ring; it was uncomfortably close to that of some notable Latin American demagogues, including the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and the notorious Juan Peron of Argentina. Gregg fears that the Pontiff has absorbed much of the confused economic thought of those political leaders, without reflecting much on it and considering the disastrous consequences. It may be a relief to Gregg and others (myself included) that the Holy Father has now promised to take a closer look at the economic theories he espouses, and those he has criticized.

Dr. Richard Cross, a sometime contributor to this site, takes his own critical look at the notion that the Church could show “mercy” by easing the plight of divorced Catholics. A practicing psychologist, Cross has seen, all too often, how children pay the price for their parents’ divorces. Show mercy to those children, he argues, by strengthening the bonds of marriage.

And Alastair Roberts, in unusually clear and cogent little essay, explains how things fall apart when the link between sex and procreation is broken, and society begins to assume that “responsible” sexual activity will usually be sterile:

  • There’s no longer an obvious basis for distinguishing between the preferred activities of heterosexuals and homosexuals.
  • The begetting of children is pulled out of the context of marriage; having children is viewed as a couple’s deliberate choice rather than a natural consequence of their love.
  • The distinctive roles of man and woman are blurred, and the female gift of fertility is underappreciated, so that “feminism” comes to mean something unrelated to—even hostile to—that gift.
  • Since children are not regarded as a natural consequence of marital union, that union comes to be seen as a contract between adults, who can do what they want. Even when there are children involved, the wishes of the adults take precedence, to the detriment of those children.
  • And because the home is not viewed as the primary focus of productive activity, everyone is encouraged to get out into the labor force, to do the “real” work of building up a consumer society.

This fascinating essay makes a nice complement to the Pope’s critique of liberal capitalism. Because his focus is on marriage, sexuality, and family life, Roberts recognizes something crucial about a society that devalues human sexuality:

The values of liberal capitalism pose an immense threat to marriage as an institution, to the ordering of marriage around ends that exceed those of individual couples and to the ordering of marriage around duties rather than merely choices.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 15, 2015 10:40 PM ET USA

    Richard Cross' argument holds doubly for the case of homosexual "marriage." In this case, the true mother, father, or both are merely biological facilitators of the birth of the child, after which the state/court will determine which homosexual couple will take charge of their wellbeing and upbringing. The psychological toll on the child once the truth becomes known will become evident in the near future, now that the disordered union has become the model. What will happen to the suicide rate?

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 13, 2015 10:23 PM ET USA

    Reality often demands of honesty disconcerting resolution, hence relief can be indicative of resolute honesty up front. In 2013, Bishop Fellay said: "He (Francis) is a pope of the praxis: what counts for him is action,... That is why when he speaks of doctrine he is vague, very vague. There is no longer a coherency between doctrine and action. There is a little bit of everything in his sermons. What counts for him is action, is the person." Devoid of truth? The news you report is a relief.