The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics

December 31, 2012 • Family Planning, Daily Email Recap

The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics


When people ask me why Catholics for Choice decided to make a movie, my answer usually starts with a story about a long train ride in the company of a prominent theologian a few years ago.

I knew that this gentleman felt uncomfortable with many of the positions taken by Catholics for Choice, and so we both decided to make cordial conversation rather than address the elephant in the room. It was such a long journey, however, that we eventually got to the elephant: “Why do you do the work that you do?” he asked me.

I told him that my work in support of reproductive rights was not despite my Catholic faith, but because of it. Our social justice tradition wouldn’t let me turn my back on people in need; nor would it allow me to ignore the importance of conscience in moral decision-making. Both issues relate directly to reproductive health: women are in the best place to make the decisions that affect their health, and deserve all the support necessary when life’s challenges threaten their well-being, their health, or even their very lives. Those who are rich will always have the means to bypass the obstacles in their way, legal or otherwise, whereas the poor and needy are always the ones who suffer.

Not one to miss an opportunity, I asked my traveling companion something I had always wondered about: “Why do you deny the truth about all the affirming messages in Catholic theology about women, choice, and sexuality in general?”

Interestingly, his response took no issue with my theological argument, but merely its temperature. “Those issues are too hot to handle.”

When pressed, his understanding and interpretation of core Catholic teachings was little different from that of the many other theologians I know. So why are these other wonderful Catholic thinkers banished from of the circle of trust in the institutional church? Why are they slighted and attacked for raising legitimate points of view about church teaching?

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