As the two scandals have been well publicized at Saint John’s. I do not need to repeat the details, save to say that as you know, one episode involved immoral heterosexual sexual conduct and the other while not consummated importuned homosexual conduct. I shall observe that like many of you, I was in the bleachers at the basketball game and heard the shouting from the gym basement. And like many of you, I ran down there, drew the obvious conclusion…viewed the scene that had its comedic ironies by the way… and was witness to the expulsion on the spot of one of our colleague-students by the Dean of Men-an action with which I fully approve. Several days later, I was consulted by the Dean of Men on the expulsion of the other colleague of ours…but in Phil 101…with which I also fully approve.
And so now we begin.
I shall begin with the Church’s and the traditional Catholic attitude of the morality of sexual pleasure as contained in the 6th and 9th commandments of the Decalogue. They cite these facts: first, that sexual organs were given to men and women by God for an exquisitely noble purpose-the continuation of the human race….second, that the sexual act in marriage is not just good but desirable for a twofold purpose: generation of children and an expression of mutual love between the spouses…third, that sex among believing Catholics and Christians is inherently unselfish since it is directed proximately to one’s marriage partner and ultimately to the progeny that God may give to us as reward…fourth that when contraception is used-as was attempted in the gym basement, by the way-sex’s ultimate purpose is frustrated to satisfy one or both partners’ selfish desires for pleasure, transgressing the privilege belonging only to married partners between themselves.
We see that on all counts the heterosexual liaison between the two in the gym basement was immoral. Then you say, why can’t their sin be forgiven with the sacrament of confession? It can and I understand the sacrament was offered to them both. Whether they partook I have no knowledge. Notwithstanding the sacrament’s absolution, to allow them to continue in their universities would constitute grave scandal for others who are living chaste lives so the decision to expel them both was sound.
We turn now to…I see we have a question from who else? Mr. Bede Hall. You say, what? WHAT? Would it have been less serious if the man had not practiced contraception? Come now, Mr. Hall! Of course not. Contraception is morally wrong-period. Then you say, could it be said that the Church believes that if you’re going to do it, avoid contraceptive devices? No, Mr. Hall, you fail to comprehend the law of the Church and morality. The Church says don’t do it. But if they disregard the moral law and if their union results in birth of a child, great responsibility placed on them for the rearing of the child including the prospect of their marriage. Conception should never be frustrated. Intercourse can be modulated with both partners’ agreement, of course and then with the proper moral acts undertaken-rhythm, natural family planning-but birth should not be prevented artificially.
Nor at any time is birth a sin. Illicit sexual union always is. Mr. Hall has another question. What? WHAT? He asks if the same law pertains in the case of rape that conception should not be frustrated either before or after the crime. Conception should never be frustrated because that is the prevention of life, Mr. Hall. Difficult for you to understand, I know but work at it. [Laughter].
Mr. Hall was hinting that I should consider one of two deviant theories: one that it would have been less sinful to forego contraception and two that it possibly would be less sinful to conceive. Nice try, Mr. Hall [laughter] but their sin was in fornication; contraception is included in the sin of fornication, in that by this means the parties derive illicit pleasure without risk of conception. The action with and/or without is still a grave sin. But by no means is birth…by itself …ever to be categorized as sin. It must not be prevented by any means or ended by abortion. Nor does conception mitigate the essential sin of fornication. It heightens the responsibility of the parents to see the child is raised well within the strictures of the Church--which may or may not involve their marriage. In the case of rape, you do not punish the unborn child for this horrendous crime with resultant murder which is what abortion is. Illegal as it is, it is practiced under wraps and should be viewed with both hands upraised in horror.
Now do you get it, Mr. Hall? Aha! Mr. Hall does get it which undoubtedly is long after other members of the class have-but thank you for the query, Mr. Hall [laughter]."