Over the past few weeks, I have watched a friend and fellow soldier in the Church get assaulted by his own troops, [HIS OWN TROOPS?] ironically due to his breakthrough appearance on ABC News’ Nightline, the kind of program we in the Catholic media have long been targeting as an instrument for communicating Catholic teaching in general, and Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) message in particular. [When you play with bullies, you are going to get beat up. Why try to mess with the mainstream media when you know they won't give you fair treatment?]
As one of his publishers (along with the Daughters of St. Paul and Servant/St. Anthony’s Messenger), I have witnessed firsthand the dynamic impact [mixed results. You have no idea how he has effected their souls.] Christopher West is having on people worldwide, both married and single. Few Catholic authors/evangelists can match his track record of eyes opened to Truth and hearts turned to Christ. [This is debatable and its also unmeasureable. Perhaps though he has led people to think they can erase concupiscience? Hrm?] Fewer still have shown the courage to battle the colossal dragon that is modern society’s dissolute sexual culture, [This is true. We're debating methods not intent.] a beast that threatens to devour the souls in its path, including those of our children.
When Archbishop Sheen [Christopher West is not Archbishop Sheen. Do anyone honestly think Fulton Sheen would have endorsed West's methods? Or would he have been horrified? ] would be told by agitators back in his day that they had left the Faith, he would reportedly reply, “Oh, what was your sin?” Most, undoubtedly, were sexual in nature, for the Church’s message of sexual restraint has never been an easy teaching. [Like the Trinity or the Eucharist or any one of a host of other issues. ] But here Christopher comes forward with an urgent message [urgent? This stuff is as old as time.] of sexual healing and renewal from the very heart of the Church, and he is vilified by certain quarters of the Catholic apostolate. All one can do is marvel. [rofl]
Two more snippets I'd like to comment on:
Each year, more than 55,000 engaged persons in over 40 dioceses are being introduced to the authentic Catholic vision for marriage contained in Christopher’s marriage preparation program. Of the 91% who have entered the program sexually active, more than half of these couples said they will forego ongoing sexual relations until they are married. Nearly a third of these couples state that they will employ “Natural Family Planning” methods once they are married. [If that is the case, that means that approx. 33% of those 55,000 persons had grave moral reasons to practice NFP. Think about that...33% had grave moral reasons, not just simply good reasons, but grave ones. Right? Otherwise they are committing mortal sin by employing the method. Its not for everyone. How many of them merely saw NFP as allowable birth control?] And fully 61% made a deeper commitment to Christ because of the program. [Can't argue with that.] This is powerful evangelization.
It is a fact that many of the Church’s most exalted figures also encountered their greatest resistance from within Church ranks. [But so did schismatics, heretics, and apostates. Many of them started out on the right track and then got way off base. Some of them accepted correction like Origen and others like Luther or Tertullian didn't. We have to wait and see. I am not contending Christopher West is any of those things but Matthew Pinto brought up the analogy.] A comforting thought for a man carrying very heavy water in the cultural wildfire that threatens us all.
I have to get back to work, but I wanted to draw attention to the article. Both sides are making good points and it comes down to this:
- Some people think West's work is unchaste and immodest. They agree his intentions are good but the method is damaging.
- His supporters think those people are well meaning prudes. His fruits speak for themselves.
My own opinion is this: That Christopher West could be a real asset to the Church if he would adopt more prudent and modest methods. You can be dynamic and modest at the same time while still reaching your "target" audience. Is this stuff helping some people?...undeniably so. But is it a proper way to help explain ethics to everyone?...no.
However, I still contend that saying the Theology of the Body's target audience are the sexually hurt and confused is dishonest. They present it to and for everyone and at any time they can. They present the theology as a new way to look at the Trinity and the entire Creed. I also don't think John Paul II thought they were for a limited audience, since the original talks were given during Wednesday audiences.