Friday, July 22, 2005

Natural Family Prereq

It seems this is NFP Awareness Week. Fresh from vacation, Burkie's writing about it in his Review column today, there've been a flurry of stories about it, and Sam Aquila is making a course in it mandatory for engaged couples in the diocese of Fargo.
"Through my personal experience in preparing couples for marriage and through discussions with priests, I have seen a great need for this instruction to help couples fully live the sacrament of marriage," Bishop Aquila, head of the diocese, said in a news release. "Young adults are bombarded with negative images of sexuality, with attitudes that demean the marital commitment and with lies about the so-called 'freedom' contraception provides. They need to know and they deserve to know the plan that God has for them regarding the sexuality and the conjugal love they will share as husband and wife."

The only other diocese in America requiring such extensive premarital counseling on natural family planning is the archdiocese of Denver, where Aquila spent 25 years as a priest before being named bishop in Fargo three years ago.

I didn't know NFP training was mandatory in Denver, but this is very interesting.... Observant readers will remember that Aquila is currently doing double duty -- besides his permanent gig in Fargo, he's serving as apostolic administrator of Sioux Falls (which currently has openings for bishop and vice-chancellor).

Obviously, the expanded purview hasn't cramped Sam's style.



Blogger Papabile said...

NFP instruction is mandatory in most dioceses. I think what they were talking about is a much more intensive brief on John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

The Diocesan guy in Arlington was horrified when I said publicly that I thought John Paul II had successfully dumbed down the Thomistic and Augustinian approach to human sexuality and blurred it with an approach that did not fully recognize the authority of the Heavenly Father in these matters.

(Additionally, I did say that I thought it also contributed to a much better understanding of the heavenly liturgy and the Marriage of the Lamb.)

A lot of the 'orthodox' worship at the altar of the Theology of the Body. And, while I don't believe it violates any Catholic tenets, I certainly believe either a truly Augustinian or Thomistic Approach is much better.

Now.... I'm sure my comments will piss some people off. Just watch.

BTW.... It will be interesting to see what Santissimo Benedetto says.

22/7/05 15:05  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Since when is NFP necessary to the sacrament of Matrimony?
Next it will be mandatory "anti-masterbatorial tactics" class to be taught in Catholic High Schools. Puhleeze.

22/7/05 19:43  
Blogger Disgusted in DC said...


In true agent provocateur style, I am curious to know what you mean when you say "John Paul II had successfully dumbed down the Thomistic and Augustinian approach to human sexuality and blurred it with an approach that did not fully recognize the authority of the Heavenly Father in these matters."

23/7/05 16:29  
Blogger Papabile said...


very simply, I believe the Theology of the body to be somewhat of a basic impoverishment of the understanding of human sexuality when you put it up against the typical Thomistic approaches in light of a refines Augustinianism.

Now, this is NOT to say that Thomas himself had a completely developed idea of human sexuality. ut, his overall conception of man as rooted in the divine essence and imago Dei, I find to be a much more solid concept than that of rooting human sexuality in the Creation account. While it is, to a large extent rooted there, it was refined throughout the deuterocanonicals and certainly is more fully explicated in light of the Johannine text.

I very much loved John Paul II. In fact, I agreed with him on the root of most of the problems he addressed during his papacy. However, his effort to find a "third way" with respect to human sexuality, I did not find nearly as convincing as that of the refined scholastics.

23/7/05 22:14  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Re: Papabile; Not sounding too Papal...

Refined scholastics? Wow. You have suggested JP2 is Classically deficient and, having not been born before the 13 century is "unrefined". I find that very interesting. I am sure you know that all but 3 or so of his credits toward an STL were fulfilled at the Angelicum. A joke he refered to when they attempted to call him an alumni, he graciously retorted: No, no, I did not finish." The popular story goes: they denied him a license based on his thesis, either way, it was Thomas' loss. It was JP's immersion between Thomism and Phenomenology which made his works, especially TOB, so unique. The Creation account is where the Imago Dei first arrived and the Divine Essence took its hold, transcending itself, committing the root virtue of the divine law. Sexuality does not pre-exist the garden, or wherever you wish to believe Creation took place. God had no need of sex (or sexuality) before giving it as a gift to man toward creation. Sexuality as identity became necessary when man entered the picture. God already knew who he was, having no need of an identifying organ. It was man, confused who needed accidents and incense stirring the penis' on the scene of creation. And if you can't swallow the money I just gave you, any new digression, a "third way", would be an improvement over Thomas' "Summa". To ascribe to Aristotle's categories and ideas of sense perception et al, is an act of ignorance in need of another suggestion. St. Thomas, pray for me as I may have just bashed you.

25/7/05 05:10  
Blogger Papabile said...

Sainte Chopin:

wow... I guess I did prick a nerve. I wasn't suggesting anything about Thomas' Summa, as I said previously, but the Thomistic interpretations of sexuality. I, for one, do not believe that the Theology of the Body is fully structured by a Thomistic approach, which I think is much more rigourous than John Paull II's approach.

Specifically, I have no use for Thomas' arguments concerning actual generation. But, one can ver clearly harmonize an approach to sexuality with the Thomistic approach.

Furthermore, the current Holy Father had some quite similar things to say about John Paul II's approach to human sexuality. Specifically, he thought a more forceful examination of sexuality under an Augustinian/Thomistic construct was necessary for ecumenical relations with the Orthodox. Furthermore, he argued that Thomas, as the doctor above all others (c.f. Vatican II), was a much more critical element in any serious study of sexuality from a theological perspective.

In short, Cardinal Ratzinger suggested that the Theology of the Body might be a good approach to try to explicate sexuality to today's common man, but was not an adequate way to seriously study it in a theological mode.

Oh, and I believe he's now called Benedetto.

25/7/05 11:20  
Blogger Vonshui said...

And the same Ratzinger also condemned Harry Potter, slapped a reporter, needlessly criticized US foreign policy, etc. All opinions (and mistakes). Him now being Benedict no more validates any of that than his opinion of TOB. Personally, I think it easier to communicate Thomas to the "common man" than TOB. Besides, Ratzinger and JP are from very different schools of thought. Jp believed in sticking to his guns, the same ones he wore at Vatican II, whereas Ratzinger decided to join the mainstream, running from his previously more liberal, phenomenological image. Traces are still found in Ratz. works but he better hurry and cover them up!

25/7/05 15:51  
Blogger Papabile said...


Well, now.... I guess we know where you stand on some things.

It was precisely my point that TOB actually was easier to convey to the "common man" than a thomistic approach. My contention was that the thomistic approach was more rigourous and more serious for genuine theological consideration.

Yes, again, you made precisely my point that JPII and Ratzinger are from different schools. And, quite frankly, there are true, important differences. Nothing JPII said re: TOB actually contradicts the thomist approach, but it certainly leaves much to be desired. Again, I think TOB does do a service by more fully explicating sexuality's role in the heavenly liturgy and the Marriage of the Lamb.

However, the contention that JP II believed in "sticking to his guns", whereas Benedict did not, is an oversimplification of what actually occurred.

There is, no doubt, a genuine difference between the Ratzinger of 1960-1968 and post '68. However, if you have actually read all his writings, you can see a clear and genuine development of thought.

Now, is that change more evident that JPII's? Yes. No doubt. Did JPII not change his thought at all? That's a laughable contention. The conciliari minutes are enought to simply refute that.

25/7/05 16:36  
Blogger Vonshui said...

I never suggested there was anything static about JP's intellectual development...sometimes I wonder the true fruit of these blog discussion.

25/7/05 18:46  

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