CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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The importance of understanding sexuality

HONG KONG (SE): “Imagine God preparing for man and woman. He built two seven-storey towers, one blue and one pink. But then they were shattered by a terrible earthquake, which left life and love in the blue tower in a terrible mess,” Father José Luis Soria said at a talk on Understanding Human Sexuality at the Diocese Centre on December 19.

At an evening organised by the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council of the diocese of Hong Kong, the Spanish Opus Dei priest was invited to address the topic of chastity, homosexuality and gender identification, with the view to helping married couples understand these issues.

As a medical doctor, he spent time explaining how the X and Y chromosomes determine gender and that medically, a person can be clearly designated as either male or female.

Father Sorio quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church as saying the psychological genesis of same sex attraction remains largely unexplained, but tradition has always described “homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered” (No 2357).

He claims that there is no medical evidence to show that it is a genetic disorder or that people are born that way.

He said that it is not an option or decision that people make and that it is important for parents to be active in educating their children about sex. “It is vital,” he stressed.

He explained that when he was a medical student, same sex attraction was treated as a psychological disorder, and remained in the discipline of psychiatry until 1973.

However, he noted that changing this was a political decision, not a medical one, as it came about through an act through the congress of the United States of America, as a result of lobbying from same sex attracted psychologists.

He noted that because there is some contradiction in the concept of a disordered psychologist, pressure was brought about the make this change.

He explained that in the common parlance in the English language today, we often equate the words sex and sexuality. However, he pointed out that in ancient Roman culture, the word sex was seldom used. Amor, or eros in Greek, was used to designate love between a husband and wife.

He explained that there is a word in Greek for sex, but it is degrading in its implication, referring basically to animal behaviour. He said that sadly, many young people have their first sexual experience in this context, and it is addictive. “Often the first sexual experience comes in a non-sexual context,” he said.

“We can have sex on the brain,” he added. “It is addictive, because it is in the imagination. We imagine, we remember and long for it.” But he added that it truly belongs in the context of love and life, in marriage.

He pointed out that in life, we are constantly censoring ourselves and censoring our activity. “It happens in all sorts of fields,” he said, “and it is just as necessary in the area of sexual activity.”

He pointed out that the catechism says that the same sex attracted are called to chastity in the same way all Christians are and notes that their condition is a great trial for them.

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (No 2359).

He noted that the catechism also calls for the same sex attracted to be treated with the utmost respect, compassion and sensitivity and that all unjust discrimination must be avoided.

He said that it is important that parents speak frankly with their children about this as they are growing up and there are powerful lobbies in the media and the political sphere encouraging them to think about it in different ways.

He concluded by saying that sexuality is about love and life and it is important that children growing up understand it this way.

He added that in a bygone age it may have been alright to leave sex education to the schools, but in this day and age, with so much information available, which can be politically motivated and not always scientific correct or moral, the involvement of parents is absolutely vital.

Father Soria is living in Canada, but for 30 years was the spiritual director of Opus Dei and also professor of pastoral medicine and exposition of Christian doctrine at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

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