THE Pope, better yet, the Popes have consistently preached the Church teaching on the sacredness of the marriage act, that down through the ages the Church has affirmed that only within the sacrament of Matrimony will the marriage act come to its fulfillment and noble end: procreation and the education of children. It also means the marriage act, which nourishes and strengthens the marriage union, is always open to procreation of new life; that the love between the spouses is so great that it becomes a person, a new life. That human love is shared, and yes, it diffuses.
Unfortunately, in our time and age, when every teaching of the Church is put into bad light, the recent pronouncement of the present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, while he was en route to Africa, that condom use is not actually a help in combating HIV-AIDS, many were up in arms. So much so that the Belgian Parliament even condemned his words and demanded a retraction and apology.
The Church, in fact, takes care of the HIV-AIDS victims. In Africa itself, many institutions taking care of them are run by the Catholic Church. We do not condemn them, just as we do not condemn the homosexuals. But the solution proposed by the Church stems from her consistent teaching: sexual intimacy is only within the sacrament of Matrimony. And why is that? Because, simply put, intimacy is reserved for those who are committed. And commitment is best (wholly and holy) expressed when the spouses enter into a covenant, that covenant which we refer to as the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The Church is not being simply legalistic when she insists on the Sacrament of Matrimony. She, in fact, safeguards that love between the spouses. She so safeguards that love, that she envelops it with God’s blessing through the Sacrament of Matrimony. And she so zealously safeguards the sanctity and beauty of human love that she so insists in teaching that physical and sexual intimacy—consistent with the Gospel truth—finds its true meaning only within the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Amazingly but tragically, it was not the Africans that were protesting the Holy Father’s words, it was the Europeans and North Americans who were condemning him. It is such a paradox that African Church Health workers were even praising the Holy Father for his courage to tell the world that it is not condoms that Africa needs but true acts of charity.
One cannot help but be surprised and saddened as well in hearing and reading the news that one beauty contestant who was the front runner for Miss USA lost the chance of being crowned because she had the guts to tell the audience and the judge that she believes that marriage is only between a man and a wife.
And another recent news item as well, again from the US, in a Congressional hearing participated in by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, she was taken to task about the turn-around policy of the US with regard to abortion-promotion around the world. And these were, among others, her words:
We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health and reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare. (Emphasis mine).
Well, there you have it. For all the denials that reproductive health does not include abortion, it comes from the biggest advocate and promoter of reproductive health; yes, our dearest Juan de la Cruz, reproductive health does include abortion.
What a world we are living in today, it is so secularized, that being an openly Christian faithful now becomes a stigma and something to be ashamed of. Christian persecution has returned, albeit not a bloody one (not yet anyway). We are called to be martyrs of our Christian Faith. Martyros in Greek means someone who gives a testimony, a witness to the Faith. May we be the contemporary martyrs that the Church needs, living witnesses that the Christian Faith, that to follow Christ, is well worth living and even dying for.
Courage, dearest followers of Christ, we can rise above our petty concerns and come to defend the teachings of Christ. And yes, let us be comforted, so long as we remain united with Peter and his successor we are with the truth. For where Peter is, the Church is there. Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia est.
May Mary, Mother of the Church, Mediatrix of All-Grace, come and help us in this hour of great battle. Ave Maria!