Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

Q. The recent Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision to “redefine” marriage by allowing same-sex unions as marriages suddenly motivated me to try to understand the Church’s over all teaching about marriage. What authentic books are available for personal study?

A. Sometimes a news story like the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling permitting same-sex marriage has the effect of reminding Catholics to update their understanding of Catholic doctrine. Theology, after all, is classically defined as “faith in search of understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum), a phrase usually attributed to St. Anselm, who, it appears, was a dialectician even in his prayers.

Two authentic, easily readable books about marriage doctrine are (1) Marriage, the Rock on Which the Family is Built, by Professor William E. May of the Pope John II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, in Washington, D.C.; and (2) Catholic Sexual Ethics, (2nd ed.) by Father Ronald Lawler, Joseph Boyle Jr., and the above cited William E. May. Dr. May’s book was first published by Ignatius Press in 1995; the second book, by Our Sunday Visitor, in 1998.

Both of these volumes should be in every Catholic adult’s home.

There are other books available, of course; but these are, in my judgment, the best English study texts in America today.

Both of these books reflect Magisterial sources, beginning with Vatican Council II and the encyclicals or other statements, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both, therefore, are structured upon Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (1968), Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (1981), Letter to Families (1994) and the encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (1995).

The Catechism’s summary of Catholic teaching about marriage can be found beginning with Article 7, no. 1601. Surely any effort to understand the theology of marriage should begin there.

For more extensive studies, Karol Wojtyla’s Love and Responsibility is essential reading. Professor Wojtyla, remember, taught the theology of marriage long before he became Pope John Paul II, so that his contributions to the subject were the result of countless lectures, disputations, writings and books. Indeed, much of the vocabulary which contemporary theology employs in its understanding of marriage is based on Karol Wojtyla’s famed “Theology of the Body,” crystallized in a series of catecheses which he gave later as Pope. These catecheses were published in 1981 by the Daughters of St. Paul, under the title: Original Unity of Man and Woman: Catechesis on the Book of Genesis.

There is a deep fountain of wisdom available for anyone seriously in quest of Catholic teaching on human sexuality, marriage and family. But a sound beginning, at least, is put together by the two books cited at the beginning of this article: Marriage, the Rock… by Dr. May; and Catholic Sexual Ethics, by Father Lawler, Dr. Boyle, and Dr. May.

To discover why same-sex “marriage” is contraindicated morally, why man and woman are equal yet complementary, why marriage is permanent, why laboratory generation is not justifiable, why contraception is wrong, why extramarital sexual experience, as well as adultery, is wrong – and more – one should read these two books first.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.