On 8 May, following a prayer service in the beautiful and historic College Chapel of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin was the keynote speaker at the launch of Father Chris Hayden’s new book, A Better Vision: Understanding, Living and Sharing the Catholic Vision for Human Sexuality.
Speaking at the launch, Bishop Doran highlighted some of the issues addressed by Father Hayden regarding the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality. Bishop Kevin said, “Father Chris challenges the assumption that people who have gained sexual experience are better prepared for marriage. The problem, he points out, is that their experience is of sex without commitment and without reference to procreation, whereas marriage assumes both commitment and an openness to procreation. I was reminded of what Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia: ‘Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision.’ (AL 208)”
Bishop Doran continued, “Father Chris comments that, while the contemporary focus on consent sounds rather traditional it does not sit easily with the idea that, once sex is consensual, anything goes. ‘If sex is such an everyday thing, and of no lasting significance, why all the focus on consent’. The reality is that when it lacks commitment, sex has the potential in it for great hurt.”
Referring to Church teaching on homosexuality Bishop Kevin emphasised, “People who identify as LGBT+ have told me of their experience of rejection and exclusion, for which, in many cases, they say the Catholic Church is responsible, because of its teaching and because of the language in which that teaching is expressed. I accept that this is their experience. Without the truth, spoken in love, dialogue gets us nowhere.”
Bishop Doran concluded, “Father Chris offers an honest and, I believe, sensitive presentation of the Church’s teaching, based on understanding of the human person, as a coherent unity of body and spirit, emotion and reason.”
A Better Vision: Understanding, Living and Sharing the Catholic Vision for Human Sexuality is published by Saint Pauls.