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A sin by any other name ...

In his 1729 satirical masterpiece A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift recommends solving the problem of starvation in Ireland by cooking and eating Irish children. "A betrothal proposal" (June) harkened back to Swift, except that Michael G. Lawler and Gail S. Risch are not kidding. Beneath this latest pile of immorality-justifying relativist pap is the seductively diabolical lie that recent opinions garnered by the authors from focus groups of young "Catholics" with dearly malformed consciences should determine what almighty God is allowed to call sin.

The authors are so proud of their "rediscovery" of the "pre-Tridentine" process of nuptialia that they never bother to produce a single piece of historical evidence supporting their uncovered "fact" that "the first sexual intercourse between spouses usually followed the betrothal." Even if some piece of evidence exists that this was the common practice, that does not make it morally correct.

Large numbers of similarly acting individuals don't make an act righteous, they make it epidemic. I guess if 51 percent of members of some future Lawler and Risch focus groups jump off a bridge, the authors will be inescapably compelled to dive off right behind them.

Dr. Robert Schuette

Cincinnati, Ohio

I would like to respond to the article "A betrothal proposal." The teaching of the Catholic Church about fornication is clear and unambiguous: It is always objectively a serious sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1755, #1852, #2353). Couples who live together without marriage do in fact live in sin objectively.

The position of the authors is contrary to church teaching about the intrinsic evil of fornication. Certainly they are not spokespeople for the church regarding human sexuality and sacramental marriage.

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss

Omaha, Neb.

What a treat to read such a relevant and articulate article about contemporary society and Catholic teaching. The proposal is a good solution to the dilemma many couples are facing today. It allows committed couples to be true to the values of their faith community and to each other.

Jeanne Barnes

Gulf Breeze, Fla.

There are numerous problems with this proposal. You are trying to advocate a betrothal rite that comes complete with some sort of understanding of commitment and ceremony. Sounds strangely like marriage to me.

The people who are choosing cohabitation over marriage are doing so because they don't want either commitment or ceremony obligating them. So why do you think this would work?

Cohabitation is simply an attempt to make fornication more palatable. All the ceremonies and the "pastoral" solutions in the world will not change that. The church in its wisdom knows this. That's why it stands so strongly against it.

Keith Johnson

Wadsworth, Ohio

This article brought back memories of our own betrothal ceremony entered into 49 years ago. This was a covenant entered into with each other and Christ, before God, family, and friends during the holy sacrifice of the Mass, with the exchanging of rings and vows.

We never saw this as a prelude to coming together physically before marriage, but it became rightly an anticipatory gift from the Lord. I believe the Holy Spirit bestowed on us the graces to make this time a chaste time.

To survive life's ups and downs, starting out married life with a betrothal ceremony was a great way to begin.

Joan Kochetta

Ocala, Fla.

While I appreciate the pastoral aim of the article, I believe we have a name for what you describe as betrothal in parishes. It is called marriage preparation.

Marriage preparation, when done well, calls couples who are cohabiting to live the sacramental life of the church, which we call marriage. To do any less is confusing. To create an order that gives couples "dissoluble rights" to sexual relations, then see the marriage consummation as "a permanent bond," is playing with the sacraments.

Rev. Daniel McBride

Chandler, Ariz.

Thanks for a great proposal and for continuing to think outside the box. As opposed to the hierarchical view that the sacraments are like spigots of grace turned on and off by officialdom, your proposal is consistent with my view that sacraments are celebrations of something that has already happened.

John Churchman

Central Lake, Mich.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:letters: you may be right
Author:Schuette, Robert; Curtiss, Elden Francis; Barnes, Jeanne; Johnson, Keith; Kochetta, Joan; McBride, D
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Previous Article:Zip it!
Next Article:Columnists--pro and con.

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