Shaky foundations?

Shaky foundations?

The Catholic moral theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff has called for a significant change in the Church's sexual morality before the German Catholic bishops. Accordingly, he expressed himself in a keynote speech in Lingen.

Before the plenary assembly of the German Bishops' Conference on Wednesday, the Freiburg theology professor recommended a positive view of human sexuality.

Among other things, the moral theologian demanded that family planning, even with artificial contraceptives, should no longer be recognized as an act hostile to life, but as a service to life. Because this decision of conscience is based on mutual respect between partners and concern for the well-being of children.

Marriage understanding

Furthermore, the church should recognize that there are legitimate sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage. Lifelong marriage may be the best framework for lived sexuality, but it is not the only possible one.

According to Schockenhoff, the church should adhere to an understanding of marriage that sees marriage as a holistic community of a man and a woman. At the same time, he said, the Church must unreservedly recognize same-sex partnerships and refrain from "morally disqualifying the sexual practice lived in them.".

promiscuity, open multiple relationships and infidelity, on the other hand, Schockenhoff described as "morally questionable". This applies regardless of the sexual orientation of the persons concerned.

According to the speech manuscript, Schockenhoff made it clear that the loss of credibility of the Catholic sexual morality in force up to now was not caused by the current abuse crisis.

Rather, the church has not integrated the findings of contemporary science into its sexual ethics and still refers to the "poisoned view of sexuality" outlined by the church father Augustine (354-430). The latter interpreted erotic desire as a consequence of man's original sin.

Criticism of John Paul II's sexual teachings.

Schockenhoff also criticized the sexual teachings of St. John Paul II. (1978-2005). The latter's "theology of the body" is a "significant advance over Augustine's theology of original sin". Nevertheless, in this sexual morality, "the warning that spouses should not abuse each other as objects of their sexual desire" remains dominant.

At the same time Schockenhoff criticized the basic amption of John Paul II., that the Church's sexual teachings were not man-made, but "inscribed in the nature of the human person by the creative hand of God.". Such an amption prevents the church from admitting the dependence of its sexual teachings on historical aberrations.

The theologian described as a "ray of hope" the positive view of sexuality and the erotic dimension of love formulated by Pope Francis in his 2016 letter "Amoris laetitia". For the future, Schockenhoff recommended "revising the content of the building of the church's sexual morality" and making a course correction.

The goal must be "to affirm the fullness of meaning of human sexuality in its positive possibilities for shaping". This would "by no means require a complete break with the basic convictions of the previous church sexual doctrine.". Rather, it was a matter of adapting their insights to the current living conditions and new insights of the human sciences.

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