On my way into work this morning, I was listening to the morning show of a popular area talk radio station. I can usually only take it in small doses, as the AM hosts typically seem to combine ignorance with bluster in an attempt to boost ratings — particularly when talking about moral issues. Thoughtful discussion is sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism.
This morning the subject was once again, the tragedy of the teenagers in Tunkhannock sending pronographic images of themselves to each other’s cell phones. It has even coined a new term — ‘Sext Messages’. The discussion was focused on how the ACLU is defending the girls against the D.A.’s tactics in trying to reform the children’s attitudes. But I was struck by the alleged attitudes of some of the parents involved, who see nothing pornographic in what their children had done.
Coincidentally enough, Ignatius Press has just republished a pastoral letter of our Bishop, titled ‘Practicing Chastity in an Unchaste Age.’ I wish the families involved could read it.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: I write as your bishop and spiritual father on a matter of great importance and great good news: chastity.
Why chastity? That is really two questions wrapped up in one.
First, why do I write on this subject just now? Violations of chastity in our Church and our diocese have made some people skeptical when the Church speaks on sexual morality. But for just that reason it is more necessary, not less, to speak the truth about sexual morality. Sin and confusion cry out for honest, truthful speech.
The Church has always taught–and I teach here–that we need to find our happiness and holiness in a commitment to the chastity lived out in marital love or the chastity of celibacy lived out either in the consecrated life or the life of a single layperson in the world. These are the two paths to happiness and eternal life. There are no others.
Second, why is chastity so important? Is this really a virtue for our times? Don’t other subjects take priority?
In fact, chastity is a virtue for our times, and it does take priority. That should be clear, for instance, in the wake of the scandalous events in our own Church as well as those in secular society.