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Speaker addresses Church’s stance on sexuality

Kelly Konya | Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Saint Mary’s College kicked off the Theology on Fire lecture series Wednesday night with a discussion titled “Questions on Sex,” led by religious studies professor Phyllis Kaminski.

Kaminski said sex is an obvious topic of debate in the Catholic Church today, though sex and sexuality are not synonymous.

“The Catechism will talk about sexuality and say that it affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of the body and soul, and it especially concerns the capacity to love and procreate,” she said. “In another place, the Catechism says that everyone, men and women, should acknowledge his or her sexual identity. It’s the conjugal acts, the homosexual acts, which get confusing sometimes.”

Kaminski said she defines sex as fun, powerful and holy, and because of these three aspects, it is an extremely complicated expression.
After this introduction, Kaminski initiated a question and answer session. Students’ questions addressed the Church’s stance on sexuality and the Church’s conception of sexual sin.  

Kaminski said people, at any point in life, must decide for themselves what level of affection is appropriate to each stage of commitment.

“There really isn’t one correct answer,” she said.  “In the Church, we say consult objective norms, look at the objective teachings of the Church, pray, talk to people who are wiser than you and trusted, and ultimately what you come to is you have to make a decision, and you make this decision in the best way you can. You can trust your conscience, but you also must inform it.”

The degree to which people feel they need affection influences the mystery of human sexuality, Kaminski said.

“The mystery of human sexuality is the mystery of our need to embrace others, sexually and spiritually,” she said.

Kaminski quoted Pedro Arrupe to support her belief that people’s personal conscience should influence their choices in love.

“Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything,” she said.

Junior Hannah Ziegeler said Kaminski’s introduction to the discussion was very thought provoking.

“I thought the idea she posed of ‘how the most effective questions asked [about religion and sexuality] are those that cause us to question ourselves was enlightening,” Ziegeler said. “I think reflection is important, specifically when learning about sexuality where interpretation is subjective.”

Junior Sarah Hossfeld said the series was unlike any discussion on Catholicism and sexuality that she had ever heard before.

“I thought that [Kaminski] did a very good job of making the Church’s teachings not seem like strict, reproachful rules or laws,” Hossfeld said. “Instead, it’s very much about your conscience and your personal relationship with God, and these things can alter your own views of sexuality.”