Decrying the "sex-saturated world of contemporary Western culture," Roman Catholic bishops in Canada are urging church members – married and single – to live chastely, writes Leanne Larmondin.
In an eight-page pastoral letter released at the end of last month, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged that chastity was a challenge. They urged young Canadians, however, to surround themselves with friends who also want to live chastely, to dress modestly, to choose uplifting entertainment and to seek the sacrament of confession regularly.
Those who commit sins of impurity, "alone or with another person," said the letter, can receive forgiveness through confession. Failure to live chastely, it continued, "leads to a self-centered existence that blinds us to the needs, the joys and the beauty of the world around us."
Chastity calls for purity of mind as well as body and is more than the absence of sexual relations, said the letter. For unmarried Catholics, the bishops explained, chastity entails abstinence, "because God's design is that sex belongs in marriage."
The guidelines, which were accompanied by a 23-minute YouTube video featuring young people reading from the letter, also advised married couples not to get too focused on sexual acts other than intercourse, calling them a potential "misuse of sex."
Chastity, wrote the bishops, helps married people "love each other as persons rather than make each other an object of pleasure or satisfaction." The sexual act, they added, "has to be unitive and procreative and (this is) why some kinds of sexual activity are not chaste. Though pleasure may be present, some acts are a misuse of sex when they fall short of what God intends."
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops oversee the largest denomination in Canada; some 12.8 million people reported affiliation with the Roman Catholic church in the country’s last census in 2001.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]