|The Roman Catholic Church
teaches that the use of birth control is a serious sin.
The same holds true for sex outside of wedlock, unmarried
cohabitation, and homosexual relations.
The position of the Catholic Church
on these topics gained considerable media attention in April.
The Catholic University of St. Thomas found itself in the midst
of a controversy after it issued formal rules forbidding faculty
and staff from sharing a hotel room with a romantic partner on
Things first heated up at the
university about a year ago when a choir director was told she
could not share a hotel room with her lesbian partner during a
school trip to France. A few months later, an unmarried
heterosexual couple, both professors at the university, were
told they could not share a room during a school trip to
Just when feelings on both sides
of the issue started to calm down, along comes Ben Kessler, a
senior who had won the university's 2006 "Tommie Award."
The recipient of this honor, who is chosen by a vote of
students, faculty, and staff, is invited to give a speech at the
university's commencement ceremonies.
all-America football player who plans to become a priest, chose
to focus a major portion of his speech condemning students who
use birth control and supporting the position of the Church
against unmarried cohabitation.
of the audience started booing Kessler. Others got up and
officials received so much negative feedback about the speech
that a few days later Kessler issued a public apology for
offending the audience.
Kessler thinking? Did he really believe that members of
the student body would be held hostage to a barrage of moral
views which many of them do not accept?
did, but Kessler certainly did not do his homework. Public
opinion surveys conducted during the past decade have
consistently shown a liberalization of attitudes of Catholics,
especially young people, on topics such as birth control,
premarital sex, and homosexuality.
conducted in the last few years show that:
* 49% of
Americans feel that it is okay for an unmarried couple to
cohabit. More than 70 of liberal Catholics hold this
position, as do 38 percent of traditional Catholics.
percent of liberal Catholics believe the law should
recognize legal agreements between same-sex couples.
Some 36 percent of traditional Catholics support such
percent of American Catholics disagree with the
pronouncements of the Pope that birth control is immoral.
percent of sexually active Catholic women above the age of
18 use a modern method of birth control.
percent of Catholics believe that a person can be a "good
Catholic" even though he or she does not obey the church's
teaching on birth control.
Dean R. Hoge of The Catholic University of America and James D.
Davidson of Purdue University conducted a study in 2003 to
explore Catholics' views on various church teachings. The study
divided respondents into four age groups, labeling each
generation according to the era in which they came of age.
Only in the
63-plus age group did a majority of respondents say homosexual
acts are always wrong (69 percent), abortion is always wrong (55
percent) and premarital sex is always wrong (64 percent). In the
three other generations combined, less than one-fourth
considered premarital sex always wrong, 35 percent said abortion
is always wrong and 39 percent said homosexual acts are always
Hogue and Purdue concluded that "tomorrow's Catholics will be
more individualistic, more tolerant in the area of sexual
morality, less inclined to defer to teachings of the hierarchy,
less committed to Catholic institutions and less involved in
With studies such as these in
mind, seminaries might consider teaching would-be priests, such
as Ben Kessler, to feel the pulse of their audience before
selecting topics for sermons. If they don't tread lightly,
hard-line priests may someday find that they are literally
preaching to the choir -- because the rest of the church pews
may be empty.
Unmarried America 2006
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and