We’ve just posted a new web exclusive on our homepage: John Corvino’s “Against Obsessive Celibacy,” in which he continues the conversation with Michael Hannon of First Things over celibacy, sexuality, and social constructions of sexual orientation. An excerpt:
Michael Hannon’s “Against Obsessive Sexuality,” in which he replies to me and other critics of his First Things essay “Against Heterosexuality,” is helpful—although not primarily for the reasons he intends.
Its main service consists in underscoring just how radical his position is. He’s not just critical of homosexuality, or even heterosexual sin. He now also makes clear his qualms about heterosexual marriage, which he deems “lower in the hierarchy of human goods than the good of [celibate] Christian friendship….”
For Hannon … the marital act provides a “particularly clear illustration” of disintegration, by diverting attention away from the divine. This sex-negative position is nothing new: Indeed, it was the dominant Catholic tradition until Vatican II. It is still jarring to see it spelled out on the page. Although sex can be a volatile distraction—a point I acknowledged in my original critique—it can also be a positive, joyous, even stabilizing element of a well-integrated life. Many religious persons experience it as a gift from God rather than a diversion from Him.
Also, as we continue to mark our ninetieth year of publication, we’re highlighting archived stories from the 1980s. Featured: an interview with then-governor of New York Mario Cuomo by Karen Sue Smith and Patrick Jordan; Oscar Romero’s address to the University of Louvain on conferral of his honorary degree, published by Commonweal to commemorate the second anniversary of his assassination and “show the reasoning that led to his martyrdom”; and Monika Hellwig on the triviality of “anything in theology that does not authentically serve the pastoral needs of ordinary priests and ordinary believers.” See our complete 1980s page here, and all of our Commonweal at 90 pages here.
And don’t forget that Commonweal’s open house continues: registration on the website is free through November 12. Register online and you can read everything on our website, free—all the articles from our print editions, all of our web exclusives, all of our reviews and interviews and special features. Not to mention our “90 Articles from 90 Years”—the best of Commonweal since 1924, as selected by our editors. Go to our homepage to register for free site access now.