The Vatican Confesses

The power of truth is such that, if you wait long enough, your enemies themselves will confess it, though they may not understand that that is what they are doing.  For “murder,” says Hamlet, setting up his ruse to catch the king when his guard is down, “though it hath no tongue, will speak / With most miraculous organ.”

Hamlet is counting on the fact that his uncle Claudius still has a conscience to catch, and that he is intelligent enough to see the connection between what the stage-players will be doing – murdering your brother the king and marrying his wife – and what Claudius himself has done.

More often, though, people who try to play at one thing while supporting and promoting the opposite will simply blunder into contradictions.


Dressing up as ghouls, shrieking obscenities, and splashing churches with red paint is perhaps not the best way to persuade people that getting an abortion should be no more controversial than getting a manicure.

Dressing up in drag to read sex stories to little kids is perhaps not the best way to show that your sexual inclinations are not bizarre and unnatural, and that there is no childhood trauma behind them, and you have no pederastic tendencies.

What would a parade of left-handers look like?  A parade of right-handers.  But every “pride” parade is itself a garish and hideous parade of corpora delicti, clear evidence that the people on parade are not right in their minds and bodies.  They are to be pitied, not applauded.

And now, from the Vatican, comes the news that Catholics who want to get married should have to wait longer to do so, to undergo more preparation for the sacrament, so that we will not be plagued with so many applications for annulments.  The reasoning is that young people now are ill-prepared to understand what the vows of exclusivity and permanence imply.

They have “prepared” for marriage by the now-usual series of sexual liaisons, often transient, sometimes treacherous, ending in disappointment and sullenness.  The males are often addicted to porn; both sexes go for it sometimes.  Their language is strewn with crudity and obscenity, and as for love, they are not likely to have been instructed by the mass entertainment around them, not to mention their own habits, or, often, those of their parents.


Is the longer delay wise?  That’s debatable.  What’s not debatable is that the recommendation is a tacit and probably unwitting confession of the way that we raise our boys to be men and our girls to be women. They’re meant to fall in love with one another, and more, actually to like the other sex and to be grateful to God for them. We do not do any of this, but instead promote, or accept, or yield to the collapse in sexual mores that has beset the west since the Pill. The waiting period is a kind of confession that this has been a colossal, unmitigated failure.

A twenty-year-old man and a nineteen-year-old woman could marry in 1940 or 1840 or 1740 without any controversy or any sense that they would be in need of thorough moral and personal instruction. If they cannot do so now – indeed, if they are thirty and twenty-nine and they still need the instruction – then it is not that the people of old were dimwits, but that we are now, in this most crucial area, completely incompetent.

But notice how this unwitting admission applies generally.  Many of the hierarchs in the Church want to hang on to, even to promote and celebrate, what Bob and Jim are doing together in bed, while what John and Mary are doing apparently renders them ill-suited to get the ordinary work of human culture done, that is, to build stable families and to raise children in the haven of marriages that endure for life.

And that’s a flat contradiction.  Bob and Jim have likely been, as homosexual men unfettered by fear of pregnancy or any residual sense of chivalry, engaging in mock-intercourse with a perfectly staggering number of willing and available participants ever since they were teenage boys.  Yet somehow the sexual sins that John and Mary commit, those that are not counter to nature, and that are often but poor and confused attempts at marriage without marriage, are so grave in their effects upon the heart and mind and soul that we must place an unprecedented barrier in their way.

Now you cannot hold those two attitudes simultaneously.  If sodomy is perfectly fine, fornication is downright beautiful.  But if fornication is chaos-making and destructive, don’t even talk about sodomy.

You cannot have the sexual revolution on Monday, and then wag your finger on Tuesday and tell the man and woman that they have done ill, shacking up as they do, or using porn. And so they must study hard and listen to sermons and reorient their whole arrangement of sexual habits and expectations. And then on Wednesday you go to the parade and clap your hands.  It is incoherent.

And there is more.  The fact is, there are Catholics among us who have not bent the knee to Baal.  Why should they be made to suffer for the sins of others?  And where are such Catholics to be found, dear hierarchs?  You know where.  But many of you have done your best to vilify those few havens of health and fidelity.

Even more.  The great problem in our midst is not that people are marrying badly, but that people are not marrying at all.  Genuine preparation for marriage begins in childhood, and it is rooted in a respect for the real and God-ordained differences between the sexes.

Pope Francis himself has said that gender ideology is demonic.  So is indifference to the beauty of male and female.  What have you done lately for young people who have been raised with that respect, and who cannot find someone decent to marry?  When have you ever considered them at all?


*Image: The Play’s the Thing by Raphael Tuck & Sons, before 1928 [Raphael Tuck & Sons was a successful London, England-based creator of greeting cards and postcards from 1866 through 1959.]

You may also enjoy:

Robert Royal’s What Future without Children?

Randall Smith’s Progress or Repeated Failure?

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. Among his books are Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, and most recently The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is Distinguished Professor at Thales College. Be sure to visit his new website, Word and Song.