NEWS SERVICE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CATHOLIC FAMILIES
'Pearls : The Theology of the Body
in John Paul II'
Teología del Cuerpo en Juan Pablo II"
(Pearls: Theology of the Body in John Paul II), published by Edimurtra,
is written by Leticia Soberón, a psychologist who analyzes
the first cycle of 63 catecheses on the theology of the body, delivered
by the Holy Father from Sept. 5, 1979, to May 6, 1981. Soberón,
born in Mexico City, works in the Pontifical Council for Social
Communications, in coordinating RIIAL, the Information Network of
the Church in Latin America. In this interview with ZENIT she explained
Why re-read teachings that this Pope imparted over 22 years
These teachings, which the Pope gave with his catechesis, were
already very opportune in the years when they were imparted, but
they are extremely urgent at present.
What is John Paul II's specific contribution to the topic?
The Pope makes a gift to the world by enlarging its horizon
of understanding of what the human being is with his body, a body
with sexuality, which is image of God.
Pope reminds us that "holiness entered the world with the human
body." It is a gift because he reminds us without fear, without
traces of Manicheism, that God's creation of the human body and
reflection on human relations is much greater than the issues usually
addressed in public addresses.
who hear these teachings will be able to be reconciled with themselves;
they will feel happy and called to a wonderful task in the apprenticeship
of love and relations with others.
However, when public opinion addresses the topic of the body and
the Church, everything seems to be reduced to a list of prohibitions.
This book describes in a wonderful way the wonder of our existence
as global, integral men and women, called to live in mutual communion.
Pope teaches us to know ourselves and guides us on that human path,
at times terrible and difficult, of interpersonal relations in which
frequently good intentions and genuine love are mixed with desires
to dominate, and with concupiscence. Whoever is formed in this teaching
understands himself much better and has a sort of compass to be
guided in a relationship and to heal it through openness to Christ's
can be said that the Pope does not lower the standard of Christian
demands in regard to the corporal, but makes it an occasion for
a profound transformation, with no contempt or fear of the body.
Why is this teaching not understood?
Profound truths -- and these are such -- require listening, time
and dedication. These messages are not for 10-minute consumption.
Many people intuit this. Even nonbelievers greatly rejoice when
seeing this clarity and this hymn of gratitude to the Creator for
the beauty of the person in his totality.
Pope touches many nonbelievers who might find in this book the clarity
of his view of the human being, whom he sees as already saved and
calls to seek salvation.
What is necessary for this message to be lived?
These catecheses should be used in all Catholic teaching -- at least
the Catholic -- of children.
this way one can succeed in reconciling the human being with his
own reality and to make him capable of choosing freely, without
being afraid of his own instincts, but without being a slave to
them. By reading this message, by understanding oneself, and by
being able to give oneself to the other in a full and worthy way,
one is happy.
one of the catecheses, the Pope points out that "happiness
consists in being rooted in love." Love heals shame. With the
redemption, Christ restores and improves original innocence. This
gives an incredible fullness to marriage and to all areas in which
relations between men and women take place in society.
This message resonates in a world that seems to be obsessed by sex.
The Pope teaches that one must not be afraid of legitimate and normal
attraction. It is natural and, in addition, responds to a call to
communion between persons, that is, the body has what he calls "spousal
significance." But at the same time he warns against an attitude
of dominance, of use, which reduces the other to a thing, and strips
him of his dignity as person -- and be careful, because this can
happen even within marriage.
This attitude, and the reaction it causes, does not correspond to the dignity that every person deserves in his body and totality. Therefore, the attraction is good in itself, but it must be purified and must allow itself to be guided by a radical respect, ordering itself to the communion of the persons and sincere self-giving.
At the end, the book concludes with a passage from "Roman
Triptych." Why include the poems published by the Pope last
spring if they are not a part of the cycle of catecheses?
It is to show that the Pope has not abandoned this subject, which
he addressed at the beginning of his pontificate.
a word, it is a message that has spanned the whole of this pontificate
and that we cannot ignore. The Pope himself points out that without
this theology of the body one cannot understand the teachings of
the Church on life and the family that followed the Second Vatican
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Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, pray for us
GRANT US, Father a spirit of wisdom and insight, so that we may know the great hope to which we have been called.
Let peace and harmony reign among all the dwellers on the earth.
To those who exercise the ministry of authority in the service of their brothers, send a spirit of wisdom and humility.
May all those consecrated to you together devote themselves to constant prayer.
Grant us, O God, to fill up in our own flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for his Church.
To our families and benefactors grant the blessing of everlasting life.
Be ever mindful of your mercy, exalt the lowly; fill the hungry with good things.
Both in life and death, let us be yours, O Lord.
the world from its slavery to corruption, to share
in the glorious freedom of the children of God.