A Catholic Times article reports on the first Korean international academic meetings on the the "Theology of the Body," the name given to Pope John Paul's reflections and vision of the human person, with particular attention focused on the proper relationship of body and soul. They were delivered in 129 Wednesday audiences, between the years 1979 and 1984, and are of great interest for scholarly discussions of marriage, celibacy and sex--topics which have not always been treated correctly. One of the journalists of the paper expresses her ideas on what she picked up from the academic meeting.
have always been biased views on the subject of the human body. The
Church, a strong advocate for a right understanding of the human body,
has over the years also enabled a distorted thinking of the body, which
has been evident, she reminds us, in the teachings of the past.
body, for example, was denigrated by the way the Church expressed the
three enemies of the soul: the world, the flesh and the devil. Of
course, this can be understood correctly and has been so understood over
the years, but there is also the possibility of pushing the idea to a
point where the body is seen in opposition to the spirit, a dualism
which can distort the teaching. She also mentions that there were
priests who would say that women were the way the devil would tempt us,
and there were times in the past when women were told not to receive
communion during their monthly periods. This is not the teaching in
modern history, but shows how this would engender fear in women.
side of this negative understanding of the body is the worship of the
body, its outer appearance considered our greatest asset, extolling
youth and the beauty of the body, which today is ever present because
of the electronic media. The likely consequences are the disorders of
sex, the increase of divorce, and the destruction of families--all
deriving from a misunderstanding of sex and its gift to humankind.
John Paul II wanted us to get back to the teachings from Genesis on
what marriage is. This requires a change in how we see sex. A change
from seeing the soul in opposition to the body and recovering the
sacramental reality of the body.
academic meeting on the "Theology of the Body" will renew the pastoral
thinking about the subject of marriage and sexuality within the Korean
Church, and will make possible, she says, a new look at marriage and its
meaning. Many of the old ways of viewing marriage will be revisited,
discussed and improved upon, and will no doubt enter the teaching in the
seminary programs of the future.