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Bishop Victor Galeone: When Spouses Speak the Truth With Their Bodies.

11/9/2003 - 8:00 AM PST

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Bishop Victor Galeone on God's Plan for Marriage

ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida, NOV. 9, 2003 (Zenit) - Here is a pastoral letter in defense of the Church's teaching on contraception, published by Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine. The letter was slightly adapted here.

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Marriage: A Communion of Life and Love

A Pastoral Letter by Bishop Victor Galeone Bishop of Saint Augustine, Florida

My brothers and sisters in the Lord,

1. Some state legislatures are presently considering bills that would redefine marriage as the stable union of any two adults regardless of gender. Such legislation would equate same-sex unions with traditional marriage. Furthermore, divorces continue to escalate to the point where couples may now get a bona fide divorce online for fees ranging from $50 to $300.

These latest developments are mere symptoms of a vastly more serious disorder. Until the taproot of that disorder is cut, I fear that we will continue to reap the fruit of failed marriages and worsening sexual behavior at every level of society.

The disorder? Contraception. The practice is so widespread that it involves 90% of married couples at some point of their marriage, cutting across all denominational lines. Since one of the chief roles of the bishop is to teach, I invite you to revisit what the Church affirms in this area, and more importantly, why.

I. God's plan for marriage

2. The vast majority of people today consider contraception a non-issue. So much so that to label it a disorder sounds like a gross exaggeration. And to revisit it seems analogous to studying a treatise from the Flat Earth Society. But contraception is an issue, an absolutely vital issue. To comprehend why it is wrong, it's first necessary to understand what God originally intended marriage to be. In the opening chapters of Genesis we learn that God himself designed marriage for a twofold purpose: to communicate life and love.

3. There are two accounts of creation in the book of Genesis. The first account occurs in chapter one: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them."1 The next verse contains the very first command given by God: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." We thus see that God's first purpose for marriage is that it be life-giving.

Without the love embrace between husband and wife, human life would cease to exist on this earth. In the second account of creation in Genesis 2, we learn that the other purpose God has for marriage is that it be love-giving: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helpmate as his partner."2 Yes, God meant husband and wife to be intimate friends, supporting each other in mutual and lasting love. Accordingly, marriage exists to communicate both life and love.

4. The two purposes of marriage are so mutually interconnected as to be inseparable. First, recall that Jesus ruled out the possibility of divorce by applying these words to the union of husband and wife: "They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one ever separate."3

In other words, spouses form an organic entity, like head and heart -- not a mechanical one, like lock and key. So the separation of the head or heart from the body -- unlike the removal of a key from its lock -- entails the death of the organism. So too, with divorce. Likewise, it was God who also combined the love-giving and the life-giving aspects of marriage in one and the same act.

Therefore, we can no more separate through contraception what God joined together in the marital act than we can separate through divorce what God joined together in the marriage union itself.4

II. The body language of marital love

5. Before examining what the Church teaches about contraception, I would like to digress for a moment. According to Pope John Paul II, God designed married love to be expressed in a special language -- the body language of the sexual act.5 In fact, sexual communication uses many of the same terms that verbal communication does: intercourse, to know (carnally), to conceive, etc.6 With this in mind, let's pose some questions:

-- Is it normal for a wife to insert ear-plugs, while listening to her husband?

-- Is it normal for a husband to muffle his mouth, while speaking to his wife?

These examples are so abnormal as to appear absurd. Yet if such behavior is abnormal for verbal communication, why do we tolerate a wife using a diaphragm or the Pill, or a husband employing a condom during sexual communication?

6. Worse still, how can one justify a husband having a surgeon clip his robust vocal cords, or a wife ...

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