Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The priests must not surrender to this reaction, and on the contrary must remember that they -- and only they -- have the correct medicine for the wound we are discussing.

In the problem of contraception, we enter into a subject that exposes a deep intra-personal wound on the part of the woman affected: one that touches her core in a deeply personal way.  What does this mean for our faithful priests? 

The head of the Baptizer

The head of the Baptizer


By Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD

Catholic Online (

9/1/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: contraception, culture of death, sexuality, sin, sexual sin, priests, Herodias, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, MD

EDMOND, OKLAHOMA (Catholic Online) - Having spoken to many women about contraception in my professional practice, I know well the personal and professional cost one must be prepared to pay -- the "grudge" -- when one is willing to "trespass" this beehive of feminine shame and anger in the clinical setting.  One fully expects to get stung!

For, in the problem of contraception, we enter into a subject that exposes a deep intra-personal wound on the part of the woman affected: one that touches her core in a deeply personal way. 

Often she will almost rather suffer any other "negative" (including health complications), and take almost any risk,  than expose this wound, and it underlines the importance of a true conversion experience, so that the wound can be healed definitively and the disabling "secret" safely sealed away, once and for all.  This latter need, in turn (and unfortunately), exposes the neglect of priestly concern on the part of too many Catholic pastors (and a heroism of true pastoral charity on the part of a few others -- once again too few).

The Herodias story is familiar. I heard it once again at Mass. But I would like to highlight some of its more hidden features.

Herodias had been deeply shamed by her adultery with King Herod. Their carnal relations were marked by that dishonest type of deep "knowing" (cf. Gen.  4) that alone provokes deep shame, and a correspondingly deep anger when the dishonesty is exposed.

It is the woman most of all who feels this strong internal reaction, even when the man seems completely oblivious, as does Herod here. Note she was seeking "an opportunity", but for what? The opportunity had presented itself to have the apparent source of her shame eliminated and silenced once and for all. To have John the Baptizer beheaded presented just such a golden opportunity, one she had been on the lookout for. The hungry eye sees far!

That this kind of carnal shame is intuitive for women (and is the kind they experience with contraception too) also is made obvious by the fact that the daughter, no doubt tuned in to the mother's wrath, plays such a key role and is so cooperative. Even she intuits the mother's secret wound and comes to "help" her - in short, to help her not just to keep her shame secret, but to destroy its source altogether, in an attempt to forever silence it! And by using her daughter as an accomplice, Herodias could keep her shame all the more hidden since it could now portray the Baptizer as a threat to their family unit, and not just to her own emotional state.

The immediacy and haste of Herodias' daughter tell the hidden story too; there is surely urgency here: "And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

Notice too the element of Herodias punishing her husband the king, for she surely knew Herod would be very upset to be placed in this situation. Thus the "talking head" would not only be silenced, but would also be presented as gift to Herodias' daughter in the King's presence as a fitting outward sign by Herodias to her husband of hidden inward indignity: "See how this man can no longer expose me? See how you too must endure my provoked wrath? So you enjoyed talking to this fool the Baptizer? And at my expense? And not noticing my suffering? Now enjoy seeing his head on a platter!"

Like Lady Macbeth, she perhaps found that, unable to detach herself from her shame, she could at least detach its revealer from his own head, and force her husband to see it.

Similarly, why would the king agree to such a disproportionate and unreasonable request? Because of an oath alone? Only because he didn't want to break his word?  It is more likely that Herod was all too fully aware (as men often are dimly yet strongly) of the wrath welling up in his wife.

And he acquiesced!

What does this mean for our faithful priests?  For if it is true that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (and it is), then it is certain that these priests experience this type of hidden wrath all the time, when trying to help their couples reconcile with the teaching of the Church on birth regulation.

We frequently hear that women in the congregation may politely listen to such homilies, saying nothing or perhaps limiting themselves to an icy stare, but just let a program be organized for adult formation and pastoral outreach in the parish, and they will often explode!

The priests must not surrender to this reaction, and on the contrary must remember that they -- and only they -- have the correct medicine for the wound we are discussing. This type of shame can only be cast out by a sacramental grace that effects true reconciliation, and therefore excises the shame completely, rather than burying it.

We must encourage our priests to engage themselves in this kind of pastoral work up to their eyeballs! Without it, there isn't much hope for the future. With it, we will once again have robust Catholic faith communities one day.

Dominic M. Pedulla MD, FACC, CNFPMC, ABVM, ACPh, a devout Catholic, lives in  Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife Bernadette and their beautiful nine children.  He is the executive director of the Edith Stein Foundation. Dr. Pedulla is an Interventional Cardiologist, Endovascular Diplomate, Varicose Vein Specialist, Noncontraceptive Family Planning Consultant, Family Planning Researcher and the Medical Director of  The Oklahoma Vein and Endovascular Center.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Marriage & Family

Couple heartbroken after doctor performs abortion without mother's consent Watch

Image of Dr. Rifaat Salem is being sued for malpractice after implanting the wrong embryo into a woman, then aborting it without the mother's consent (KTLA).


When David and Melissa Pineda had trouble conceiving, they turned to Dr. Rifaat Salem for fertility treatment. Following the implantation of embryos, Melissa was called in for a check up. What she wasn't told was that she had been implanted with a stranger's embryos ... continue reading

5 unbelievable times children taught us to be better human beings Watch

Image of People aren't born cold-hearted. They learn how to respond to situations from their friends, family and society as a whole.


Children are bundles of energy and their perspective are so new and original we can't help but be surprised by what comes out of their mouths -but what about their actions? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are thousands of children around the world who offer ... continue reading

'Bring Back the Holidays' campaign promotes family values Watch

Image of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods came together to launch a Bring Back the Holidays campaign.


T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods have joined forces to launch a "Bring Back the Holidays" campaign to support family time around the holidays. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Each year companies compete to provide the best Black Friday "door-buster" sales earlier ... continue reading

7-year-old shows compassion to hate-crime victims in touching act of kindness Watch

Image of Seven-year-old Jack Swanson donated his piggy bank to the Islamic Center of Pflugerville in Texas following hate crime (KXAN).


Following a hate crime at a Texas mosque that involved smeared feces and torn pages from the Koran, seven-year-old Jack Swanson decided to donate his life savings of $20 to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The hate crime included torn pages from the Koran and ... continue reading

The shocking thing a New Jersey mall is doing this year with Santa Watch

Image of Cherryhill Village Mall has gone from offering children free sits on Santa's lap to charging $35-50 for photo and video packages, with no 'free' option.


Cherryhill Village Mall, located in southern New Jersey, has decided to offer photo and video packages for families who bring their children to see Santa. The catch? Families must pay an entrance fee of $35-50, with no free option for those with children who don't want ... continue reading

Mother's heart breaks when 3-year-old ginger son asks 'Why don't people like my horrible hair Mummy?' Watch

Image of Noah Gilbert, 3, was bullied on a public bus for having red hair (Mercury Press).


Southampton mother, Lauren Russel, witnessed her 3-year-old son being bullied by teenagers over the color of his hair. Furious and heart-broken, Russel took to Facebook to write an emotional message asking users to spread awareness of bullying and to show her son that ... continue reading

Blind 7-year-old banned from using walking cane at school Watch

Image of Seven-year-old Lily-Grace Hooper was told she could not use her walking cane at school, despite being blind (David Hedges).


A Brussels primary school banned a blind seven-year-old girl from using her walking cane at school in a shocking move after claiming she could trip other students or teachers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lily-Grace Hooper had a stroke when she was only ... continue reading

Toddler burned to death in oven: Shocking story of severe neglect Watch

Image of J'zyra Thompson was found burned to death near the oven in her home, where she was left unsupervised with three siblings ages three to five (Facebook).


In a heart-breaking and gross display of child endangerment, 19-month-old J'zyra Thompson was found burned to death near the stove in her home Tuesday morning.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Thompson was left alone with three siblings aged three to ... continue reading

UPDATE: Two policemen shoot and kill Autistic boy strapped in carseat Watch

Image of Jeremy Mardis, 6, was shot and killed by two officers who did not know the boy was strapped in the front seat of his father's vehicle (Facebook).


An eyewitness has come forward to describe the encounter between Christopher Few and the murder of his 6-year-old son, Jeremy Mardis, at the hands of Marksville officers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mark Jeansonne, Few's attorney, viewed bodycam footage from ... continue reading

DON'T MISS OUT! This week's most popular YouTube videos

Image of


Have you seen the Catholic Online YouTube channel yet? Every day thousands of people stop by our channel for a wonderfully peaceful and prayerful experience. Don't forget to subscribe to our channel so you don't miss out on over 100 beautiful Catholic videos, with new ... continue reading

All Marriage & Family News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • 'Domestic terrorism': 5 People shot during Black Lives Matter protest ...
  • St. Catherine of Alexandria: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, November ...
  • 5 unbelievable times children taught us to be better human beings
  • Couple heartbroken after doctor performs abortion without mother's ...
  • Advent Wreath Prayer HD
  • Prayer For Courage HD
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Daniel 2:31-45
31 'You have had a vision, Your Majesty; this is what you saw: a statue, ... Read More

Psalm, Daniel 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61
57 Bless the Lord, all the Lord's creation: praise and glorify him for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:5-11
5 When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various ... Read More