Bishop Jean Laffitte warns against overemphasizing sexual aspects of Theology of Human Love
Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Credit: Knights of Columbus
Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Credit: Knights of Columbus
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Bishop Jean Laffitte is warning against focusing too intently on the sexual aspect of Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body, which he says runs the risk of eliminating the depth and “mystery” involved in human and divine love.

“The problem is, if you focus only on sexuality you can't develop beyond that, and you don't see that this beauty is a gift given by the Creator but in a much wider context,” said Bishop Laffitte, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family.

In an Aug. 3 interview with CNA, Bishop Laffitte weighed in on the current debate on how best to interpret the late pontiff's teachings, saying it is essential to first understand God's design in creating man and woman.

Pope John Paul II's teachings on human love and sexuality – a collection of five years’ worth of his Wednesday audiences from 1979 to 1984 – is widely seen as unprecedented in the history of the Church.

Sexuality and the Body

Bishop Laffitte said that although it's normal to be attracted to “the beauty of sexuality and the beauty of the human body,” he doesn't agree with emphasizing “the sexual phenomenon” without giving the whole perspective of “the mystery of creation, and the mystery of God's calling on human love,” as taught by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Laffitte recalled that when God created Adam and Eve from nothing, he could have used the same method to create every other person in human history. Yet instead, God enabled man and woman through their sexuality to participate in creating human life themselves.

“The Creator wanted the human being to be His own mediator in the action of creation – that's extraordinary,” he noted. “From that moment, in His providential intention, the man and woman He created would be the mediators through which He would continue to give life.”

“That's the mystery of sexuality,” he said, “the expression of divine and human love, which is integrated and interpenetrated.” 

“It's impossible,” then, the bishop added, “to isolate sexuality” from this integration and “to isolate the body from this mystery,” since this would ultimately “isolate the creature from the Creator.”

Bishop Laffitte said that the mystery of sex encompasses “not only the unity of the bodies” but a unity of bodies “which are animated by God and which express a spiritual love.”

“When Pope John Paul II talks about the body we have to understand this,” he said.

The pontifical secretary also said that the term “Theology of the Body” is in fact an English translation of what is originally called “The Catecheses on Human Love.”

Although the English term is “not incorrect,” he said, it doesn't necessarily portray “the entirety of the Catecheses.”

The Theology of the Body “is not a wrong expression, on the condition that we see the intention of John Paul II,” Bishop Laffitte said.

“He was talking about human love and not only the partial focus we could have only on the body and on sexuality – which is ultimately a bodily expression of love.”

“Certainly the body has a theological dimension, but this dimension is given by God's design on human love and what, in the nature of man and woman, belongs to the fulfillment of the design.”

Teaching Sexuality in the Modern World

Although Bishop Laffitte praised the intent behind popularizing John Paul II's teachings on human sexuality, he underscored the “risk” of transmitting a narrowed vision of them. He stressed that in today's world, human love and sexuality have been “disfigured,” and Church teachings on the subject need to be spread as a means of evangelization, accessible to all people.

In response to those who say the philosophical and anthropological topics involved in the late Pope’s teachings are too complex for the average person, Bishop Laffitte said he believes anyone “of good faith can always be sensitive to mystery.”

“Even when a person cannot read and write, when he falls in love with someone he enters into an extraordinary mystery,” the bishop said.

Regardless of a person’s level of intellectual knowledge, he “has the same experience” when he falls in love as even the most educated person.

Bishop Laffitte also cautioned against taking a casual or “vulgar” approach to discussing human sexuality in the context of Church teachings.

“Man and woman have sinned,” he explained, “and in our bodies we bear the consequences of this wound in our nature.”

He said it's ultimately “unrealistic” to think that we can discuss or treat the issue of human sexuality in a casual or indifferent way, or ignoring the reality of sin.

“There is a dignity” and a “respectful expression of love and design” needed, Bishop Laffitte emphasized. 

To read the full interview, please click here.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 21, 2014


All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

Gospel:: Lk 1: 26-38

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27