NEW YORK, January 26, 2012 ( – Catholics in a sex-saturated society need to “regain the upper ground,” and preach “the ancient wisdom of chastity and purity,” New York Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan told his congregation last Sunday.

In a powerful sermon delivered at St. Patrick’s cathedral, Dolan reflected on the second reading from that Sunday, in which St. Paul tells the Corinthians that the body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” and exhorts Christians to avoid sins of the flesh.

To listen to the complete homily, click here.


The archbishop, who is also the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is widely considered a leader in life and family issues in the Catholic Church in America. He confessed, at the beginning of his homily, however, that even he had to “force” himself to use the second reading as the basis of his homily, rather than the first reading or Gospel, which he said “would have been a lot more comfortable.”

This reaction is a common one in the Church, he added, where many “still seem nervous about preaching chastity and purity.”

Dolan reflected on the reasons for this reluctance, noting that chastity is seen as “oppressive” in our culture, and often “mis-represented as anti-sex.” Those who attempt to live by this virtue are confronted with numerous temptations, and ridiculed as ‘freaks.’”

The ten minute homily laid out a vision of human sexual love in a way that defies these cultural caricatures, beginning with a definition of chastity as “the virtue by which we integrate God’s wisdom about the joy and the beauty the responsibility and the nobility of sexual love.”

“Sexual love is so sacred, so noble, so powerful, so awesome, that it actually reflects God’s passionate, personal love for us,” he said. 

“Human sexual love should have the very same characteristics as Divine love – namely it’s forever, it is faithful, and it is life-giving. Thus the Lord intends that sexual love occur only within the life-long, life-giving, faithful living bond of a man and woman in marriage.”

He added that chastity protects the “awe and wonder” of sex against a culture that “at times has reduced it to animal rutting,” or a “popular contact sport.”

“It is chastity and purity that liberates us, while immorality enslaves us,” he said, adding that sexual love was “about the best image we have here on the earth of the very way God loves us.”

To listen to the complete homily, click here.


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