Morals

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Who is Catholic in the Catholic Church?

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Published in Folha de Sao Paulo, January 5, 1975

In rooms next to the Church of Piety in Salvador, Capuchin monks rented space to a boutique that sells unisex objects, including bikinis.

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One of the sections of the building opening to the square was rented to a bikini shop in the Church of Piety in Salvador, Bahia
As one can imagine, the initiative caused a scandal among the church-goers. Friar Benjamin Capelli explained that the rent from the shop would guarantee more income for the assistance works of the parish.

Perhaps sensing the inconsistency of this rationale – since the immorality of the means is not justified by the licitness of the end, Friar Bruno Rossi added another argument: “I only regret that some of our brothers, certainly firm and well-grounded in the faith, are so easily scandalized and nurture such childish prejudices. It is interesting and symptomatic that austere traditional brothers like the Capuchins have not perceived the inconvenience of the business. Is it finally time to overturn some false preconceptions?”

These facts were taken from a news report in the Jornal do Brasil of December 5, 1974, exactly one month ago.

To my knowledge, the information is correct. I would be very happy if someone would write to tell me the report was not true. I assure my readers I will let them know should the fact be wrong. I doubt, however, that this will happen. And thus I go forward with my commentary.

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Dominicans nuns in France walk amid semi-nude beach-goers as if nothing were wrong
Some months ago when I published a notice about a convent of religious in Spain who were making bikinis, this caused an understandable shock to readers. And, even though no one dared to deny such an extraordinary report, there were still some who expressed doubts: such a scandal simply could not happen.

Now an analogous case erupts in Salvador – for there is not that much difference between making bikinis and selling them.

However, in the Spanish case – unlike that in Salvador – the majority of people drew the correct conclusions.

One of these is obvious. From its founding to our days, the Church considered nudism with horror. Now, the bikini is one of the most aggressive manifestations of nudism. Yet today we have church establishments making and selling bikinis. From this one must deduce one of the following:
  1. Either Catholic Morals has completely changed, and then the Church is not infallible or divine, or

  2. These Church entities, by affirming the legitimacy of the bikini – either implicitly or ostensively, have adulterated the teaching of the Church and, in doing so, have excluded themselves from the Church.
Now, since the first hypothesis is completely unacceptable, the second imposes itself.

We should not fear facing the truth straightforwardly. This topic – of nudism – raises a question that goes far beyond the case of the two “bikini-ist” convents.

It is absolutely impossible for the use of the bikini and other forms of sexual aggressive clothing to become so common unless there were spiritual directors granting absolution to persons who, given their way of dressing, should not receive it. To those directors, the question must also be asked: If you believe that Church Morals have changed, how can you call yourselves Catholics? And if your permit your penitents to wear the bikini, with what right do you present yourselves as Catholic priests?

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The question extends to many other topics ...
Obviously, the question extends itself further. Regarding the persons of the feminine sex who participate in this nudism, many of them learned in Catechism classes that Catholic Morals do not change. If, however, they think that they changed, how can they admit the infallibility and divinity of the Church?

And if they think that they did not change, how can they call themselves Catholics?

But, someone will object, to wear the bikini is a sin against the 6th or 9th Commandment, depending on the case. A person does not sin against the Faith by violating one of these Commandments. Therefore, your argument is baseless.

Obviously, I do not claim that whoever makes or sells bikinis – or wears them – sins against the Faith. But whoever affirms – implicitly or explicitly – that the Morals of the Church have changed, such person sins against the Faith.

From this comes a question that can be asked not only on this matter, but also regarding how one responds to Communism and diverse other topics: Who is still a Roman apostolic Catholic in this immense magma of 600 million people – Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious and laity – habitually considered members of the one indestructible Church of God?

Posted February 4, 2009


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