At the beginning of December, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a sweeping federal lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic hospitals, alleging that the Directives, with their prohibition against direct abortion, resulted in negligent care of a pregnant woman named Tamesha Means. Ms. Means’ water broke at 18 weeks, leading to infection of the amniotic membranes, followed by spontaneous labor and delivery of her child. The child lived only a few hours.
Guilt has gotten a lot of bad press recently. We live in an age where guilt is practically always something bad, something to get past with the help of a shrink. Particularly when discussing sex, people will declare that religion and morality do nothing more than make people feel guilty. Andrew Aaron, a sex and marriage therapist in New Bedford, Massachusetts seems to subscribe to this view: “Through centuries,” he writes, “religious education has associated sex with what is wrong and sinful rather than what is sacred. Instead of an expression of the divine, sex is suspiciously regarded as weakness of the flesh. The result of this influence is that sexuality, a natural part of being human, is tainted with shame, guilt, and ambivalence.”
The Cathedral is home to the archbishop’s chair — the “cathedra” — and it is considered his official church. In 2009, it was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.