Two years ago I discovered Kevin Kukla’s claptrap on his website, ProLife365.org. At first, I was just annoyed. Then I realized that Kevin represented an educated, upwardly mobile Catholic Fundamentalist who is intent upon upholding and defending the entire Vatican ideology regarding the sexual issues of our day. Moreover, Kevin imagines himself to be a crusader bent upon bringing to young people the sure and unchanging truths of Catholic sexuality that even most priests are embarrassed to teach.
Kevin is not a lightweight. When I take issue with Kevin, I am taking issue with a Catholic who takes a secret delight in basking in the absolute certainty that is given to those who maintain an ideological conformity with the Vatican in all areas of sexual morality. In Kevin’s understanding, the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket, and only a slim minority of Catholic Fundamentalists like himself has a secure foundation in God’s truth.
Like Kevin Kula, I am a cradle-Catholic. I grew up in Euclid, Ohio, and my parents made certain that I attended a Catholic grade school and Catholic high school. Then I went on to attend a Catholic university and two Catholic graduate schools in theology. I was an altar server for fifty years and gained a robust gratitude for the power of Holy Orders and for the sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I mastered Theistic theology and then went on to master the Neothomism and revisionist theologies that erupted following Vatican II. I trained future Catholic priests and lay ministers in three different seminaries for twenty-five years.
I know and I love the Church, warts and all. However, I also learned that our Holy Mother the Church can be calloused and mean-spirited when it came time to consider issues of sexual conduct. Contrary to the orientation of Kevin Kukla, I am persuaded that the Catholic hierarchy has “almost never gotten it right on issues of sexual ethics.” For me “to serve the Lord,” therefore, I need to expose and challenge Kevin's historical ignorance, his defective biblical interpretations, and his philosophical errors.
Kevin Kukla is inclined to judge me to be a deviant Catholic. I ask too many embarrassing questions and point fearlessly to the harm that the official Catholic teaching on sexuality has inflicted upon me and my generation of Catholics. This is hard to swallow.
This book is not about an academic debate. Rather it represents the opportunity to listen to two committed Catholics passionate about clarifying and improving upon the sexual morality of our Church. More often than not, Kevin and I began by trying to show the weakness and folly in the other's positions. Gradually, however, we eventually decided to leave aside rigid positions in order to explore together how we can best serve young Catholics looking for moral guidance and prophetic joy in the teachings of Jesus Christ. If we cannot speak intelligently and civilly to each other, our young people have much to lose and our Church will remain incapable of listening to and addressing their urgent concerns.
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Peace and joy in learning and in-depth understanding,
Aaron Milavec, BS physics, STB, ThD, theologian, poet, advocate, public speaker