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Passionate UncertaintyInside the American Jesuits$
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Peter McDonough and Eugene Bianchi

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520230552

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520230552.001.0001

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From Innocence to Experience

From Innocence to Experience

(p.64) Chapter Three From Innocence to Experience
Passionate Uncertainty

Peter McDonough

Eugene C. Bianchi

University of California Press

The sexual magisterium of the church is the doctrinal permafrost of Catholicism. This chapter explores the extent and the nature of the transformation in thinking on sexual issues among men associated with the Society of Jesus. In addition to the focus on changes in attitudes toward sexual issues, a central motif is the persistent connection between beliefs about the sexual teaching of the church and attitudes toward ecclesiastical authority. A huge gap has developed between the sexual and moral principles laid down in the official teaching of the church, which has changed scarcely at all since Vatican II, and the pastoral practice of its middle managers, including Jesuits. The starting point for change in attitudes toward sexual-moral controversies is usually innocence rather than outright conservatism—a condition even more pronounced in political and social questions than in sexual matters.

Keywords:   Catholicism, sexual issues, conservatism, Jesuits, innocence

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