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Richard Ginder has been a Roman Catholic priest ""in good standing"" for 35 years. He calls himself an ""open-minded conservative"" on dogma but in the area of moral theology he is a sexual liberal. He maintains--to put it mildly indeed--that the teaching of the institutional Church is overdeveloped in the area of personal sexual morality. Because of the Church's preoccupation with chastity--the ""megavirtue,"" to the near exclusion of other more serious matters--war, ecology, violence, governmental integrity, sins against charity--countless Catholics have simply chosen to go their own way, often in bitterness and anguish. (Their testaments, especially since Vatican II, have come to constitute almost a genre in itself.) Father Ginder reviews the historical sources of guilt at bodily pleasure--if it feels good it must be bad--from St. Paul and the early Church Fathers down to the intransigence of Pope Paul VI's Humanae vitae. Along the way credits go to the Scholastics, the Jansenists, the Irish clergy (truly sui generis) and the New England Puritans. But the value of his book lies not in telling us how American Catholics got so repressed--an oft told tale--but in its sexual specifics. He deals with the spectrum of sexual practices from fantasy to fetishism and with the exception of abortion (""plain murder"") his advice, quoting St. Augustine is: ""Love God and do as you please."" Direct, often amusing, and supportive, especially of gay libbers whom he calls the ""shock troops"" on the barricades.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Prentice-Hall