By Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Questions about how far an extramarital relationship
can go before it is a violation of the marriage bond make no sense from a moral
point of view, a Vatican official said.
"If one is seriously trying to be faithful to one’s marriage, one does not
ask, ‘How far can I go before I violate my marriage?"" said Father Frank Pavone,
a U.S. official at the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Father Pavone and moral theologians in Rome, in interviews with Catholic News
Service, said the questions raised by the media in the wake of allegations of
sexual misconduct by President Bill Clinton are not at all unclear from a moral
point of view.
Catholic teaching is clear in stating that "any kind of genital activity
outside of marriage is a violation of the marriage covenant," Father Pavone said
Approaching the moral questions involved from the point of view of how far
one can go before violating one’s marriage, he said, is completely backwards.
"It’s like not asking, ‘What can I do to please God?’ but, ‘How much can I do
before I displease God?"" he said.
Some media reports about adultery have cited law dictionary definitions, but
Dominican Father Francesco Compagnoni, a professor at Rome’s Angelicum
University, said, "Adultery can be a juridical term where the meaning could be
very different from its meaning in morality."
The "Catechism of the Catholic Church," says: "Adultery refers to marital
infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party,
have sexual relations—even transient ones—they commit adultery. Christ condemns
even adultery of mere desire. The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid
Franciscan Father Gino Concetti, who writes about moral questions for
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said, "Adultery according to the
Gospel is also of the heart, which means without distinction according to the
type of sexual relations."
Sex, he said, is always more than a genital relationship and "every
provocation which betrays the biblical concept of marital fidelity is a
violation of those values which are part of every human person, that is, natural
law," he said.
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