John Paul II Resource Center Celebration
When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28
Where: Xavier Performing Arts Center, 4710 N. Fifth St.
Cost: $15 each
Info: (602) 354-2179
Christopher West, a world-renowned speaker and expert on the Theology of the Body will be the keynote speaker for the Annual John Paul II Resource Center Celebration.
The gala is the only fundraiser for the center, which was recently recognized at the Theology of the Body Congress for international leadership in promoting and spreading St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Katrina J. Zeno, the Center’s coordinator, said that 90 percent of funding comes from private donations.
The funds allow Zeno to travel throughout the diocese to give workshops to parishes, parents, clergy and Catholic schools as well as to develop new programs and form catechists and presenters. Zeno said people from outside the diocese periodically reach out to her thus allowing the Resource Center to have a global impact.
Christopher West, founder and president of the Cor Project, which seeks to “equip men and women to learn, live and share the beauty of the divine plan for human life, love and sexuality in a new evangelization,” spoke with The Catholic Sun ahead of the gala.
The Catholic Sun: What exactly is the Theology of the Body?
Christopher West: Theology of the Body is a collection of 129 Wednesday audiences that John Paul II delivered as the first major teaching project of his pontificate between 1979 and 1984. It’s a reflection on the meaning of human embodiment, particularly as it concerns our creation as male and female.
Sun: There’s this notion out there that everything having to do with the flesh is evil.
CW: It’s an age-old heresy called Manichaeism. … Manichaeism applies an anti-value to the Body, but Christianity applies the supreme value to the Body. The Body has been divinized by Christ. This is the message of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and bodily ascension.
Every time we say the Creed, we profess belief in the resurrection of the Body. The crucified and resurrected Body of Christ is at the source and summit of everything we believe. St. Paul says if the resurrection of the Body is a lie, then our faith is empty. There’s a term for the separation of Body and soul — you may have heard of it: It’s called death. When our churches are full of people trying to live a spiritual life separated from their bodies, our churches are full of dead people, and the goal of Christianity is to raise dead people to life again — that’s the resurrection of the Body.
Sun: When we talk about the Theology of the Body, we can’t address it without talking about the Church’s teaching on artificial contraceptives.
CW: If you trace back the original gender confusion in our world, you will inevitably arrive at the embrace of contraception. … As soon as you remove fertility from the sexual equation, the goal of sex is no longer building a family [but]pleasure. When the goal of sex is pleasure, human beings become objects for our pleasure and then human beings become disposable when they no longer give us the pleasure we wanted. This is the beginning of the breakdown. Gender confusion begins when we render our genitals unable to generate. Sex becomes utterly disoriented. The Catholic Church’s teaching here will be vindicated, and it will shine as a bright light.
I urge you, please revisit the Church’s teaching here. It’s not some oppressive rule to follow. It’s an invitation to embrace the full, beautiful, wonderful truth of what it means to be human and what it means to love in the image of God.
Sun: What could readers expect to hear from you on the 28th?
CW: They’re going to hear how Pope Francis puts an exclamation point on the gift of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. When I read Francis’ document “The Joy the Gospel,” I was so moved by the passion of this man to bring the Gospel to the modern world. He says we have to be courageous in finding new language, new avenues, new ways of proclaiming the same Gospel which is the same yesterday, today and forever. So, this is the basic message of Pope Francis — new ways of proclaiming the same Gospel.