Cardinal Rigali's letter of support for Christopher West

Letter of Support for Christopher West

Signed by Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Rhoades

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, SEPT. 17, 2009 ( Here is the letter that was sent Aug. 10 by Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg, to Christopher West, founder and director of the Theology of the Body Institute.

Support for Christopher West from Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Kevin Rhoades

Cardinal Justin Rigali, as Chairman of the Episcopal Advisory Board for the Theology of the Body Institute and as local ordinary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where the Institute is located, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Christopher West’s local ordinary in the Diocese of Harrisburg, have stated that they are pleased to express strong support for the important work of the Theology of the Body Institute and, in particular, that of Christopher West.

We are convinced that John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a treasure for the Church, indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit for our time. Yet, its scholarly language needs to be “translated” into more accessible categories if the average person is to benefit from it. To do this is the specific mission of the Theology of the Body Institute, and we believe that Christopher West, the Institute’s popular lecturer and spokesman, has been given a particular charism to carry out this mission. With great skill as a presenter, with keen insight as a thinker, and with profound reverence for the mystery of human sexuality, he has been able to reach thousands in our sexually wounded culture with the Gospel of salvation in Christ.

In light of recent discussions, we are happy to state our full confidence in Christopher, who continues to show great responsibility and openness in listening carefully to various observations and reflections on his work and in taking them into account. He and the Theology of the Body Institute are in communication with us, their local ordinaries. They work with our episcopal blessing. In our view their programs, courses, and materials reflect strong fidelity to the teaching of the Church and to the thought of Pope John Paul II. As such, we consider them of superb value for promoting the New Evangelization.

We sincerely hope that Christopher will continue his much needed work in the Church. He does so with our enthusiastic encouragement. It is also or hope that more and more men and women – priests, deacons, religious and laity alike – will avail themselves of the valuable training and resources offered by the Theology of the Body Institute.

August 10, 2009

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Harrisburg

I’m glad that Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Kevin Rhoades have published this letter in defense of Christopher West. :thumbsup: Despite their good intentions, I don’t understand why certain Catholics have engaged in a ganging-up attack on West. West is resolutely defending the one true Church and her moral teachings, and is doing especially valuable work by forthrightly upholding Catholic doctrine on the mortal sin of contraception. In carrying out this apostolate, West employs a dynamic, engaging approach that is able to reach people with the truth.

As for the theology of which Christopher West is a prominent popularizer–Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body”–I don’t believe that the late Pontiff can be canonized, but I have no problem with that theology. That approach is merely a forceful contemporary presentation of the Church’s centuries-old doctrine on the sacrament of Matrimony and the virtue of chastity.

I hope that Christopher West and those Catholics who read his books and attend his lectures will not be discouraged by the recent unjustified criticism directed against him.

Keep and spread the Faith.

I’m so tired of trying to correct this filthy and evil teaching. If God Lived in you in truth, you’d not need any correction. Many many many more priests and bishops have condemned and taught against this inaccurate ‘translation’ of TOB. TOB is nothing new, the spirit and understanding of it has been shared by God-farers since ages old.

What is FACT is that the Catholic Church has always and will always condemn intrinsically evil, unnatural sexual activities as objectively mortal. Mortal sin= you go to hell. Adding the idea that you can con God into approving because ‘at some point, i’ll stop doing the gravely sinful one and do the sole unitive, mutually giving, procreative sex- the only one act within marraige i should be do’ - lie and stupidity. The spirit of God, if truly in you, would teach you by instinct and by reason such thigns are disgusting and vile.

Theology of the Body MUST be translated, not for evil and selfish purposes, but in the context of century upon century of Church Teaching, from Catechism to many papal documents, through many many things the saints have at length written. This has not been done anywhere near here.

The Church says unnatural sexual activities are always wrong. An objectively mortal sin can not be made less sinful just because you eventually do the sole act that isn’t sinful. You only corrupt that one and poison it.
Practice your errors- God have mercy on your soul- but teach them??

He has no approval and no authorisation to present himself as an authority. For trying to con yourselves - your conscience- and God by making out you can practice that which has been condemned for centuries- immoderation, anal sex, oral sex- such warrants hell, but for teaching others your sinful and wicked error-----

God, in Your Justice, Punish, Correct. If You can Save souls here, please convert them to Truth. If not, drive them out of Your Church. Whatever YOu do, God Who Teaches from and Lives in my heart, silence the teachers of evil and error.

What filth. Even animals have better brains in this error. That which does not belong should not be put there. A wife loved honoured and respected isn’t the wife that is on her knees.

Oral/anal sex = unnatural sexual acts. even if ‘uncompleted’ they are still extremely sinful. They are objectively mortal. God correct the false teachers, serving thei own purposes, and for the ignorant and stupid, who follow them and refuse to accept correction and refuse to educate themselves? The Church is better of without them. And yes,

priests and bishops can go wrong. The Church and what it teaches is explicit and has been understood for centuries. TOB in its true nature and context is nothing new. His take on it is extraordinarily stupid, and wicked.
Many many more priests and bishops have condemned this. Much filth comes out of america. We always knew it. Those with God in their Heart know better than these lies.
TOB is nothing like what west has made it out to be and what some have happily made it out to be.
It’s a religion, not an orgy, especially an unnatural one. We conform to God by it, not the other way around. How much further from someone who calls themself Christian should the practices of this world be?
Christians are called to chastity/moderation, of increasingly putting off this world and striving for the next. Sticking parts of you where they do not belong isn’t lvoe or respecting as a temple the one you made solemn vows to honour and love. Supposed to live for God and For the world to come not for this one. And I wasn’t even talking about excess, we’re talkig about acts that are ALWAYS an d COMPLETELY, not just sorta kinda sometimes, ALWAYS OBJECTIVELY MORTAL>

Those who tried to correct you by condemning these evil teachings, were trying to warn your soul from hell.

God Punish and correct you. And if He doesn’t get through to you then, Repent or Perish, then may He Drive you out of His Church.

Theology of the Body was nothing new. It also was nothing like your hero has ‘translated’ it to mean. Nothing whatsoever. Regardless of one or two high ranking mortal men accepting it. The Church, never will. If it ever accepted west’s perverse self serving evil teachings, then Hell Would have prevailed against it.

Wow, C that’s some set of assertions! Could I trouble you to actually cite a bishop who has condemned West by name?

I’m not sure where people get the idea that the fellow “promotes” or “rationalizes” anal sex in marriage. The only direct reference I’ve ever seen was an interview in which he was asked about the subject and he attempted to reason his way through it. His response was that there is no need for rigid lists of allowed versus forbidden play if the couple brings a mindset of mutually giving themselves to one another which culminates in true conjugal union. He even specifically said that he personally couldn’t imagine how anal could avoid being innately denigrating to one party rather than mutually giving (especially considering the hygiene aspects of “completing” things properly at the end!).

My interpretation is that West prefers to persuade people towards what it beautiful, good and holy rather than to condemn and damn to hell that which is ugly and sinful. From the above post, it appears that C has other priorities… :frowning:

As a popularizer, West IS going to at times commit over simplifications and use jaw dropping anecdotes to keep his audience’s attention. (i.e. the Hugh Hefner references) That’s what public speakers DO (ask anybody who’s ever taken a public speaking class). Don’t mistake his presentation sizzle for the steak of the message he’s presenting. He’s just being a good speaker and delivering both to people who mostly would otherwise by utterly uninterested in hearing a talk about catholic sexual moral theology. Cut the guy a break people. He’s working hard to break the deeply ingrained public misconception that Christians are sexually repressed and view sex as little more than a necessary evil required for making babies that shouldn’t be enjoyed if you can otherwise avoid it. Tell me you don’t know people who think Catholicism has that attitude. Heck, reading C’s post above, who can blame them? Whatever his faults, West has tirelessly sought to bring the message to people that GOD invented sex and gave it to married people as a gift that brings both joy and responsibilities. I have to wonder if his vitriolic critics have ever actually even listened to an entire West talk or if they just have excerpts of the “attention grabber” statements and imagine that that’s all there is.

Oops, just realized that C dredged up a 4 year old post, just to comment how tired he is of addressing this. :rolleyes: Zombie thread alert!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit