Sexual morality unaffected by affiliation

By Lauren Reilly
November 13, 2003

Fornication: a word defined by the Bible in 1 Corinthians 6 as sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Being students at a college affiliated with Catholicism, can it be said that students practice what the church teaches, or is Cabrini a fornication station?

For some students, coming to Cabrini may have been influenced by their religious beliefs and their desire to be in an atmosphere where the moral teachings of the church are maintained. Although students face numerous ethical conflicts, regardless of the institution they attend, one of the more prevalent issues facing young people today is sex.

According to the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a survey conducted in 1997 of freshmen on Catholic college campuses, only 27.5 percent of Catholic students found premarital sex to be ‘all right.’ However, a follow-up survey was administered to the same students, four years later, and found that 48 percent of them now viewed premarital sex as “just dandy.”

The issue of sex reveals a conflict between the institution and the people practicing Catholicism. People make up the church, but they may be living differently than the church teaches, which potentially causes its members to question the merit of the institution’s views.

Part of this uncertainty among those following the church has been in part by the recent sex scandals involving many priests. “Many American Catholics are not just simply confused and conflicted concerning sexual morality, they are suspicious of, and hostile toward, an institution that appears to have lost credibility,” Cabrini’s campus minister Frederick Pratt said.

Another factor that can be attributed to the sexual habits of students is society’s tendencies to promote and exploit human sexuality.

Despite the fact that today’s cultural standards progressively alter, now more than ever, it is evident that morales are shifting, posing problems for those who follow the more traditional teachings of the church.

“Misrepresentation of the church’s teaching or position, in the media, would make the church seem to go against the mind of the society in general or popular opinion in particular. The church is counter-cultural by its nature,” Father Michael Bialecki, resident Chaplain, said.

One consequence of being a Catholic college is that students are unable to get birth control or condoms through health services. Sue Fitzgerald, the college nurse, reports that 30 percent of college students are not sexually active by choice and that most of the students at Cabrini who are, use their own services. Although birth control is not available on campus, Dr. Madeline Danny says that Health Services does provide counseling regarding the side effects of various methods of birth control.

Neither Fitzgerald nor Danny sees any possible change to this in the future. “Not until the church changes its beliefs,” Fitzgerald said.

Are students here at Cabrini influenced by the school’s Catholic affiliation? “Definitely not,” Michaela McGowan, a junior history and psychology major, said. “I don’t think that just because you go to a Catholic college means that you’re Catholic and that you practice abstinence. Protected sex is probably what people pay attention to.”

Sophomore Chris Friel, a religious studies major, agrees with McGowan. “Of course they’re not, but it’s up to personal beliefs. We say we’re Catholic, the school says it’s Catholic, but inside we’re not all Catholic,” Friel said.

Posted to the web by Steph Mangold

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Lauren Reilly

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