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Alice Von Hildebrand Criticizes Christopher West’s Presentations

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer The renowned Catholic thinker, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, says Christopher West’s presentations of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body are irreverent and insensitive to the “tremendous dangers” of concupiscence. According to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the criticism comes in the wake of an appearance by Christopher West on ABC News that contained various distortions of West’s teachings on the Theology of the Body. One distortion had West appearing to say that both Hugh Hefner and John Paul II were his heroes and another had him calling the Bible the “ultimate sex guide.” Dr. von Hildebrand said she believes Christopher West has been too “self-assured” in his presentations of the late pope’s teachings on human sexuality. “My feeling is that Christopher West has become famous because he started discussing the Theology of the Body, which is an extremely appealing topic,” Dr. von Hildebrand said. “The difficulty is that, in the meantime, he became so famous that I do believe he has become much too self-assured and has lost sight of the extreme sensitivity of the topic.” This is “very troubling” because what she calls the “intimate sphere” is something “very mysterious, very profound, something that has a direct relationship with God." “My feeling is that his vocabulary and his way of approaching it totally lacks reverence," she said. “It seems to me that his presentation, his vocabulary, the vulgarity of things that he uses are things that simply indicate that even though he might have good intentions he has derailed and is doing a lot of harm.” The fight against concupiscence is “not an easy process,” she added. “It is something that calls for holiness, which very few of us achieve. It is a sheer illusion to believe that by some sort of new technique we can find the solution to the problem.” While one can lead a holy life in marriage, to become a saint is “a long and difficult process that calls for a spirit of penance, a readiness to sacrifice,” she said. “The tragedy of original sin is that all the beautiful male qualities of strength, courage, objectivity, nobility, a chivalrous attitude towards women, degenerated. The danger created by original sin is that many men use their strength and become brutal and abuse women or look at women as mere objects of pleasure."   Eve was also profoundly affected by original sin, she added. “To my mind the conflict between man and woman can only be healed by striving for holiness,” she said. “There are many things Christopher West does not mention.” She reported that a priest friend told her 90 percent of the sins that men accuse themselves of involve the Sixth Commandment against adultery. Christopher West’s approach makes him forget that sex is “an extreme danger.” Though sex can be sanctified, that sanctification implies “a humility, a spirit of reverence, and totally avoiding the vulgarity that he uses in his language,” she said. “I’m shocked and horrified by the words that he uses. His mere mention of Hugh Hefner is to my mind an abomination.” © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.




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