With seven billion human beings on one planet we need a new ethics guiding us in our way of relating to one another sexually.
Picking up on President Michael D. Higgins’ call for a new Irish ethics, Glenstal monk Mark Patrick Hederman in his latest book, The Opal and the Pearl examines sexuality in the lives and writings of Joyce, Iris Murdoch and Yeats and delivers a searching critique of the Catholic Church’s monosexual stance.
The message of artists has been consistent: ‘we cannot be reduced to any formula. We have to accept the blood-and-guts reality of what we are. We need to be human, fully human and any ethics must provide for us as such.’
In this literary tour-de-force, Hederman critiques Catholic teaching on sex and stresses the need for an ethics of sexual behaviour outside the very specific and particular demands of heterosexual marriage. “Now that we have legislated gay marriage and accepted the fact that sexuality does happen for reasons other than procreation; now that we also recognize that some of the most heinous sexual crimes have been perpetrated within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage; it is surely time to take a more comprehensive approach to the ethics of sexual behaviour.”
Mark Patrick Hederman is a Benedictine monk of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, Ireland. Formerly headmaster of their school, he has lectured in philosophy, theology and literature in Ireland, Nigeria and the USA. A founding editor of the cultural journal The Crane Bag, he is the author of several books, including The Haunted Inkwell, Walkabout and Underground Cathedrals.