Married couples should cultivate “a healthy eroticism,” a Brazilian couple told the Pope and bishops gathered in the Vatican Thursday morning.
Arturo and Hermelinda As Zamberline from Brazil spoke about the importance of keeping passion alive within a marriage, offering the synod attendees a witness of married life, a daily addition to the synod structure requested by Pope Francis.
“The sexual act is legitimate, willed and blessed by God,” they said, “and the pleasure we receive from it contributes to the joy of living and a healthy personality.”
Sex “is the expression of love,” the Zamberlines went on. “Couples who make love are expressing with their bodies what they bear in their hearts.”
To reach “harmony,” the couple said, “one needs to cultivate desire and even a healthy eroticism. We must continue to be passionate and attentive to one another.”
The way we live our sexual life “is very important for making our lives more human,” the couple went on. “Sexuality is experienced in relationship with others and with God. It should become a language of love, communion and life.”
Couples need help to achieve this, the Zamberlines suggested.
“It is absolutely necessary to guide couples to the human and Christian perfection of sexual relations. Sexuality is a means to holiness, but it needs to be saved from an unhealthy eroticism that reduces the human being to a single dimension,” they said.
Having been invited to speak about openness to life in marriage, the couple said that in that solemn setting, we must “admit without fear” that many Catholic couples, even those seriously seeking to live their marriages well, “do not feel obliged to only use natural methods.” Then again, “we never hear sermons on the doctrine of Humanae Vitae” [papal letter on birth control from 1968], they added.
“Birth control through natural methods is theoretically good,” the Zamberlines continued. “However, in today’s culture it seems impractical. Couples, especially young people, live a pace of life that does not allow them to practice these methods.”
The worst thing is that when natural family planning is superficially explained and, therefore, misused, it “gains the unfair reputation of being uncertain and ineffective. So, once again we sincerely admit that is not followed by the majority of Catholic couples,” they said.
Most couples “do not consider use of contraceptives as a moral problem,” they went on to say.
“If only married couples could at least receive light and support from the clergy it would be a great encouragement! Often contradictory advice only aggravates the confusion,” they said.
The couple asked for a new “pastoral pedagogy” to help couples adopt and comply with the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
Clear moral guidance “that responds to the demands of today’s world” is urgent, they asserted.