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Harvard Catholics hold their own Sex Week


Ivy League campus hears about Church teaching on sexuality, but not at the "official" forum

With talks about everything from protection methods to sado-masochism, Harvard Sex Week had it all.

Or did it?

A group of Catholics at Harvard felt that the eighth annual Harvard Sex Week actually didn’t have it all, so they stepped forward to fill in the gaps.

The Catholic Student Association at the Ivy League university held Catholic Sex Week the week after Harvard Sex Week, to offer insight into why the Church teaches the way it does when it comes to human sexuality. For the Catholic Student Association, the event was a first.

“After Harvard Sex Week, we kind of did a few events of our own just to get people talking, to present the Catholic view of sexuality,” Jack Clark, vice president of intellectual development for the Catholic Student Association, told Catholic News Agency.

So, while Harvard Sex Week featured talks the week of Oct. 28 on things like “queer intimacies,” having sex during menstruation, open relationships and polyamory, fetishes and sex toys, the Catholic group brought in speakers like Janet Smith, who has devoted her career to explaining and defending St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, spoke about “Why sex is complicated.” Her keynote provided an overview of the Catholic teaching on sexuality and how it differed from a do-what-you-want attitude, Clark told CNA. “Dr. Smith’s talk was really emphasizing the role of sex and how it can’t be separated from real emotional intimacy, from procreation, from the family, and obviously, from a Catholic perspective, we look at men and women as complimentary,” he said.

Other speakers during Catholic Sex Week, Nov. 6-8, were Fr. Patrick Fiorillo, the undergraduate chaplain, who discussed Humanae Vitae, and a married couple, Steve and Helene Bowler, who offered a personal witness about how they struggled and eventually succeeded in living out the Church’s teaching on contraception. Clark said the family is sympathetic to the difficulty of this teaching, but emphasized the spiritual growth it has produced, CNA said.

Lectures drew between 30-60 people. “I don’t think there is a plan to set this up as an annual thing, but we certainly want to build on the moment that we created,” Clark told the news service. “I think people are talking about Catholic views on sexuality more than they have been… I am excited to see where that energy goes, whether it is reading groups or discussions or more talks.”

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