Friday, April 16, 2010

Christopher West Taking a Sabbatical

(CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic speaker Christopher West has taken a six-month sabbatical at the Theology of the Body Institute after mutual agreement with the Institute’s board of directors. The popular presenter cited family obligations and the need to reflect on advice he has received about his teaching methods.

The sabbatical from teaching and travel was for “personal and professional renewal,” a press release from the Institute says.

“Christopher is taking this leave to attend to family needs, and to reflect more deeply on fraternal and spiritual guidance he has received in order to continue developing his methodology and praxis as it relates to the promulgation of the Theology of the Body,” the statement continues.

The Theology of the Body Institute said it regrets the interruption to upcoming 2010 events but reported that it will continue its education and outreach programs and offer other faculty members and instructors during West’s sabbatical.

After a controversial ABC interview last year, West became a center of criticism for his interpretation and presentation of Pope John Paul II’s teachings on sexuality, popularly known as the Theology of the Body.

His defenders see him as a speaker capable of reaching today’s youth with Church teaching.

His critics have voiced concern about his discretion in speaking about sensitive topics in ways that might arouse unwholesome curiosity. They said his emphasis on purity of intention in human love risks ignoring the dangers of man's tendency towards sin


  1. I have seen Christopher speak twice and own one of his books. He is a gifted speaker and talented author. We will pray for him and his family. I saw that ABC interview and I am convinced that through mass editing ABC conveyed a distorted message of TOB, Church teaching and of Christopher. But what do ya expect from secular media?

  2. I think that the issue of concupiscence does need to be taken into deeper account.

    There is a 1996 brochure for married couples by the now deceased Fr. Albert Lauer, who founded Presentation Ministries. I agree with his line of thinking and like the fact that he makes clear that the Church has not made any statement about this particular frequent question by married couples. Fr. Lauer explains how lustful behavior can work it's way even into the marital act. I believe it is worth reading and considering the points raised by Fr. Lauer and contrast them to what Christopher West teaches with regard to the same thing. Is West's presentation as complete? I think he has great potential, but this one issue alone has had me step back from recommending his material. I have seen many, very good apologists citing West's works to justify just about anything in foreplay - things I won't mention - as long as the marital act is complete in a way that is open to life. I don't think it should be presented quite that way.

    I think Fr. Lauer's presentation is more wholesome, taking into account our human fallen nature. I hope Chris will read Fr. Lauer's brochure and just ponder it in all it's simplicity. It carries a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur.

  3. Personally, I never liked West's style of presentation...a little too shrill and overdone. God bless him though, for showing humility in being corrected.

  4. There is no one I know that cares more about presenting an accurate message of JPII's TOB than Christopher West as I have attended a few presentations by him and afterward he has sought to get direct feedback on the message. He has made a very respectable decision to reflect, pray and discern how he can best continue to present that message.

    In all this I am reminded of the passage about preaching:
    "The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine.
    Jesus answered him, "I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing..."
    John 18

    Christopher West has made his message more public and thus received reasonable critics. I expect we will find his message more refined and better presented in the future because Christopher is willing and ready to take all valid criticism and make any necessary changes.

    We must be sure to pray for him during this time.