Posing Nude: A Symptom of Illness in the Church

Also posted at Catholic Insight and at Catholic Lane

Vatican CityThe nude photograph of Agnieszka Radwanska has caused quite a stir inside and outside of the Catholic Church. Agnieszka is the fourth ranked world tennis champ who posed naked for ESPN Magazine. When the photo went public – and viral – she was dropped from the Polish Catholic youth movement, Krucjata Mlodych (Youth Crusade), where she was a spokesperson. All news accounts claim that she is a devout Catholic.

By posing naked, this poor young woman has denied Catholic teachings of modesty and purity. Not to mention that she has most likely led many people into committing sins against the flesh. Yes, Agnieszka, you are your brother’s keeper.

But lest we start acting like pharisees, let’s take a closer look at this situation. Maybe this young woman really does think she’s a devout Catholic. If that’s the case, then why is there a disconnect between what she professes to believe and her unfortunate display? That in itself is a problem, and within the Church it’s a problem of epidemic proportions. In fact, she is just one of the many symptoms of a grave illness plaguing Holy Mother Church: from priests behaving badly, the use of artificial contraception, abuse of the Liturgy, abuse and neglect of the Sacraments, woeful catechesis and cafeteria Catholics. We are all to blame for this incident. We haven’t been listening to the prophets of our age – the church leaders and holy men and women who repeatedly tried and continue to try to bring us back to the heart of the Church. We let our Church get sick. We didn’t defend Her, cherish Her, revere Her, obey Her.

Those of us who fill the pews each week ought to thank Agnieszka for holding up a mirror and forcing us to take a long, hard look at ourselves. We need to look honestly at our tarnished reflection, identify the illness and then eradicate it.

The Catholic Church is one body. Each of us makes up a different part of that body and we are all part of Her cellular structure. In order to treat the illness, we need to address it at the cellular level. In other words, we need to start with ourselves.

I need to acknowledge my own sin before I can acknowledge anyone else’s. I need to fix my relationship with God before I can expect anyone else to fix theirs. I need to be converted and healed before I can help to convert and heal the Church. So does Agnieszka. So do you.

Let’s start by getting on our knees and praying for ourselves, then for reach other, then for the Bride of Christ.

St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.

Linking this to Catholic Bloggers Network link-up blitz for July

Deo Gratias

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16 Responses to Posing Nude: A Symptom of Illness in the Church

  1. “Yes… you are your brother’s keeper.” Terry, I am constantly saying this to people; that the point of the question is that we are in fact meant to look out for each other and be concerned over them and their well-being. It must be done out of love, and not out of spite, but we must do it nonetheless. Wonderful post, as usual.

  2. quinersdiner says:

    Truly inspirational. Totally relevant to my life and every Catholic’s. Your description that we are all part of the cellular structure of the Church is perfect. Even our private sins are a cancer that eat away at the entire Body. What I really appreciate about your post is that it is an encouragement to do better and to make good judgements based on the timeless morality of the Church.

  3. Especially when young, we don’t always think things through. We don’t realize the ramifications of our actions. Agnieszka has and will pay a great price for her actions. Let’s pray that she learns and grows from the experience, and many others who witness it all do as well.

  4. Very valid commentary. “Application” of our beliefs to “everyday situations” highlight the timelessness of the teachings we embrace and it shows that Catholicism is far from being a fossil… Regarding the sinner bit we wouldn’t need the Church f we weren’t all sinners, wouldn’t we? 😉

  5. reinkat says:

    Hmmmm. I posted a mild disagreeing comment to this post, and it was instantly rejected.

  6. Yes, there definitely is a problem within the Church at the personal level and at the level by which individuals are learning and understanding their faith. We need to pray for them and improve ourselves as well. It also makes me wonder one more thing – if she thought that posing nude was in line with being a devout Catholic, I wonder how much of that comes from what she is allowed to see enter the Church she attends. (You know, churches where women attend Mass all ready half naked.) If in the Catholic Church that she knows, all women went to Mass with Mantilla’s, long skirts, and modest tops, I wonder if she would have done the same? Just a thought. God bless you.

  7. cherrytf says:

    What you wrote is so true. Thus, the need for everyone to be educated on Catholic doctrine — both young and old; the latter to be able to set a true example and for the latter to become true living testaments of the Catholic faith.

  8. lilyboat says:

    A lot of ponder here for me as well. Thank you Terry..

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