Down Under Journalists Turn Cynical Towards Chaste Catholics
Friend and fellow blogger Dawn Eden, touring Australia for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the country for World Youth Day, reported on her site on Tuesday that she fell prey to the Down Under version of liberal media bias. "A Current Affair," a program on Sky Television that shares the same name and ilk with the Maury Povich program, interviewed Eden, an author and convert to Catholicism, for a segment they labeled "No Sex Pilgrims" (video available here). The Aussie tabloid television reporters who featured her seemed incredulous that anyone in this day and age would live chastely.
"A Current Affair" correspondent Ben McCormack interviewed Eden and Ruth Russell, a 20-year-old native Australian who is a "committed Catholic and a virgin." Near the beginning of the segment, McCormack reminded viewers that "[w]e live in a sex-filled world -- movies, television, advertising, and film clips..." He continued, "...[W]hile many teenagers are doing it younger and more often, Ruth Russell has chosen to just say no." He later described Russell as "an out and proud Catholic, and an out and proud virgin, choosing to save sex until she's married."
McCormack described how Eden and Russell were "kindred spirits" with regard to their chaste lifestyles. While Russell is still a virgin, McCormack detailed how Eden "wasn't always so pure. Just a few years ago, she lived a ‘Sex and the City’ lifestyle as a rock and roll reporter in the States." During his interview, the correspondent flat-out asked the now-former reporter, "How much sex did you used to have?" Eden replied wisely, "There's something the Catholic Church calls ‘giving scandal,’ and even though I've talked in my book about my past, I've been told after being quite forthright in earlier interviews that it's better not to specify things like that."
During the segment, McCormack juxtaposed Russell and Eden with Zaira Bending, a young Aussie "sheila" who used to espouse chastity, but now "admits she's changed her views" and "now has sex and takes the Pill." Just after airing sound bites from Bending, McCormack turned to Russell and asked cynically, "Are you curious about sex? Do you wonder what it's like?" When she answered that it wasn’t something she thought about, he followed-up in disbelief: "You don't think about sex?" She replied, "I don't think about it, you know, [in] a subjective way. No."
The correspondent then turned back to Eden, who walked beside him at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. He tried again to get an "honest" answer out of her:
MCCORMACK (to Eden, on-camera): Tell me, when you come to a beach like this and you see a good-looking bloke, do you --
MCCORMACK: Do you ever have impure thoughts?
EDEN: I --
MCCORMACK: Be honest.
EDEN: I won't tell you the last time I had impure thoughts except that it was very recent.
At another point in McCormack’s interview of Russell, the young Aussie stated that if she never got married, she "will never have sex, because part of chastity, as a single person, is abstinence." The tabloid correspondent replied condescendingly: "That sounds really, really tough. You'll never get to experience sex if you don't get married." Russell confidently responded, "The people that ask me those sort of questions almost say that that's the only thing in life. I see so many other things. But it's a lifestyle that I'm committed to, and I'm happy this way. I'm fulfilled. Why would I change?"
Both before and after McCormack’s report, "A Current Affair" host Tracy Grimshaw incorrectly used the words "chastity" and "celibacy" interchangeably. While a person is a celibate merely by not participating in sexual activity, chastity, as Russell hinted during her interview, actually depends on the person’s marital/vocational status in the Catholic view. If a person is single, being chaste means being abstinent, as Russell clearly stated. If a person is married, chastity means having sex only with one’s spouse. In most cases, chastity for those in the religious life means celibacy.