Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Traditional Moral Theologians on the Immorality of Certain Dances

[49] Modern Theologians on the Question.

It was not our intention to quote modern theologians on the question, because, as we stated when we described the sinful pose, we did not think we could find any. All Catholic theologians, as a rule, base their arguments on old dances which did not admit close bodily contact between the sexes. If these dances were performed modestly and without impure intentions, they were considered by those theologians to be lawful, but yet dangerous. This doctrine, however, has no bearing on the Waltz and other modern dances. Such a doctrine is calculated to mislead people. It is absurd to cite such a doctrine in defense of the modern ball, which excludes modesty entirely. It is wrong to say that modern dances are in themselves indifferent actions intended for joy and that they are not forbidden by any law. The present question is not of dancing in the abstract. Modern dancing does not exist in the abstract. It exists like most things in a certain way, and is a true, actual, concrete thing—a substance with ugly accidents, modes or manners, a social institution, [50] well determined in form, with specific rules, demanding physical proximity and close contact between the sexes, and always inclining by further regulations to multiply opportunities for something more daring.

Modern theologians ought to base their opinions on the pose of modern dances and give their verdict before God on His holy law, otherwise their authority as theologians would be ignis fatuus, simply nil.

Good Christians will never call the Waltz, the Polka, the Mazourka, the Redowa, the Dip, the Glide, the Saratoga, the German, etc., etc., "dangerous," but in regard to the pose assumed in these dances they claim it to be sinful and as such never to be tolerated. They have a right for such opinion, and to be adherent to the realistic camp on this question.

Devout Christians hold round dancing to be immodest in general as well as in particular cases. We do not admit the possibility of round dancing at a distance. This could not be waltzing according to the exigencies and rules of waltzing, etc. In waltzing, bodily contact cannot be avoided. It would be presumption to assume the position of the Waltz and claim modesty and innocence. Men and women are not justified in exposing themselves to lust or to allure partners or onlookers to it. We think this doctrine is according to the teaching of Christ and His Church and her saintly Fathers.

[51] Though it was not our intention, as we have said, to quote modern theologians, we cannot refrain from quoting Bouvier [N.B. 18th century bishop and moral theologian], Gury [N.B. 19th c. Jesuit theologian, leading casuist in the tradition of St. Alphonsus Liguori and ardent opponent of Jansenism], Sabetti [N.B. 19th c. Jesuit theologian, whose moral theology manual was described as "the most influential and long-lasting of the nineteenth-century moral manuals written in the United States. In addition to its use by the Jesuits, ten of thirty-two seminaries training diocesan priests in the mid-1930s still used Sabetti's textbook" (Keenan, A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century, 2010, 10)], and Genicot [N.B. 19th c. Jesuit moral theologian, whose work is praised in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)], all theologians of recognized ability in the Roman Catholic Church. They all teach that round dancing should not be permitted. The weight of their authority may carry conviction to some who have charge of souls, especially Roman Catholic clergymen.

Bouvier says: "Interesse choeris graviter inhonestis ratione nuditatum, modi saltandi, verborum, cantuum, gestuum est peccatum mortale: hinc saltatio germanica, vulgo dicta 'Walse,' numquam permitti potest."

The translation: "To be present at balls seriously indecent by immodest dress, manner of dancing, words, songs, jests is a mortal sin: hence the German dance, vulgarly called Waltz, can never be permitted." (J. B. Bouvier, Edit. 3 Mechclin iuxta 7 Ed. Cenomanensem. Cap. iv. art. iii. § iii., I page, 91.)

Gury, speaking of modern dances, says: "Chorae inhonestae ratione nuditatum, modi saltandi, verborum, gestuum, cantuum, sunt semper graviter illicitae ut patet. Inter illas autem a pluribus recensentur saltationes recentiores quae gallice dicuntur: la Walse, la Polka, le Galop, et aliae istis similes."

The translation: "It is evident that indecent balls by reason of immodest dress or of the manner of dancing, words, jests, songs are always grievously illicit. [52] Amongst such dances according to many theologians must be numbered the modern dances called in French, la Walse, la Polka, le Galop and others of the same kind" (Gury I., No. 242. II. Ratisbona Edit. 4, 1868.)

Sabetti (1902), a well-known and a great theologian, states that some theologians called round dancing "very unlawful." Genicot's Moral Theology, published in 1898, mentions various theologians, who most severely condemned dances which admit close bodily contact between man and woman; and he says it is impossible to avoid a grievous sin of lust while engaged in such dances. He corroborates the statement by the experience and evidence given by penitents.


Source: Immorality of Modern Dances, ed. by Beryl and Associates (New York, NY: Everitt and Francis Co. and S.F. McLean and Co, 1904), 49–52.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments ad hominem or deemed offensive by the moderator will be subject to immediate deletion.