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Innocent Ecstasy, Updated EditionHow Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure$
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Peter Gardella

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190609405

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190609405.001.0001

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Catholic Sensuality

Catholic Sensuality

(p.7) 1 Catholic Sensuality
Innocent Ecstasy, Updated Edition

Peter Gardella

Oxford University Press

The first American writer to prescribe orgasm was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, who published his sexual advice in a Latin textbook in 1843. Obligations to orgasm had ancient roots in the Roman physician Galen, developed in medieval thinkers like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, and flourished in the work of St. Alphonsus Liguori (d. 1787). Obligations to pursue orgasm, and allowances for acts that helped couples to achieve orgasm, were positive sides of a tradition that forbade contraception and many sexual acts. Catholic tradition developed teachings on physical stimulation, on sexual fantasies, and on pornographic entertainment and dress so that celibate priests could counsel laypeople in the confessional. Although Catholics saw sex as tainted by original sin, Catholic doctrine on personal sin grew more tolerant. During the 1800s, especially in the United States, obligations to orgasm became linked with the aim of fostering love between married partners.

Keywords:   orgasm, Roman Catholic, sexual, moral theology, confessional, sin, love, married, Liguori

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