VATICAN CITY–Alarmed by rising rates of pleasurable, mutually fulfilling acts of physical love among Catholics, the Vatican issued a statement Monday warning against healthy attitudes toward sex.
"The practice of so-called 'healthy sexuality,' with its emphasis on the spiritual and physical nourishment of consenting partners in a relationship built on mutual respect, has no place in the Holy Roman Catholic Church," the 200-page document read. "Those who have derived pleasure from such non-shame-based practices are not living according to God's law."
The Vatican statement cited 183 different "wholly sinful" sexual acts, including the discrete, occasional manipulation of one's own genitals for pleasure; intercourse positions designed to heighten sensations of ecstasy; and intimate, post-coital cuddling and conversation with a loved one outside the bounds of the marital bed.
The statement also listed 244 phrases which are regarded as blasphemous when uttered in a non-procreative context. Among them: "God, your breasts are beautiful," "I feel so complete when you're inside me," and "I love to watch your belly rise and fall after we make love."
Church officials were quick to praise the Vatican's denouncement of "the brutal transgression against God that is the enjoyment of sex for its own sake."
"In recent years, Catholics the world over have been exposed to a multitude of sexual practices that, if not resisted, could enrich their lives and deepen their enjoyment of their partners," said Cardinal Joaquin Navarro Valls, speaking on behalf of the pope. "As Catholics, we must remain vigilant, doing everything in our powers to resist such urges. Only the Lord's divine redemption can transform sex into a force for goodness by limiting it to the joyless context of married couples who wish to procreate."
"The position of the Church is absolute: If two people who are not a married couple endeavoring to have children engage in tension-relieving, life-affirming sex, they are committing a grave sin," Archbishop Edward Egan of New York said. "There is nothing holy about people feeling good about their bodies and themselves."
Catholics are taking the condemnation of modern sexual mores to heart.
"In the seven years we've been married, my wife and I have probably had sex about 1,500 times," said Lowell, MA, resident Bill Metz, 36. "We're extremely attracted to each other, and satisfying each other physically is something we've always enjoyed. Until now, that is. I finally see that what we thought was a fun way to celebrate our love was really an expression of hostility and disrespect toward Jesus."
Metz added that he and his wife plan to have at least 15 children as penance for their physical indulgences.
"This is a major step forward for the church," said Father Thomas Mallory, Deacon of Boston's Our Lady Queen of Peace. "We've seen too much healthy sexuality among Catholics in recent years, which inevitably led to an unholy sense of well-being and contentment. Hopefully, this papal condemnation will put a stop to that."