Review by Elizabeth Price

AMRUTHA. What the Pope's man found out about the Law of Nature,
by John Wijngaards



Elizabeth Price, correspondent for CATHOLICS FOR A CHANGING CHURCH.

Elizabeth trained as a nurse and studied theology. In 1961 she married Vivian Price QC. One of her best known writings is: Seeing Sin Where None Is.

This book is the story of a Vatican-based priest, Mgr. Shamus McKenna, who has serious doubts about the official teaching in the Catholic Church on the nature of women.  A theory he longs to explore. Commissioned by the then Ghanaian Pope  to study the Nature of Women, to possibly correct flawed previous theology, he sets off to India where he seeks the advice of an Indian nun, Sr. Sumanthi, whose writings have brought her near to excommunication.  She appoints as his guru the heroine of the story,  Amrutha  Gurulingam, a brilliant scientist who has achieved academic status despite a conservative Hindu background.

The author’s knowledge of India gives his readers insights into Hinduism at its best, but he also brings in its worst side in the personal behaviour of its fundamentalist adherents – aggression towards those who disagree with their views, and in their repression of women whom they wish to confine to “home and motherhood”.  Another female character in the book is a Muslim whose personal story is again used to bring out similar treatment of women by fundamentalists of that Faith.  Her following of  Sappho is sympathetically treated as a valid way of loving for those of homosexual inclinations – in spite of the Vatican declaring it contrary to Natural Law. Which brings us to the climax of the story.

For Mgr McKenna has been told to strictly adhere to Natural Law, the law which, the Vatican teaches, excludes the use of contraceptives, forbids all homosexual acts and keeps women in their place. Confronted with the situation of polygamy in a nudist environment, McKenna concludes this is correct according to the Vatican interpretation of Natural Law  .  .  .

McKenna's most telling discovery is that in the act of love man and woman share identical emotions and are totally equal halves therein – fellows of the human race, part animal and part spirit. As Christ revealed in Scripture, quoting Genesis “The two shall be one flesh, therefore are they no longer two but one flesh”.   A basis of doctrine for the theology of marriage still ignored by the Roman Catholic Magisterium.

One is aware throughout the book of a shadowy narrator, whose tragic history is woven into prejudice   and emotional pain, but whose final career choice brings the book to a very happy conclusion! Does this reflect the story of the author himself, one-time Vicar General and well known theologian who resigned from the priestly ministry in protest at the Papacy’s refusal to ordain women?  

John Wijngaards has written spiritual works, but also novels, among them 'For the sake of his People'. His script Journey to the Centre of Love  was made into a film and won the Catholic Grand Prix award in Warsaw. He also runs a prestigious website Readers should visit this, as they will find huge truth in quotations there in the adage that “fact is far stranger than fiction”.  One can see why this theologian with his deep respect for women, wants to dash to the ground the poisoned chalice of misunderstanding prevailing in the Roman Catholic faith which denies them equality with men.

Elizabeth Price

AMRUTHA. novel by John Wijngaards
how to escape outdated Christian sexual morality
The Christian Enjoyment of Sex Frequently Asked Questions
Fantasies Nakedness Contraceptives Guilt Homosexuality Masturbation
Is love simply sex? When is sex sinful? Periods
New Focus in Catholic Sexual Morality - academic sources Origin
of negative attitudes to sex

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

This website is maintained by the John Wijngaards Catholic Research Centre.

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Natural Law and Conscience Synod on the Family 2015