In December of 2020, Pope Francis announced a year dedicated to St. Joseph. Along with that announcement he promulgated the apostolic letter, Patris Corde, about St. Joseph.
I’ve had a devotion to St. Joseph for a long time. I’ve prayed novenas to him when I’ve changed jobs, moved, bought a house, discerned grad school, and a lot more. When I quit my job back in March, the first thing I did was start a novena to St. Joseph. So I was really excited when this apostolic letter came out.
Patris Corde is beautiful and inspiring. It let me get to know Joseph from a new perspective while at the same time encouraging me to reflect on my own life and fatherhood. One passage of this letter in particular resounded with me. It’s the section where Pope Francis speaks about Joseph’s chastity. Not only is the pope’s definition of chastity not-about-sex, but it also undermines all kinds of spiritual abuse and manipulation.
That’s what Dominic and I talked about last week on the Pope Francis Generation podcast.
In this episode, Dominic and Paul reflect on how they have previously understood chastity and how so often this virtue has been reduced to just mechanistic sexual morality. Drawing from the teaching of Pope Francis, they discuss how chastity is meant to govern all of our relationships. They explore what it means to chastely love our children, our friends, and our business partners. Dominic and Paul also touch on how religious communities and leaders can love unchastely by manipulating others through fear and shame. Finally, Paul wraps up the conversation by sharing how Pope Francis’s teaching lines up with contemporary psychology.
“[The title most chaste father] is not simply a sign of affection, but the summation of an attitude that is the opposite of possessiveness. Chastity is freedom from possessiveness in every sphere of one’s life. Only when love is chaste, is it truly love. A possessive love ultimately becomes dangerous: it imprisons, constricts and makes for misery. God himself loved humanity with a chaste love; he left us free even to go astray and set ourselves against him. The logic of love is always the logic of freedom, and Joseph knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus” (Patris Corde).
You can watch this episode on Youtube or check it out wherever you listen to podcasts. Paid subscribers to Pope Francis Generation get to watch each episode before everyone else, join private Q&As, and you’ll be able to pitch ideas for the topic of our final show this season!

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Paul Fahey lives in Michigan with his wife and four kids. For the past almost eight years, he has worked as a professional catechist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology and is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He is a retreat leader, catechist formator, writer, and a co-founder of Where Peter Is. His long-term goal is to provide pastoral counseling for Catholics who have been spiritually abused, counseling for Catholic ministers, and counseling education so that ministers are more equipped to help others in their ministry.

Rethinking Chastity? Why it means more than what most think
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