Fishwrap getting Condom Conundrum wrong, but with a surprise!

When it comes to the Condom Conundrum the National Catholic Fishwrap‘s commentators are living down to our expectations.

To wit one Phyllis Zagano who is “senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of several books in Catholic Studies. Her book Women & Catholicism will be published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2011.”

Phyllis, in the manner of one who hits something while driving and then wonders what the thud was as she heads into a ditch, misses the point of what the Pope said even as she mentions it.

But there is a very interesting bit which surprised me.

It’s not just about male prostitutes [No, Phyllis.  It isn't.]
by Phyllis Zagano on Nov. 24, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI, a brilliant theologian, is becoming a public relations train wreck. The latest story: male prostitutes can use condoms to prevent transmission of AIDS. [That is not what the Pope said.  What did the Pope actually say?  When a male prostitute chooses to use a condom, that is a first step toward something more fully human.]

Say, what?

Male prostitutes don’t immediately come to mind when I am considering AIDS. In fact, male prostitutes don’t come to my mind at all. [Hey, Phyllis!  AIDS is being spread by male prostitutes.  This is a serious thing.  I wonder at her irresponsible comment.  Has she been duped by those who want to separate AIDS from homosexuality?] What was he thinking? It certainly took me a while to figure it out. [Don't stop thinking about it yet.]

Of course, the media dust-up and subsequent blogitis has lots of folks laughing (again) at the Catholic Church. [Although the conservative Catholic blogs (the great majority) seem to be understanding the arguments.] Now the Catholic idea seems to be: don’t get AIDS when you hire a male prostitute. [Watch this...] But who hires male prostitutes? Recall, please, there’s been a bit of a homosexual scandal involving Catholic priests over the past few years. [She managed to situate the "clerical sexual abuse of minors scandal" in the right category of dysfunction. A writer for the Fishwrap has made the clerical abuse crisis a matter of homosexuality.]

As if things weren’t bad enough, once the pope-condom-male prostitute story began flooding newsrooms, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi personally asked the pope if he meant anything specific about choosing male (as opposed to female?) prostitutes.

According to BBC-News, the answer was “no.” Lombardi continues, [Wait for it....] “The problem is this…It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

Nice, but not exactly a sound bite. [But it was the point.] How about: “it is immoral to infect another person with a disease.” I mean, that has a certain ring to it not lost in the clouds. Wouldn’t the church look a little better saying “Pope aims to curb AIDS,” rather than have “pope” and “male prostitute” in the same headline[And now that she is off on the wrong track, nothing goes right with the rest of her piece.]

[...]

That, folks, is another example of how people who should know better are getting this wrong.

It may be that Ms. Zagano is so fixed on one idea that she can’t interpret this story in any other way.

 

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16 Responses to Fishwrap getting Condom Conundrum wrong, but with a surprise!

  1. Thomas S says:

    At this point, I’m not buying the “confusing” angle anymore. Any “Catholic” commentator who is still getting this wrong is doing so in a malicious attempt to hijack Pope Benedict just like they hijacked Pope John 40 years ago.

    That being said, the only way to stop the lies in the newspaper and on TV is for the Holy Father himself to publically clarify his statement. For once he needs to live up to his misapplied “God’s Rottweiller” reputation and leave nuance and subtlety to the side.

    Already priests are saying they will now tell their flocks in Africa the Pope approves of condom use. Bringing the topic up for discussion and explanation is one thing. It’s the Church’s job to explain Her teachings. But leaving the press unchecked in their wilfull distortions is not an option when real Catholics are already being misled down a path of mortal sin.

  2. Jack Hughes says:

    Whilst as an Englishman I abhor Coffee and love tea (you americans clearly lost any class at Boston) I have ordered a christmas set for my friends in America who by the way are also enemies of the Fishwrap (Father say the TLM five days a week).

    If I ever get to be a mystic monk I shall suggest the NCR as a useful fishwrap; that way we’ll know who to pray for.

  3. Thomas S. wrote:

    Already priests are saying they will now tell their flocks in Africa the Pope approves of condom use. Bringing the topic up for discussion and explanation is one thing. It’s the Church’s job to explain Her teachings. But leaving the press unchecked in their wilfull distortions is not an option when real Catholics are already being misled down a path of mortal sin.

    My suspicion is that priests and religious who use this to justify the use of condoms (or other contraceptives) were already doing so. Bringing this topic up is the Pope’s carrying out of the Church’s job to explain her teachings – possibly even a direct response to these same priests & religious and the failure of their superiors to correct them. While the Pope can’t control everyone with teaching responsibilities, he can direct the conversations they have.

    Its worth pointing out in general that the Church (or the Pope) has never had the ability to check the press – either in the sense of correcting its statements or preventing from making statements. She has, however, always had the power to use the press to make a statement of faith. Its interesting to me that this way of using the press – of bringing up a controversial issue to provoke discussion – hasn’t been [often? ever?] used before. It almost forces people to revisit the whole thing, even the most hardened of hearts. Who knows how many of them will be changed as a result?

  4. Thomas S says:

    Fr. Mauer,

    I agree with what you say about the priests using this for justification already acting against the Church’s teachings prior to this. However, it can’t be ignored that this has also led to genuine confusion among some faithful Catholics. Most Catholic’s don’t follow wdtprs.com or like blogs; they’re not equipped to sort this all out. Some elderly Catholics get no information other than the TV news and a liberal newspaper. They have no help in understanding what the Holy Father actually said. The Pope addressing the controversy in an unambiguous way is the only hope of the press reporting this even close to accurately. They can, and already have, minimized the voices of orthodoxy who are trying to explain the Pope’s words, relegating them to the last paragraph (if even that) in their articles. The only one they really can’t ignore is Pope Benedict himself. The Church can’t conrol the secualr press, but the Holy Father can force their hand on this. If he personally addresses the issue again in a very public manner, they can’t ignore it. The story is too hot right now for them to simply drop it if the Pope advances the ball.

  5. Thomas S says:

    Ooops! Forgive the dropped “r” from your name, Fr. Maurer.

  6. No worries – that’s a common mistake! I often wish I could make a familial claim to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins!

    I wonder what Pope Benedict had planned for when the book officially came out – early release or no, he must have been aware that this would have been highlighted, misquoted and misused. With that in mind, it seems reasonable to think that his current silence is purposeful and/or part of a measured response to this (anticipated) reaction by the world.

  7. Hidden One says:

    @Thomas S

    “Any ‘Catholic’ commentator who is still getting this wrong is doing so in a malicious attempt to hijack Pope Benedict just like they hijacked Pope John 40 years ago.”

    I know of Catholic commentators getting it wrong who most definitely aren’t doing it out of malice.

  8. rakesvines says:

    “Quidquid recipitur per modum recipientis recipitur.” People will get what the Pope wrote depending on their frame of mind. We Conservatives understand the Conservative Pope more than the Liberals who use their pink colored lens to filter another meaning to what the Pope said.

  9. Scott W. says:

    But who hires male prostitutes? Recall, please, there’s been a bit of a homosexual scandal involving Catholic priests over the past few years.

    Good eye Fr. Z! Another stellar example of when progressives are on a tear about something, they let slip truths about something else they are not supposed to.

  10. Dear Rakesvines,

    Your usage illustrates the difficulty in transposing our political categories and employing them in our discussion of the Church.

    He is not a “conservative” theologian in any sense other than that of, “orthodox” – and there are plenty of professional theologians who are willing to give ideas a trial canter, and abandon them if they find they are not compatible with the mind of the Church.

    Benedict thinks with the Church as deeply as any man in the last millenium – and this is precisely what makes it possible for him to take intellectual risks. Indeed, the man who became Benedict XVI has been pushing the theological envelope for the better part of a century.

    Thing of it is, though, the Pope this time merely gave a practical illustration of a basic and long-settled principle of moral science (on which the noble and once rightly esteemed science of casuistry rests): it is one thing to ascertain the moral quality of an act, and quite another to gauge the spiritual state of a moral agent. The Pope is speaking entirely to the latter (as is abundantantly clear in the very next para – clear, at least, to anyone who can get the ice cream cone from the paw to the maw without detouring to the forehead).

  11. rakesvines says:

    @Chris. I understand how the Pope was referring to the spiritual state of the caring whore and not the legitimacy of using a condom in exceptional cases. My point is Fishwrap with its warped Catholic sense would see the latter and wander into the motives of using the male whore in the example – missing the maw and galavanting into the erotic regions. The rebels’ “modum recipientis” is so out of tune with the Church that they miss out on the intent and project their own preconceptions.

  12. Scott W. says:

    The Pope is speaking entirely to the latter (as is abundantantly clear in the very next para – clear, at least, to anyone who can get the ice cream cone from the paw to the maw without detouring to the forehead).

    I agree. I’d also say that most grown adults can listen to someone use terms like “conservative” and “liberal” to describe Catholic’s adherence to correct Catholic teaching without being confused.

  13. terryprest says:

    No doubt as a result of your recent visit to Europe you have developed a taste for tripe which, if properly prepared cooked and served , can be quite a tasty delicacy

    But do we really have to have served up to us this unwashed (green) tripe served up by Ms Phyllis Zagano ? It is really unfit for human consumption.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripe#Unwashed_tripe

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Making the scandals connected to homosexuals is a great thing, as many know that Cardinal George and Bishop Bruskewitz wanted to bring this up at the original conference way back in 2002 and were shot down. To deny the connection is to deny the truth that many of the perpetrators were and/or are homosexuals engaging in post-adolescent sex crimes.

  15. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Somewhat off topic, but let me add I ran into Phyllis Zagano and one of her co-authors, “Deacon Bill,” over at the blog The Deacon’s Bench. In the comments section, Ms. Zagano’s ideas on the ordination of women as deacons were being touted. It seems the fishwrap columnist’s ideas are infiltrating even moderate Catholic blogs, alas. http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/11/georgia-woman-seeks-to-become-deacon_comments.html

  16. rakesvines says:

    I don’t like linking this condom example with homosexual sex because it can then speculate that the priest sex abuse scandals were because celibates are gay. So, Fishwrap slides into subtly promoting its agenda (women priests, married priests, homosexual marriage) by misrepresenting the sound teaching into their mold. It’s good they practiced restraint and not intimate that the Pope was speaking from experience otherwise, I would have burned their paper down i.e. a copy of it if I can find one.