The Pope did not endorse the use of condoms

Peter Seewald

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You will be hearing a LOT about this.

Keep in mind that the Holy Father did not endorse or “open the way” to greater use of condoms.

From CNA:

Pope Benedict advocates right sexuality, not condom use, in fight against HIV

Vatican City, Nov 20, 2010 / 07:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Excerpts of Pope Benedict XVI’s new book are already causing a stir. Though some media reports claim he offers a change in papal teaching about condom use, Pope Benedict in fact says that a humanized sexuality, not condoms, is the right response to HIV.

The Nov. 21 edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) will release excerpts of the pontiff’s book “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”

The book contains the Pope’s responses to questions from Peter Seewald, a German reporter who spoke with him over a week last summer about the most sensitive and important questions in Church life today.

The 21 themes treated in the book are edgy and the reception of the Pope’s words is likely to be varied, but his answers offer a unique look into his teachings and his perspective on the Church and the world.

In the excerpts, just two brief paragraphs provide the Pope’s response to a question on sexuality in the world today. He says that concentrating on the use of the condom only serves to trivialize sexuality.

This trivialization leads many people to no longer see sex as an expression of love, but as a self-administered drug. The fight against the banalization of sexuality is part of a great effort to change this view to a more positive one.

According to one much-commented excerpt printed in L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope concedes that there can be single cases in which the use of a condom may be justified.

He uses the example of prostitutes [actually, I believe the Germans of the interview speaks about male prostitutes, which changes the dynamic] who might use prophylactics as a first step toward moralization, that is, becoming moral. In such a case, condom use might be their first act of responsibility to redevelop their consciousness of the fact that not everything is permitted and that one cannot do everything one wants.  [The press will say a) that the Pope has endorsed condoms, b) has opened the way to endorsing condoms c) still has gone far enough to endorse condoms.  What the press will not do is report accurately what the Pope said.]

While secular outlets such as Time Magazine characterized this remark as “a stunning turnaround” for the Church, Pope Benedict goes on to explain that this is not the true and proper way to defeat HIV. Instead what is necessary is the humanization of sexuality. [The Church’s moral theologians have said for a long time that there are those rare cases in which the use of a condom, which is still looked at as an evil, can incur less guilt of sin depending on the circumstances.]

[…]

There is going to be a lot of buzz about this Condom Conundrum.

I wish I didn’t have jet lag.

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213 Responses to The Pope did not endorse the use of condoms

  1. EXCHIEF says:

    You are right of course. The media is making a HUGE thing out of this

  2. the_ox says:

    I understand that the press has and will twist this, but even after reading your post and clarification of what the Pope said – I am still deeply deeply troubled by his language about the use of condoms as a ‘first step toward moralization’. I thought the Catholic Church held that sodomy was a sin that cried out to heaven for justice? I do not fathom how the Pope could find it possible for any type of ‘moralization’ being developed in the midst of depraved sin? How many other sins could we now say have within them ‘steps toward moralization’ if only we somehow find a method or technique to make the sin less heinous? This is not Catholic.

  3. Federico says:

    This is all stupid.

    The media is missing the point.

    Condoms are not evil.

    Contraception is evil.

    In my previous days, condoms were provided as part of my survival kit as a pilot. They were not intended for sexual intercourse. Condoms just happened to be a really convenient and compact device to store water. Canteen or condom? Easy, pack the condom; smaller and lighter to pack. Fill it with water when you come upon a source.

    So, would the media have a feeding frenzy if the pope said it’s OK for pilots (or campers) to pack condoms for water storage?

    Stupid.

  4. Clinton says:

    My response to all this is to take note of the media such as Time magazine that mischaracterize
    the Pope’s comments. Clearly, those media outlets that get it wrong are either incompetent or
    are deliberately misstating the Pope’s remarks. Either way, it’d be foolish to trust those media
    to be responsible and accurate in the future.

    I wonder if any of those hysterical/irresponsible news outlets will bother to ask Mr. Seewald
    if their take is accurate?

  5. Federico says:

    the_ox, I think the pope made a different point.

    Sodomy is a grave evil. Whether you wear a tuxedo or a condom in the middle of it, does not change its nature. Since there’s no contraception, there’s no inherent evil associated with the use of condom anymore than there would be with the wearing of a tuxedo.

    It’s the sodomy that’s a sin, not the use of the condom (or tuxedo).

  6. Traductora says:

    It was definitely mischaracterized, mostly because it was a subtle thought way beyond the reach of the press. He is saying that this person (living a life that is immoral by definition) is perhaps thinking about protecting others from his behavior, which does indicate the development of some moral sense.

    The problem is that the press was trying to get him to affirm contraception and gay sex (summed up as “condoms”) and unfortunately they got the sound bite they wanted.

  7. Luvadoxi says:

    If contraception is evil, why is it allowed in Catholic hospitals for rape as long as it can be proven that conception hasn’t occurred and there is no risk of destroying a new human life? And why is contraception approved for women in war-torn countries where they live in daily risk of being raped? And for that matter, what about the exceptions to abortion, like removal of the fallopian tube in ectopic pregnancy? Isn’t is disingenuous to say this is not an abortion–there’s no way to spin it; it is a direct taking of a life to save the mother, no matter how much it is regretted. I’m so confused by Pope Benedict’s statement. Perhaps I should be grateful, though. It’s really making me confront rather than deny the doubts I’ve had about Church teachings all along. I haven’t been able to get a satisfactory answer from anyone. Like if you’re out in the wild and there’s no doctor and a baby is coming and the head is too big….what do you do…let both the mother and child die? Or do what you have to do to get the baby out of there so the mother can live? What is the Catholic position? Why is is so difficult to get clear teaching on ANYTHING? I’ve been a faithful Catholic now for 7 years (convert) and I can’t get an answer to these life issues because it’s all so politicized. I’m beginning to think non-abortifiacient birth control is ok…in fact, I’ve always, having been a Protestant before, if I’m honest with myself, always believed there’s nothing immoral about it between married couples trying to space children. Someone help me out here before I lose my faith, please.

  8. kgurries says:

    Hopefully we can think about the Pope’s words calmly without jumping to conclusions. The Pope does suggest the possibility of exceptional cases where condom use can be justified. The basis for the justification seems to derive from the “intention” of the moral agent. In this sense condom use for the pupose of “artificial contraception” is not morally equivalent to condom use for the pupose of “avoiding the spread of infection”. (e.g., just as “murder” is not morally equivalent to self defense. Both involve the “evil” of killing human life, however, one can be justified in exceptional cases while the other is always wrong). Of course, none of this touches on the permanent valididy of Humane Vitae. What the Pope is touching on is something that the Church has not yet fully expounded.

  9. LaudemGloriae says:

    @ the_ox : you have said it exactly

    Heart breaking. Just heart breaking …

  10. Prof. Basto says:

    One can already read the actual words contained in the book, which have been published in today’s (Sunday) edition of L’Osservatore Romano, and are also found in the newspaper’s section of the Vatican website. Here is the fragment (in Italian, as found in L’OR):

    La sessualità

    Concentrarsi solo sul profilattico vuol dire banalizzare la sessualità, e questa banalizzazione rappresenta proprio la pericolosa ragione per cui tante e tante persone nella sessualità non vedono più l’espressione del loro amore, ma soltanto una sorta di droga, che si somministrano da sé. Perciò anche la lotta contro la banalizzazione della sessualità è parte del grande sforzo affinché la sessualità venga valutata positivamente e possa esercitare il suo effetto positivo sull’essere umano nella sua totalità.
    Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico, e questo può essere il primo passo verso una moralizzazione, un primo atto di responsabilità per sviluppare di nuovo la consapevolezza del fatto che non tutto è permesso e che non si può far tutto ciò che si vuole. Tuttavia, questo non è il modo vero e proprio per vincere l’infezione dell’Hiv. È veramente necessaria una umanizzazione della sessualità.

    So: (1) the Pope’s example is of a female prostitute (prostituta). (2)The pope grants that prophylaxis is better than no prophylaxis, it is an act of responsability, but it is no true solution, no moral solution; (3) The pope says that condoms are not the true way to beat HIV, and that an humanization of sexuality is required; (4) to concentrate on the aspect of prohylaxis (in this case, condom use as a means of prevention of disease) means (is equal to) the banalization of sexuality (this is right in the first sentence); (5) the banalization of sexuality must be fought against.

    So, while the pope is saying for a prostitute to have sex with a stranger with a condom is more responsible (perhaps a lesser evil?) than having sex with a stranger without one, and that thus some special cases of condom use may be justified (not as a good but as an initial responsible step within the spectrum of evil actions), but that condom use is not a true solution, not a moral solution. Because if the prostitute is a prostitute, with or without condoms, she is sinning, she is performing an evil act reprobated by God and is dehumanizing her sexuality. The Church cannot treat condoms as if they were a good, or a true solution, because whenever condoms are used sexuality is still treated as something banal, and condoms actually contribute to the behaviour of banalization of sexuality.

    That seems to me to be the totality of what the Pope is saying. That said, it does appear that there is a minor change of stance, perhaps the clarification of a special case, in which the Pope is indeed saying that the use of a condom would be appropriate as a first act of responsability, not excluding the wrong, sinful and immoral character of that sexual act.

  11. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down and carefully read what the Holy Father actually said. I’ve tried to help people understand it a little on my blog through a bit of satire – might help explain it for some people: http://mccamley.org/blog/holy-father-tells-terrorists-how-to-plant-bombs

    The Pope didn’t say male prostitutes should use condoms. Nor is it legitmate to compare condoms to dinner jackets (though I understand the French for rain coat is similar!). The Pope said the fact that a male prostitute decides to use a condom might indicate some moral movement on his part – that sex has consequences and anything does not go after all. That’s all he said.

    But in simple moral terms – you cannot possibily argue that a homosexual prostitute having sex with a man using is condom is in any way a greater sin than having sex without a condom.

  12. LaudemGloriae says:

    The notion that condoms are not intrinsicly evil because one might use them for some purpose other than contracepting is hardly applicable in this siutation where it is in fact being used in a gravely sinful act.

    Also, why would one buy into the lie that condoms would in fact make the act safe? There are few lies that have wrecked as many lives as the lie of “safe sex.”

  13. catholicuspater says:

    What’s making this matter even worse is that the Vatican is not backtracking on the spin the press is giving on the Pope’s statement. Far from it, Cardinal Segreccia is quoted as saying that the Pope is indeed carving out an exception where condoms may be used:

    [“Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, the Vatican’s long-time top official on bioethics and sexuality, elaborated on the pontiff’s comments, stressing that it was imperative to “make certain that this is the only way to save a life”. Cardinal Sgreccia said the condom question was one that “needed an answer for a long time,” adding: “If Benedict XVI raised the question of exceptions, this exception must be accepted… and it must be verified that this is the only way to save life. This must be demonstrated.”]

    So, does that mean that since my wife was told by her doctor that a further pregnancy would her endanger her life, then we too can use condoms now???

    I’m sorry, but this is the sort of gobbledygook nonsense that will only strengthen the hand of the traditionalists while making Catholics like myself who have made numerous sacrifices in our married life to comply with this teaching look like idiots and outmoded dinosaurs.

    If the Pope wants to be taken seriously when he speaks about the hermeneutic of continuity then statements like this are a disaster.

    Did Pius XI in Casti Connubii talk about exceptions for male prostitutes? Or did Paul VI in Humanae Vitae give any indication that condoms were ever acceptable? Did John Paul II in 27 years once, anywhere, at any time, ever hint that artificial contraception was ever anything less than intrinsically evil?

    Of course not. The problem is that the whole world now believes that the ambiguity introduced by the Pope and positively confirmed by a high-ranking Vatican cardinal as a change in the Church’s teaching. This situation is going to create scandal and confusion and needs to be corrected immediately.

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    In continuation to my previous post…

    Having attempted to describe my interpretation of the above passage of the Holy Father’s book, I feel compelled to add three personal opinions:

    1. The Church should stick to teaching people what is good; She should stick to telling people to do what is right, without equivocations or concessions. She should not teach people that if they are not willing to do what is good and what is right, then they should choose better, cleaner, more responsible ways of commiting an evil act. The Church’s teaching should not include preferences among possibilities of evil actions, but an unconditional call to good Christian behaviour.

    2. The Pope spoke in a private capacity in a book, as doctor privatus, and not in an act of magisterium; nevertheless, he has, I must respectfully say, contributed to creating confusion about the Church’s teaching. Such a delicate topic should not have been dealt with in a conversation reported in two paragraphs.

    3. I would welcome a magisterial clarification, perhaps a CDF instruction or declaration, on the exact meaning and limits of what Pope Benedict is saying. I believe the Pope must now explain with some lenght his position. He used an unfortunate word, “justified”, when I don’t think he actually meant to say that the action was trully justified. The context indicates that Benedict XVI still considers his example to be an example of wrong and sinful sexual act, so that the conduct of the prostitute cannot be said to be “justified”. In his example, the condom use is a justified precaution in an unjustified and immoral act. And as such it is no true solution, as the Pope himself points out.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    This makes absolutely no sense. I certainly hope the pope did not say anything like this.

    A person in the act of engaging in homosexual sex is already committing a mortal sin. It makes rather little difference at that point what else they might do, honestly. Nothing is good morally at that point. It’s all trash.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    So giving “permission” of sorts to use condoms under such circumstances is quite meaningless, honestly. It means literally nothing.

  17. Prof. Basto says:

    I’m sorry, but this is the sort of gobbledygook nonsense that will only strengthen the hand of the traditionalists .

    I beg your pardon?

  18. Geremia says:

    This has, as with his Regensberg Address, been blown way out of proportion. And it boils down to semantics and mistranslation. My comments are in brackets; this text comes from Catholic World Report.

    There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when [Could perhaps be “if” in the German original.] a male prostitute [really “female prostitute” in the Italian translation; see below] uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. [Viz., if a prostitute uses a condom, then she is on her way to thinking of her sexual partner as a human. He does not say that condoms of themselves can make contraceptive or homosexual sex less dehumanizing.] But it [condoms in general, not specifically condoms used to prevent disease] is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

    Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

    She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step [Note: He does not say this “first step” means using condoms.] in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

    The Italian translation from L’Osservatore Romano seems better, but it lacks the last ¶ above; my literal translation is in brackets. An important difference is the feminine article una in una prostituta; he refers to a “female prostitute,” not a “male prostitute.”

    Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati [“There can be single justified cases”], ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico [“for example when a (female) prostitute utilizes a prophylactic (‘a medicine or course of action used to prevent disease’ (New Oxford American Dictionary); also: ‘condom’)”], e questo può essere il primo passo verso una moralizzazione [“and this can be the first step toward a moralization”], un primo atto di responsabilità per sviluppare di nuovo la consapevolezza del fatto che non tutto è permesso e che non si può far tutto ciò che si vuole [“a first act of responsibility to redevelop the awareness of the fact that not all is permitted and that one cannot do all that one wants”]. Tuttavia, questo non è il modo vero e proprio per vincere l’infezione dell’Hiv. [“Yet, this is not the true and proper way to overcome the contraction of HIV.”] È veramente necessaria una umanizzazione della sessualità. [“A humanization of sexuality is truly needed.”]

    Notice how the Italian is much clearer than the vague, weasel-word-filled English translation.

    Does anyone have the German original? Thanks

  19. Lucia Maria says:

    This article by Janet Smith is a good clarification on what the Holy Father’s words actually mean.

  20. cblanch says:

    Things have been going too well for the Church in the last week…I think the dark side is just freaking out and grasping at straws!

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    On the other hand, it can be pointed out that *IF* a person is so far over the line morally that they’ve sunk low enough to seek sexual gratification from a person of the same gender (to whom they cannot possibly be married in the natural or supernatural order), *THEN* taking the therapeutic option of trying to prevent themselves from ravaging disease is something they could probably do, since they’re already in moral trouble of the first order anyway.

    However, since when is the pope giving out therapeutic advice on how to avoid physical damage to those who’ve already decided to turn on everything holy and good? I don’t get it. That seems like a job for social workers or something, no?

  22. cato_the_younger says:

    Luvadoxi – Please see the National Catholic Bioethics Center on this issue: http://www.ncbcenter.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=482&storyid1277=80&ncs1277=3

    The National Catholic Bioethics Center wishes to assist individuals and institutions working with the ethical issue of early induction of labor. The following is the NCBC position regarding the application of Catholic moral teaching and tradition to the issue.

    The application of Catholic moral teaching and tradition to this issue is directed toward two specific ends: (1) complete avoidance of direct abortion, and (2) preservation of the lives of both mother and child to the extent possible under the circumstances. Based upon these ends, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services provides directives which set the parameters for the treatment of mother and unborn child in cases of high-risk pregnancies:

    47. Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.

    49. For a proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.

    The principle of the double effect is at work in each of these two directives. Actions that might result in the death of a child are morally permitted only if all of the following conditions are met: (1) treatment is directly therapeutic in response to a serious pathology of the mother or child; (2) the good effect of curing the disease is intended and the bad effect foreseen but unintended; (3) the death of the child is not the means by which the good effect is achieved; and (4) the good of curing the disease is proportionate to the risk of the bad effect. Fulfillment of all four conditions precludes any act that directly hastens the death of a child.

    Early induction of labor for chorioamnionitis, preeclampsia, and H.E.L.L.P. syndrome, for example, can be morally licit under the conditions just described because it directly cures a pathology by evacuating the infected membranes in the case of chorioamnionitis, or the diseased placenta in the other cases, and cannot be safely postponed. However, early induction of an anencephalic child when there is no serious pathology of the mother which is being directly treated is not morally licit, emotional distress notwithstanding. Early induction of labor before term (37 weeks) to relieve emotional distress hastens the death of the child as a means of achieving this presumed good effect and unjustifiably deprives the child of the good of gestation. Moreover, this distress is amenable to psychological support such as is offered in perinatal hospice. Lastly, induction of labor before term performed simply for the reason that the child has a lethal anomaly is direct abortion.

    I hope this helps. I will be praying for you.

  23. Prof. Basto says:

    This makes absolutely no sense. I certainly hope the pope did not say anything like this.

    I’m starting to wonder whether what the Pope has said in a private capacity in a book interview can be repeated by him as more than a private opinion (he spoke as a “doctor privatus”, just like his book on Jesus is not a magisteral act and his predecessor Benedict XIV’s treatise on canonization is considered non-magisterial an (important) private text of a doctor privatus) .

    Perhaps the charism of the office, the graces of state, will prevent the pope from restating this strange stance in a public capacity speaking on behalf of the Church; that is, perhaps the pope’s personal view expressed when he gave the interview must conform to the magisterium. Perhaps the magisterium does not conform to the pope’s private opinion. Perhaps such a stance cannot make it into the magisterium.

    In that case, however, we are faced with a bit of a scandal. So the Church, the Pope as Pope, and his Curia, must now clarify what is the magisterial position.

    It is also possible that the pope will recognize that he was misinterpreted.

  24. Prof. Basto says:

    Catholicmidwest,

    Contrary to Fr. Z’s first impression, the text of the Holy Father’s interview shows that his example is of a female prostitute. Not that the professional actions of a female prostitute are moral. But the word used was gender specific. Italian has gender specific nouns. So Fr. Z’s guest that the pope was reffering to a male prostitute was not confirmed.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Nice, now we’re telling people how to do evil things a little more therapeutically, is that it?

    This is a mess.

  26. Tony Layne says:

    Jimmy Akin drills into the matter pretty well.

    @ Luvadoxi: There are clear answers. There just aren’t easy answers. And nowhere is it written that doing the right thing will always make you feel better than if you do the wrong thing; in fact, Satan loves to use compassion against us. Yes, the life issues are heavily politicized, but that’s precisely because we’re dealing with issues that cut straight to the core of our identity … not only as moral human beings but also as a nation and a culture. I hope, when you decided to convert, you didn’t have it in the back of your mind that we’re issued an exhaustive list of acceptable responses to moral conundrums at Confirmation which relieves us of the responsibility of making our decisions for ourselves. A good religious formation makes the answers easier to reach … but not necessarily easier to carry out.

    BTW, there is a Catholic solution to spacing children out (I mean, besides restraint): Creighton-model Natural Family Planning. There are more resource at Catholic News Agency.

  27. Prof. Basto says:

    The analogy Christopher McCamley used in his blog is a good one:

    “The Holy Father was asked in a recent interview to comment on the behaviour of terrorists who plant no warning bombs in heavily populated areas of cities, close to schools and nurseries. He said it was a bad thing.

    He was then asked if it was better if the terrorist telephoned in bomb warnings so that buildings could be evacuated.

    The Holy Father said that while engaging in such acts of terrorism was always morally wrong, telephoning a warning “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with political issues or demands for justice”.

    Media: “So you’re saying it’s okay to plant bombs so long as you use phone warnings?

    Holy Father: “No, of course not, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of serious injury or death to an innocent person, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of policital action”.”

    However, the pope shouldn’t have used the word “justified”. It is too strong a word for an still intrinsically immoral and evil act. The word justified gives the false impression of a permitted act. And an act that is still immoral and sinful is, strictly speaking, still not permitted, still not justified, even if the wrong, abhorent action is performed in a “more responsible” way . I believe it was not his intention, but the use of the world justified will create much confusion.

    And, bottom line, the Pope should have stuck to the line of saying “condom use is always contrary to morality” without several caveats, just like, in the example above, he would say “a terrorist act is always abhorent”.

  28. Prof. Basto says:

    Nice, now we’re telling people how to do evil things a little more therapeutically, is that it?

    That is it. And it is a mess.

  29. Prof. Basto says:

    Yes, yes, no, no.

    I’m going to bed. A glorious day was ruined.

    Quamdiu, Domine?

  30. bookworm says:

    The kerfluffle over this reminds me somewhat of the fuss that was made years ago when Pope John Paul II, in one of his audience talks that became the basis for the “theology of the body,” said it was a sin for a man to lust even after his own wife. What he MEANT, of course, was that a man should not treat even his own wife merely as a sexual object, but that was not what the secular media “heard.”

    If I’m not mistaken, Church teaching against contraception is based on its theology of marriage, and the whole reason contraception is wrong is because it goes against the meaning and purpose of the MARRIAGE act — it undercuts the complete self-giving that the act was meant to express. At least that’s how its always been explained to me.

    However, sex outside of marriage is already mortally sinful no matter what, and the lack of commitment between the couple undercuts the meaning of the act also — turns it into, basically, “telling a lie with their bodies.” If that is the case, then it seems to me, that they do not make that act any MORE sinful by using condoms or any form of birth control, nor do they make it any LESS sinful or less “false” by not contracepting.

    We know that openness to life is an essential element of marriage, but what relevance does it have in a non-marital sexual relationship which is intrinsically immoral? (By “openness to life,” I mean, of course, openness to conception that has not yet occurred — once conception occurs, it should go without saying, then the couple definitely has an obligation to be “open” to the life that is already there.) If it’s a sexual relationship OUTSIDE of marriage that we are talking about, isn’t contraception kind of a moot point?

    With all that in mind, it seems to me that what the Pope is talking about is a “lesser of two evils” situation — fornication engaged in with some minimal protection from disease vs. fornication engaged in with no protection whatsoever from disease. Neither choice is good or “justified”, but one might be a little less evil than the other. The “good” and proper choice is and always will be chastity.

  31. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Prof Basto:

    With respect, I think your analogy is inapt.

    A better analogy I think might be someone who plans to go on a bender and get totally intoxicated–or stoned.

    That person talks to a friend about it, who tries to persuade him not to do it, because it is gravely sinful.

    The friend is incapable of persuading him against drinking himself into a stupor; but does persuade him to give up his keys so he doesn’t drive in such a state.

    A person who engages in sodomy is committing a mortal sin; but I don’t agree with anyone who would argue that it no longer matters, morally, whether or not he also infects someone with a deadly disease. Of course–OF COURSE!–he should do neither; but like the one set on a drunken binge, it is less evil if he does not also then cause even more evil.

    Moral reasoning often involves such distinctions.

    So, yes, an operation that saves a mother’s life is permitted, even if the unintended, unavoidable consequence is the loss of an unborn baby. It’s the classic principle of double effect, as someone else explained above.

    Luvadoxi:

    Regarding contraception, you have to refer back to Pope Paul VI’s teaching in Humanae Vitae; the issue is a violation of a marital act. An act of rape is…NOT a “marital act”! It is an act of aggression, and anyone suffering an act of sexual assault is certainly entitled to defend against it. The situation involving a sexual act between a rapist and his victim is entirely different from that of a couple engaging in a marital act; the latter is morally obliged to keep the sexaul act open to the transmission of life; but that has nothing to do with rape. So if someone who has been raped–but is not pregnant–is not doing anything immoral by seeking to prevent a pregnancy when it has not occurred.

  32. kgurries says:

    I think there are two distinct “acts” that need to be clarified. In the first place is the the intrinsically evil act of fornication. Secondly, there is the act of “condom use” with the specific intention to reduce the risk of infection. Clearly the Pope is addressing only the question of the morality of this second “act” — but within the given context of the first (intrinsically evil) act. All of this adds to the complexity — and therefore unavoidable confusion.

  33. Luvadoxi says:

    Thank you for the prayers and the good suggestions and thoughts. The comparison with killing as self-defense/defense of others kind of made sense when I read it. Also the idea that the doctrine could still be developing; or that the Pope was speaking in a non-magisterial capacity.

    The principle of double-effect still has me wondering, though, if it isn’t just a fancy way to excuse evil–like it seems like in ectopic pregnancy, the 3rd condition isn’t being met–remove the tube, remove the baby….same result. I mean, I think it makes sense that you *do* this to save the mother’s life, just as I would be hard-pressed not to remove the baby (supposing that I had the skill) out in the bush to save the mother’s life, even if it meant killing the baby (although maybe that’s more comparable to the methotrexate method? Or maybe it’s all the same.). But deep down, maybe I couldn’t do it, conscience-wise. I’ll have to think and pray on it more. Maybe this, as well as the condom issue, is still developing in doctrine?

    And as far as non-chemical contraception, yeah, I have my doubts if I’m really honest with myself, but deep down I’d feel the twinge of conscience violating Church teaching in this area. I can understand the frustration of the poster who has made sacrifices to follow Church teaching, only to find out maybe it wasn’t necessary??? Anyway, if it’s any consolation, I know a lady who was devastated when the Church changed the discipline about meatless Fridays–her whole Catholic world fell apart. But during the time those fasting rules were in effect, Catholics were bound. So I think if you’ve followed your informed conscience, even if it turns out you didn’t need to do those things (and I don’t really think the Church will change those teachings), the Lord will richly reward you for it. Just my 2 cents. Like someone said, we need to take deep breaths and wait and see!

  34. Magpie says:

    I nearly died when I read this on NCROnnline. *sigh*

  35. LawrenceK says:

    Luvadoxi: The principle of double effect is a longstanding method of moral theology, and it (or its equivalent) are accepted by orthodox moral theologians.

    There is not, however, unanimous agreement on how this principle is applied to ectopic pregnancies in particular. I’m not saying I disagree with Cato the Younger’s comments above, but I think it is important to always identify the level of certitude involved. Most moral theologians consider removing a fallopian tube (and indirectly causing the death of the baby) justified. Similarly, most moral theologians consider it moral, if a hand grenade falls in the trench next to your platoon, for you to choose to throw your body on the hand grenade, saving your comrades (and indirectly causing your own death). In either case, the indirect result is not intended: the Catholic doctor is trying to save the mother, and would like to save the baby if he could. The soldier is trying to save his comrades, and would like to save himself if he could. There’s no direct intent to do evil.

    But others disagree — not with the principle, but with the prudential question as to whether the death can really be considered “indirect”.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    I didn’t “nearly die.” I shrugged.
    I’m a convert and have been around the Catholic Church more than 25 years. The Catholic church has a few indispensable things, like the Eucharist, but I’ve come to realize that a lot of it is an all out mess. We have at least a dozen active crises at any given time and this hasn’t changed the whole time I’ve been Catholic. Being a catholic convert is a bit of an exercise in learning to stomach the ever-present craziness and tone-deafness in the church…..We can’t even get our own translations right without decades of internecine BS. It’s not easy to convert and stay converted and that’s probably why the second most populous denomination in the US is ex-Catholics–a statistic I don’t doubt in the least.

  37. Ezra says:

    Things I fail to understand:

    1. Why did the Osservatore Romano run selected quotations from this, the most controversial section of the book, without context and/or explanatory commentary? Those are the quotes that were picked up by the secular media, and are now forming the basis of “Church changes teaching”, “Pope reverses position”, “Condoms a-OK” stories all over the wires. The OR‘s recent track record in terms of generating unhelpful headlines (ranging from the mildly so to the catastrophically so) is undeniable.

    2. Why did Pope Benedict use the word “justified”?

    3. Why do wise men like Pope Benedict and John Paul II agree to these interview-type books, which – as they tell us themselves – have no status as teaching, and yet frequently lead to confusion about Catholic doctrine? Crossing the Threshold of Hope had infelicitous expressions which were used as “evidence” that all religions lead to heaven. Now we have this book, which’ll be used by the usual suspects to push for the legitimisation of non-procreative sexual activities. Can we perhaps consider returning to the days when the public statements of pontiffs were weighed for months – yet when uttered were of such clarity and force as to cause even her enemies to know the Church’s meaning? Could we stop the informal chats with journalists who are either hostile to, or ambivalent about, the Church’s teaching?

    The local hierarchies aren’t, in most cases, going to bother clarifying the context or meaning of the remarks. If we’re lucky, perhaps we’ll get something half-decent from Fr Lombardi, or – infinitely preferable – the CDF. In the meantime, you’ll have “Catholic pundits” announcing (as Damian Thompson is already doing) that this constitutes evidence of a change in Church teaching – often because those selfsame pundits are living lives inconsistent with the moral law, and it suits them to imagine as much. The faithful, most of whom don’t have either the time or the knowledge to root around the internet for the Dr Janet Smiths and Jimmy Akins of this world, will be left with the impression that the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception is nuanced, ambivalent, mutable. There is a real danger souls will be lost.

  38. LawrenceK says:

    Also, keep in mind that Thomas Aquinas found it worthwhile to rank sins in order of wickedness. When he said that sin X was worse than sin Y, was he encouraging his readers to commit Y? Certainly not. Did these passages in the Summa create a “slipperly slope” that lured medieval minds into approving of Y? Certainly not.

    Therefore, when the pope says that it’s worse for an HIV-infected male prostitute to have homosexual sex without a condom (violating the 5th and 6th commandments) than for him to perform the same act with a condom (violating the 6th commandment), why would any of the commenters on this blog conclude that he is creating a “slipperly slope” that will lead Catholic to conclude that contraception is permissible?

    It is important to remember that the vast majority of self-identified Catholics do not actually pay attention to what the Pope says when they make sex-related decisions. Do you really think that there are Catholics who reject contraception, but who will start using it because of a distorted article about the Pope in the New York Times? I’m sorry, but we have to be realistic. Catholics who reject contraception are a minority subculture within the Church, and this subculture consists of Catholics who are smart enough not to trust the New York Times’ summary of what the pope says!

  39. Charles E Flynn says:

    Those of you unfamiliar with the principle of the double effect might find this article helpful:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/double-effect/

    I wonder what was revised in it in 2009.

  40. QMJ says:

    First, from what I read earlier my understanding is that our Holy Father was talking about male prostitutes. The Italian has nothing to do with determining whether he was or not. The interview was in German and the original text of the book is in German. It would be helpful if someone who reads German and has read the German text could clarify this.

    Second, I am troubled by the reactions of many of the people commenting. I think our Holy Father has just a little bit better of an understanding of moral theology than us blog commentors. He is our Holy Father, and we should trust him. This is not the first time he has said something that surprised me. Every time he has it has been a wonderful opportunity to gain deeper understanding of the mysteries of our faith. It has also taught me that there is what Benedict XVI says and that there is my interpretation of what he says. This is why I like reading his interviews more than reading his books: there is less of me and more of him.

    Third, I strongly recommend reading the article by Dr. Janet Smith linked above by Charles E Flynn. There is also a link to it at Americanpapist. Dr. Smith does a very good job of clarify what the pope is saying and what in particular he is talking about and what he is not. Please read it.

  41. QMJ says:

    One more thing, what the pope said is not scandalous. The media distorting it the way they almost always do is.

  42. bookworm says:

    Perhaps another factor to be considered is the fact that in many instances and in many parts of the world, prostitutes don’t necessarily embrace that lifestyle entirely of their own free will — they are forced into it either by extreme poverty or by others who threaten them and/or their families with violence if they don’t comply. Is it really wrong for them to attempt to limit the physical damage brought upon themselves and others any way they can?

    Another poster asked why contraception is allowed after rape, or even before rape if there is a high likelihood of it occurring. That’s because contraception is intrinsically evil ONLY within the context of a consensual sex act. Rape is an act of violence and the victim has every right to protect herself from the consequences of that act if — and only if — conception has NOT yet occurred. If conception has occurred, of course, then the innocent life created by the act must be protected.

    The difference between contraception within marriage and contraception after rape is like the difference between locking your spouse or child out of your home and locking a burglar or thief out of your home.

  43. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Here’s how I explain the application of the principle of double effect, in the case of a women having a life-saving operation that results in the death of her unborn child…

    Suppose a car is tottering on a bridge–two people are inside. You must act to rescue them; but because of how the two people are positioned in the car, when you pull out the person nearest to you, the car will lose balance and fall, killing the other.

    Of course, if you could save both, you would; but that opportunity is not presented to you; you must act as you can. Nor do you have a choice about which person to save; you simply can save the first, and that’s all you can do.

    That’s what happens with the mother; you would save both the mother and child if you could; but if you do nothing, both will die. The operation to save the mother is morally proper in that case.

    Remember, all the elements of the principle of double effect must be present; it’s not permission to do wrong; it’s a way of resolving a situation where you are incapable of separating a bad effect from a good effect.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    “Do you really think that there are Catholics who reject contraception, but who will start using it because of a distorted article about the Pope in the New York Times?”

    That’s not the point, Lawrence. The overwhelming majority of Catholics pay absolutely no attention to what the Church says on at least a dozen topics, including for instance, birth control & abortion. Our statistics on those 2 issues, for example, do not differ in the slightest from statistics applying to the general culture. What the church says one way or the other makes no difference to those numbers.

    The fact is that the church has consistently muddied the waters and made it less clear what the average Catholic is supposed to believe. People now think it’s ALL negotiable. That’s WHY what the church says doesn’t matter to them anymore.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, people don’t see the inherent truth of what the Church tells them. They don’t associate natural law with their actions or think that they will be held responsible in any way. After all, they don’t hear about it on any real basis.

    And they honestly think God doesn’t care what they do. They might even think that God luvvvs them enough that he might not want to see them inconvenienced, if he even notices what they do at bedtime. A far stretch? Not really. Devotionality has replaced theology completely for many, many people.

  46. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-pope-said-what-about-condoms

    All contraception (including condom use) is intrinsically evil. That is, it is always and everywhere wrong, regardless of the circumstances. The pope is not making any exceptions, even in the male prostitute case. (the original German most definitely says “male”) He’s simply saying that the prostitute who uses a condom could possibly be using a condom because he doesn’t want to infect people. While such use is still wrong, at least the prostitute realizes that it’s bad to infect people. That’s all the pope is saying.

    This is a far cry from condoning condom use, even in the specific example cited by the Holy Father.

    Yes, the media is having a field day. But this is because they aren’t smart enough to understand what Benedict REALLY said (similar to What Does the Prayer REALLY Say). Of course, it would have been better to just say that condom use is always wrong and leave it at that. I agree 100% with what the Prof. said in post #14.

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, EtVerbum,
    But that distinction is lost on at least half of the listeners by definition. It would have been far better just to remark that condom use is always immoral. Period.

    If the interviewer had posed the example of a homosexual prostitute, then it would have been a great opportunity to restate the immorality of BOTH homosexuality and prostitution.

  48. anna 6 says:

    Go to Amy Welborn to see the full quote…the MSM have missed the point…no shock there.
    …and in English, it’s “male prostitute.”
    http://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/pope-condoms-etc/

  49. Lurker 59 says:

    The problem is in the use of the term justified. The Italian in question, as given above is

    Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico,

    The interview should have been given in German not Italian. Could guistaficati be a (intentionally) mistaken translation of a different German concept? It is very very hard for me to imagine Pope Benedict XVI using that term in this instance since it is such a loaded term especially when one is talking about morality. It seams out of place for one as theologically astute as our Pope to use in this instance. Recourse to the origional German would be helpful.

    Does anyone have a link to the origional German?

    All in all it is a very large mess.

  50. catholicmidwest:

    Isn’t that what’s so amazing about the Church? The Church has gone though many, many hard times/scandals over the past 2000 years. Just read Church history–each time period has its own trials. (For example, just think what it must have been like to live through the Great Schism of the late 14th/early 15th century. At least now we are united under one pope.) And yet the Church continues to emerge from every scandal, hardship, and persecution, and She will continue to do so until the end of time. Any human institution would have fallen apart long ago. But the Church is a divine institution, established by Christ Himself, against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail.”

    So more hardships = more proof of the Church’s indestructibility. Of course, we don’t desire them. But in our 2000 year history we’ve been through worse than a pope’s remarks on condoms being misunderstood in an interview.

    So stay strong in the Faith and God bless!

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    EtVerbum.
    Please. What you’re giving me is a lousy excuse for rotten behavior on the part of people who ignore church teachings. Just because the Church happens to be indefectible doesn’t mean that every Tom, Dick and Harry can drag it around in the dirt for their own amusement. Speaking of your rationale to me……sorry, but I am not entertained by such rationalizing.

  52. LaudemGloriae says:

    “Do you really think that there are Catholics who reject contraception, but who will start using it because of a distorted article about the Pope in the New York Times? ”

    Yes.

    There is enormous pressure to disregard the Church’s teaching on this subject and many faithful are hanging on by a thin thread.

    I am a little surprised at those who would say that the Pope is speaking his personal opinion and not ex cathedra etc. He is still the Pope. This is a published interview. Does anyone believe this wasn’t a prepared opinion statement?

  53. Lurker 59:

    No where does the word “justified” appear in the English. But remember, the Italian is a translation of the original German. The Italian translation already has the mistake of saying “female” rather than “male” prostitute, as the orginal German says.

    This remindes me of the ICEL lame-duck translations. Except this time it’s Italitan, not English, that has the faulty translation. I wouldn’t be suprised if whoever translated it (a liberal?) did this on purpose. It highly doubt that the word “justified appears in the original German. Does anyone know for sure?

  54. Lurker 59 says:

    The AP, Yahoo, and other places look to me as if they are are running with internal translations from the Italian.
    AP English quote

    “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom

    Dr. Pia’s blog quotes the book differently http://piadesolenni.com/pope-oks-condoms which I am assuming is from the book as it will be printed in English.

    “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom,

    As we can see, the italian guistaficati is being brought into the English as “a basis” rather that justified, as the AP would have it. This indicates that there may be a problem in the Italian transaltion that the AP is using to create their English translation.

  55. chonak says:

    So it’s the Osservatore Romano’s turn to score an “own goal” against the Pope, and on the eve of the consistory, too! Another brilliant move by the Vatican’s communications apparatus. These organizations can’t be re-org’d soon enough.

  56. Sixupman says:

    Tamper with Natural Law at your peril, we can see the seeds of our own destruction all around us.

    The media in the UK, led by the BBC, have twisted the moral theological argument to the sensational. Sky TV, early morning news, did put up a, pro-contraception, lady who did place a more balanced interpretation of BXVI’s [apparent] statement. Ruth Gledhill, Times religious correspondent, revelled in the embarrassment to the Church.

    Is that Rome newspaper [rag] ‘stirring’ controversy again?

  57. QMJ says:

    “Does anyone believe this wasn’t a prepared opinion statement?”

    I do not believe this was a prepared opinion statement. I don’t have any good reason to believe that it is. I do, however, have reason to believe that it is not. There is precedence here. This is the third (that I know of) book length interview with Joseph Ratzinger to be published. The first, The Ratzinger Report, came about quickly. He did not see any questions ahead of time. All of his responses were “off the cuff.” In the second, Salt of the Earth, Peter Seewald says in his foreward, “He didn’t want to look at any of the questions beforehand, nor did he request that anything be omitted or added.” Why should I automatically believe that this interview with the same interviewer as the last is any different from the previous? And, yes, he is the Pope. We do need to take seriously what he says, however, there is a difference between his stating something in an interview and his defining a dogma ex cathedra. Those who wish to disagree with our Holy Father on this particular issue may do so and still be in good standing with the Church.

  58. Warren says:

    This is good. This is the perfect opportunity for clergy to speak on topics like NFP and authentic human sexuality. They can also preach about how fake science has masked the truth about programs which promote condom use when, in fact, the use of condoms contributes to countless people being infected due to the failure of so-called “infallible technology”. People are slowly realizing that “reduce the risk” is really Russian roulette.

    Of course, those clergy who miss the opportunity to clarify Church teaching and invite people into a deeper relationship with Christ and who instead promote harmful practices and wayward thinking will be exposed for who they are – wolves among the sheep.

    Ask the Holy Spirit to embolden priests to preach the Faith!

  59. Prof. Basto says:

    Lurker,

    The Italian “giustificati” is in the Vatican website (L’osservatore Romano section) and in the pages of today’s printed version of that newspaper.

    So you see the big problem being formed. What was said was said in German, in a dialogue between Germans but, and what was said was said in a private capacity, with the answers given probably off the cuff, without previous knowledge of the questions, BUT, this being a book interview that was done with the Pope’s consent, an interview that has the Pope’s approval, the words being the Pope’s words, the official machine of the Holy See is being used to spread the word about the book and its contents.

    As such, there will be a press conference at the Vatican Palace, there are media notices published by the Holy See Press Office in its official bulletin, AND, fragments from the book are now published in the Pope’s own newspaper, owned and edited by the Holy See.

    And the fragments published in the Pope’s newspaper, a newspaper that is sometimes used even for the promulgation of official magisterial acts and laws of the Church, are published in Italian, with the word justified being used.

  60. Desertfalcon says:

    Having read through media coverage of this and the comments posted here, my only comment is that people really need to read EtVerbumCaroFactumEst’s comments above to retain their sanity on this issue and gain some clarity. He is spot-on.

  61. acroat says:

    Logically, it seems they were discussing male prostitues as it is the male who in the end deciding to use the condom. A woman could only make a request.

  62. Thomist says:

    Faithful Catholics know that Pope Benedict XVI is a faithful, Supreme Vicar of Christ.
    Useful commentary on the Pope’s non-Magisterial statements and how they are twisted are also here:
    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-pope-said-what-about-condoms?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+%2540The+Daily+Register%2541#When:22:09:44Z

    and here:
    http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2010/11/ginger-factor-the-pope-approves-of-condoms/

    and here:
    http://thatthebonesyouhavecrushedmaythrill.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-pope-benedict-xvis-next-visit-will.html

    It’s surprising how confused some can get and express it publicly, instead of themselves looking for the wise commentators.

    The use of condoms in marriage is “a grave sin” (Pius XI Casti Connubii, 1930) and “intrinsically wrong” (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 1968)

  63. Lurker 59 says:

    @Prof. Basto,

    Oh yes, I see the problem. The Italian is going to, and is being, treated by the press as the editio typica when it is really just a translation. I’d rather deal with the term “giustificati” as not being authentic to the origional statement of the Pope rather than to attempt to make excuses for laxity in such a word being used in this situation.

    Two questions are thus raised:

    1.) What is the German origional?
    2.) Is “giustificati” the actual text in the actual Italian book? (I ask this because the English that is used by the AP is not the actual text in the actual English book (Dr. Pia confirmed that her text is from an advance copy of the English text as will be published by Ignatius) thus it is possible, though doubtful, that it might not actually be the text from the actual book.)

    The German origional is most important to have because that will help us clarify if we are dealing with a lax off the cuff remark (which I would find to be highly out of character) or a translation problem.

    If it is a translation problem, then questions surrounding papal infallibility don’t get dragged into the mess as there is nothing in the whole statement that is truly problematic in the English text Dr. Pia has on her website beyond the term “giustificati”, which thankfully wont appear in the English text as published by Ignatius.

    I do agree with you that this warrents some sort of offical explanation / clarification.

    http://piadesolenni.com/pope-oks-condoms/

  64. What shocks me is how many commenters seem to think that, as long as you’re spiritually dead from mortal sin, you may as well tack on a bunch more because they don’t count. But what really shocks me is the idea that, as long as you’re spiritually dead, the God of resurrection and salvation won’t ever touch you with any grace whatsoever.

    Of course God can touch mortal sinners with grace and have them respond! How else do they get to Confession — dragged there under duress? Why else did Jesus come to earth at all, and go to all the trouble of dying for us, if sinners could never turn from their sin even with His help? Of course priests should be watching for tiny signs of grace in sinners’ souls, however mistakenly or even wickedly the sinners respond at first! That’s an important part of their job of finding the lost and winning souls!

    And do you really think that God goes to all the trouble of having a subtle theologian elected Pope, just to want him to shut the heck up about anything more subtle than “no do sin, it bad”? Are all Church teaching and all her teachers to be dumbed down to the NYT’s level?

  65. JosephMary says:

    Statistics show, and our Holy Father knows well enough, that condoms have not been shown to stop the spread of AIDS. There is no such thing as ‘safe sex’. But he comments that a male prostitute shows at least some form of concern when he makes at least an attempt to stop infecting others or to protect himself. At least there is a recognition of a further harm that might be done that is deadly. This has nothing to do with contraception! And the sin is still there only there is a hint of concern for the partner instead of lust as usual with no concern at all.

    The Holy Father’s hugely successful trip to England left folks waiting to make a mountain out of a molehill. And even the ‘trads’ are saying well now I am going schism and when will we have a true pope. Our Vicar of Christ gets hit from every side. But then Our Lord did promise persecution and our Holy Father is no stranger to it….

    Catholic moral teaching has NOT changed! Yes, one might think so given the stance of some prelates but it has not.

  66. Paul Jackson says:

    Oh, here we go with another media crises. Already we are reading on the BBC about a softened stance on contraception. This is odd as in the Pope’s example there is no possibility of conception as he seems to be refererring to homosexual activity when he gives the specific example. Like Regensberg over again :-(
    I do like the blog-post from American Papist. (http://catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=11735) and the analogy given by DR Janet Smith:
    “An analogy: If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.”

  67. sprachmeister says:

    Just to say that all German reports have said “männliche” or “homosexuelle Prostituierte” so it seems the Pope was referring to male prostitutes and the verb used was “rechtfertigen” which means “to justify”, “to warrant” or “to vindicate”.

  68. Kerry says:

    One wonders why the ‘media’ bothers with this. Why don’t they just make it up out of whole cloth? They will always get it wrong, so what is the difference if they twist or just invent their headlines?

  69. La Sandia says:

    Harrumph. The Pope may not have said anything wrong, but he should have known better. Have these past five years taught him NOTHING about the willingness of the secular press to distort his words for their own purposes, taking with them the mass of confused faithful? Media savvy has never been the Holy See’s strong suit, and now those of us faithful to Church teachings are going to have to do damage control with those that now say “but Pope Benedict said…”

  70. Prof. Basto says:

    Sprachmeister,

    Thank you. You see that the Vatican’s Italian translation published in L’osservatore Romano is misleading even those of us who are trying to read what the pope is saying in good faith.

    Now, the point about whether the example was of a female prostitute or a male prostitute really makes little difference (of course, the male prostitution being worse, due to the sin of sodomy), because in both cases there is the sinful sexual act outside marriage and the gravely sinful act of prostitution, that the Church cannot condone.

    As for the other linguistical question, it is troublesome to find out that in the original German the Pope, although speaking in a private capacity, said that the use of a condom was “justified” or “warranted” or “vindicated”.

    You can see in the word “rechtfertigen” the radical “Recht”, meaning “right”, “legal”. It is a radical that is also found in “Gerechtigkeit”, the German word for Justice. And the first translation of “rechtfertigen” in several dictionaries is indeed “justified”. So, the Pope said “justified”.

    Now he will probably have to correct his statements with a bunch of complex distinctions about what is justified, and lo, instead of a yes, yes, no, no doctrine, with two paragraphs the Church’s teaching on sexuality, or at least the pope’s personal adherence to it, has been left in murky waters.

    You can imagine John Doe thinking: “if even the Pope privatelly dissents from the strict Church teaching…” or, worse “the strict interpretation that the Church does not condone condoms has exceptions, and that’s according to Pope Ratzinger himself” or even worse “why do I care what the Church says, they can’t figure out their doctrine, their claim of a “semper idem” teaching is false, they keep changin’ everything. John Paul II said condoms were never permissible; Benedict XVI now says some cases are justified; perhaps if a liberal pope gets elected the next time several other cases will also be treated as justified”. So, there you have it: confusion, doubt, loss of Faith; the whole edifice of the magisterium placed in question.

  71. Sid says:

    Thank you, Father Z, for getting this out right away.

    The writebacker at 21 November 2010 at 7:52 am has touched on the real issue. As in the equally admirable Regensburger Rede, Benedict remains the university professor (and interlocutor with Habermas and the latter’s theory of discourse). Benedict is making an argument, a difficult argument, and making it nuanced and tight, as all good argument is. Alas! and alack!, because (1) the minds that resemble Homer Simpson and who habitually have bumper stickers for brains simply can’t follow such argument, and (2) the intellectually lazy won’t follow it, then (3) the intellectually evil will distort what he said.

    There’s probably not much that can be done about this, save what Fr. Z has already done. I’m with Benedict. Let him be the university professor. Clarity in thought and the professing of the best argument are virtues, however difficult the road to clarity may be. Yet to the purblind in mind and in will, even the plain and simple can’t be made pellucid.

    In passing: Geometry might be the most important course that we teach kiddies. For it teaches rational, step-by-step thought. Someone said that Euclid’s book is the 2nd most important book ever written. My geometry teacher 45 years ago told us that our proofs had to be so exact that even someone from Missouri would have to accept the QED.

    Even someone who writes for Time Magazine.

  72. Prof. Basto says:

    Where art thou, Father Lombardi?

    Unto the breach, Holy See Press Office, unto the breach!!!

  73. Faith says:

    Is there such a position as “media coach?” I see a need for church men to be coached before they give interviews. The Pope and others are too naive, and unskilled in the wily ways that the media reports. And the fault may not lie with the reporter. The editor choses the headlines. And publicity people hone in on buzz words and broadcast attention-getting hot buttons.
    I cringe when I see a bishop on Larry King, Glen Beck, et al. You know they’re going to get crucified. The poor churchmen think all they have to do is be honest and tell the truth. But that would only be broadcast as “What is the truth?” a la Pilate.

  74. LaudemGloriae says:

    A few responses. To those who assert that we are not intelligent enough to understand the Pope’s subtlety of theological thought – we get it. We understand what the Pope said. As others have said, it matters not at all the gender of the prostitute or the contraceptive nature of the so-called STD risk mitigation device. What is troubling is the argument that it would be a morally correct action to use condomns where the risk of HIV infection is present.

    A Catholic woman is married to a man who is habitual adulterer. She has previously been infected with STD by his activities. Can she insist on condom use in her marriage to protect herself? Statistics state that 50% of all married men and 25% of all married women will be unfaithful during their lives. Maybe we should all just use condomns all the time for disease provention mind you, not contraception. What should a married couple do if one is found to be HIV positive?

    Let’s explore that condom usage is a nonissue between homosexual partners. The problem with gay marriage (putting aside natural law) is that sacramental marriage is 1. unitive 2. faithful 3. fruitful We all know that gay marriage cannot be inherently fruitful. But it could be faithful. Can it be unitive with the use of condoms? No, just as with heterosexual couples this represents a witholding, a rejection of the other. If there is any risk of lethal infection, the only morally responsible loving action is abstinence.

    Yes, Aquinas did rank sins, for the purpose of applying the appropriate remedy of penance and to find the root causes of sin.

    Further, there is no such thing as safe sex. Even AIDS awareness compaigns have changed their language to “safer” sex. Recommending condoms is like stating it is more moral to play russian roulette with 2 bullets in the chamber than 5.

  75. dominic says:

    I don’t know, Faith, there certainly have been occasions (even recently) when I have thought something similar.

    But our recent experience (in the UK) of enduring 13 years of “government by spin”, where everything from the state (or even from anyone tangentially associated with either it, or the former ruling party) is tailored by public relations people to fit an approved line makes me wary of this. The un-spun, honest, approach of the Pope (in particular) is something that to my mind demonstrates the moral courage holy befitting of his position, even if it appears to have negative consequences in the short-term, or among the simple-minded (or malelovent)

    There is of course a tension between the instant demands of our press (all the more so in the 24/7 TV and internet age) and the need for the church to speak for eternity; and the problem is that the sort of typically nuanced and sophisticated – and very carefully considered and argued – approach of Pope Benedict does not lend itself to easy reproduction in the mass-media at all. I really don’t know what can be done about it, if anything; it is far better that we have a Pope who is a skilled theologian of sensitive and nuanced intellect than one who speaks in the language of tabloid headlines.

    I think there is a different issue that may lend itself to a more ready resolution; that the Vatican Press Office is perhaps not as sensitive to the harsher, cynical, tones of the press found in most Anglo-Saxon countries, as compared with that of Italy, and that some forethought in this regard could be useful. (the whole question of what has happened to L’Osservatore Romano of late is another matter, too…)

    But on a matter as delicate, complicated and controversial (and counter-cultural) as this…I really think that one can only reasonably expect much of the press to present this, at best, simplistically; and at worst wholly erroneously. (It is interesting, and positive, to note that overnight the coverage on BBC Radio news – on radio 4, the principal “serious” UK-wide station, has changed its references to explicitly refer to “male prostitutes”)

  76. CarpeNoctem says:

    While the pope is right in his statement and is standing on a great, deep moral tradition that verifies this assessment, again this is an example of completely mis-managing the media and the message coming out completely wrong. Others have discussed the particulars of the argument… a subtle and nuanced argument… so I will not repeat it.

    But when I heard this on the radio this morning and the gay-rights dude who spoke praising this “advancement”, there is one thing that needs to be reconized, which others have hinted at: In offering this ‘concession’, as the media will characterize it, there is a ‘poison pill’ that should be hard for homosexualists to swallow. Homosexual relations are something totally other than heterosexual sexual relations, and so (to grossly oversimplify the argument) it probably doesn’t matter what is done in the name of hygeine or some other ‘good’ in this midst of this most damnable evil. While there might be media and political clout in saying “the pope says this”, one should realize that this should be interpreted as a slap in the face to those who practice homosexuality, as these behaviors are so detestable and disordered as not to be deserving of any standard of respect, as the constant teaching of the Church does with ‘natural’ relations. FWIW… CN

  77. spesalvi23 says:

    Eieieieieiei!!!
    What’s with the panic?!!
    My Goodness!!

    What he said in the book is the most rational thing to say about the described circumstances.
    Of course prostitution is a sin! Does is exist?? Yes!! Will it always exist?? Yes!!
    Does it make sense to prevent spreading deadly diseases during sinful intercourse?! YES!!
    Has the general use of condoms been condoned? NO!!
    Anybody with half a brain can see what he meant!! If people are not willing to understand and comprehend and reflect, because our world has turned them into sound-bite creatures, then they’re to blame for their own numbness!!

    Will the press distort whatever he says about nearly anything? YES!!
    Does he know that?! OF COURSE!! Does he care! NO WAY IN HE**!
    (Unless this matter will lead to violence.)
    Are people here having faith in their Pope and do they have some willingness or patience to let the matter settle a bit instead of running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off? NOPE!
    And that’s the sad part!!
    Brace yourselves for the day the book comes out and regain some rationality!
    Hyperventilation leads to NOTHING!

  78. Supertradmum says:

    The discussion on this website has been excellent. But, as a person in the pew, the comment by the Pope has just complicated my life. Coming from a family of secular agnostics and atheists, I had just decided to go to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Now, I know they will bring this up and start an argument. Sadly, the vast majority of people, whether they have doctorates, like those in my family, most in university education, or those merely working, do not have time to read all these excellent comments and nuances. That the Pope was making a moral distinction is excellent. That his comments were in keeping with Thomistic Philosophy and the teachings in the Church on the different levels and types of sins, and the seriousness of such is also clear and good. But, most of the people who will read and run with this comment do not have the sophistication of rational discourse to unravel this. The Vatican media is part of the problem

  79. Athanasius says:

    The principle problem is the Pope failed to be clear. Although there is a certain degree of forgiveness and leeway public people should have for unprepared comments, one can make a mistake. This just happens to be a real big one.

    The use of a condom is intrinsically disordered. If anything, the situation proposed goes the other way, a male prostitute using prophylactics is not necessarily being responsible, he might be using it to continue his lifestyle thinking he has less chance of getting diseases. The problems are twofold:
    a)It took the media no time to suggest the Pope was making a link between condom use and “responsibility” , which his comments do seem to suggest
    b) the Pope’s comments seem to have given approbation to the idea that condoms protect from disease, which we know is not true since venereal diseases are up ridiculously.

    All in all this will go down as one of the worst papal gaffe’s rivaling L’Osservatore Romano, and probably will be the subject of endless clarifications.

  80. cato_the_younger says:

    LawrenceK – I was getting ready to write a response to Luvadoxi and see you and Charles E Flynn did a far better job than I.

  81. kgurries says:

    Here is an official “clarification” on the Pope’s remarks from the Holy See Press Office….
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Clarification on remarks on AIDS and condoms

    The head of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has issued a statement clarifying passages of the book Light of the World, in which Pope Benedict discusses AIDS and condom use.

    The statement says Pope Benedict states that AIDs cannot be solved only by the distribution of condoms, and, in fact, concentrating on condoms just trivializes sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love and becomes like a drug.

    At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”, rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others.

    Father Lombardi’s statement clarifies Pope Benedict XVI has not reformed or changed the Church’s teaching, but by putting it in perspective reaffirms the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.
    http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/EN2/Articolo.asp?c=440913

  82. Athanasius says:

    Fr. Z: [The Church’s moral theologians have said for a long time that there are those rare cases in which the use of a condom, which is still looked at as an evil, can incur less guilt of sin depending on the circumstances.]

    Less sin is still not “justified”. For that matter what exactly is less sin? Or do we mean the person is not as culpable. Justified in moral theology means the act is good.

  83. AnnAsher says:

    The_ox spoke my thoughts and feelings as well. Absolutely terrible mistake for our intellectual, learned, Pope to ever utter in the same sentence the words ” condoms” and ” moral” http://therewasaprophetess.blogspot.com/

  84. Athanasius says:

    At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”, rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others.

    This is still bad news. It begs the question: If the use of condoms stops disease, then why can’ the average joe use them? Why should he be unprotected against the various venereal diseases out there which, though they may not be as bad as HIV, they are still bad? This is the argument that not only the secular media will seize upon, but it is the logical conclusion of admitting condoms protect against disease and there is responsibility in their use to mitigate that. How many people in multiple relationships are little different than a prostitute in terms of their encounters? Maybe they’re being responsible too. This is why we need St. Thomas and scholastic theology.

  85. AnnAsher says:

    Re: Vatican press office release : ” first step on the road to a more human sexuality” No! Condoms, contraception of any sort, are a first step on the path to destruction! Look around us at the human culture since the introduction of contraception? We don’t need a sociologist. Is our culture more or less sexually moral?

  86. catholicmidwest says:

    Suburban Banshee,

    I am saying that there is no real difference between committing giant mortal sin that will send you to hell #1 with condoms and the same practice without condoms, yes. Being sort of morally dead is like being sort of pregnant. Not really a real distinction there. Yes, God acts to bring people around but how he does it neither you nor I know. So let’s not tell him what rules he has to follow, okay?

    The word “justification” is a HUGE word historically and theologically. It’ s never to be taken lightly. I’m surprised that the pope was not more sophisticated about this, particularly given his ethnic background.

    I really like this pope, but I think that on occasion he forgets principle #1 of leading people: They get far more out of process than principle when push comes to shove. Too much talk is loose talk, because even surprisingly with-it people don’t understand it if it gets very technical. Surprisingly, even quite intelligent people can become profoundly lost in constant qualification. And unfortunately constant qualification seems to be the order of the day. People would get 1000 times more good out of a sound practice demonstrated clearly & consistently from the Vatican than from any amount of chatter.

  87. kgurries says:

    John Allen gives some interesting background here:
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    In chapter eleven of the book, Benedict tells Seewald that the anti-birth control teaching of Pope Paul VI in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae remains an important witness against the “banalization of sexuality.”

    Nonetheless, Benedict says that in carefully circumscribed cases – where the intent is to prevent the transmission of disease, not to prevent pregnancy – the use of a condom “can be a first step in the direction of moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.”

    The pontiff offers the example of a male prostitute, though the same line of reasoning could arguably be applied in cases of heterosexual couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other isn’t.

    That question has long been a subject of Catholic debate, even among cardinals. In 2006, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Health Care Pastoral examined the question of condoms for married couples where one is HIV-positive and tentatively drew a positive conclusion, but no formal statement was issued – in part because of PR concern in the Vatican that such a limited concession would be heard by the world as blanket approval of condoms.

    In a Nov. 21 statement, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, said that the pope’s comments did not come out of the blue.

    “Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical personalities have sustained, and still sustain, similar positions,” Lombardi said. “Nevertheless, it’s true that they have not been heard until now with such clarity from the mouth of the pope, even if it’s in a colloquial rather than magisterial form.”

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-talks-condoms-sex-abuse-resignation-and-movie-nights

  88. AnnAsher says:

    Amen Prof. Basto! Amen, Amen, Amen!

  89. catholicmidwest says:

    Incidentally, PJPII was even worse. Yada, yada, yada, kiss the koran. Yada, yada, yada, go to those giant masses with bad music & liturgical abuse. Yada, yada, yada. It was utterly confusing and confounding. Thank God, those years are over. This pope has been far more clear most of the time and this is not that bad.

    I just hope they take a lesson and watch the qualifications in public. Making fine theological distinctions to the media (and to dogs) is never a good idea.

  90. catholicmidwest says:

    Sid,
    You said, “I’m with Benedict. Let him be the university professor.”

    There is the rub.
    He. Is. No. Longer. A. University. Professor.
    He hasn’t been a university professor for decades.
    No. He is the leader of the true Christian Church. It behooves him to act prudently in that role. Talking CASUALLY about *justification* in public on such charged and politically correct subjects, to the media no less, isn’t very prudent.

  91. AnnAsher says:

    Luvadoxi
    Welcome Home to the Church.
    The people whom prepared you for reception have failed you since your still struggling with this issue. It should have been resolved, with full ascent to the Church, prior to reception. I admire your willingness to seek out proper instruction now. I too was misled in RCIA, over 12 years ago.
    Catholic hospitals are never *permitted* to administer contraception. Even in the extraordinarily rare occurrence of conception after rape (less than 1%) we do not punish the child for the sins of the father.

    I recommend contacting One More Soul via their website and getting a
    copy of their free CD on contraception. Then, read Theology of the Body for Beginners. Despite Christopher West’s recent troubles… This volume was a good read for me. These two introductions to why the Church teaches what She teaches were life changing for me. I hope they are for you as well. Please continue to seek to understand why the Church teaches certain things vs. Putting them aside (as I was encouraged to do in rcia). Though this is at first the more challenging path it is the only path that results in the true Peace of Christ.
    Pax Domini Sit Semper Tecum!

  92. catholicmidwest says:

    Note also that in this day and age generally speaking, even many people with PhDs don’t make fine theological or moral distinctions readily. In fact, most of them don’t. We’re very specialized now. I know plenty of people who are totally out in left field theologically but are spot-on when it comes to their disciplines (engineering, physics, chemistry, social work, etc). There are plenty of mormon PhDs you know? And even more atheistic ones. This is how that happens. The world is no longer in the middle ages, right? It’s all about process now. [Note that the big dust-up isn’t about a principle but a practice. Tip-off # 1,000,000. Vastly different than the reformation, BTW, even though the same words may seem to be involved, which means that’s probably being misconstrued too.]

    We have a mission to bring a historical and classical religion to these people. It’s possible because God doesn’t ask the impossible, but it’s difficult. BUT THIS IS THE WORLD WE’RE IN, AND THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO WORK WITH. Catholics generally don’t seem to *get* that and work appropriately. To wit, you can’t give them even a hint of a process that seems to make no sense to them. Give them processes that lead to what you want them to develop in themselves and then probe them to bring them to development. DUH. When will the people who run the Church once again *get* this?????

  93. kgurries says:

    Unfortunately the secular media will continue to spin this as a “change” in Church teaching. The reality is that this is an area of development. Clearly there is theological research and open discussion on this question. The Pope has apparently expressed his own (private) position — a position that is fully in accord with the constant teaching of the Church. Catholics need not be scandalized, however, the process of such “development” always carries the risk of internal divisions. Hopefully, Catholics on all sides of the debate will maintain charity and humility.

  94. catholicmidwest says:

    Fine & good, kgurries, for those buried deep within the faithful minority. But things like this have repercussions for those like Supertradmom’s relatives (see her post above) and others at the boundaries or outside of the church. Things like this have repercussions for evangelization and general understanding of the Church outside her boundaries. The world outside the Church’s boundaries is MASSIVE, must larger than that within. Many cradle Catholics seem not to be aware of this, but it’s the truth.

  95. Randii says:

    Orthodox catholics are mostly doing summesaults to try to defend this statement and say it is not a change.

    It is however. Read the statement in full. Cardinal Seggreccia has apparently confirmed that there are cases when contraception can be used. Is this the first step to acceptiong contraception in more “exceptionnal” cases. I’d say most probably.

  96. catholicmidwest says:

    Randii,
    Homosexual lovers don’t NEED contraception. You can’t get a baby from 2 guys in a bathhouse.

  97. catholicmidwest says:

    And the problem isn’t that practice is going to change. I mean it hardly matters morally whether a guy in a bathhouse uses a condom or not. He’s in deep crap morally anyway, just by being there with his trousers down. No. We have to be clear about this.

    The problem is that stray theoretical, even speculative, ideas have been tossed in the direction of the cretin media who are using it to make money, because of course, that’s their business in this world–to sell newspapers. It was a lapse of prudence, just one more in a long line of lapses in prudence, sad to say.

  98. Randii says:

    I disagree catholicmidwest. This has ramifications way beyond the apparently now sanctionned use of condoms by gay men. To protect their health. A move in a more moral direction as the Pope said.

    If a couple is married and one has an easily transmittable fatal disease and they have only had sexual relations in their marriage this new teaching says it’s moving in a moral direction for the gay couple in a similar health situation to use condoms but not the devout married couple?!

    Mark my words that this new teaching, a development on the church understanding of contraception, will eventually lead to a more lenient/open church teaching on contraception in general.

  99. catholicmidwest says:

    Oh of course you disagree. We’ve met here before and the only time I ever see you is when one of these topics hits the fan.

    It would hardly be possible for this teaching to result in greater contraception usage, Randii. Most people, including Catholics, already use birth control because for most modern people process trumps concept. It’s a post-modern thing and being unilaterally in the post-modern world you should know that as well as I do. It’s a shameful exhibition of how poorly the world understands eternity.

    It’s also one of the giant failings of the Catholic church not that people use contraception specifically, but rather that the Church doesn’t seem to be able to access what Augustine learned so long ago: It’s not so much about eloquence and ideas dictated in public as it is about living the faith as a way of life. NOTE well: I’m not anti-conceptual, but I know that concepts come concurrently with practice. Disembodied concepts are of no use to anyone. There is no understanding of theology without grace and presence in Church. TO WIT: YOU DON”T GET IT FROM THE NEWSPAPERS. =O

  100. Randii says:

    Catholicmidwest – read what the Pope said, read what right wing Catholics like Janet Smith are “interpretating” the Pope’s words to mean, then read a left wing Catholic writer’s “interpretation”.

    On this topic it’s those wwriting from the right that are twisting and turning and doing their best to make this statement not say what it clearly says. And the larger question of what is a clear change in the church’s position.

    When has a Pope ever said using condoms can have moral elements? Was Paul VI in Humane Vitae wrong? Was that “dogma” interpreted too broadly all this time and now we are moving towards a devlopment of that dogma which will recognize some condon use as moral?

  101. catholicmidwest says:

    1. This is not about politics, Randii. You may see it through that lens, however. It certainly looks as though you do, in fact. Do you think God does? If he does, for how long has this been going on?

    2. Do you think you know better than Humanae Vitae? On what logical grounds? I’m curious.

    3. If a person has been willing to use birth control all along, why do you think it might matter to that person whether it’s moral or not? Seriously. What difference might it make to them? Do you think it would make them behave any differently? In what way?

    PS “Interpretating” is not a word unless you are a toddler, Randii.

  102. Maltese says:

    While the Pope’s comments could be construed to have some theological basis (though the phase “the first step towards moralization” is hard to justify), I find making them imprudent. The only conclusion is to add confusion, not clarity, to controversy.

    Make no mistake, condom use, by itself, even among married Catholics, is a mortal sin. Their use is no different than sodomy.

  103. Supertradmum says:

    Catholicmidwest,

    I agree with you that most Catholics and people in general are anti-intellectual and incapable of the fine thinking which is usually found on this blog and commentator’s box. Knee-jerk reactions are the order of this day, when people feel what they believe, not think out what they believe. Priests in the pulpit need to be simple and clear in their teaching of the Truth, which in this diocese, is almost avoided completely.

    Randii,

    There is no change in the teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter. Long before this statement, the Vatican was clear about the transmitting of AIDS as not being helped by condoms, but leading to encouraging promiscuity. The Pope seems to have been referring and answering a very, very specific question about male prostitution, a hideous state of sin and corruption. The health idea was even true in the 1960s, pre-Humane Vitae, when women with life-threatening problems were allowed by their priests to use IUDs for medical purposes. That allowance did not create promiscuity in those marriages. The Church is clear on the fact that there are degrees of sin; some sins are those which in the Bible, “cry out to Heaven” for justice. I think that you are confusing a rather academic, but relatively common distinction in this case. Of course, the media, for its own greedy reasons and for a rather universal hatred of the Holy Catholic Church is making a hay-day out of the Pope’s statement. As to people’s interpretations, since when is either the Catholic media or the secular media experts on theological questions?

    All of these comments look either at the practicality of this statement, or the idealism of this statement. The Church has always tried to lead people to the highest degree of holiness. In the pagan world, in ancient times, people were sickened by gross sin. That has not happened yet, but it will.

  104. Jason Keener says:

    Luvadoxi,

    I wouldn’t be too alarmed if you find some of these biomedical and sexual issues confusing. To some extent, the Church is in the process of figuring it out too, as these are sometimes complicated matters.

    1. What the Pope said about condoms and male prostitutes makes sense, although the nuance on such a topic will be lost on the media and even on a lot of Catholics in the pews. Sexual acts between two males are certainly depraved, but the acts can be made even worse if through those acts someone is spreading a serious disease. It does make sense for the Pope to acknowledge that condoms could, for example, be worn by male prostitutes since the wearing of the condom would do the good of helping to prevent serious disease and would not involve the frustration of the procreative aspect sex. Of course, between two men there is no procreative aspect to frustrate. Just because the Pope says that male prostitutes would be justified in lessening the evil of their acts does not mean the Pope approves of depraved sexual acts. Where we cannot stop evil altogether, we should at least try to lessen it, especially when the spread of disease can also affect the larger population.

    2. Some theologians and even some bishops maintain that emergency contraception can be given to victims of rape because the rape victim has a legitimate right to repel the sperm that was introduced into her through an act of violence. The problem, however, is that this kind of contraception can also cause abortions by making it difficult or impossible for an already-fertilized egg (child) to implant. Of course, the rape victim has no right to expel an already-conceived child because that would involve the direct killing of an innocent person. Emergency contraception for rape victims could only be used if it was clear that no abortion would result. This knowledge seems difficult to ascertain, and for that reason, there is a lot of debate about whether or not and when emergency contraception can be given to rape victims in Catholic hospitals.

    3. No one can directly cause an abortion for any reason. If a mother and child are in danger, everything must be done to save both because both mother and baby have human lives. If a mother has a medical procedure that results in the death of the child, this can be permissible so long as the medical procedure was not directly intended at killing the child. For example, even if a Fallopian tube is removed containing an ectopic pregnancy that results in the death of the child, the life of the child was not necessarily attacked and directly killed. Rather, the child died as a sad and unintentional consequence of the medical procedure aimed at doing the good of helping the mother achieve health.

    Hope this helps!

  105. catholicmidwest says:

    So, what’s the least we can do and get away with it? And how can we move that boundary so that we can get away with even more?

    What was the point of being Catholic again??

  106. Supertradmum says:

    catholicmidwest,

    We must try to do the hard things, always, and never compromise. Some women saints chose death over abortion and some couples chose celibacy instead of using their marriage rights. The call to holiness is always to do what is most difficult, without making things more difficult. St. Teresa of Avila wrote of this dilemma-not to fast until one is ill, but to fast; not to pray until one is endangering one’s health, but to pray always. Can you not extrapolate that the laity are called to holiness by denying the world, the flesh and the devil, and living in chaste marriage relationships, open to children? All else is serious sin. Do not fret, as God always shows us the way and forgives our confusion , and sins, if we try to follow Him and His Church. Good spiritual advisers, like gold dust in my area, are a necessity. Try and find a saintly priest to help you, and all of us . And, thank you for your comments.

  107. Magpie says:

    Cardinal Schonborn caused a mini-stir when he made comments earlier this year on a matter of sexual morality. Anyone remember that? I believe it involved the same line of argument.

  108. Magpie says:

    Here it is:

    ”On homosexual couples, the cardinal said that an enduring same-sex union is preferable to a series of encounters, telling the journalists that “a stable relationship is certainly better than if someone simply indulges in promiscuity.”
    Regarding Catholics who divorce and remarry, the cardinal said the Church might need to reconsider the idea that they should not receive Communion, pointing out that “many people don’t even marry at all any longer.”

    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=6267

  109. S. Murphy says:

    Catholicmidwest: the point is the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
    The dispute over condoms, or over who has sufficient reading comprehension to grok the Pope’s relatively simple statement is a small area in which the practical application of the commandment, ‘love thy neighbor’ is being worked out. Obviously, using your neighbor as a random f*ck-buddy isn’t loving; making it a financial transaction is even less loving; including depraved indifference to (your parter’s) human life to the financial transaction is about as close to hell as you can get while still breathing. Removing the depraved indifference from the transaction is a very small step in the right direction. That’s all.

  110. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, I remember. All dioceses should have savvy media specialists who are traddies, who understand the world.

  111. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m not sure that holiness is simply a call to zero in on pain, any more than it’s a call to feel good about your “spirituality,” as post-modern man might quip on his ipod touch.

    I think that holiness is about living the life of faith in cooperation with the God of the Church, the God of natural creation, the God of scripture, the God of the Jews as understood more fully in the New Testament and Tradition from which it comes and which is embodied in the Catholic Church. I firmly believe that sometimes living this life is beautiful and purposeful–something many people have forgotten–even though it may have necessary hardships at times.

    Hard-core ultra-traditional Catholics sometimes look like marines bent on self-immolation to me, and sometimes I think that the suffering becomes another religion in itself for them. On the other hand, soft-core contemporary Catholics seem to be living with some kind of “me-filter” between them and everything else including elemental reality, the “me-filter” being their personal “god”–themselves. Scary. Scary. Horrifyingly double scary.

  112. catholicmidwest says:

    S Murphy, agree.

    My main point is that tossing the speculative idea out for the media to slurp up like dogs was imprudent. The Vatican needs to think and think hard about what they’re supposed to be doing out there. This ain’t it.

  113. S. Murphy says:

    Cmw: Marines tend to be bent on self-immolation only when covering the grenade is the only way to protect other Marines. But I think your middle paragraph is exactly right; and your last one matches Chesterton’s comments on the balance of Orthodoxy… in _Orthodoxy_, iirc.

  114. Randii says:

    Magpie – also remeber that Archhbishop Nichols of the UK said recently as to the possibility of homosexual marriage in the church in the future something to the effect – who knows? It was covered in CWR.

    All these little moves or expressions during the reign of a conservative Pope is like Nixon going to China. If the church is to make changes in key areas like divorced not being able to receive communion it will come during the reign of a conservative Pope IMO.

    These may be the first such openings though it’s probably decades away before the church makes significant changes in these areas.

  115. S. Murphy says:

    “My main point is that tossing the speculative idea out for the media to slurp up like dogs was imprudent.”

    cmw – got it, although I think he has a choice between letting the dead bury their dead, and not speaking at all. His comment to Seewald answered all the pseudo-questions NPR et al have used to sew confusion. Now, if his ‘brother bishops’ choose to cover his back, like they failed to in the Williamson affair, the faithful who show up for Sunday Mass might not stay confused for long.

    Oh well. ;-\

  116. catholicmidwest says:

    Good gravy, Randii. One little imprudence in the media, and you’re thinking that we’re going to throw everything overboard. My, we have our little hopes up, don’t we?

    I might as well ask you personally: What’s the least we can do and get away with it? And how can we move the boundaries so we can get away with even more?

    PS What is the point of being Catholic exactly?

  117. catholicmidwest says:

    S Murphy, the biblical context for “let the dead bury the dead.”

    “19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
    20And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
    21And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
    22But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

    Now put it into a practical context in the situation.

    The church is not in the medical therapeutics business.

  118. catholicmidwest says:

    It may be very easy to say something like, “Surely it’s better if you’re going to do A to make sure you don’t hurt somebody physically in the process.” That doesn’t mean we should be tossing controversial freebies out for the media to roll in. And that’s exactly what happened, in essence. Prudence should have been more evident.

    A good question: What did the Vatican think would happen exactly after this sentence was uttered in public?? Did they not think that far ahead?

  119. Prof. Basto says:

    Just one question:

    Is there any male prostitute in the world, or a female prostitute, for that matter, who works as a prostitute but does not use a condom while working “because of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality“?

    Prostitutes of course completely disregard the Church’s teaching on sexuality, not only because it is extramarital sex that they perform, but also because they sell their sexuality, a gravely immoral act. Does anyone involved in such immorality will use a condom or fail to do so because of the Church’s teachings.

    Jane Doe or Joe Doe don’t mind the Church’s morals when it comes to being prostitutes, but they decide on the use of a condom based on the Pope’s teachings?! That is absurd.

    So, the Church has no need to clarify that it is a “lesser sin”, or a “more responsible way of engaging in sin and immorality”, if the prostitute decides to wear a condom.

    The only practical difference such “clarification” would make would be if, along with making it, the Church opened the doors for supporting the distribution of condoms to those specific groups or a marketing campaign of concientization aimed at prostitutes. Is this the position of the Church now? That such limited distribution would be ok? How is that different from giving clean needles to heroin-users, so that they avoid HIV? Isn’t this kind of distribution policy a form of condoning the only slightly-lesser-evil-but-still-grossly-immoral act?

    If no practical consequence is intended for the pope’s subtle distinctions, then what was the purpose of his engaging in this kind of unnecessary distinguishing of situations?

    This is different from the “Regensburg Address”. In the “Regensburg Speech”, there was no distinguishing, no changing, no murking the waters, of a magisterial stance. No clarification that created exceptions to a rule of the magisterum. No, in the Regesburg Address, the pope dealt with the important topic of the Christian understanding of God as a Rational God, a God that is not “capricious”, unlike the god of Islam, who is said to be capricious and able to do as he pleases, even adopting or sanctioning irrational behaviour. It was an important critique of the muslim view of God, and it pointed out a clear area of separation of understanding between Islam and Christianity.

    Here, however, the professoral distinctions made by the Pope will serve no practical purpose, except if – God forbid – it means that the Church will now give aid and comfort to the dissemination of condoms in the name of a slightly lesser evil.

    The Pope has scored an own goal, and the multitudes will now doubt the solid-rock status and the strength of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.

  120. LawrenceK says:

    AnnAsher wrote:

    Catholic hospitals are never *permitted* to administer contraception. Even in the extraordinarily rare occurrence of conception after rape (less than 1%) we do not punish the child for the sins of the father.

    Sorry, but you are incorrect on this point. You are confusing true contraception (which is something that occurs before the sperm and egg meet) with the so-called “emergency contraception” lauded by the secular media (which is an abortion of a fertilized egg, in the first few hours or days after fertilization).

    The so-called “emergency contraception” is not permitted in Catholic hospitals, because it is an abortion.

    But since conception often does not take place for a few hours after the sexual act, if a woman has been raped in the last hour or two it is possible to use truly contraceptive methods to decrease the chance of fertilization. Many of these methods do not have any risk of abortion at all. Such methods are licit for rape victims, and they are used in Catholic hospitals.

  121. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Athanasius said:

    Less sin is still not “justified”. For that matter what exactly is less sin? Or do we mean the person is not as culpable. Justified in moral theology means the act is good.

    Catholicmidwest said:

    I am saying that there is no real difference between committing giant mortal sin that will send you to hell #1 with condoms and the same practice without condoms, yes. Being sort of morally dead is like being sort of pregnant. Not really a real distinction there.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding some folks here, but I don’t agree with the idea that once you’ve committed a mortal sin, it doesn’t matter if you add on some more. “I’m already robbing the bank–might as well eliminate the witnesses” (Janet Smith’s point, I think). Of course it matters.

    Now, Athanasius makes a valid observation: that the assumption of condoms preventing disease must be disputed, because that isn’t necessarily the case, and that can turn into a false hope.

    All that said, you and I are simply not credible if we are understood to say that if two men engage in sinful sexual behavior, then once that sinful choice has been made, there are no subsequent, morally significant moral choices that will be made. And the Holy Father was addressing the intention: i.e., someone beginning to care about how his actions affect others is better than caring less.

  122. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Lawrence says, of administering contraception to women who were raped, but are not yet pregnant…

    “Such methods are licit for rape victims, and they are used in Catholic hospitals”…

    And the reason they are licit is because the Church’s teaching about keeping marital acts open to the transmission of life does not apply to rape. Rape is not a marital act.

  123. catholicmidwest says:

    Correct, Prof Basto.

    And all this is especially strange in light of the fact that our BIG GOAL should be making it understood that engaging in homosexual prostitution (and indeed homosexual behavior in general) is a grave sin that we should be delivering people from in itself, because grave sins separate one from God. The goal is not the following: to keep them from getting some medical malady by means of engaging in this perversion in just-so fashion. The GOAL is the following: to get them to HEAVEN by their OWN choice. Which means getting them to understand the greater truths of reality which are the truths of the Church. Forget test tubes and thermometers; those are temporary problems. People with diseases sometimes get to heaven; people without diseases sometimes presumably go to hell. Since when did that change?

  124. catholicmidwest says:

    LawrenceK,

    Contraceptive methods generally have several different mechanisms of operation in order to make them as efficient as possible, which makes them more commercially valuable. One of those mechanisms is their power as abortifacients. They often prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum on the uterine wall, thereby inducing a very early abortion. It will not be evident to the mother that that is what has happened, but nevertheless, that is what it is.

  125. LawrenceK says:

    Luvadoxi asked: If contraception is evil, why is it allowed in Catholic hospitals for rape as long as it can be proven that conception hasn’t occurred and there is no risk of destroying a new human life?

    The problem is that the phrase “contraception is evil” is oversimplified to the point of distortion. The Church has no objection to neutering a dog, for example, and that’s a form of contraception. The Chuch has no objection if an engaged man and woman decide to postpone the wedding for a year, because they don’t believe they are financially ready to have children. Obviously these are somewhat silly examples, but they highlight the fact that avoidance of conception is not always evil.

    According to natural law and Church teaching, the sexual act was given by God for a specific purpose. To use it for a different purpose is intrinsically sinful. That purpose can only be fulfilled within marriage, when the act is open to the transmission of new life. Because artificial contraception thwarts this purpose, it is objectively sinful for married couples to use artificial contraception.

    However, if a woman is being raped, the sexual act is being used in a sinful way by her attacker. The sin of rape is not increased if he chooses to wear a condom. After all, condoms are not “evil” considered solely as physical objects; it is the use of condoms to compromise the purpose of sexuality in marriage that is sinful, because sex within marriage is a good thing and therefore it violates the natural law to deliberately distort it. But in an act of rape, sexuality is being used in an evil way, and the condom doesn’t make it worse. The same logic applies to the permissible kind of contraception that a Catholic hospital would use, as this consists in nothing more than removing the foreign matter from the victim.

    I know that several commenters are concerned that by allowing tiny “exceptions” like this, the Church may be opening the door to confusion. Even if that is true — which I question — that doesn’t change anything. The Church must teach the truth, even if that truth can’t be summarized in five words or less. Yes, there will be people who are confused by sentences that contain more than one clause or rules that can’t be explained in less than ten seconds. And yes, we can expect the secular media to distort all such things. But that doesn’t give the Pope the authority to hide the truth from the Catholic people! He was asked a question and he told the true answer. I honor and respect him for that!

  126. LawrenceK says:

    Catholicmidwest: It is true that many contraceptives work on many levels, and often function as abortifacients. Such things are forbidden in every case.

    The kind of “contraception” that is permitted for rape victims is limited to things that essentially just “wash out” the material that has been put there. I would rather not be more explicit for reasons of modesty, since this is a public blog, but I hope my meaning is clear.

  127. catholicmidwest says:

    A dog being spayed is immaterial to the topic, since dogs are ontologically different than human beings.

    There is a difference, LawrenceK, between doing speculative theology and announcing to the press that not only are you doing speculative theology but here are some speculative conclusions–especially when you know that doing so a) will get a rise out of them and that b) they have a high probability of using it in irresponsible ways to make money.

    The pope is not merely a moral theologian. He has responsibility for the church which is more than an idea.

  128. LawrenceK says:

    Catholicmidwest wrote: The goal is not the following: to keep them from getting some medical malady by means of engaging in this perversion in just-so fashion. The GOAL is the following: to get them to HEAVEN by their OWN choice.

    I fully agree with you. The pope should be spending much, much more time teaching people to avoid sin then teaching people how to avoid disease. And I believe that he does. But if he didn’t, then I agree with you that it would indicate a serious confusion about what his job description is!

  129. robtbrown says:

    Randii says:

    Catholicmidwest – read what the Pope said, read what right wing Catholics like Janet Smith are “interpretating” the Pope’s words to mean, then read a left wing Catholic writer’s “interpretation”.

    Since when is Janet Smith a right winger?

    On this topic it’s those writing from the right that are twisting and turning and doing their best to make this statement not say what it clearly says. And the larger question of what is a clear change in the church’s position.

    It is no change. See below.

    When has a Pope ever said using condoms can have moral elements? Was Paul VI in Humane Vitae wrong? Was that “dogma” interpreted too broadly all this time and now we are moving towards a devlopment of that dogma which will recognize some condon use as moral?

    You don’t seem to have a grasp either of the moral principle or of what the pope said. I noted the other day that the prohibition of contraception is based on protecting the integrity of the conjugal act. What the pope is referring to here is minimizing evil–like comparing to a bank robber shooting everyone in the room compared to shooting only a couple of people.

  130. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, and robtbrown,

    The real shame is that this little article of nonsense that went out to the press is sort of obvious, about as obvious as your example. It is nothing new. But the language that’s being used to couch it is not obvious to most people and there is part of the problem because it looks to many as though it is new by virtue of the words used. The rest of the problem is that it was brought up at all which was quite clearly unnecessary. I mean what did they think it would accomplish exactly? What did they think the press would do with it?

  131. Clinton says:

    An interesting discussion so far. That as many well-intentioned people as those who follow
    Fr. Z’s blog are not in agreement re: the meaning of the Holy Father’s remarks underscores the
    need for clarification from the Pope or the CDF. Until then I’m ready to put off my case of the
    vapors. Confident as I am in our Papa Benedict, I’d say I can postpone those vapors indefinitely.

    I do wish that those prelates who have made impromptu statements to the press would reflect
    on the need to speak from the same page. This confusion is not removed by the insertion of
    conflicting remarks from random Church officials who happen to find a microphone. The
    Vatican might not have entered the 20th century when it comes to understanding the hostile,
    voracious media of the 21st century, but it doesn’t take much sense to know not to parse one’s
    boss’s remarks until one knows how HE parses his remarks…

  132. catholicmidwest says:

    Ah, yes, Clinton. Blessed sweet corporate alignment. LOL. I suppose that’s one way of putting it, but I think it only works well if the mission statement is clear and short, with 5 subordinate bullet points or less.

  133. catholicmidwest says:

    And of course, if the boss doesn’t produce, he can find himself out of alignment too. Even the CEO answers to serendipity of the markets or at least Wall Street, no?

  134. anna 6 says:

    Those of you who are “freaking out” over what the pope has said really need to read the whole conversation more clearly. There is a level of arrogance from some commenters here that is quite disappointing …and uncharitable.
    Pope Benedict is far wiser than most of us…and he know what he is doing.
    God bless him.

  135. S. Murphy says:

    catholicmidwest; the Pope probably thought the lib media were going to ignore his third conversation with Peter Seewald. Or, he thought, this will get Catholics to actually READ THE BOOK and understand what he really said – and why it’s not what Nerdishly Perverse Radio said he said. Or, he just said what he thought, and trusted the Holy Spirit to take care of it. The long view (well, longer than this thread is tending toward right now) is that this kerfluffle will be out of the news by Christmas, and come Holy Week, the NYT will have to dig up that lawyer what’s-his-name again for their traditional anti-Catholic Easter story.
    By ‘let the dead bury their dead,’ I meant intellectually honest fellows like Seewald might accept the Church’s invitation to follow Christ, or at least to understand what they’re opposing; but without the Holy Spirit changing their minds, the dishonest – NPR, probably Hell’s Bible, the Fishwrap, Andrew Sullivan, etc, will do what they were gong to do anyway: deliberately misrepresent the Pope’s words, and the Church’s teaching, to ultimately, their own sorrow.

  136. Clinton says:

    Anna 6, exactly right.

  137. catholicmidwest says:

    At any rate, I don’t think the church really works like a corporation. The goals are different. It is what it is. The church has another kind of mission.
    But curiously, unlike what you might expect, it doesn’t seem to be its intention for that mission to be at the center of what it does much of the time, which is really the strangest thing for me to watch, being the long-time convert I am.

    I can’t get over, for one thing, this liturgy thing we’re going through with the new translations. Absolutely ridiculous in my view, 9/10 of it. Why did we ever junk Latin in the first place? Yeah, I know there were all kinds of putative “reasons.” It’s just that none of them mattered 1/2 of an iota in the first place and still don’t and I can’t get my head wrapped around the fact that this apparently occurred to NO ONE THAT MATTERED until it was too late. Or that having made one of the biggest blunders in centuries, they couldn’t just admit it and fix it because it was so confoundedly and obviously messed up. So now, we have a new translation to replace the “high school grade play” we’ve suffered with for nearly 50 years, with all of its attendant hogwash assumptions, and people are still acting like warring neighborhood boys over it. What the hell? I don’t get it. Yes, I know about all the moving parts, political manipulations and all the rest of it. But I still don’t get it.

    This condom thing strikes me the same way. What the hell does it matter whether they use condoms or not when they’re engaged in you know what with a casual f*ck-buddy as S Murphy so succinctly and truly phrased it. Once you’ve gone there, I’m sorry, but at that point, the Rubicon has been definitively crossed. Therapeutic manners may not matter at that point particularly since there is no safe sex after all. Condoms are leaky much of the time anyway. Can you say “false sense of security?” I knew you could. Nothing like encouraging people to run in traffic with blindfolds on. Especially since this perversion is a habit, duh. If it doesn’t get you today, it’ll get you next week, or the next week, or ……. Condoms leak.

  138. Pete says:

    “The Pope did not endorse the use of condoms”

    This was not how I interpreted his comments, nor most Catholics, nor the world press. And any such subtleties that some raise will be lost of the general public; the pontiff should have know better. What a mess.

    —–

    What does Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the “UK’s best Catholic weekly” have to say:

    “Pope Benedict’s extraordinary comments about condoms and HIV reflect his charity and common sense”
    ………
    “Pope Benedict XVI is modifying the Catholic Church’s absolute ban on the use of condoms……”

    Read the rest here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100064523/pope-benedicts-extraordinary-comments-about-condoms-and-hiv-reflect-his-charity-and-common-sense/

  139. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, many cradle catholics know how ridiculously bad condoms can leak, but none of them are going to tell you that because, well, just because. They don’t know anything about other methods of birth control either–yeah, right. ;|

    The pope may really not know that condoms leak and that’s a good thing, but it’s all the more reason why he shouldn’t be talking about it in public, theoretically or not. Grrr.

  140. S. Murphy says:

    “Therapeutic manners may not matter at that point particularly since there is no safe sex after all. ……. Condoms leak.”
    Yeah. Exactly. When the proponents of sexual free-for-all attitude are scandalized that the Church doesn’t approve of condoms for married couples, where one partner is HIV+, we have to ask: “So, you’re saying you have a deadly disease, a sexually transmitted deadly disease; and you love this person – AND you insist on your right to have sex with them? Do you insist on a right to play Russian Roulette with people you love? Having HIV is a call to abstinence – a very loud one.

    Anna6 – Amen!

  141. robtbrown says:

    Randii says:

    Magpie – also remeber that Archhbishop Nichols of the UK said recently as to the possibility of homosexual marriage in the church in the future something to the effect – who knows? It was covered in CWR.

    Why should I care what Abp Nichols said?

    All these little moves or expressions during the reign of a conservative Pope is like Nixon going to China. If the church is to make changes in key areas like divorced not being able to receive communion it will come during the reign of a conservative Pope IMO.

    You are uninformed. The divorced can now receive Communion. The divorced who have “remarried” in a civil ceremony are in adulterous unions. They cannot receive Communion. That cannot change.

    These may be the first such openings though it’s probably decades away before the church makes significant changes in these areas.

    Vapid.

  142. catholicmidwest says:

    S Murphy,

    You said, “The long view (well, longer than this thread is tending toward right now) is that this kerfluffle will be out of the news by Christmas, and come Holy Week, the NYT will have to dig up that lawyer what’s-his-name again for their traditional anti-Catholic Easter story.”
    You’re probably right, or at least I hope you are.

    I do know one thing. There really isn’t any reason why any of this might change how people really behave, except for the fact that it dismays and discourages some already-Catholics and might make them doubt the church a little bit more than before. And it might put off some on the church’s boundaries teetering over coming in. But honestly, it’s small compared to some of the junk we’ve seen in recent years. It doesn’t hold a candle to the Assisi mess or the kissing the koran business, that’s true. Maybe it will blow over. Hope so.

  143. S. Murphy says:

    “I do know one thing. There really isn’t any reason why any of this might change how people really behave,…”
    Yeah. I think we should all bug our priests,* and maybe our bishops,* to provide some back-up teaching from the pulpit, to forestall that dismay and discouragement.

    *The orthodox ones, obviously

  144. I sincerely thank Fr. Z and other Catholic internet sources for running such extensive quotes and information. My parents aren’t on the internet, so they’re always getting scandalized by the media — though of course, they’re old enough to realize that somebody may be misrepresenting matters.

    My mom summed up my whole explanation this way: “It sounds like the way some of the girls at school were always looking for some way to get away with something. If the nuns said anything about what they were trying to get away with, they’d try to tell you the nuns said it was okay.”

  145. catholicmidwest says:

    Yeah, like that will work. I’m speechless, S Murphy. I hope priests don’t start talking about condoms too. God only knows what might come out of their mouths.

    At the very least it could be highly informative for the little kiddies; at the most, egad, the mind boggles. Please. No.

  146. S. Murphy says:

    “Yeah, like that will work. I’m speechless, S Murphy. I hope priests don’t start talking about condoms too. God only knows what might come out of their mouths.”

    Not all of ‘em. Just the good ones. The ones with reading comprehension, faith, and fidelity to the magisterium. We have some of those, don’t we?

  147. catholicmidwest says:

    Yeah, well, you want the job of sorting them all out? How fast can *you* get it done?

    Making a bigger deal out of this than it has to be is likely to make the problem much worse. Best to let it go = Consider it an imprudent slip and hope most people return as soon as possible to some semblance of the main job of the Church. Hope that it blows over, like you said before, ala kissing the koran and naked song-leaders in Ghana or wherever. Against all odds, I know, but someone has to get something done.

  148. robtbrown says:

    catholicmidwest says:

    The pope may really not know that condoms leak and that’s a good thing, but it’s all the more reason why he shouldn’t be talking about it in public, theoretically or not. Grrr.

    He knows. Obviously, I haven’t read the interview, but it seems that the reason for the prohibition on contraception should have first been mentioned, then also the disorder of act of prostitution.

    This is the kind of example that can come up in a theology class.

  149. catholicmidwest says:

    As a theoretical example, maybe. But you have to realize that this sort of thing is not just a theoretical example when it really happens. You do know that, right? And you do know now, if you didn’t know before, that condoms leak like the proverbial dickens. They’re not this little theoretically impervious piece of perfection that divides reality neatly & geometrically into clean and not-clean, right? There is a probability calculation in any argument about condoms and the stats aren’t good.

    Perhaps what the pope might have meant is that in a theoretical act like such-and-such, when freedom is constrained in such-and-such way, and when there is the possibility of having a theoretically perfect barrier such-and-so, then such-and-such could be the case, theoretically speaking. Entirely theoretically, you understand.

    That’s completely different than what if X finds himself in a bathhouse, bent on getting a piece for cash because he’s broke, and he thinks the guy approaching him has a life-threatening disease but he can’t say no because who knows why, what does he do then??? Ah yes, condoms are sometimes effective if they’re fresh and you’re lucky, and hope is a strategy (he hopes). Yikes. I know. It’s sick. It’s stupid. But some people are precisely in that mental space, trust me.

  150. anna924 says:

    It seems that we are focusing too much on the temporal rather than the eternal. This is going to sound really harsh, but sometimes people have to face the natural consequences of their sin. I don’t wish AIDS on anyone, but sometimes it is only through facing our weaknesss that we are led to repentance and ultimately salvation. Mother Thersa helped save many souls that way. We, as a culture and as a Church, have lost the value of suffering and sacrafice and that is tragic. Dying of AIDS is not the worse thing that can happen to you, nor is getting pregnant. Going to hell that is the worst thing that can happen to you.

  151. Charles E Flynn says:

    I suspect that the pope, with his German background, is well aware of the fact that a piece of mass-produced material costing less than 50 cents is not going to have parachute-class reliability.

  152. Charles E Flynn says:

    There is now a full English translation of the statement of Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi:

    http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/vatican-spokesmans-statement-on-condoms/

  153. catholicmidwest says:

    Then why talk about it as if it did, Charles?

  154. Lurker 59 says:

    Dragging this back to the term “justified”.

    Keep this in mind The official English translation of this book does not use the term “justified” but rather “a basis”.

    sprachmeister has reported that the German reports are using “rechtfertigen” which means “to justify”, “to warrant” or “to vindicate”.

    We do not know the following which must be answered:

    1). Is “rechtfertigen” the text of the German book or is it a journalist text created by translating the OR text into German. I ask this because in the English reports that I have read they are not using the official English text but a journalist text created by translating the OR text into English.

    2.) If “rechtfertigen” is the correct text of the German origional, why does the offical English not reflect this.

    There is MUCH MUCH MUCH spin and hysteria going on over this text and I constantly see people attributing thoughts and texts to the Pontiff that are not his but are rather coming from the journalist reports.

    We need the actual offical German text as it is printed in the actual book, not what is being reported in the papers. Can anyone find someone who has an advance copy of the book?? Cite the person and post the whole text as is posted on Dr. Pia’s website. http://piadesolenni.com/pope-oks-condoms/
    This cannot be hashed out without the German text as it is in the book. We are relying on the OR to dictate our responses and attitudes towards this. We must not do that!

    Fr. Z?

  155. catholicuspater says:

    http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/vatican-spokesmans-statement-on-condoms/

    Fr. Lombardi, in the link above, appears to be saying that it’s okay for male prostitutes to use condoms. He says that there is nothing revolutionary in this, and yet if the Church has always taught that condom use is intrinsically evil, having the Pope appear to say that there are now exceptions makes it seem like the Pope, albeit informally, is now contradicting the magisterium.

    In fact, at the end of Fr. Lombardi’s statement he notes that the Pope is in agreement with those other theologians who believe that condoms may be used to prevent the spread of HIV.

    This is not the hermeutic of continuity, and I really hope Fr. Z will back up his first statement on this post that the Pope hasn’t changed the Church’s teaching.

    Cardinal Sgreccia has said the Pope has changed the teaching to create this exception and now we have Fr. Lombardi at the end of his statement practically hailing the Pope’s remarks as a new development in moral theology.

    This is very difficult for orthodox Catholics to accept, and is opposed to everything we have been taught. Could you please offer us some enlightenment on this, Father?

  156. Salaam says:

    Can’t wait for Father Z’s analysis.

    But here’s my take on the points of disagreement here, having filtered through all the red herrings I’ve read:

    1. GIVEN that one is engaging in illicit sexual activity, does it matter whether one uses a condom or not? Does the condom use ‘increase’ or ‘decrease’ the sin or is it neutral?

    2. GIVEN that one is engaging in illicit sexual activity and one of the parties has AIDS (there is a chance of disease transmission), does it matter whether one uses a condom or not? Does the condom use ‘increase’ or ‘decrease’ the sin or is it neutral? Does condom use signal some degree of development of conscience?

    3. If one member of a married couple has AIDS and the other does not, is it licit for the couple to engage in sexual activity? Is it licit with or without a condom, or both?

    4. Should the Pope discuss or express his opinion on whether using a condom is better than not in an illicit sexual act, GIVEN the act were to take place anyway? If not, why? Is it because it is by nature too confusing and might lead people the wrong way, or give people ‘excuses’ to find ‘loopholes’ in church teaching, or lead more people to engage in more illicit sexual activity under the relative ‘safety’ or a condom, or is it simply not part of his job? If yes, then is the way he’s done it okay, or should it be done better?

    My answers, in brief:

    1. GIVEN that one is engaging in illicit sexual activity, whether one uses a condom or not is irrelevant.

    2. GIVEN that there is risk of disease transmission, it is better to use a condom. For some, yes it could mean a development of conscience in that they are trying not to cause harm, which is good, and which implies some even minute understanding that sexual activity has consequences and negative ones when it comes to disordered (illicit) sexual activity.

    3. No, a couple in which one of the members has AIDS should not engage in sexual activity as the activity will result in harm.

    4. Yes, the Pope should express his opinion on these type of matters, and much much more often I would say. What is confusing, has led people the ‘wrong way’ or to find loopholes, or to engage in more illicit sexual activity (or any sin in general for that matter) is, in my opinion, the fact that the Pope and bishops do NOT speak often enough on these issues and instead remain too quiet perhaps scared of putting a word wrong.

    Well, one simply cannot get every word and comma right. Who does? Look at our politicians, with all the resources available to them and with no moral qualms to constrain them. Even they can’t escape misinterpretation and mischaracterization. I firmly, firmly believe that the Pope and bishops have to talk more and more frankly in the people’s language, the ‘intellectuals’ language, in every language about this and dominate the discussion, instead of leaving the field to others to set the agenda. The more we see and hear of the Pope, Archbishop Chaput, etc., the better.

  157. Here is part of the clarification issued by the Holy See Press Office:

    “At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”, rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others.”

    This does NOT represent what the pope actually said. Especially problamatic is the clause “believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection…” The pope said nothing about the use of condoms being OK to stop HIV from spreading. Rather, it is the INTENTION to not infect people that for Benedict represents the “first step on the road to a more human sexuality.”

    Let’s look again at what Benedict said: (my emphasis in CAPITALS)

    Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

    Benedict: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the INTENTION of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

    Of course, the easiest way to intend to not spread HIV is to follow the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Benedict would agree. I’m hoping for a “clarification of the clarification,” and I pray that it’s from Benedict himself.

    Lombardi strikes again. How many more strikes until he’s out?

  158. Athanasius says:

    This is why the Vatican is desperately in need of competent media people. I heard an interview on Vatican Radio months ago where someone from the Vatican press office made some nonsensical comment that the Vatican and the secular media are on a common mission for truth. Uh, do these people get it? The media is out to get them. Even if the distinctions Lombardi are making were not false (and presumably it appears the Pope as well according to Lombardi, which isn’t a problem theologically because it does not even qualify as a non-definitive magisterial act) they should have known ahead of time that the media would seize their throats, which they are now doing. It would have been better if all this was never said.

    Until they get competent media people, it would probably be better for the Vatican to say absolutely nothing about anything, to ensure they don’t muck it up as bad as they are right now.

  159. JulieC says:

    (From the wife of Catholicus Pater)

    I’ve been upset over the Pope’s statement all day and nothing I’ve read so far can shake my initial reaction on reading the Pope’s words that this is a betrayal of orthodox Catholics who have championed the teaching of Humanae Vitae all their lives. Sure hope I’m wrong, but someone has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do before I’m going to change my mind.

    From what I remember from my college moral theology course, the act of sodomy is an intrinsically evil act, and the use of a condom during intercourse is also an intrinsically evil act. Therefore, it would appear that for a male prostitute to use a condom during the act of sodomy is actually compounding the evil committed and not minimizing it in the least. The use of artificial contraception is never a morally neutral act, so one’s intentions cannot change its intrinsically evil nature.

    Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all shakes out, and if the Vatican is gonna have to “walk this back,” in the immortal words of CJ on the West Wing.

  160. Prof. Basto says:

    EtVerboCaro…,

    Of course the use of a condom does reduce the risk of infection, in that, in several cases, no relevant bodily fluids (blood, semen) will come in contact with the tissue of the other person, due to the barrier of the condom. The use of the condom of course DOES NOT ELIMINATE the risk of infection. But I don’t think there is any question that it is capable of reducing such risk.

    So, I do think the Press Office accuratelly portrays what the Pope is saying.

    Whether or not condoms reduce the transmission of HIV or not, however, is not relevant, because, in accordance with the perennial teaching of the Church:

    (i) sexual acts between people who aren’t a married couple is always sinful;

    (ii) sexual acts between married people should always be open to the generation of offspring so that no artificial barriers to conception are admissible; the use of a condom in the context of a married couple creates a barrier among them; a sexual act that is artificially rendered a sterile act due to barriers placed against conception is not the same as the chaste conjugal act, and thus the couple sin whenever they use a condom; if, for instance, there is a married couple, and one of them has HIV, the correct thing would be for the couple to abstain from sex, instead of engaging in a lustful sexual act that, because of the condom, does not correspond to the conjugal act.

    (iii) condoms and other instruments of artificial contraception contribute to a banalization of human sexuality, and to the spread of an unchaste behaviour that is not in keeping with Catholic morals; because condoms appear to grant safety in the face of disease and avoid conception, many who would otherwise be more prudent engage in acts of sexual imorality.

    I’m still trying to figure out how exactly is it that the use of a condom is a first step towards a prostitute, male or female, ceasing to be a prostitute. In my view, the use of a condom makes the prostitute feel more confident that he or she can continue in his or hers line of work with less risks. So, the use of a condom, while providing an advantage in terms of preventive medicine, actually contributes to the make the prostitute feel safer that he or she can continue in his or her immoral line of work.

  161. Prof. Basto says:

    Athanasius,

    In my opinion, this time, it is not the Press Office’s fault.

    It was the Pope himself who created this mess when he himself said something that he shouldn’t have said. In fact, the more you ponder about it, the more you realize that what the pope said is plain wrong.

    I’m all loyal to Pope and Church but there is no way that one cannot honestly agree that condoms are a first step out of prostitution.

    Perhaps the pope hasn’t given this enough tought, but, even from a pragmatic point of view, the use of condoms in brothels only attracts people to sin, because they feel safer, giving them the impression that they, clients and prostitutes, are thus protected from medical hazards that otherwise might lead them to avoid this line of sexual activity.

    And also, I believe many people are blaming the wrong person (Fr. Lombardi) because they don’t want to admit that this time, it was the boss himself, the Successor of Peter, who, speaking in a private capacity, created the chaos.

    The Church is not in the world to teach preventive medicine; it is in the world to teach the saving Faith and morals. The salvation of souls is at stake.

  162. Prof. Basto says:

    CORRIGENDUM!!!! IMPORTANT:

    When I said: “there is no way that one cannot honestly agree that condoms are a first step out of prostitution”.

    I meant the opposite. There is no way that one can honestly agree…

  163. Salaam says:

    Prof. Basto wrote:

    1)
    “I’m still trying to figure out how exactly is it that the use of a condom is a first step towards a prostitute, male or female, ceasing to be a prostitute.”

    It is not a first step to them ceasing to be a prostitute, and no one said that. All that the Pope has said, and this is my paraphrase of course, is that the prostitute who has AIDS and chooses to use a condom with the intent of not giving AIDS to the ‘client’, has done better than the prostitute who has AIDS and chooses not to use a condom knowing full well they could infect the client. In my view, there is no question about this.

    Prof. Basto continues:

    2)
    “In my view, the use of a condom makes the prostitute feel more confident that he or she can continue in his or hers line of work with less risks. So, the use of a condom, while providing an advantage in terms of preventive medicine, actually contributes to the make the prostitute feel safer that he or she can continue in his or her immoral line of work.”

    And I agree that this might be true, too! HOWEVER, just because 2) is true does not make 1) false. Just because the ability to use a condom may encourage the prostitute to ‘work’ more does not mean that ONCE decision has been made to engage in illicit sexual activity, a condom is not better than no condom. You see what I mean.

    Yes, a bank robber who knows he can get away with doing robberies without killing anyone might be more likely to do more robberies. But inasmuch as he makes a decision not to kill, that is a better decision than the decision to kill.

    Now, I think there is something else what you wrote might imply. GIVEN easy access to condoms may encourage more prostitutes to prostitute more, should easy access to condoms be advocated? My answer and from what I gather the Church’s and the Pope’s answer is no. The next question is has what the Pope has said imply that there should be more easy access to condoms? The answer again is no.

  164. Prof. Basto:

    I used the ellipse (…) in an attempt to save words. I guess I probably should have quoted the whole thing. According to Lombardi, the pope believes “the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a ‘first step on the road to a more human sexuality.'” What I meant is that to reflect what the pope actually said, the part I quoted (“the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection…”) should be replaced with “the intention to not infect others.”

    So, the statement would read: The pope believes “the intention to not infect others is a ‘first step on the road to a more human sexuality.'”

    I didn’t mean to suggest that the pope doesn’t think condoms reduce the risk of infection. They do, but an intrinsically evil means can never be used to justify an otherwise good end.

  165. Jason Keener says:

    JulieC,

    The Holy Father has not betrayed orthodox Catholics or “Humane Vitae.” No where did the Holy Father approve of condom use between a man and woman that FRUSTRATES PROCREATION. In any event, condom use between two men would not make their immoral sodomy any worse because two people of the same sex are not using a condom to prevent procreation. “Humane Vitae” taught that condoms are wrong because they are a barrier intended to frustrate the procreative end of true sexual intercourse, which can only happen between a man and woman. Again, with two men, this procreative end of sexual relations is not frustrated by condom use nor could it be intended as so because the procreative aspect of sex is not even present or possible. “Humane Vitae” never taught that condom use between two men or two women was evil, so it cannot be said that the Pope has now reversed the teaching of “Humane Vitae.” Sodomy remains intrinsically evil, and condom use between a man and woman, where it frustrates the procreative apsect of intercourse, remains an evil.

    Moreover, the Pope does not seem to even be making an OBJECTIVE MORAL JUDGMENT of the true and full nature of condomistic sex between two males. He simply stated that condom use of a male prostitute where he is showing at least a little concern for another person’s health might be the psychological start of an awakening towards a fuller and better morality, essentially.

  166. Maltese says:

    “Irresponsible” is the word that comes to mind with respect to BXVI’s comments on condom use.

    The world looks to America when it comes to matters moral or otherwise. With Griswold v. Conn. the Supreme Court said there was a mysteries “penumbra” within the Constitution which allows contraception. Go figure! Then, the liberal Blackmun Court decided eight years later that this mysterious thing applied to unborn children. And thus, this unhappy decision has led to hundreds of millions of unborn children being systematically put to death, pell mell.

    So, the issue of condom use is very serious, unless you don’t think an almost-term baby having her brains sucked out isn’t serious.

  167. Jason Keener says:

    Prof. Bastro said, “I’m still trying to figure out how exactly is it that the use of a condom is a first step towards a prostitute, male or female, ceasing to be a prostitute. In my view, the use of a condom makes the prostitute feel more confident that he or she can continue in his or hers line of work with less risks. So, the use of a condom, while providing an advantage in terms of preventive medicine, actually contributes to the make the prostitute feel safer that he or she can continue in his or her immoral line of work.”

    My reply: Pope Benedict did not hold up condom use as a first step to end prostitution. The Pope is saying that a prostitute who uses a condom might, IN HIS OWN HEAD, by showing at least a little concern for someone’s health, be moving in the right direction morally. If a prostitute is showing care for someone’s health by using a condom, maybe he will eventually progress to seeing the person as a dignified human person that should not be used as a sexual object.

    In any event, we can clearly see that evil acts can be made more or less evil. For example, a killer might intend to kill an entire family. In the end, however, if the killer decides to just kill the husband and spares the wife and children, the killer might still have an inkling of morality left in him. A small movement towards good or a lessening of evil is better than total depravity.

  168. anna 6 says:

    It is all well and good to discuss the merits and/or wisdom of the pope’s words regarding condoms (they had nothing to do with contraception, BTW). We can have great diversity of opinions. But it is another thing to call him “irresponsible” and “imprudent”.
    Some comments on this blog sound like they could be easily be written on the NCReporter on a different topic.
    Attention orthodox/traditional/conservative catholics…however you want to call it…Pope Benedict is your best friend! You really need to have more faith in him.

  169. I think we have an example here of the difference between impeccability and infallibility. What the Pope said makes perfect sense to me, but I have a better understanding of my faith than most Catholics. Most people cannot see the extreme nuances and qualifications of what was said, nor its context in the whole of Catholic teaching. This was an extremely imprudent comment for a Pope to make in today’s environment. The headline on page 2 of my local secular newspaper was “New condom stance,” which just as Fr. Z predicted is so much rubbish. I’m sure a Google News search of this topic will find innumerable other examples of mischaracterization, to put it mildly. If only the Church knew how to use the mass media to her advantage…

  170. St. Rafael says:

    A condom is always a moral evil. There can be no justification or excuse under any circumstance whatsoever for all of eternity.

    A condom should not exist because it is by its use always an intrinsic evil. A condom, by its very nature, is a contraceptive device. Using it blocks procreation. This an act that is immoral by itself. You are committing a mortal sin by using a contraceptive device, an unnatural barrier, all in violation of the natural law. Any and every type of human sexual activity with a condom is immoral.

    It is against the morals and teachings of the Catholic Church to suggest its use.

  171. Prof. Basto says:

    There has been a change of stance. There has been a shift.

    If this were a magisterial pronouncement, it would have been a shift in the doctrine.

    I, for one, hold not to the thesis expressed in this book, but to the unequivocal teaching of the official documents of the Church. The encyclicals, apostolic letters, letters, homilies, public allocutions, that point to the unequivocal condemnation of condoms.

    Simply put, I hold to last week’s, to last month’s teaching.

    And I will continue to do so unless and until there is a proper magisterial act to the contrary, a teaching of the Church requiring submission of intellect and will.

  172. Jason Keener:
    I agree. That is why the “clarification” statement by the Vatican Press Office is concerning. From reading the statement one could conclude that condom use, even among married couples, is OK as long as it is to “diminish the danger of infection.”

    However, contraception is intrinsically evil. That is, it’s always wrong, regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, it is my understanding that the double effect cannot apply and condom use, even in a marriage in which one spouse is infected, cannot be justified.

  173. cicada380 says:

    I am not a theologian and I certainly do not have a Ph. D. But I pray and I serve God and my community as a communicable disease epidemiologist. That means using the science of epidemiology and the principles of public health, I work to stop the pain and suffering in my community from infectious diseases. Not only sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be prevented be condoms, but other, more “normal” diseases, such as those spread by fecal-oral route can as well. Whatever others may believe or think on this blog, condoms can prevent infectious diseases and subsequently human suffering. I cannot stop people’s bad decisions on their behavior, but if they at least try to prevent disease in themselves (and subsequently in the community), then it is a step in the right direction.

  174. isnowhere says:

    http://catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=11735

    Nuanced wording “interpreted” by those with little care or concern for the actual meaning.

  175. Jerry says:

    @JulieC – “From what I remember from my college moral theology course, the act of sodomy is an intrinsically evil act, and the use of a condom during intercourse is also an intrinsically evil act. Therefore, it would appear that for a male prostitute to use a condom during the act of sodomy is actually compounding the evil committed and not minimizing it in the least. The use of artificial contraception is never a morally neutral act, so one’s intentions cannot change its intrinsically evil nature.”

    Sodomy is an intrinsically evil act.

    The use of a condom as a contraceptive is immoral.

    The use of a condom during an act of sodomy does not compound the evil because the act of sodomy, by its nature, has no potential for procreation, thus the condom is not acting as a contraceptive.

    If one party in a sexual act is aware they are infected they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease and they take no precaution to prevent transmission of the disease, this is a sin in addition to the sin arising from the act itself. The gravity of this sin depends on the nature of the disease (curable or incurable, fatal or non-fatal, etc.).

    Use of a condom to prevent transmission of the disease would reduce the gravity of the sin related to transmission of the disease.

    It would not mitigate any sin related to the act itself (sodomy and/or adultery).

    I don’t believe it would mitigate the sin that occurs if the condom also acts as a contraceptive. This is the point of confusion arising from the recent publicity related to the pope’s statements.

  176. Jerry says:

    @cicada380 – “Whatever others may believe or think on this blog, condoms can prevent infectious diseases and subsequently human suffering.”

    I believe it would be more accurate to state that condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. They do not prevent such infections because condoms can fail, be it from product defects or improper usage.

    On the other hand, abstaining from sexual contact is 100% effective in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases arising from sexual contact.

  177. Jerry says:

    @St. Rafael – “Any and every type of human sexual activity with a condom is immoral.”

    How are you using the word ‘human’ in this statement: in a physical or a philosophical sense?

    If you mean any sexual act between human beings, you are wrong for reasons I explained in a previous reply (use of a condom is only immoral when contraceptive; some acts such as sodomy have no possibility of procreation, thus the condom is not a contraceptive).

    Philosophically, a “human sexual act” is one that is ordered to procreation, which excludes sodomy. Even then, you universal statement is overreaching because there are some situations where a human sexual act has no potential for procreation (i.e., where the reproductive organs of one or both parties are not present, either congenitally or having been surgically removed).

  178. Jerry says:

    Can anyone clarify what the original German text of the interview actually says regarding the prostitute?

    A number of people here have used the term “male prostitute”, then proceeded to discuss acts of sodomy, apparently assuming the male prostitute is homosexual. Is this restriction part of the pope’s statement or an assumption by the commentators?

  179. Maltese says:

    cicada380: though, clinically, condoms may reduce aids rates in studies, I believe, overall, their general use, and the overall acceptance of them, have led to a diminution of women in general; the exact opposite of the intended effect.

    Ironically, the freeing of condom use has actually made women more enslaved to men. Actually, by condom use, men are more emboldened to objectify and use women as ‘objects’. Condoms only serve men, not women. Condoms make women a tool, a thing to be used. That is diametrically opposed to Catholic doctrine.

    So, our Pope fumbled the ball in his words. But he is only human. Otherwise, I sincerely love and respect this Pope, who has put himself out for us Trads….

  180. catholicuspater says:

    The unequivocal teaching until this point has been that the use of a condom in and of itself is always evil. To introduce exceptions to this teaching is to contradict and change the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church, something which is absolutely impossible to do.

    The Holy Father must be told respectfully but firmly that what his remarks he uttered are the quasi-heretical opinion of a private theologian and directly oppose what has been taught and believed always, everywhere and at all times regarding this subject.

    I believe that if Rome is inundated with respectful letters asking the Holy Father that the Catholic people reject these quasi-heretical statements it will help him to see that, like the three heretical sermons given by Pope John XXII, he must modify or retract these speculative and dangerous statements.

    Simply put, the use of condoms can never be moral anymore than one can say there are four persons in the Blessed Trinity.

    We have an obligation to inform the successor of Peter as respectfully as possible that his statement is a disaster.

    An act cannot be at the same time intrinsically evil (cf. Humanae Vitae) and also morally acceptable in certain circumstances (cf. Pope Benedict’s interview with Peter Seewald).

  181. Prof. Basto says:

    @Jerry – “@cicada380 – “Whatever others may believe or think on this blog, condoms can prevent infectious diseases and subsequently human suffering.”

    I believe it would be more accurate to state that condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. They do not prevent such infections because condoms can fail, be it from product defects or improper usage.

    On the other hand, abstaining from sexual contact is 100% effective in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases arising from sexual contact.”

    The whole question of wether or not condoms are good prophylatics (tools of preventive medicine for preventing disease or for controlling its dissemination) is IMMATERIAL to the question of the morality of the use of condoms.

    Condoms may be effective, and evidence shows that they are effective, not in preventing 100%, but in reducing the spread of disease. However, whenever condoms are used or tolerated:

    (a) in the case of a married couple, an artificial barrier to conception is placed, so that the sexual act is distorted and is not the chaste conjugal act.

    (b) in all other cases, when sex is not in the context of the married couple, the motive “a)” does not apply, because there wouldn’t be a conjugal act anyway, but in any case a banalization of sexuality is being promoted, because the sensation of protection from disease acts as a stimulus for someone to engage in a sinful act that would, or at least could, otherwise be avoided.

    If condoms were not sold, were not made, etc., people who today indulge in sinful extramarital attitude could adopt avoid the sin, if not out of submission to the Church’s teaching, at least out of fear of the consequences. Fear of disease, or even fear of an eventual pregnancy outside the marriage bond. If this fear is enough to avoid the sin of fornication, then a good has been achieved. This fear can also work to avoid acts of sodomy, if it makes a homosexual person control his impulses for fear of HIV.

    Once the relative “security” of the condoms enters the scenario, this fear fades, so the spread of condoms has clearly contributed to the contemporary “Sexual Revolution” that is totally foreign to Catholic morals.

    Bottomline, prevention of disease is not a good reason enough for the Church to sanction in any case the use of a tool that promotes promiscuous sexuality.

  182. Prof. Basto says:

    Sorry, in my previous post, when I said @Jerry I should have written @Maltese.

  183. kgurries says:

    Jerry said: “I don’t believe it would mitigate the sin that occurs if the condom also acts as a contraceptive.”

    Jerry, I think you have a point unless the principle of double-effect can be shown to apply. Such cases could be analogous to taking the “pill” for serious medical reasons — even though the moral act (indirectly) involves the unintended contraception.

  184. kgurries says:

    Of course my comment above regarding double-effect has a basis in Humanae Vitae:

    “The Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from–provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.”

    Does this principle possibly extend to condom use? The Church seems to have left the question open up to this point.

  185. Jason Keener says:

    Catholicuspater said, “The unequivocal teaching until this point has been that the use of a condom in and of itself is always evil.”

    My reply: It is the Church’s teaching that the use of a condom and other contraceptive devices are only evil INSOFAR AS THE CONDOM OR OTHER CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICE IS USED AS A BARRIER TO PURPOSELY PREVENT CONTRACEPTION. Again, condoms and other means of contraception were taught against in “Humane Vitae” because condoms and other devices are being used to prevent contraception. The condom, which is just a piece of latex, has no intrinsic moral nature. A condom could be used for good (to hold water on a camping trip) or bad (to purposely prevent procreation). Pope Benedict’s comments on sex between two men where contraception is impossible covers a situation where condom usage is quite different and outside of what “Humane Vitae” covered when it discussed the use of condoms between a man and woman seeking to prevent contraception.

  186. Jason Keener says:

    EtVerbum,

    It seems the Holy See is still studying the question of whether or not a condom can be used inside of marriage when the primary aim of using the condom is to prevent the spread of a disease from one of the spouses to the other and the condom is NOT used to impede contraception.

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0602392.htm

  187. Athanasius says:

    @Prof.Basto: It was the Pope himself who created this mess when he himself said something that he shouldn’t have said. In fact, the more you ponder about it, the more you realize that what the pope said is plain wrong.

    I’m all loyal to Pope and Church but there is no way that one cannot honestly agree that condoms are a first step out of prostitution.

    I agree with you, in fact you might see way above that I made the same assertion, a prostitute using condoms is just escaping responsibility, not embracing it.

    Nevertheless, competent media people could have pointed this out. It seems as though someone did a few years back, but no one saw it coming from the Pope on down? That just lacks common sense.

  188. St. Rafael says:

    The condom by its very nature will always impede conception. There is no way that a condom can ever be justified in marriage even to stop the spread of disease. From the moral law, that position is erroneous. Abstinence will have to be required.

  189. templariidvm says:

    Honestly, since the media AND the public don’t understand the whole reason condom use is evil, there can be no way for them to understand why the of condoms between homosexuals is actually irrelevant. The condom, itself, is nothing. Frustrating procreation is another. Applying a condom isn’t a sin. Using it during intercourse between a man and woman is, as it precents procreation. Since male homosexuals cannot become pregnant, there is nothing to frustrate.

    I see in the comments, above, that some are missing that point. For prostitutes, there is often little regard for one’s self or one’s “client”. When such people begin to care about themselves and those they have intercourse with, it can be the first step towards regaining one’s self esteem enough to see and accept the love of God and turn one’s back on the lifestyle. As with the Regensburg address, the meaning is not lying on the surface for casual interpretations.

  190. kiwitrad says:

    To take a totally different tack: Fr Z, you got jet lag from flying from the UK to the US ???? lol! Try flying the 29 hours from the UK to NZ. Now THAT’S jetlag

  191. St. Rafael says:

    I disagree that using a condom when conception is impossible, is irrelevant. The act of using the condom is an act of evil independent of whether conception is possible. The intention and act of using it, is one act by itself, that is immoral. A man would be sinning if he used a condom in sodomy, or with his wife even if she was infertile or beyond child bearing age. Can a man use of condom in these cases of infertility and advanced age? I believe not. It’s mortal sin because the act of using it is morally evil.

  192. Gaz says:

    Hey Fr Z,

    You said, “There is going to be a lot of buzz about this”. You know, I think you’re right. I haven’t read ALL the posts (sorry friends). My take on it is this. His Holiness clearly hasn’t said that condoms are fine for everyone to use all the time. He has said that there are situations when the use of one won’t constitute a grave problem. It’s a PR disaster, yes. Moreso because of the example. The example of a male prostitute is quite out there. It’s not the normal condom user in the wider secular world. If there’s a male prostitute out there who’s going to confession, you’d be hoping to God that he’d be confessing the acts of prostitution – the use of a condom therein is hardly going to rate. “Bless me Father for I have sinned, I’ve prostituted myself and, by the way, I used a condom when I did it”. They’re hardly separate acts. In these sorts of circumstances, there is more to sin than condoms. I’m looking forward to seeing the Holy Father’s comments in their proper context but I’m thinking that it’s going to be about what’s the priority here? Is it about stopping prostitution or stopping the use of condoms in prostitution?

  193. markomalley says:

    Fr Lombardi’s “clarification”:

    Aide: Benedict XVI Doesn’t Justify Condom Use

  194. Hugh says:

    Jason, prescinding from Pope Benedict’s rather mysterious comments, there’s a very good argument that – according to Humanae Vitae – condomitic intercourse is not the marital act, and so, like every other completed sexual act that’s non-marital, it’s not morally permissible in any circumstances. This has nothing to do with contraceptive intent.

    Here’s a link to an article I wrote demonstrating this in the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly last year (but which is difficult to link to)

    http://198.31.167.186/htm_html/Moral%20Theology/Moral%20Issues/a_two%20limb_test_in_humanae_vitae.htm

    There are other, more profound arguments., which to me are equally convincing. But I believe this one is conclusive for those who accept the teaching in Humanae Vitae. Objections welcome.

  195. Joe in Canada says:

    Hugh, my only objection is that your argument is based on your definition of marital act as involving a married couple. Condomitic intercourse might not be the marital act for all sort of other more basic reasons.

    I think one point the Holy Father was making is that even a person in an objectively very disordered moral situation has the possibility of the use of reason to come to some correct judgments. The Christian Church has never adopted the strict Calvinist position of utter depravity. A pastor might encourage a cohabiting couple that decides to separate a week before the wedding ‘to prepare’, or a glutton who decides to cut back on desserts. Homosexual sodomy is an abomination and these other examples aren’t (at least biblically) but the principle of a human being who even in the midst of depravity has some remnant of God’s image and likeness in himself or herself is the point.

    I know, maybe I’m grasping at straws. I was taught in seminary that a good and loving God would never offer us the lesser of two evils, and I hope nobody starts teaching that He does in fact do so.

  196. robtbrown says:

    catholicmidwest says:

    As a theoretical example, maybe. But you have to realize that this sort of thing is not just a theoretical example when it really happens. You do know that, right? And you do know now, if you didn’t know before, that condoms leak like the proverbial dickens.

    Don’t you mean hypothetical rather than theoretical? Once a theoretical principle is applied as an example, by definition, the application is practical not theoretical.

    They’re not this little theoretically impervious piece of perfection that divides reality neatly & geometrically into clean and not-clean, right? There is a probability calculation in any argument about condoms and the stats aren’t good.

    Of course, but it seems that BXVI didn’t propose any fail safe method. Rather, he simply noted that a male prostitute using condoms can minimize the evil.

    IMHO, the reaction to the interview is disproportionate. There is too much attention given to the news media as a source of faith and morals.

  197. Jason Keener says:

    Hugh,

    I agree with you that it seems very difficult, if not impossible, to see how condomistic intercourse could ever be approved for married couples in order to prevent the spread of disease.

    What is your take on the morality of condom use between two males to prevent the spread of disease? Does the use of a condom render their acts more depraved, less depraved, or exactly the same in their level of depravity? What about a man and woman who are NOT married who use a condom to prevent conception? Does the use of a condom render their acts of fornication less depraved, more depraved, or exactly the same in their level of depravity?

  198. @Jason Keener – I bow to, unknown friend, for continuing in this. Logic is not always appreciated, but you have been fighting the good fight.

    To those who cannot understand why it is the contraceptive use of the condom which makes it wrong (although I will give Hugh the benefit of the doubt that if you were interupting the marital act for a non-contraceptive reason, this would also be wrong, but what crazy reason would that be) – what makes a condom a condom? If I use a condom as a balloon, am I sinning? If I by a plastic roll of quarters, does the shape of the roll make it a condom? If I disable the condom (as is often done to collect semen samples for Catholic fertility treatment – yes, if you cut off the tip, allowing some of the sperm to reach its destination, its licit and done all the time), does this make it a non-condom.

    Homosexual intercourse CANNOT result in children. The use of a condom does not make homosexual intercourse worse – because the condom is not in any way contraceptive.

    I do not understand why this is a complicated issue. What about self-abuse? If a guy (for whatever weird reason) wore a condom during such an act, would it somehow or other be worse?

    The Pope specifically mentioned a “male prostitute” in his example so he could avoid all the debate on the Church’s teaching against contraception. In this, he failed miserably, but it wasn’t his fault.

  199. robtbrown says:

    That so many here have misunderstood what it seems the pope said is indication that he likely would have been better off not saying it.

    1. The foundation of all morality is expressed in the axiom bonum faciundum malum vitandum (good is to be done, evil avoided). From what I know of what he said, the pope seemed to be referring to a sliver of the second half of the axiom, which is, as I have mentioned before, not doing good but rather mitigating the evil of the act.

    2. Re the study of the use of condoms when one of the spouses is infected with AIDS/HIV: I cannot see that being permitted, simply because it would reduce the morality of an act to Intention. Although the intention of such a couple would not be to contracept, nevertheless, the act they are willing is contraceptive.

  200. cheekypinkgirl says:

    I’d like to congratulate CatholicMidwest for completely hijacking this thread. Why so invested in it?

  201. catholicmidwest says:

    cheeky,

    I haven’t even been on here in more than 24 hours. What’s your deal?

    Moreover, I haven’t made it any more of a quagmire than it was from moment one. It’s a mess.

  202. LawrenceK says:

    Catholicuspater asserted:
    The unequivocal teaching until this point has been that the use of a condom in and of itself is always evil.

    St. Rafael asserted:
    A condom is always a moral evil. There can be no justification or excuse under any circumstance whatsoever for all of eternity. A condom should not exist because it is by its use always an intrinsic evil. A condom, by its very nature, is a contraceptive device.

    These are interesting assertions that the two of you have made. However, they are your personal opinions. You cannot point to a single teaching by a pope or ecumenical council that agrees with you.

    The Church has never declared any physical object to be evil. A gun is not evil, nor is a whip, nor is a latex condom, nor is the sword that decapitated Saint Paul himself.

    Certain actions are evil, such as contraception and murder. To perform these actions is immoral, regardless of what tool you use. The physical tool itself is not where the evil is located. If a condom is used in male homosexual activity, it is not being used for contraception. (If you disagree, then you haven’t learned the basic facts of human reproduction. Two males cannot conceive a child!) If you use Playboy Magazine as fuel in a fire when you are freezing, that is not an evil act. Lust is evil, but a magazine made out of paper is not itself an evil object.

    It is true that condoms were invented by someone who intended them to be used for contraception. That doesn’t make the physical object evil. In 27 BC, the Romans built a temple dedicated to worshipping pagan gods. This temple, called “the Pantheon”, was built with the intention of violating of the First Commandment. After the Empire became Christian, it was rededicated and has been used as a Catholic Church since 609 AD.

    Your theory that “a condom is always a moral evil” contradicts two thousand years of Catholic tradition. You cannot find a single magisterial teaching to support this theory, because the Church has never condemned any physical object as evil. Human acts can be good or evil.

  203. St. Rafael says:

    @LawreneK
    What I wrote above was intended to mean the use of a condom in sexual activity. Saying a “condom is a moral evil” was a shorthand way of stating the use of a condom. Sorry if you were confused. I didn’t want to have to spell out in a graphic way like saying “ejaculating into a condom”.

  204. Thomist says:

    Condomistic intercourse is evil in marriage because it deliberately tries to thwart the procreative end of marriage by placing a barrier to it.

    Never rely on the secular media for anything, especially anything Catholic. The Holy Father was being interviewed and a book written – there is no change in doctrine on morals. Everything that is immoral stays immoral — God is immutable (changeless), and Christ’s Church teaches His truth infallibly.

    There is nothing to contracept in sodomy – it doesn’t matter what you use – the grave sin exists. A condom doesn’t add to it and offers little protection against AIDS. Sodomy is never justified, nor adultery nor fornication. The habit of using a condom might come to be taken as normal, so that an ensuing real marriage would be tainted by grave evil through condomistic intercourse, hence “(w)hen, with respect to the distribution of condoms to reduce the risk of AIDS, the Pope says the Church ‘of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality’, he is doing exactly the sort of extrinsic moral analysis required for this case.” (Dr Jeff Mirus).

    Evil may not be done to achieve a good.

  205. cicada380 says:

    Although I wish this were just an academic exercise and all people were to abstain from all sexual activity outside of marriage so that condoms did not even need to be discussed, this is not the perfect world I work in. I still work 40-80 hours a week trying to prevent disease in my community, much of which comes from bad life decisions. Some of those decisions might include not taking potable water with them when they go camping (Giardia), not cooking their beef all the way (E. coli O157), sharing water bottles (Meningocooal meningitis) or using the same cutting board to cut their vegetables as their chicken (Salmonella, Campylobacter). It also may include sexual contact outside of marriage and dangerous sexual practices. My work includes protecting those who make mistakes just as much as those who do everything right. I am glad that this is being discussed, right or wrong.

  206. catholicmidwest says:

    What has happened is that the flat prohibition against condoms (and maybe other forms un-named?) is gone.

    The pope has created a moral continuum from the worst situation to the best situation saying that there are some sorts of moral goods along the way, even if they are incremental moral goods. And moreover that sexual deviants can avail themselves of moral goods while under mortally sinful conditions. Peculiar.

    He’s far less (small-t) traditional than I would have guessed. This is an act of a conservative. Conservatives do the same things as progressives only much more slowly. A (small-t) traditionalist would be much more interested in looking at the methods (barrier vs. chemical) and checking the consequences morally and demographically according to the timeless principles that operate throughout history (salvation and otherwise). And small ts would be far more eager to avoid the kinds of near contradictions that lead to trouble.

    Trouble is best avoided if possible, and best met with as much cleverness & strength as can be mustered if it can’t be avoided. Smart small-ts get that every time. This should never have been said in public. Ever.

  207. catholicmidwest says:

    Besides homosexuals are pretty much off the moral map. The behavior from which the class “homosexual” takes it’s name is an un-natural aberration, a violation of one of the most basic of the natural laws. There are only a few other ways to misconstrue human sexuality in a worse fashion. You’d think the mechanical aspects of physiology would give them a clue, if nothing else.

  208. catholicmidwest says:

    If nothing else, promoting the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in homosexuals provides revenue for condom companies who then advertise more and promote their product more, and not only to homosexuals. Has anyone thought of this?

    There is no good way to do a bad thing.

  209. Thomist says:

    Facing Reality
    There has been no change in doctrine and no suggestion of any change because contradiction of the doctrine is impossible.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?ID=474
    The Vatican newspaper has betrayed the Pope
    by Phil Lawler, November 22, 2010
    Notice that in his hypothetical example, the Pope spoke of a “male prostitute,” presumably involved in homosexual acts. So the question of contraception—the main reason for the Church’s opposition to condoms—was removed from the equation. This prostitute is engaged in profoundly immoral acts. The Pope does not suggest that the use of a condom would make his prostitution less immoral; he says only that by recognizing the imperative to protect his sexual partner, the theoretical prostitute is making a small step toward proper moral reasoning.

    Here the Pope was making a theoretical point, not a practical one. He was not teaching, but explaining a point. He was not speaking with authority—in fact, earlier in the book he had explained why nothing the Pope says in an interview should be regarded as authoritative—but speculating. Nothing in what the Pope said, or the way he said it, reflects any change in the Church’s teaching.

  210. catholicmidwest says:

    I hope you’re right, Thomist, but I’m not sure how many people will get that message.

  211. Thomist says:

    The media frenzy is a perfect example of condom mania, which is prevalent also among many married people engaged in condomistic sexual inetercourse.

  212. catholicmidwest says:

    Condom mania. What has this world come to?