Skip to comments.The Pope and Condoms: a note from the editor
Posted on 11/22/2010 2:35:22 PM PST by NYer
Thousands of secular media outlets-- and more than a few Catholic news services-- are leading their coverage today with headlines about Pope Benedict's statement on the use of condoms. CWN is not linking to those stories because, with rare exceptions, they are inaccurate.
Our news service exists to give Catholics (and others who are interested in the Church) an accurate guide to coverage of stories that affect the Church. Often we feel obligated to link to stories that contain some inaccuracies, because informed readers should be aware of what is being reported. But we never intentionally carry, or link to, stories that are entirely misleading. Most headline stories about the Pope's remarks fall into that category.
Pope Benedict did not alter, amend, or call into question the Church's teaching on contraceptive use.
Pope Benedict did not say that condom use is sometime morally acceptable.
Pope Benedict did not back away from his earlier statements, in which he had argued that condom distribution is an ineffective way to fight AIDS. On the contrary, he made his latest controversial remarks in the context of a conversation in which he was defending that argument.
Ordinarily CWN links to secular news stories because our readers can increase their understanding by perusing those stories. Today, a reader who wants an accurate understanding of what the Pope actually said would be better served by ignoring the secular media coverage.
On Saturday, when this story first exploded into the headlines, I posted a note on the On The News blog referring readers to one of the few sober and accurate treatments of the Pope's remarks. Please check back later today for my own In-Depth Analysis of this controversy and of how it arose.
- Phil Lawler Editor, CWNews
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, has issued a statement on Pope Benedicts remarks on condoms in Light of the World, the book-length interview granted to journalist Peter Seewald.
At the end of chapter 10 of the book Light of the World, the Pope responds to two questions about the battle against AIDS and the use of condoms, questions that reconnect with the discussion that followed some statements that the Pope made on the theme during the course of his trip to Africa in 2009, Father Lombardi said.
The Pope again clearly stresses that at that time he had not intended to take a position on the problem of condoms in general, but wanted to affirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, counsel, being with people both to keep them from getting sick and in the case that they do get sick.
The Pope observes that even in the non-ecclesial context an analogous awareness has developed, as is apparent in the so-called ABC theory (Abstinence -- Be Faithful -- Condom), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are more decisive and basic in the battle against AIDS, while condoms appear in the last place as a way out, when the other two are not there. It should thus be clear that condoms are not the solution to the problem.
The Pope then broadens the perspective and insists on the fact that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to banalizing sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a "drug." Fighting against banalization of sexuality is "part of the great effort to help sexuality be valued positively and have a positive effect on man in his totality."
In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the contemporary discussion of it, the Pope reaffirms that "naturally the Church does not consider condoms as the authentic and moral solution" to the problem of AIDS.
In this the Pope does not reform or change the Church's teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of responsible love.
At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat for the life of another. In that case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection may be "a first act of responsibility," "a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality," rather than not using it and exposing the other to risking his life.
In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change. Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support analogous positions; it is nevertheless true that we have not heard this with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even if it is in a informal and not magisterial form.
With courage Benedict XVI thus offers us an important contribution of clarification and reflection on a question that has long been debated. It is an original contribution, because on one hand it maintains fidelity to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in refuting an illusory path like that of the "confidence is condoms"; on the other hand, however, it manifests a comprehensive and far-seeing vision, attentive to uncovering the small steps -- even if only initial and still confused -- of an often spiritually and culturally impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.
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Seems as though he did.
Vatican clarifies stance on condoms
By Guy Dinmore in Rome
Published: November 23 2010 20:29 | Last updated: November 23 2010 20:29
The Vatican has clarified Pope Benedicts new stance on the use of condoms to help prevent the transmission of the Aids virus, explaining the pontiff believed that all those infected with the disease were morally justified in taking precautions to protect their partners.
Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Popes intention was to go beyond that. I asked the Pope personally if there was a serious distinction in the choice of male instead of female and he said no, Father Lombardi said. If it is a man, a woman or a transsexual who does it, we are always at the same point, which is the first step in responsibly avoiding passing on a grave risk to the other.
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