Monday, November 22, 2010

Condomonium in Christendom

The Vatican has since issued a clarification since I posted Go Forth and Wear a Condom and I thought I would weigh in on all the fun of the last 48 hours or so.

The clarification was...well, to be honest,  it wasn't really all that helpful.

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.

But condoms do not reduce the risk of infection, the Pope and the Holy See should be advising that the moral action to avoid risking lives of others is abstinence.    Further, this makes it seems like throwing on a condom reaffirms the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.  

As I said the other day, it is enabling somebody to resume sexual activity and put their partner at risk when they might have followed the old advice from previous Popes and abstained from sexual activity which leads to a zero incidence of giving HIV to your wife or husband.

This reminds me of an incident about a decade ago when prolifers were fighting some piece of  nutty sex-ed legislation with the Massachusetts Legislature and one of the local Bishops here at the time volunteered to testify.  He did a great job.  On the way out, the press was waiting for him outside of the hearing room and baited him into some question that they blew up the next day in the paper.   We somehow managed to keep it stalled and when it came time for the second hearing, God Bless this Bishop, he came again to help us out.   Again, he did a fantastic job.  Again, the press was waiting for him and baited him into saying something else that had the potential for our side to lose some ground but the bill didn't go anywhere.  

When the bill was scheduled for the third hearing, the day before I met with the Bishop to touch base with him and also tell him how much we appreciated his willingness to go personally to help us.  Near the end of the conversation I said (with a grin on my face) "Your Excellency, after you testify, keep walking to your car without stopping to speak to the press."   "REALLY??" he asked.    "Really", I said, "if they ask you anything just say "Sorry, I'm on my way to a meeting.  My testimony speaks for itself".       We had a good laugh but I got the feeling nobody ever told him his forte was not answering questions 'off the cuff' and how to deal with it.

I know there's a lot of blame on the press and I agree that they jumped on the confusion but on the other hand, the statements themselves are less than stellar.

We think and hope we know what he's saying.  

If you're going to get stinking drunk and drive home from your Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Fran's, the first step in moral responsibility is not to put anyone else in the car with you.  For the sake of value and dignity to human life send your children home with somebody who is sober and hope for the best.

Perhaps if you're a prostitute and you come down with HIV, you might want to switch to selling crack pipes or something like that.    

Ok, I actually don't know where he was going with it.  I understand that he was saying there was a shred of grace left because his thought process is that his own sins have consequences to others and should take a step towards responsibility but it could have been said without the examples used which are definitely confusing.  As is the clarification.     I love our Pope but to be completely honest I can't rationalize the safe sex advice.   We'd all be a lot happier if somebody/somebodies who has a little more savvy with the secular press and culture circles back with the Pope to take another whack at the clarification.

This was my personal favourite gem from the press:   The Pope wanted to kick-start debates about condom use according to "Vatican insiders".

For years, divisions in the Vatican have held up any effort to reconcile the church's ban on contraception with the need to help halt the spread of AIDS. Theologians have studied the possibility of condoning limited condom use as a lesser evil, and reports years ago said the Vatican was considering a document on the issue, though opposition apparently blocked publication.
One senior Vatican official said Monday he believed the pope just "wanted to kick-start the debate." He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
For the deeply conservative Benedict, it seemed like a bold leap into modernity — and a nightmare for many at the Vatican. The pope's comments sparked a fierce debate among Catholics, politicians and health workers that is certain to reverberate for a long time despite frantic damage control at the Vatican.   

The 'senior official' was so confident about the veracity of his assertions  "he spoke on the condition of anonymity" so his name wouldn't be attached to this asinine statement.  I wonder what rock he was under when the debate was kick started in 1967 until Humane Vitae was  sufficiently kicked under the radar over the last 40 years.  

If you want a good look at how some Catholics exploited the situation - check this out.

Thank you Holy Father.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
God Bless
I think this is actually going to open up discussions on various issues. For example, the issue of condoms in Africa, where women are being raped by HIV infected men. Or, in a concern outside of sex, it seems to connect to the question of giving out needles to drug users.
The more nonsense I see in the comboxes over at WDTPRS, the more convinced I am that Benedict was right on here. Those most upset have no genuine sense of the Catholic ethical tradition at all. You get the impression they’d think it would be immoral to use a condom as a parachute to save a life.
And, though there certainly is confusion in the MSM about “change” in Church teaching, this isn’t all bad. They used to think we said:
“gay sex = bad + condom = bad, therefore gay sex + condom = really bad.”
They don’t think we believe that anymore. That’s a good thing, even if some of Z’s and TAC’s commenters actually do believe that.
You do realize he is seriously arguing that the Pope said it’s OK for gay men to use condoms because the Pope is gay himself, yes?
Be sure to read Archbishop Chaput, Judie Brown and watch Michael Voris for some excellent analysis.   But I think the right course of action here is for the Pope to get a more substantive clarification out there.


Anonymous said...

Why didn't someone along the line spot the passage as "controversial" or "troublesome" and remove it? Such as the German author of the book, or the editor/publisher of the German edition, or the translator from German to Italian, or the editor/publisher of the Italian edition, or the translator from Italian to English, or the editor/publisher of the English edition (Ignatius Press)?

Jerry said...

It seems to be a done deal: Benedict will be the Pope of the Condom. His coterie are extending the dispensation far and wide. "Safe sin" is now unleashed.

Is this the "abomination of desolation" that Daniel spoke of? The holy-of-holies being his Holiness, and the desolate womb (contraceptive) device being distributed with his approval?

All moral authority is now effectively dissolved.

Carol McKinley said...

Has anyone seen Terry Donilon, Jack Connors, Raesky Berlin and the Boston PR people? Maybe they are over "helping" the Pope during the Consistory?

Jerry - I have a feeling they'll straighten out the crooked lines but this sure has been an interesting week.