Monday, November 22, 2010

Clearing up the Condom Controversy

It  took me by surprise this Saturday, seeing that Fox News reporting that the Holy Father had approved the use of condoms for prostitutes. I was flabbergasted, and went online to see rumors flying thick on social networks. It was a topic for discussion among adults at the Sunday Church gatherings, and I was refusing to comment,  waiting till one came which I felt was helpful.So, if you are just hearing this 'news' relax, it as a leak of a book length interview called, Light of the World,  to be released tomorrow from Ignatius Press. Pope Benedict spoke with a German reporter, and like his Regensberg talk which stirred so much controversy when it was taken out of context,  shows how little the mainstream press understands the heart of the Church.
The quotes are were leaked by L'Osservatore Romano.

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute 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. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality."
The interviewer asked the Pontiff, "Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?"
The Holy Father replied, "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." (emphasis mine)

Dr Janet Smith, professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and bioethics expert,  provides not only context and accurate quotes of the Holy Father's words but a useful analogy;

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.

I see this as saying. "Holy Mother Church has always stated that homosexual acts, (which are surely what the Holy meant to reference when he said 'male prostitute') are intrinsically evil. A mortal sin. Although using a condom is not contracepting in homosexual acts which are not procreative by their nature, the fact that the prostitute is showing concern for his sexual partner's health is a step in the right direction towards morality.No one is saying that using condoms is suddenly a moral act. Of course, we hope and pray that the man repents and lives a faithful chaste life.That is our focus to guide the faithful. "
Pope John Paul in Familiaris Consortio spoke of incremental steps toward moral behavior:
 What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring an interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about concretely in steps which lead us ever forward.(emphasis mine)
 In other words, it would be worse if a male prostitute would engage is homosexual acts knowing he could be giving HIV to his client. Showing a little concern  is better than none, but it does not make the act itself morally acceptable, nor does it make condom use in other cases acceptable.The reports that condoms are OK'ed by the Pope show a lack of understanding of Church teaching. In a society where even Catholics do not understand the reasons behind the Church's prohibition of contraception, it is not a suprise that reporters would make the same mistake pursuing what seemed like a big news story.

Read the entire article here. 
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