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Monday, November 22, 2010

Vatican Damage Control on Pope's Condom Statement

It's a fact of life that exceptional cases make bad law. They also make bad spiritual generalizations. Unfortunately, those with an agenda will use the pope's recent statement about an exceptional, individual situation to make broad generalizations that aren't true. It's already happening with headlines about the pope approving condoms for gays. And the inevitable question is, "Well, if gay prostitutes can use condoms to prevent AIDS, why not married couples where one spouse has AIDS? or fornicating couples, for that matter?" And what about other incurable STDs like herpes? 

There are plenty of difficult sexual situations that invite lowering the moral bar. Can the elderly married couple dealing with erectile dysfunction practice mutual masturbation? How about a married couple late in pregnancy? Obviously, there's no contraceptive intention in either case.  What if the woman is still in her child-bearing years but her husband can't perform? Do they have to live in a Josephite marriage with no hands-on relations? I'm sure there are plenty of wounded vets who would like to know.

The pope's comment opens a huge can of wiggling worms in sexual matters. And the irony is that it was absolutely unnecessary. Does anyone really believe AIDS-infected gay prostitutes care what the pope thinks? Do they need his permission to use condoms to protect their partners? Unfortunately, the world will see the pope lining up with Planned Parenthood and gay activist groups urging "safer sex."

To be honest, I'm in mourning. I've spent most of my adult life defending Church teaching on Humanae Vitae, and I will continue to do so. But I feel like the pope just made it a lot harder. Here's what I said in a comment on an article at LifeSiteNews today. The author was "explaining" that the pope was talking about sodomy not normal sex, but it still left me scratching my head:
So let me get this straight. An AIDS infected homosexual engaging in gay prostitution is showing his moral concern for himself or his partner by using a condom while he commits sodomy; but a married couple where one is infected with AIDS is committing a mortal sin of contraception? Or is it only if the couple can potentially become pregnant? Are the post menopausal married woman and her husband allowed to use condoms to prevent spread of disease?
It seems to me that the pope’s statement absolutely undermines the Church’s teaching on contraception. If the infected sodomite is to be seen as exercising concern for the other by using a condom, how can the infected married couple not be seen in the same light? Or is their marital act with a condom, because of the contraceptive aspect, now seen as more immoral than sodomy with a condom that shows the gay couple’s concern for one another. I’m baffled and heartbroken.

As someone who’s spent a lifetime defending Humanae Vitae, I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I feel like I’m on the wrong side of the looking glass at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
The Vatican knows the pope's comment created a firestorm and they've gone into damage control mode. [See Vatican Rushes to Clarify Pope's Comments in Book ] What the fallout of this imprudent papal comment will be on the Church remains to be seen. Please pray for the pope and our poor suffering Church. And I'd appreciate a few prayers for myself as well. It's hard enough to fight those coming straight at you. But it's doubly hard when you have to watch your back.


Anonymous said...

How open to personal, private interpretation is the idea that using a condom is a moral decision that protects...whom? from what?

umblepie said...

Don't despair, this was an unfortunate injudicial comment by the Holy Father, but it was not an approval for the use of condoms. It has been distorted and falsely presented as fact by much of the the world's media,but I am sure that the Holy Father will clarify matters very soon. Christ promised that He would be with His Church always, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Many faithful Catholics share your feelings, you are not alone, but we must trust in God and keep smiling. That's what the Saints did!!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks, Brian, I appreciate the encouragement. Despair is not an option, but I echo Peter a lot these days when the voice of temptation says, "Why bother continuing the fight. Leave."

I have to respond, "Where is there to go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life." Atheism is not an option except for the irrational. And there sure isn't any other Church to go to. So I wander in the devastated vineyard trying to find a few grapes left on the vine.

Ray Schneider said...

A comment a Catholic from Spain shared on a listserv I'm on:
The media, in discussing this question, again prove their complete ignorance. There's nothing new in what the Pope said. It's the very old matter of the lesser evil.

In fact, the same thing has been said by different people in the Catholic Church since a quarter of a century ago (when AIDS appeared):

"If you are going to sin anyway, at least do it in such a way that you don't spread the illness."

It's nothing more nor less than this. There's no new "approval" of the condom.
The problem, as usual, is the relative stupidity on the one hand and malice on the other of the media. When you speak to people with hearts so blind you get the blindness expressed, not the truth which was uttered.

Anonymous said...

WWJRD? What would Joseph Ratzinger do? (I think he'd be more judicious in choosing his words.)