Sunday, November 21, 2010

THE ACTUAL WORDS OF HIS HOLINESS, POPE BENEDICT AND THE CONDOM CONTROVERSY AND CONUNDRUM NOT TO MENTION CANDIDNESS

FIND UPDATED LINKS FROM CATHOLIC BLOGGERS TAKING THE SECULAR PRESS TO TASK FOR MISINTERPRETING THE WORDS OF POPE BENEDICT BY PRESSING: FASCINATING DETAILS OF BOOK INTERVIEW OF POPE BENEDICT XVI

My comment first: Reading the actual excerpt from the interview by Peter Seewald, one really gets the context of Pope Benedict's caveat on condoms, but more importantly the Holy Father gives a wonderful catechesis on the nature of human sexuality as the Catholic Church understands it. He is not harsh or bitter in his catechesis, but like a gentle father using faith and reason to make his very profound remarks. It's not just about condoms stupid! (I said that, the Holy Father never would!)


Book Excerpt
An excerpt from Light of the World, Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI

From Chapter 11, "The Journeys of a Shepherd," pages 117-119:


Peter Seewald: On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on AIDs once again became the target of media criticism.Twenty-five percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

HIS HOLINESS, POPE BENEDICT XVI: The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on AIDs. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many AIDs victims, especially children with AIDs.

I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients. That was the real answer: The
Church does more than anyone else, because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering. In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to
show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is
understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

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.

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

HIS HOLINESS, POPE BENEDICT XVI: 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.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I searched for more on the statement and am glad to find it. It it a shame the press must either filter or interpret such a statement when it is not difficult to understand. They have their agenda, I suppose.

Fr, you are correct it is the words of a loving, and stern, father. This is linked to our discussion on forgiveness in that it does not excuse the choice but observes that the use of condoms by infected sex workers it is accepting responsibility for their cations. That is a big step.

Anonymous said...

I had a priest tell me a while back that contraception is bad because it's "contra-life". What this means to me is that trying to stop life, in any way, is a grave sin. The use of condoms in this particular case is not for the purpose of pregnancy prevention but to curb the spread of AIDS. If I understand correctly, our Holy Father says that the use of condoms in this case should not be preferred, but is an option... sort of a last resort. I'm just wondering, isn't this still stopping life? How can this be okay? I know it's supposed to prevent a greater evil, but it seems to me they're both just as bad.

Anonymous said...

That is almost certainly what he meant. It is similar to an assassin practicing his aim so as to kill only his intended victim. He is not saying the use of condoms is OK, he's saying the use of condoms to not spread aids is beginning to assume responsibility for the act. Gay sex is still wrong, prostitution is still wrong, slavery is still wrong. Taking responsibility for that is the next step.

Abraham had this conversation with God on the way to Sodom. BXVI is having it with us.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

Yes, but the popular reaction will be to use condoms, say that it is to prevent AIDS so the Church says it is ok, and let the good times roll.

Anonymous said...

That's why I'm saying it's also like raising the credit limit on a maxed out credit card. The people who are involved with these acts are not usually responsible or thoughtful. It may be that the women in the sex huts in India can benefit from this as they have little control over their fate. The randy boys in Jamaica are looking for permission and approval.

rcg

Anonymous said...

Sorry to double post but was thinking about this and had a thought: what if the comment is addressed to ME? The poor folks we THINK he's talking to are probably not worried about condoms in the scheme of all they do. It may be an point to me that at least they are TRYING to do something moral as they are overwhelmed by the evil in their lives. Again, it's the forgiveness thing: they are doing as much good as they can do. These people's lives are bleak, I can't give up on them just yet, but I need to adjust my expectations on what they can accomplish. Either way, it's harsh.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

If the folks we THINK he is talking to have lives so wretched that they cannot think about condoms, then how are they trying to do something moral or just "doing the best they can?" If these people are so immediate, then not only do they not worry about condoms, they don't worry about murder, rape, theft, and general violence. We are commanded to pray for them...not to expect much from them in the way of the moral life. So, we pray, send money, and build them houses; they debauch, wreck the houses, and demand more money. But, we still pray, send money, and build houses...who said God has no sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

What I mean is that along the way they may see an opportunity and willfully make the right choice. It may not become a pattern, but the capacity for good is exercised and confirms that they have the spark worth saving.

I think of the Book of Ruth and the unexpected future result of some simple act from these pitiful people. I am not expecting it today, or my lifetime. But I look for it to happen.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

rcg, Speaking eschatologically, I agree with you...

I give to the poor because we are commanded to...not because I have any illusions about their future in this life. Take Haiti, for instance...a favorite sump for both the Church's money and our tax money. In a hundred years, Haiti will look exactly as it does now, maybe worse. As a citizen and a business man, I would not invest one cent there. But, as a Catholic, I am commanded to, so I do. It is one of the mysteries of the Faith...seriously. Perhaps it will feed a child or keep a mother alive. That is a small outcome from an investment standpoint, but a glorious one from a Christian standpopint. I suppose this is one of the reasons that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than a rich man to get to Heaven. As long as he thinks like a business man, he just can't make the investment...or divestment, as the case may be.

Anonymous said...

So, we concur, Pin. I do look at it like a businessman because, it appears, Christ himself commanded us to. We are to be good stewards of charity, per His parables and preaching. It seems the Pope is being both charitable and forgiving in his comments. Just as giving too much money to a drug addict only ends up in his veins, this acknowledgement that the use of condoms can sometimes be a proper act may end up being more charity than some can bear responsibly.

rcg