Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Pope Supports Condoms? - And So Do Little Green Men on Mars, Probably.

I was half asleep this evening when the BBC News Headlines came on telling us how the Pope accepts condom use in certain circumstances. Well after a second or two of sleepily thinking "Wow! I'm going to have to apostasy." I woke up and remembered that this was the BBC news after all and off I went to investigate further. Following the words of the wise sage at Mulier Fortis, and visiting the Curt Jester and reading the text of the Holy Father's words over a few times I'd like to offer a few thoughts.
1. The Holy Father never says condoms are morally acceptable, good, OK in certain circumstances or effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.
2. The Holy Father actually says condoms are never morally OK and are not a real solution to Aids in any circumstances.
3. His comments refer to homosexual activity of male prostitutes which is never open to life anyway - "intrinsically contraceptive" if you like. (But remember, EVEN in that case he does NOT say they are morally acceptable or effective).
4. The only point he really makes is that in the soul of a male prostitute - i.e. someone whose soul is immersed in darkness in relation to the meaning of human sexuality - that their INTENTION in using condoms with the belief that it may help to reduce the transmission of AIDS is a good sign, a pointer to some humanity, to a desire not to harm the other(s). The Pope only suggests that that INTENTION may be a beginning of a more human, more moral understanding of sexuality.

If a joyrider steals a car every Saturday night and cruises the highways and byways high on drugs, but one Saturday night his conscience suddenly stirs him and so after stealing his car he breaks into a private racing track and drives around there all night, thinking "I must not put other people at risk", what can we say of his action?
Stealing the car is wrong (like sex outside of marriage), driving it while high on drugs is wrong (like prostitution).
Breaking into a private racing track is morally wrong (like using a condom).
But perhaps in this broken example of humanity a spark of respect for life has broken in (As with the male prostitute who uses a condom to reduce the risk of death to his partners). This one good intention can be the seed of a change of outlook and a change of heart.
This is exactly what the Pope is saying as far as I can see.

Some have questioned the wisdom of the Pope intellectualising the finer points of the possibilities of what is going on inside the human heart in such a case. They point to the lurid and horrific headlines now sweeping the globe. But we must be ready to understand what the Pope has really said. And to defend him and the Church's teachings on sex. Personally I believe that what he has said is true and maintains the truth of the Church's teaching that the use of condoms is always morally wrong - even in the case of a male prostitute. And I know that however difficult it is to hear the Church being misrepresented everywhere, it is a sign of the depth to which the Church's teachings regarding condoms irritate - and influence - the secular world.
To read what the Pope actually said see the previous blog.
Clare McCullough


  1. This is a difficult statement to understand, but I think you have illuminated it well. Thanks.

  2. A brilliant analogy by Prof Janet Smith was very helpful too: If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] 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 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.

  3. I suppose it can be considered an extended "ecumenical" attempt from the Holy Father as to acknowledge the existence of conscience for the people who make choices that go against the Catholic teaching. Whilst we condemn prostitution and the use of condoms, we would nevertheless like to acknowledge prostitutes' use of condoms as a step towards sexual responsibility and integrity. By thinking that way, we are not endorsing any of the two but still initiating a dialogue with the two interest groups aforementioned. A clever diplomatic stance that is so misinterpreted by the mal-informed.

    No need for difficult analogy, no need for hair-splitting theological debate. Simple as that.


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