"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Monday, November 22, 2010

Media hype on Condom Misinterpreted Pope's Statement

Media is on hype again alleging that the Pope OKd the use of condoms in some cases putting words in his mouth saying that "Pope Benedict has suggested that the use of condoms could be justified in some exceptional circumstances" which is COMPLETELY INACCURATE.

I am a Catholic and all Catholic should know that the Pope would never go against the Moral Teachings of the Church. And before you believe, wait for the official explanation from the Vatican. See below:

Vatican spokesman: Pope not changing Church teaching on condom use

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican City, Nov 21, 2010 / 03:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite media claims of a revolutionary change, Pope Benedict is not altering Catholic teaching on condom use or justifying the disordered use of sexuality, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has explained.

In a Nov. 21 statement from Vatican Radio, Fr. Lombardi discussed the Pope’s comments in Peter Seewald’s forthcoming book “Light of the World: the Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”

In these comments “the Pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the Church but he reaffirms it, putting it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility,” the spokesman said.

In Seewald’s book, Pope Benedict says that the Church “of course” does not regard condom use as “a real or moral solution” to the problem of AIDS. According to Fr. Lombardi, his treatment of the topic considers an “exceptional situation” in which a sexual act presents a true risk for another’s life.

In a short passage at the end of the tenth chapter of Seewald’s book, the Pope discusses the “banalization of sexuality” which treats sexuality as a drug. The pontiff uses the example of a prostitute.

“In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality,” the spokesman explained. Rather, the use of the condom to lessen the danger of contagion may be “a first act of responsibility” and “a first step on the path toward a more human sexuality” rather than acting to put another’s life at risk.

“In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary turning point,” Fr. Lombardi said.

He added that there is some novelty in hearing this discussion from a Pope, even in “a colloquial and non-magisterial form.” According to the spokesman, this was an “original contribution” because it refuted the “illusory path” of trust in condom use. At the same time, the papal comments showed a “far-sighted vision” attentive to the small steps which an “often very poor spiritually” humanity must take towards “a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.”

Fr. Lombardi repeated Pope Benedict’s view that concentrating solely on the condom banalizes sexuality. This obscures its meaning as an expression of love between people and makes it become like a drug.

Fighting against this banalization preserves sexuality's positive value and helps it to have a positive effect on “the whole of man’s being,” Pope Benedict says in Seewald’s book.
Among those Catholic apologetics I use to follow, Bro. Jimmy Akin was prompt in updating Catholics in his blog at JimmyAkin.org.

He said:

In yesterday's post on Pope Benedict's remarks concerning the use of condoms in AIDS prevention, I promised there would be more to follow, so here 'tis.

For those who may not be aware, there is a new, book-length interview with Pope Benedict in which he made remarks that were sure to--and were--widely misunderstood and misrepresented in the press. "Press gets religion story wrong" is about as common a narrative as "Dog bites man" or "Sun rises in east." Go figure.

Anyway, it's a fascinating book. YOU CAN ORDER IT HERE.

It was inevitable that the press would parse the Pontiff's comments along the lines of the Pope "modifying the Catholic Church’s absolute ban on the use of condoms," as Damian Thompson of the Telegraph put it.

I want to give kudos to Thompson, though, for correcting himself very promptly. May his journalistic tribe increase!

The idea that the Catholic Church has an "absolute ban on the use of condoms" is widespread, though, so let's take a moment to look at it.

Just how absolute is the ban?

Here's Damian Thompson's "very prompt" correction:

Conservative Catholics blame media for condoms story – but are they secretly cross with the Pope?
By Damian Thompson Religion Last updated: November 21st, 2010

Conservative Catholic bloggers seem to be of one voice today: “The Pope did NOT say condoms are OK!” Which is true – up to a point. The Pontiff’s comments to Peter Seewald emphasise that condoms are not the answer to HIV; he did not recommend their use in any circumstances and the teaching of Humanae Vitae that sex between human beings should be confined to the marriage bed, without interference from contraceptive devices, remains intact.

But I simply don’t understand how Catholic commenters can maintain that the Pope did not say that condoms may be justified, or permissible, in circumstances where not using them would spread HIV. On the contrary, he says it once:

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 moralisation, 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 …

And then repeats the point, in response to a question:

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

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.

Now you can add all the context you like; you can quote much more fully from Seewald’s text; all of this is helpful in establishing that the Church’s basic policy on condoms has not changed. Jimmy Akin does so in an article for the National Catholic Register. But what I can’t accept is Akin’s implication that the media in general misrepresented what the Pope said. He picks three examples of headlines:

Pope says condoms sometimes permissible to stop AIDS

Pope: condoms can be justified in some cases

Pope says condoms can be used in the fight against Aids

The first two of those strike me as a perfectly fair representation of the Pope’s comments. Like it or not, the Holy Father made it clear that the use of condoms is sometimes permissible to stop the spread of the virus, even if – speaking in German – he didn’t use the words “permissable” or “justified”. What he didn’t say was “let’s go ahead and use condoms to fight against Aids,” which is what the third headline implies.

There’s clearly a debate to be had about (a) the circumstances in which the Pope feels it’s permissable to use a condom and (b) the moral status of the act of using that condom. I don’t think the Holy Father’s comments settle these questions. But the plain, common sense reading of them is that he regards the use of a condom as a lesser evil than the transmission of the virus. Also, it doesn’t seem reasonable to extrapolate from the (apparent) reference to a male prostitute that this lesser-of-two-evils judgment doesn’t apply to sex between infected men and women.

Eric Giunta makes an interesting point, however. He says that media references to an end to the “ban” on condoms are wide of the mark because the question of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of Aids had not been settled:

And this leads to another myth that needs shattering: that the Church teaches that AIDS-afflicted married couples have no moral choice but to abstain from conjugal relations indefinitely, or risk passing the fatal disease in the course of unprotected marital lovemaking. Many Catholics are shocked to hear this, but perfectly orthodox moral theologians are heavily divided on this question, and the Church has never pronounced on this contentious issue. There is a perfectly valid argument to be made that an AIDS victim who makes love to his wife while wearing a prophylactic is morally justified in doing so by virtue of the principle of double effect: the morally laudable object of employing the prophylactic is to block the transmission of the AIDS virus between spouses; contraception is an unintended side effect, the gravity of which is met or outweighed by the equally serious good of maintaining an important means of maintaining marital intimacy and relieving the sexual impulse.

In other words, the Pope has helped to clarify matters. So perhaps I was wrong to report yesterday that the Pope had “modified the Church’s absolute ban on the use of condoms” (though I was quick to add that he was essentially clearing up an area of confusion).

Eric’s post certainly makes a good deal more sense than those of his fellow conservatives who claim that the Pope didn’t say what he obviously did say… and then emphasise that he was only speaking in an interview AND how dare L’Osservatore Romano release these quotes out of context. Hmm. There is a strong whiff of cognitive dissonance in the air. I hate to pick a fight with bloggers I admire, and I won’t mention any names, but I get the strong impression that certain conservatives are tying themselves in knots trying not to say what they really think.

Which is that they disagree with the Pope.

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