Sunday, November 21, 2010

Condoms: Am I a wet liberal or plain naive?

Am I a wet liberal or plain naive? Because I have always understood the Church taught that sin was always linked to intentionality.
Thus, a condom used to frustrate the Divine intentions for marriage is always sinful, whereas a condom used to prevent the passing on of a infectious desease, especially where the sexual act is taking place outside of a loving relationship, is of a different order entirely.

61 comments:

Ma Tucker said...

I think there are other issues to consider. The use of condoms gives a false sense of security and actually drives up the practice of illicit sex. So, true they may offer a small level of protection however if the frequency of sexual encounter increases as a result of extra confidence in overstated safety then you may find yourself in a far worse position than not using condoms at all. Avoiding the consequences of disordered behaviour usually leads to a more serious consequence down the line. As far as men of the cloth are concerned I think physical health is not the main worry. Helping souls to heaven is your primary aim. To be drawn into debate concerning the use of condoms in preventing disease is unwise when a far greater disease is staring you in the face. Fornication leads to eternal damnation. Furthermore, when supranational organisations who firmly support population control advocate condoms as a disease prevention measure you should be smelling a rather large rat!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Ma,
Quite, hence the Pope's condemnation of the ABC policy adopted by Cafod.

Fr Ted said...

Very true there are many considerations - not least the Church's teaching on sexuality and its condemnation of promiscuity both "straight" and "gay."

When the Pope got into hot water last time over this, one Cardinal pinted out that in Africa, the lowest level of AIDS and its related infections was in Uganda with the highest percentage of Catholics in its population, and the highest level of such problems was in the country where the smallest percentage of its population was Catholic.

Condoms don't answer or prevent everything, and can instil a very false sense of security.

parepidemos said...

Father, When I was in secondary school, we discussed how Cardinal O'Connor of New York (hardly a liberal) officiated at the wedding of a couple who had been rejected by the cathedral administrator because the 'groom was HIV positive.

The cardinal's line of reasoning was the same as that of Benedict XVI and yourself.

Surely, the NY example is another case when the use of a condom is morally acceptable.

Anagnostis said...

All right, Ma - but none of that applies to a faithful married couple, one of whom has HIV. In that context, surely the principle of double effect applies.

nickbris said...

His Holiness would also know about the usefulness of Condoms in everyday life,it is not necessary to list everything but they are excellent for protection against infection.

Dr Lavinia Byrne,the former Nun and world-wide traveller thinks it is wonderful to be able to put words into the Popes mouth.What he actually said has been translated several times and the lapsed & semi lapsed can make up the translation to suit themselves.

P Standforth said...

I sometimes use the following illustration to explain to people what they're missing in this whole debate:

What's the point of giving someone a pair of kneepads and elbow pads before sending them out to play on the motorway, and telling them to be careful? Why not help them understand why they shouldn't be playing on the Motorway.

Not a wholly satisfactory analogy, but it usually gets the point across.

MC Man said...

I think that it is very sensible for married couples to practice contraception,couples are under a lot of pressure financialy-mortgages other bills etc they have to be able to plan their future family. It is unfair for them to have to abstain from sexual relations,the natural method of birth control is only another name for contraception.Having sex outside marriage, married or single whilst not condoned should require the use of a condom or other form of contraception.I think with respect that the Church needs to get into the real world,anything that can prevent unwanted babys or abortion should be used.

santoeusebio said...

I understood that intention is linked to sin when deciding whether it is a formal sin (i.e. morally culpable) but not whether it is actual sin. In simple terms if I shoot you dead that is an actual sin. Whether I am morally culpable and it is a formal sin is another matter - I might have mistaken you for a wild beast or something like that. Perhaps somebody more expert could comment.

louella said...

Yeah...but isn't fornication a sin...so fornication with or without a condom is also a sin! It's obvious isn't it?...or am I just missing the point or something?!

Pablo said...

"... where the sexual act is taking place outside of a loving relationship,.."

Who says you have to love your spouse in order to procreate?

You need only love God and be obedient to His will.

If the two of you actually like each other, that is a bonus.

And, you are not a wet liberal, you are a very dry one. I think that comes with being British.

God bless you, Padre.

*

Pablo said...

Dear Ma Tucker,

Do you have a blog?

I read your comment on this post and found it highly insightful and intelligent.

I would like to read more of your opinions.

God be with you.

pablo

*

Fr Ray Blake said...

MC Man et al,
Abstainence from sexual intercourse, often for prolonged periods, is also part of most peoples marriage.

David Joyce said...

According to Humanae Vitae, if the use of contraception is "intrinsically dishonest", then how can there be any circumstances that can justify it:

To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom;18 that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life.

Unfortunatley, the Pope - as is often the case in the past - is backtracking on statements he thinks have been taken too far (on his trip to Africa) and has opened the door, even if ever so slightly, to the use of contraception. Naturally, the press and enemies of the Church are having a field day, and the average layman will not appreciate the subtleties in the Pope's words. As far as they are concerned, the Pope has given the go-ahead, as long as circumstances permit. Again, though, if something is intrinsically dishonest (i.e. evil), then how can it ever be justified?

Tearing out my hair said...

While intention determines whether something is subjectively sinful there are of course acts that are always objectively sinful and which any well formed conscience will reject.

It is never morally acceptable to use a condom to frustrate the natural sexual act and the Holy Father asserts this very clearly in his recent interview.

He was just making the point that when condoms are used to prevent HIV infection the intention is often good and that this good intention might be the first step towards arriving at the true moral solution, namely abstinence.

I would urge people to read his actual words and not the false interpretation of the media.

Tearing out my hair said...

David Joyce,

The Pope has not 'back-tracked' or given any circumstances when condoms can be used.

He states that condoms are not 'a real or moral solution' but simply acknowledges that there are many occasions when the individuals involved commit an objectively evil act with a good intention. He expressed a hope that they will follow this intention through to a 'a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.'

And since when did Catholics see a translation of an interview with a journalist as authoritative moral teaching?

Is there so little faith in the teaching of the Church that Catholics are prepared to doubt the doctrine of the Church based on misleading media reports of one interview?

Has the whole world gone mad this morning?

Anonymous said...

This is a single quote from page 119 of the second volume of interviews in German.

The English-language version concerns a male prostitute using a condom as a first step towards morality. This isn't about contraception, folks, it's about HIV/AIDS and male prostitutes. Condoms could help 'but is not really the way to deal with HIV infection' to quote the Pope.

Jim

pelerin said...

'I would urge people to read the Pope's actual words and not the false interpretations of the media' says a comment here.

It is indeed a pity that the vast majority of commenters today on various newspaper websites have obviously not read the actual words. There is once again much hatred and ignorance shown as there was prior to the visit of Pope Benedict to our shores.

It has been depressing reading them and I finally stopped when I reached the following:-

'An institution such as the Catholic Church is the biggest evil the world has ever seen in its 2000 year history.'

I could take no more. As far as I can see the Pope has not 'changed his mind' as has been stated. One commenter even said that 'God had changed his mind' probably being sarcastic. I do wonder why the Italian newspaper brought out the exerpts before publication and why it has hit the world's media as it appears to have done.

santoeusebio said...

If I may enlarge upon my earlier post. I may have a good intention when doing something - but I mistakenly believe that an action that is evil per se is a legitimate way of implementing that intention. The intention can be laudable but the means to implement that intention remains intrinsically evil and therefore not permissible. I think this is what the Pope meant - that someone who intends to prevent infection with HIV has a laudable intention which indicates some moral progress towards the good. It is just that the means to execute that intention may still be wrong. The intention is best executed by abstinence.

Nicolas Bellord

P.S. Many thanks for the post indicating that there is a vigil for Nascent Life at Horsham at 4p.m. next Saturday. We intend to be there!

pelerin said...

Does anyone know whether the English text has been taken from the Italian translation of the original German, or from the original German itself?

Mike said...

“I have always understood the Church taught that sin was always linked to intentionality.”

A clear example of this is the administration of a very large dose of morphine. It is only sinful if the intention of the doctor is to kill the patient. If, however, the intention is to relieve pain then it is not sinful, even if the outcome is that the large dose kills the patient. Similarly, “When a pregnant woman has a heart attack it is permissible to give her anaesthesia and operate on her even though it is likely that she will spontaneously abort. Similarly, when she develops cancer of the uterus it is permissible to remove her womb to save her life even though the foetus she is carrying will perish as a result.” (25 Tough Questions on the Catholic Faith, CTS)

Another example is killing someone. If the intention is to kill someone because you don’t like them then the action is sinful but if the intention is to prevent your country being taken over by Nazi thugs then it is not sinful.

On the other hand, if you deliberately kill someone and your intention is to save them from suffering then your action is still sinful even though the intention may be seen as good. So it would appear that intentionality is not the only factor to consider when deciding whether an action is sinful. On a smaller scale, I understand that lying is still lying (and therefore sinful) even if the lie is done for a “good” reason.

Presumably the same point applies to sexual acts outside marriage. It doesn’t matter if the two people decide that what they are doing is done for reasons of love: it is still sinful. This, surely, is where we part company from the liberal who only sees the “love” and says that anything is fine as long as the two people love each other.

Now is the use of a condom (by a married couple) to prevent the spread of disease like the use of morphine to kill pain. Both are done for “good” reasons but both may have “bad” consequences. In the case of the morphine it is to bring about death while in the case of the condom it is to prevent life. I think that I am right in saying that the official view of the Church (as opposed to the view of some moral theologians) is that the former is not sinful while the latter is. Perhaps someone can explain why the situations are seen differently?

Brian Stevens said...

I agree that condom use in certain circumstances has always been consistent with authentic catholic teaching. Indeed many thelogians and bishops have said such in the recent past only to be silenced by Rome eg the ?Archbishop of Durban in South Africa. More recently a few Cadinals (who hold greater authorative weight) have also repeated such beliefs (eg married HIV sero-discordant couples could rightfully use condoms) causing the Vatican into an uncomfortable silence. For example, Fr Finegan's Faith magazine published an article last year strongly arguing against the permissability of condoms in any circumstances. Additionally there has been much criticsm of the approach followed by catholic relief services such as CAFOD who work in partnerships with organisations who do distribute condoms (although they dont do themselves). Now finally, a Pope has had the courage to publically support such an interpretation of catholic teaching on this aspect. This will make a significant difference and priests like yourself will be able to state such things in public without fear of criticsm and reprisals. You say you have always believed this but it is noteable that you have never posted such in the past.

If condom use to prevent disease transmission is morally acceptable for male prostitutes then for the same fundamental reasons, it is also permissable for sero-discordant couples (whether married, non-married and/or same-sex.

Laurence England said...

Here's what it says on the back of a packet of Durex condoms.

"No method of contraception can give you 100% protection against pregnancy, HIV or sexually transmitted infections."

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

I remember a nun at school explaining that the pill can be used (and was partly devised for) to help a woman regulate her cycle.

Therefore, we were advised, it would be quite licit for a Catholic woman (married or unmarried) to take the pill for this purpose.

As father said it is all down to the intention of the person involved in doing this.

Lot of fuss about nothing!

fidelisjoff said...

I think we are experiencing a "regensburg" in the moral sphere. Are we really saying that the Catholic Church suggests to homo sexual prostitutes they should wear condoms. It's rather like saying if you are going to murder someone thens here's how to do it less painfully (not the best analogy) but are we now teaching how to be immoral less immorally? I think Veritatis Splendor needs to be reread. JPII knew from his experience of atheistic communism in action that every word (even in the bugged confessional) could be used against you. I hope there will be a swift and emphatic statement to quell the glee of dissenters or as the BBC calls them reformers. I do therefore find myself at odds with some notable bloggers. I believe the magisterium to be clear and objective in this matter.

mike hurcum said...

Let's get away from all the tomfoolery as we are only fooling ourselves. Now those who want a reason to use contraception can find reasons that are not righteous and use it.Paul 6th. warned us in Humanae Vita that this is the first step on a slippery slope. Forget all the theological spin that is being used to justify acts against the Creative acts of God. It is the last hurdle the devil has to jump and now the higher rungs have been removed in the eyes of the world and many in the Church, those who you will never persuade, the Pope allows condoms in certain cases. Who is to decide those cases?
I prefer the words of the former Russian Patriarch, whom in the presence of a catholic Priest from the seminary at St Petersburg said, "No birth control if they don't want babies let then use separate beds". After all it is not the reason for condoms to stop disease preventative medicine will do that. Doctors should prescribe abstinence. Condoms prevent conception, plain and simple. God as far as I remember does not recommend sin as a cure. I would suggest read Hosea about chapter 13 maybe, about the drying up of wombs.

David Joyce said...

Tearing out my hair said...
He states that condoms are not 'a real or moral solution' but simply acknowledges that there are many occasions when the individuals involved commit an objectively evil act with a good intention. He expressed a hope that they will follow this intention through to a 'a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.'


The Holy Father replied (yes, admittedly in a translation, so I sincerely hope the authorative text is better): "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom" - stating that there may be a basis is laying the grounds for exceptions to the rule given the circumstances. The average Catholic in the pew will interpret it in this way, especially given that they are usually informed on such things from the press, a fact that the Holy Father is only too aware. This is most unfortunate.

Is there so little faith in the teaching of the Church that Catholics are prepared to doubt the doctrine of the Church based on misleading media reports of one interview?

Where did I doubt the doctrine of the Church (given you replied to my comment)? I just think it is unwise to even raise the possibility of exceptions to Catholic moral teaching - in this age of relativism, we should be proclaiming the Church's teaching from the housetops in a clear manner, not speculating on difficult cases. If that needs to be done, we have lots of theologians for such things.

At the end of the day, this is simply the view of the Holy Father given to a journalist in a book. It carries no authoritive weight whatsoever, but again, generally Catholics these days couldn't care less for such distinctions.

Mercury said...

"Who says you have to love your spouse in order to procreate?

You need only love God and be obedient to His will."

Will a priest please comment as to whether this view corresponds to actual Church teaching? Whatever happened to "husbands, love your wives..."?

David Joyce said...

Mike said...
Now is the use of a condom (by a married couple) to prevent the spread of disease like the use of morphine to kill pain. Both are done for “good” reasons but both may have “bad” consequences. In the case of the morphine it is to bring about death while in the case of the condom it is to prevent life. I think that I am right in saying that the official view of the Church (as opposed to the view of some moral theologians) is that the former is not sinful while the latter is. Perhaps someone can explain why the situations are seen differently?


I think you will find the difference is that the use of morphine is not necessarily terminal, whilst the use of contraception is always wrong. If a couple wishes to delay the birth of a child, then the obvious option is to abstain. We should be the master of our passions, not their slave - it really is not too much to ask. If we do not expect this standard of living, people will inevitably use the excuses their leaders are providing for them. Pope Paul VI used the term "intrinsically dishonest" to mean that the couple are giving the ultimate demonstration of their love in an act of self-giving, but in their use of contraception, are at the same time putting a barrier in the way of this love. It is similar to lying to your spouse - I love you 100%, but showing that you don't. If an infection is at risk, then it would be more loving to abstain.

Brian Stevens said...
I agree that condom use in certain circumstances has always been consistent with authentic catholic teaching.


No, this has never been the teaching of the Church - use of contraceptives has never been permissible under any circumstances. Archbishops or theologians, however many, do not change the teaching of the Church.

Mike Cliffson said...

Red herrings or red whales , more like!, Schools on'em.
If what is reported so far is the right context, The Holy Father is referring to a sign of moral awakening, which should lead further, to better things.
If a tyrant should switch his armed forces dynamiting squad from say, blowing up his enemies' property in selfish protection of his rule, to blowing up porn-film studies , slavery lots etc, ever so slightly against his best interests, this might well be observable as the beginnings of change, a hopeful sign for his soul, if it BEGAN there.
This would NOT legitimize dynamiting property on but a dictator's say-so as a nonsinful way to go on, as a general principle.Nor saying, he's got so far, let him stop there, that's enough, at least he's got better intentios now.
Still less would it legitimize Holy mother church or the least one of us handing out sticks of dynamite.
Would it?

Anonymous said...

Brian Stevens,

You make too many unwarranted moral assumptions, with the greatest respect. Read the pope's book when it comes out on Tuesday. The pope has not - in an interview - altered Catholic teaching on contraception, homosexual acts or anything related to such matters in any way. Let us all read what the pope says - and show him our loyalty.

I think, however, that heads should role at the Vatican newspaper. It is responsible for the present confusion : not the Holy Father.

Fr. A.M.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mercury,
I did not think it worth commenting; marriage presumes obedience to the commandment of the New Law: I give you a new commandment to Love one another.

A Christian cuple has no choice but to love one another.

Anonymous said...

The use of condoms by HIV positive married couple to prevent the spread of AIDS does **NOT** fall under the doctrine of double effect.

The doctrine of double effect states (in a nutshell)that sometimes one may perform an action that is in itself morally good even if it has an unintended negative effect for which the person is not morally culpable.

(for example: you may remove a woman's cancerous uterus in order to save her life, even if there is an unborn baby living insider her uterus, and the baby will die. This is not an abortion as you're primary intention is not to end the life of the baby, but to save the mother's life. and the *only* way to save the mother's life is to remove the cancerous uterus, which unfortunatly will result in the death of the baby inside).


Some people will say that in the case of a married couple in which one spouse is HIV +ve, the use of a condom to prevent the spread of HIV is morally justified, because the intention is to prevent the spread of HIV, and the fact that the condom will prevent pregnancy is an unintended side-effect.

THIS IS INCORRECT MORAL REASONING.

The key reason is that there must be NO OTHER WAY to achieve the good outcome without adopting the method that results in the unintended bad side-effect.

So in the case of the cancerous uterous, removing the uterus must be the *only* way to save the mother's life. It is just unfortunate that there is a baby inside.

But with the HIV positive married couple there IS another way to prevent the spread of AIDS......ABSTAINANCE. life long.

It may not be easy, they may not want to accept that choice, but if a spouse truely want to prevent the spread of HIV, then it is the only choice.

Trying to justify condom-use to reduce the spread of AIDS between married spouses is morally wrong, because another (better) way exist which completely prevents the spread of AIDS and does not involve condom-use.


Emily

Father John Boyle said...

Either way, I don't agree with you Father. Here's my take on it. We have a problem.

David Joyce said...

The clarity of Pope Pius XI's encyclical on Christian Marriage (Casti Connubii) is so much better for our confused times:

53. And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances.

54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it."

56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.

joe said...

The media here in the US sure went to town on this one.Pope-Condom were the only two words they needed to hear. Well they proceeded to throw out the bait. What are the expecting?
The Pope to appear on The View or MSNBC?

Hestor said...

The pope's ambiguous words on artificial birth control are symptomatic of the post-conciliar church we live in. If the pope believed in the traditional teaching of the church, why could he not state so in plain black and white words, instead of Vatican II-speak?

Anonymous said...

Condoms have been around a long time.The sinfulness of the use of condoms is according to there use. If used as water bombs on no one there is no sin. If they are used to contracept it is a mortal sin. If a person has AIDs and uses them it shows a sort of twisted conscience because really a person with AIDS should not have sex even safe sex.
All sex must be monogomous and in marriage. No condoms.
A person in any other scenario is sinning without condoms being apart of the equation. The condom either shows some diluted moral sense within a sea of sin.
If the person has an addiction or is pathelogical the use of a condom as with sex outside of marriage might as the Pope rightly says show some awakeing conscience and not be so serious because of the habit of sin. Objectively the use of condoms for sex is immoral.

Anagnostis said...

Emily

Thank you for you for clearing up my misunderstanding on the principle of double effect as it applies here. Your excellent exposition is absolutely logical and quite, quite mad.

Catholics never cease to amaze me. They practice asceticism in no other area and appear absolutely to have forgotten its purpose, value and indispensibility; but when it comes to this single issue, all of a sudden "mastery of the passions" is supposed to become instantly available, "ideologically".

Why does the editor of OR deserve such obloquy? Exactly the same firestorm would have raged in the media when the book ws released, with or without the leak. Perhaps this way the leak has functioned as a lightning conductor.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hestor,
There are no ambiguous words on artificial birth control from the Pope.

santoeusebio said...

I have been referred to an excellent article on the grammatical ambiguities of the Pope's statement at:

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/11/21/grammar-experts-needed-for-pope-comment-on-condoms/

As I have said elsewhere IF the Pope was merely referring to MALE prostitutes and IF he was referring only to homosexual acts by those male prostitutes the use of a condom is morally neutral as not interfering with a procreative act. Has that not always been the case?

They are two big IFs and the Vatican needs to clarify what the Pope meant pronto.

Nicolas Bellord

Mike said...

It seems that those who previously argued that the Catholic moral theology allows the use of condoms in marriage when the intention is to prevent the spread of disease have interpreted the words of the Pope such as to agree with them. This is the cause of the “ambiguity”. The ambiguity is not caused by the words used by the Pope (although he could perhaps have been more explicit) but by the false interpretation made by certain people.

berenike said...

Thus, a condom used to frustrate the Divine intentions for marriage is always sinful, whereas a condom used to prevent the passing on of a infectious desease, especially where the sexual act is taking place outside of a loving relationship, is of a different order entirely.

Father, you've got it wrong. :(

Sadie Vacantist said...

There is clearly a problem with Vatican II ecclesiology and the mindset it has produced in the Church. The project to participate in the public square is looking increasingly troubled. What have we to offer? Fr Barron's inane film reviews?

I recall having lunch with Madame Vanier (the mother of Jean) many years ago. Listening to this virtuous woman, I was struck by her total lack of realism. I kept repeating to myself as she spoke: "this ain't gonna work, this is all wrong …" - all this while lusting in my heart after her cute Spanish maid. Notwithstanding the lust, for a brief moment, I believed myself to be John Carmel Heenan in 1962 when confronted by the 'new theology' for the first time. When he too was struck by its essential unreality and instinctively knew that it would all end in tears. Yet Madame Vanier is about to be beatified and presumably this latter possibility leaves me in deep trouble with Lord for two reasons:

1. Nothing she said made any sense to me and the Church she loved IS now in a total mess.
2. I am still, despite my advancing years, lusting after her Spanish maid.

I guess it boils down to love. She had it and I don't - (see point 2).

The Church is in the brown stuff but it doesn't matter. The people who have taken us there are very loving. It seems a strange way for the Holy Spirit to manage things but so be it. I guess it also means that these blogs are a waste of time.

RJ said...

I agree with "Tearing out my hair said"

RJ said...

@Brian Stevens: there are other reasons why condom use is not acceptable for married people:
1) it renders the act deliberately infertile, thereby depriving it of its procreative nature
2) it damages the unitive intention because the full self giving implied by the act is at least partially denied.
These would still apply where the intention was disease prevention.
However, they do not apply to homosexual acts.

While pointing out the consequences of using condoms (persistent risk of infection) has its place, arguments based exclusively on that may not be conclusive - empirical evidence can be interpreted many ways and people can always claim to have found countervailing evidence, but arguments based on the nature of heterosexual intercourse seem at the very least more promising, since they should admit of demonstration.

RJ said...

@Hestor: looks like the Pope has expressed himself in a subtle way. Unfortunately, the media and his more vociferous critics do not "do subtle".
There's a good analysis here by a competent, orthodox Catholic theologian, Janet Smith:
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0215.htm
and the article which caused the controversy is given at
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=221:pope-benedict-xvi-discusses-condoms-and-the-spread-of-hiv&catid=53:cwr2010&Itemid=70

I find the comment on that page by Clare McCullough rather insightful. I hope it's ok to quote it here:

It does seem at first as though the Pope is using "his superior intellect to come up with a circumstance which he thinks could condone an evil act". But when you look at what he has said in full he is only praising the intention to cause less harm as a possible good in the life of someone who is up to their neck in evil (intended or not).He states categorically that it is NOT either a morally acceptable thing to do or a real solution to AIDS. But merely sees that the good intent may be a spark of light in the darkness of that soul. Since the comments relate to male prostitutes their acts would [not] (my correction) be "contraceptive" anyway, so it is difficult to see how condom use would make them significantly morally worse. Sometimes teaching the finer and more difficult to comprehend points of the truth seems to make everything too complicated. But we have it on the best authority that the truth will set us free. Pope Benedict's words maintain the truth of the Church's teaching that condoms are still always morally wrong and always unacceptable. Don't expect the secular press to present it that way though!

Catholic Boy said...
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David Lindsay said...

The facts have not changed, any more than has the Teaching of the Church (which cannot), hence the tiny coverage given to this in L'Osservatore Romano. Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western NGOs and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour". Huge numbers of condoms have been distributed in Botswana, and the result has been for President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die". Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

And then there is our own country, where condoms are practically thrown even at very young children as part of their publicly funded grooming during compulsory schooling, yet the rates of underage pregnancy and of STIs among teenagers are now such that the true figures are not even disclosed, with abortions, miscarriages, the clap and so on routinely recorded as other things.

Steve said...

Father, I think that we need some absolute clarity from the Vatican to put an end to the scandal and confusion that the liberal and modernist talking heads are now pushing. the tabletistas were "pontificating" this morning on BBC Today programme. Don't they just love imprecise language.

Anonymous said...

Please read this. Fr. A.M.

VATICAN CITY, 21 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note issued by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning certain remarks by the Pope on the use of condoms, which appear the new book "Light of the World".

"At the end of chapter eleven of the book 'Light of the World' the Pope responds to two questions about the battle against AIDS and the use of condoms, questions that reconnect with the discussions that arose in the wake of certain statements the Pope made on this subject during the course of his 2009 trip to Africa.

"The Pope again makes it clear that his intention was not to take up a position on the problem of condoms in general; his aim, rather was to reaffirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, advice, accompaniment, both to prevent people from falling ill and to help them if they do.

"The Pope observes that even in the non-ecclesial context an analogous awareness has developed, as is apparent in the so-called ABC theory (Abstinence - Be Faithful - Condom), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are more decisive and fundamental in the battle against AIDS, while condoms take last place, as a way out when the other two are absent. It should thus be clear that condoms are not the solution to the problem.

"The Pope then broadens his perspective and insists that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to trivialising sexuality, which thus loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a 'drug'. This struggle against the trivialisation of sexuality is 'part of the great effort to ensure that sexuality is positively valued and is able to exercise a positive effect on man in his entirety'.

"In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the problems it currently faces, the Pope reaffirms that 'the Church does not of course consider condoms to be the authentic and moral solution' to the problem of AIDS.

"In this the Pope does not reform or change Church teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.

"At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat to another person's life. In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk.

"In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change.

"Many moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support similar positions; it is nevertheless true that we have not heard this with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even in an informal and non-magisterial form.

"Thus Benedict XVI courageously makes an important contribution to help us clarify and more deeply understand a long-debated question. His is an original contribution, because, on the one hand, it remains faithful to moral principles and transparently refutes illusory paths such as that of 'faith in condoms'; on the other hand, however, it manifests a comprehensive and farsighted vision, attentive to recognising the small steps (though only initial and still confused) of an often spiritually- and culturally-impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality".
OP/ VIS 20101122 (630)

Anonymous said...

Please read this. Fr. A.M.

VATICAN CITY, 21 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note issued by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning certain remarks by the Pope on the use of condoms, which appear the new book "Light of the World".

"At the end of chapter eleven of the book 'Light of the World' the Pope responds to two questions about the battle against AIDS and the use of condoms, questions that reconnect with the discussions that arose in the wake of certain statements the Pope made on this subject during the course of his 2009 trip to Africa.

"The Pope again makes it clear that his intention was not to take up a position on the problem of condoms in general; his aim, rather was to reaffirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, advice, accompaniment, both to prevent people from falling ill and to help them if they do.

"The Pope observes that even in the non-ecclesial context an analogous awareness has developed, as is apparent in the so-called ABC theory (Abstinence - Be Faithful - Condom), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are more decisive and fundamental in the battle against AIDS, while condoms take last place, as a way out when the other two are absent. It should thus be clear that condoms are not the solution to the problem.

"The Pope then broadens his perspective and insists that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to trivialising sexuality, which thus loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a 'drug'. This struggle against the trivialisation of sexuality is 'part of the great effort to ensure that sexuality is positively valued and is able to exercise a positive effect on man in his entirety'.

"In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the problems it currently faces, the Pope reaffirms that 'the Church does not of course consider condoms to be the authentic and moral solution' to the problem of AIDS.

(see following message for cont.)

Anonymous said...

(text cont. Fr. A.M.)

"In this the Pope does not reform or change Church teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.

"At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat to another person's life. In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk.

"In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change.

"Many moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support similar positions; it is nevertheless true that we have not heard this with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even in an informal and non-magisterial form.

"Thus Benedict XVI courageously makes an important contribution to help us clarify and more deeply understand a long-debated question. His is an original contribution, because, on the one hand, it remains faithful to moral principles and transparently refutes illusory paths such as that of 'faith in condoms'; on the other hand, however, it manifests a comprehensive and farsighted vision, attentive to recognising the small steps (though only initial and still confused) of an often spiritually- and culturally-impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality".
OP/ VIS 20101122 (630)

Edward P. Walton said...

Was P. Standforth referring to the example of the unfortunate male prostitute, when he speaks of keepads?

Richard said...

What puzzles me is the case of a man and woman who are not married, but who have decided to have sex.

Yes, that's sinful in itself.

But is it more or less sinful for them to use a condom?

Particularly if the man has (or thinks he might have) a sexually transmitted disease (whether AIDS or a less serious one).

Yes, we can talk about pastoral issue, that if condoms are used / available then the couple are perhaps more likely to sin by having sex. But that is a pastoral issue, not a question of which is more sinful.

In this case the condom is not frustrating the proper purpose of sex, because the sex is disordered anyway (through the couple not being married), and so does not have a proper purpose to be frustrated.

And not using the condom risks infecting the other party, which would surely be an additional sin in itself (unless you believe that sinners should suffer in this life for their sins).

So I can see pastoral reasons for discouraging condoms. But I cannot see what ADDITIONAL sin is being committed by use of the condom in this case, and I can see an additional sin that would be committed by not using one.

Richard said...

And my above comment goes double for homosexual sexual acts.

The act itself is intrinsically sinful, but what additional sin can possibly be being committed by using a condom? What natural purpose of the sex act can the condom possibly be frustrating?

louella said...

This unecessary statement from the Pope is a disaster. It is having a myriad of unintended consequences! Let's hope sowing confusion among young uncertain Catholic teenagers is not one of them....though I suspect strongly it is!

Not good! Clear direct leadership for our vulnerable young needed again please.

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

This afternoons report widens the issue I think. Basically it appears to be confirmed that what the Pope suggested would apply to Women as well as men.

Therefore if a Woman chooses to use such a device for the intention of avoiding infection, but impedance of pregnancy is an unintended but actual result, then this may be permissible.

I think it goes wider than aids. Many women after having several children are warned that a further pregnancy could damage their health, perhaps fatally.

A wife and husband in that situation may abstain, but it is very very hard and this abstinence in itself can be quite damaging to a marriage, therefore if the husband uses a c*****, with the intention of preserving his wifes health (not the intention of prevening conception), then this is apparently now confirmed to be licit.

Alleluia. Deo Gratius

Both must however accept that if it does go wrong (said devices are not wholly effective) then they must trust in God. Sensibly one would use NFP to avoid risky times and only use the c***** to back up NFP.

There is also the matter of conscience as to whether there is a secondary intention of avoiding more kids in itself (which if you have quite a few is not surprising) and to what degree the primary and secondary intentions are interacting - but I guess like many other areas this is best discussed in confession.

santoeusebio said...

Many commentators are saying that the Pope was just talking about intentions. I.e. the intention not to spread HIV is a good one and that he did not approve the use of a condom. Fr Lombardi then issued a statement where he said:

In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk..

The words which I have emboldened starting with "rather" seem to me to put a gloss on the Pope's words which is unjustified. Lombardi is saying that the first step is the use of the condom rather than the intention. That is not what the Pope said.

That having been said many commentators fell back on the argument that the Pope was only talking about male prostitutes presumably in some homosexual act where the use of a condom cannot be contraceptive and is therefore morally indifferent.

But then Lombardi claims that the Pope did not necessarily mean just male prostitutes but female as well and throws in transsexuals as well (which the Pope certainly did not mention) just to add to the confusion.

Thus commentators are thrown back on the intention only argument.

I wonder whether the problem is not Lombardi SJ.

Nicolas Bellord

RJ said...

My I add another thought?
The Pope says clearly that the use of condoms is "not a real or moral solution". If it is not a moral solution, then it is not a morally acceptable solution, therefore it is not a solution. What is left? Only the recognition of a psychological movement in the right direction, even though this is "not a real or moral solution", i.e. is a mistaken (and immoral) choice.

RJ said...

If anyone thinks that the Pope has said condoms can sometimes be used, they should read this:

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/11/23/guestview-did-the-pope-%E2%80%9Cjustify%E2%80%9D-condom-use-in-some-circumstances/

especially the last 3 paragraphs