Monday, November 22, 2010

AS I SEE IT - Condoms are still not allowed!

This is a special edition of "As I See It" due to the media spin on the book "Light of the World" by Pope Benedict. I will try to lay to rest some of the concerns people may have about the use of condoms in the Catholic Church, due to the media coverage of this new book. For the record or in case you thought otherwise, the Catholic Church does not sanction the use of condoms in any circumstance!

In this book, Pope Benedict was quoted saying "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".

In this statement the Pope is using an example of a same sex relationship and the use of condoms as a "FIRST STEP" in the direction of a moralization. He is not saying that condoms are good, nor is he saying condoms are a way to deal with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. What the Pope said is that it may be a good first step to realizing what they are doing is wrong due to the harm it could cause.

As Doctor Janet E Smith states on The Catholic World Report "We must note that the example that Pope Benedict gives for the use of a condom is a male prostitute; thus, it is reasonable to assume that he is referring to a male prostitute engaged in homosexual acts. The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.".

To better understand what is being said here, lets use an example of a male drug addict who uses needles to shoot up. In the course of his drug use he comes to the realization that using dirty needles or sharing his needle could be harmful to himself or to others. Due to this realization he decides to always use a clean needle while shooting up and takes steps to make sure that his needle is not being used by anyone else. So, though the drug use is still illegal and not condoned by the Church, the person addicted to drugs, depending on his state of mind, could be making " a first step in the direction of a moralization" by limiting the exposure of dirty needles which could cause harm to himself or to others.

It is common knowledge that the only way to be protected by the harm caused by drugs is to stop taking drugs altogether. In the example I used above, we see that a good first step in accomplishing this goal is to realize what you are doing is wrong and that it could hurt others. By the act of limiting exposure to dirty needles you could be taking that good first step to a moral life.

The ultimate goal in my example would be to have the person stop taking the drugs, but realizing there are many steps involved in quitting the drug habit, focusing on a good first step, may get the individual to take subsequent steps towards recovery.

So, as you can clearly see, Pope Benedict, in his example, is not saying it is acceptable to use condoms, quite the contrary! The Pope still affirms that condom use is immoral, but states that in the homosexual act, it's use could signify the first step towards a moral life, depending on the state of mind of the individual.

To Conclude, I do not condone the use of illegal drugs at all, but can you see where I could be misquoted by the media and could be accused as having a"softening stance" on the use of drugs because I said that a good first step was to use clean needles? The drug addict in my example is not unlike the male prostitute in the Pope's example. Both the addict and male prostitute, due to limiting the harm caused by the immoral act, could be on the first step towards a moral and just life.

By taking comments the Pope made out of the context by which they were made, caused this misunderstanding and allowed for this media frenzy. The pope does not have a "softening stance" on the use of condoms and the Church still affirms that using condoms is an immoral act and has not condoned the use of them.

Here is the full article by Doctor Janet Smith:

Questions? Comments? Reply to this blog!

God Bless You All!



Sean said...

Since the comments to this post are ending up on my Facebook page, I will copy them here so you can see what people are saying and my response

Sean said...

From Maura: If I understand correctly, he said that if a male were about to engage in homosexual intercourse, it would be better if he did not also infect his partner. In this case, the condom is not a barrier to conception. That doesn't make homosexual intercourse OK, it just doesn't add infection to it; he said that small consideration for another person would be at least a small step toward responsibility for one's actions. Think only of yourself - bad. Love your neighbor as yourself - good.

Sean said...

My Response to Maura: @ Maura Yes he said something like that, still saying condoms are wrong and that using them is not the way to deal with HIV, but that because the male prostitute is trying to not hurt his partner by using a condom, he may be taking a good ...first step because the secular world says condom use is a way stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Pope still says that condom use is not the way to stop HIV/AIDS, the only way to do that is "in a humanization of sexuality". What the Pope is saying is that the prostitute may start to realize that homosexual sex is inherently dangerous and wrong and that the Prostitute may be starting to take that first step in conforming his sexuality the way God intended, by using a condom.

Sean said...

From Andrew: I'm afraid I have to disagree. The Pope's words do indicate a softening of his stance on condoms in certain restricted circumstances, already ably outlined by Sean. Whereas, before, the Catholic Church presented condom use as always wrong, ...the Pope is now saying that it is usually wrong, or almost always wrong. For the Catholic Church, that is a surprising and not insignificant shift from an absolutist position to one which allows for exceptions. I am not expressing a view on whether this is a good development or not - progressives will welcome it; conservatives will be less impressed - but it is clear that the Holy Father has been refining his position on this issue.

Sean said...

My Response to Andrew: Andrew, the Catholic Church has already stated there is no softening and that the Popes words were taken out of context. Even if you believe he is softening his stance based on the quotation, it does not matter as the book is not bound to... Catholics by faith and morals. This means that the Holy Father can have an opinion, but it was neither a Papal Encyclical nor binding in any way. With that being said, the Pope's words were taken out of context and the Church has already stated that there is NOT a softening on the stance. Also, the Pope is not saying condom use is right, just like he is not saying homosexual love is right, they are both intrinsically evil, he was using an example based on the secular opinion of condoms, to prove a point about a first step towards the “humanization of sexuality”. Both condom use and homosexual love is considered intrinsically evil, thus if you read the full paragraph, you will clearly see he is not advocating the use of condoms or changing the Church’s stance in the quoted taken out of context.

Sean said...

From Andrew: Yes, that's a good point about the fact that this is not a Papal encyclical or binding in any way. Catholics should take that into account. But is the suggestion that the journalist who conducted the interview took the Pope's words out of context, or is it that the media in subsequent reporting did?

Sean said...

My Response to Andrew: Nope, that is why in the next question asked by the interviewer about the use of condoms, the Pope clarifies his previous statements, but do you see any of the follow-up questions being displayed in the media? The answer is no! To take something the Pope says out of the context for which it was intended would cause a media frenzy and get the desired ratings. Another effect of this would be that it would also cause a big controversy to an already explosive topic, which is the Church’s stance on the use of condoms. Guess what? It worked! Now this issue is still in the media and the Catholic Church and her apologist's are clarifying the statements made by the Pope, but the damage is already done! People see what they want to see and this is a prime example of how our secular society really wants condoms to be approved by the Church, which will never happen!

Bob<>< said...

I am reading through the book now, by the way you can get the book via amazon electronic media for $9.99 . I have just finished the response to the condom question. It appears to me that the Pope bent to pressure from the Church and applied situational ethics to this subject. I realize the suffering to AIDS is tremendous however, bending a historic position such as birth control can only open a Pandora box. Of course this is just my opinion.