Pope’s Carelessly Worded Statement Will Be Misused By Secular Press.

Not a good day for him

Let us make no mistake, this was an own goal. A perfectly useless and perfectly avoidable one. One which puts into question the ability of the Pontiff to defend Catholic teaching in a way not capable of manipulation by the secular media. This is a falling back to the days of John Paul II, when Catholic doctrine was not overtly contradicted – of course not – but badly represented in a way which made manipulation easy and widely spread. Read the words of the Pontiff again and you’ll see that whilst not contradicting Catholic teaching in the matter, his words open the way for misunderstanding and manipulation. He didn’t “change the rules”, at all. But his careless wording will allow superficial people to think so and the press to report so.

Last time I looked, the use of condoms was not morally justified. It is not justified because it is artificial contraception. Let us look at this again, what does the Church says about the use of condoms? That it is not morally justified. Oh, and we also know that it is not morally justified. We also know that if it is not morally justified no Pope can ever make it morally justified, because the Pope is not the maker of the rules, merely their custodian.

Ah well, we have this down then.

Now, let us all be aware of simple facts of life: that the Church knows that people are sinful. Whilst never justifying sin, the Church has always acted in a way meant to use common sense and sound judgment. The Church has always – when circumstances so required – accepted facts of life as a lesser evil. But she has always been attentive to say that this does not make the evil justified. The Church has, in fact, no system allowing the faithful to “choose the lesser evil”, even when she herself accepts (not justifies) the fact of life that evil will happen. A Catholic may never choose evil, and that’s that. It is evil to commit sodomy, and it is evil to use a condom. The Church can’t take the sodomy out of the equation and say “if you really couldn’t stay away from another person’s backside, then you may use a condom“. The Church says that you don’t commit sodomy, period.

The Papal States allowed prostitution. Prostitution was, in fact, rather an industry in Rome before reunification. But this doesn’t mean that the Church considered going with a prostitute “justified”, nor that it thought that it was justifiable in some circumstances, nor that she said that if you go with a prostitute, then you may use a condom.

The same for condoms. In Fascist Italy the use of condoms was a criminal offence in general, but it was allowed inside of brothels and the Church never said a word against this, obviously tolerating a lesser evil. But this didn’t mean that the Church said that it was in any way justifiable to use a condom, or that fornication is justifiable in those circumstances where you really have blue balls and are on your way to better yourself. The Church merely recognised the existence of a fact of life (original sin; leading to lust; leading to prostitution) and dealt with it the best she could. She certainly didn’t provide any justification for sinful behaviour. One must stay away from the brothel, period.

She also never said that for a prostitute to use condoms might have indicated an awakening of her better moral nature. This is simply naive and misleading. The prostitute uses the condom to avoid pregnancy and diseases, as everyone else. Whatever awakening there might be in the single circumstance, any speculation about the fact that she might express this by using condoms only suggests in the less attentive that a prostitute is justified in using condoms.

The fact that a sin happens doesn’t mean that it is fine for it to happen. The fact that by committing a certain sin a worse sin can be avoided doesn’t make the sin fine. The more or less adventurous considerations as to the motives with which a person commits a sin don’t justify the sin, either.

A mexican drug cartel member in the very first, extremely vague step of his redemption may start torturing enemies in a less cruel way before killing them, but this doesn’t mean that he is allowed to torture and kill them.

After the careless words of the Pope, the entire world will now start saying that the Pontiff considers the use of condoms justified in certain circumstances. This is simply how the world goes and it is very naive to think that it may happen any other way.

Not only must a Pope never tamper with doctrine, but he must never be perceived as to be doing it. Never ever. It is his duty, whenever he explains the position of the Church in certain circumstances, to do so in such a way that no misunderstanding are possible and no Catholics confused. But this is exactly what has happened this morning, with Classic FM (5 million listeners every day) clearly giving the message that the Pope has modified the Church’s position.

When the press thinks they can say that, it is a clear sign that a Pope has communicated in a very poor way.

The Pope’s statements will confuse honest Catholics and will provide an infinite amount of excuses (not only about condoms) to lukewarm Catholics concerning everything that it difficult to accept to them. This was absolutely avoidable and seriously undermines the Pope’s efforts to fight aids in the right way.


Posted on November 21, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Come on, mundabor, you know better than that.
    In the first place the Pope has not made any statement; all we have so far is a leak from a book of interviews to be published later this week. Let’s keep a cool head.
    When we see the encyclical we’ll know exactly what is what.
    If what we have seen so far is correct the gist of what the Pope is saying is that there are certain instances where in the interest of disease-prevention the use of condoms may be permitted. There also appears to be an entirely sensible theological argument (and I think Benedict is a better theologian than you or I) that if you are already committing a sexual sin then wearing a condom is not going to make it any worse.
    Which also makes it clear that where you are no already committing a sexual sin (i.e. with your spouse) wearing a condom does make it worse.

    • Pitsgate,
      no one has doubted the autenticity of the words. If there is a dementi, we’ll take it from there.
      But i suggest that you re-read the pontiff’s words and examine them in light of Catholic teaching:
      1) there are no instances where the use of condoms may be permitted. there aren’t any. Really.
      2) “Theological arguments” can never go against Catholic doctrine.

      But really, you are letting him said what he has emphatically not said. The fact that you don;t get it right (perhaps, because you want to get it wrong) is further proof of the carelessness of HH’s words.


  2. I’ve already had to correct a few people today that, no, the Pope hasn’t “changed” any teaching of the Church. He was just giving the (obvious) observation that if someone is dead set on committing mortal sin, it is “better” to pick the least harmful way possible to do it. Not for your own soul (usually), but for other people involved.

    After perusing various blogs, newspapers, and the like, what I’ve found most infuriating is that, 140 years later, people still don’t understand (or pretend to not understand) how Papal infallibility works. They think that every idle statement of the Pope in any informal setting is to be considered holy writ. This is literally the easiest and simplest dogma to get a handle on.

    As for Pope Benedict, I am surprised since he doesn’t usually make mistakes like this. I don’t think we ought to come down on him too hard, I am sure he already has realized that when discussing sexual matters, a classic “got ya!” category for enemies of the Church, he will be more careful in the future.

    • NSS,
      I think what has happened is that he has failed to consider how others (those ignorant of the principles, or those bent on distorting them) would have reacted. A kind of professional disease if you will, as to him of course all he said must have been very clearly orthodox, to the point of not seeing the problem.

      What makes me mad is that for example, this morning Classic FM (5 million listeners) didn’t say a word of clarification. Yesterday morning they had the full bollocks & a commentary of tatchell on that! Today after seeing that they got it all wrong there’s not a word of clarification. Therefore, all those who listen to Classic FM only in the morning before going to work and have not done any particular research on the internet will be very confused and once put into the air, this rumour will stay with us for a long time. Christianity by hearsay I call it and nowadays it seems to be the standard among “Christians”.

      I mean, how a Catholic can even believe that the Pope would “soften” or “change” moral teaching of the Church is beyond me.

  3. Whilst “the pill” is not permitted as a contraceptive , it can be prescribed, and used by Catholic women with a clear conscience , for medical reasons. It is useful, for instance in the treatment of some menstrual problems and also for the treatment of acne. As long as the intent is not contraceptive, therefore, Catholics can take the pill. Similarly. where the womb is in some way seriously diseased, a woman is not committing a sin in having a hysterectomy.

    In the same way, I agree with the Pope that condoms could be used where the intent is to prevent infection with aids. In this case, the condom is being used for medical reasons and not as a contraceptive.

    The initial gleeful reaction from the press that the Pope has softened his attitude towards condoms has abated at last. Journalists have realised that the Church has not changed her teachings on contraception and that the Pope was only expressing some personal reflections, to which they will be sympathetic. The excitement will die down very quickly now and the Pope will have met with some approval for his compassionate stance. So all’s well that ends well!

    • I’m not entirely sure, Misericordia.
      As the press hasn’t given any real importance to the correection of the impression, milions of hearsay Catholics who don’t research on the internet will remain with the wrong impression.


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