Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pope and the condom

I suppose the Anglican Use Philippines blog has to say its opinion on this condom conundrum!

Much fuss has been made about the Pope's latest published statement on whether the use of condoms are morally allowable or not. The fact is that  Pope Benedict XVI never said it was "allowed" but he made it clear that condom use is not the real or moral solution to the problem of HIV infections.

However I cannot but notice that the Pope cites a hypothetical example where in order to reduce risk of infection, the use of a condom may be considered.

These are the juiciest parts of the Papal interview that has had many choking  on and indigestion from misinterpretation!

"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.”


"She [Catholic Church] 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."

In order to appreciate the Pope's statement, we have to recall what is plainly written in the CCC. The Pope's example is about prostitution which in paragraph 2355 of the CCC is considered as a grave "injury to the dignity of the person". In no way does the Church nor the Pope considers prostitution acceptable. But the Church out of pastoral concern says that while the sex worker is in a sinful state of life, the graveness and imputability of the offence can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail or social pressure. In short the Church doesn't put sinful people in the same category. Sinners are loved and capable of love and there is always a way out!

Thus even an object such as a condom may be the start of the way out. But even then this is premised on repentance even if one is in such a hell as prostitution. The sex worker has to be raised from being considered as an object to that of being considered as a human being. Repentance is the first step. The Gospels tell of people in sinful lives immediately seeing their way out upon encountering the Christ.  The Christ pulled them out of their hells!

Thus the Pope's statement must be taken in the context of the Gospel teaching and not just moral theological interpretations. As for some traditionalists who keep on emphasizing that Benedict XVI's statement is "non-magisterial" there is a danger in doing this. We cannot in good measure nit pick on every papal statement as magisterial or not, unless the Pope declares so. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He has the grace of teaching from the Apostles. We have to seriously consider his teachings on morals without undue doubt.

As for people who misinterpreted the Pope's statements on condoms. My only take is perhaps they have forgotten how to love the sinners. The Pope's statements must be taken in the light of a serious pastoral concern.

PS: I'm no moral theologian. The Jesuits taught me a bit of moral theology something our good friend Mr Pinoy Catholic may find hard to digest!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your points Doc Ben.

    The mainstream media and the RH advocates are like the INC...always out of context.

    By the way, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said that the pope's comments "does not represent the formal exercise of his teaching authority in a church document". But I he is the pope, and whatever he says or do, people are watching intently, Catholic or not.

    Not all Jesuits at Loyola are a headache for the Church. There are those who are express their dissenting theology in the classrooms while there are also those who express their fidelity to the Church within and without the walls of LST.

    Fr. Tim Ofrasio is one Jesuit in my fave list, along with Ignatius Loyola, Robert Bellarmine and Francis Xavier. They have one common denominator, obedience to the Pope.

    I worked with the Jesuits in the past. And even shared breakfast in more than one occasion. They debate on almost anything while having breakfast.

    Too many genius sharing a table.


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