Pope ok’s condoms.

Now that I’ve got your attention, please buy a copy of the new book Light of the World, an interview of B16 by Peter Seewald, and find out for yourself. In addition to the question of condoms, you’ll also find that Benedict is an incredibly interesting and deep leader.

So, here’s the scoop. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper (where I once worked), broke the embargo on the book and published some excerpts. Of course, if there’s something to do with sex and anything Catholic, you can be sure that it will get attention.

In a detailed section on the question of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Pope gave the following response:

“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.”

So, to clarify, he’s not endorsing condoms. He’s saying that it could be the first step of a particular individual to realize that their action is wrong. His example of a male prostitute is very particular. The Church doesn’t believe that male prostitution is a good thing; so it’s not going to endorse anything that would facilitate the behavior even if it’s ostensibly with the good intention of protecting one’s self or another. That good intention doesn’t change the nature of the behavior itself.

Here are the two questions that relate to the matter of condoms, pp 117-119. There’s a lot to unpack here. Stay tuned:

On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on Aids once again became the target of media criticism. Twenty-five percent of all Aids victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many Aids victims, especially children with Aids.

I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients. That was the real answer: The Church does more than anyone else, because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering. In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

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.

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.

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  • http://meadiciona.com/tassalles/ Tarcisio Santos de Salles

    Very good article Pia. Congratulations!

  • http://www.catholicposition.blogspot.com/ Red

    Hi,

    What the Pope said about condom use among prostitutes should not surprise anyone. It has always been part of the official teaching of the Catholic Church. It is not a departure nor an exemption.

    Please read these:

    http://catholicposition.blog…spot.com/2010/10/why-p-noy-should-go-on-with-his.html

    http://catholicposition.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-is-contraception-necessary-outside.html

    http://catholicposition.blogspot.com/2010/10/morality-of-giving-emergency.html

    Please read the comments page of each of these posts so that you can see where the exchanges of info is going.

    I am very thankful that the Pope has already spoken!

  • http://www.catholicposition.blogspot.com/ Red

    I’m sorry, the first link is wrong.

    Here is the correct one:

    http://catholicposition.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-p-noy-should-go-on-with-his.html

    Thanks!

  • Lurker #59

    Dr. Pia,

    The English text that you are using here in reguards to the quotation differs from the English text that the AP is using. Could you tell me where exactly you are taking the English from? Is it directly from the English of the book as it will be published?

    AP text

    “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be … a first bit of responsibility, to re-develop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes,”

    • Pia

      I’m taking it from the advance copy that I have from Ignatius which is publishing the English translation. The AP text is probably a journalist’s translation of the Italian used in the text published by L’Osservatore Romano today (Saturday). Or it’s something that they picked up from other outlets.

  • Lurker #59

    @Dr. Pia

    Thanks! That is what I was figuring.

    Do you happen to have, or know how to get the origional German for the passage in question? The OR source is using guistaficati which the AP is using to translated at justified and thus creating the whole mess and the headlines of “Pope justifies condom usage”. The earlier AP articles today that I read did not quote the Pontiff directly as using the term justifed, but the later modified articles today use the direct quote that I gave above, which is coming I assume from a journalist’s translation of the Italian in the OR source. Your official English is “a basis”. The question now is “What is the German term?”

    The mess is being largely drummed up on the usage of the term “justified”. If we can show that the OR and, thus, the AP are incorrect translations of the German, then this mess can be resolved much easier.

    • Pia

      German version gets published on Tuesday, along with all the others. In the meantime, if you speak German, I’d recommend checking out some of the German papers, especially the Catholic ones. I know Tagespost is supposed to be a good one.

  • David

    I’m more interested in the discrepancy between the Osservatore’s Italian and the English of the book/AP text regarding the kind of prostitute he uses as an example. In L’Osservatore it’s just “una prostituta”, which has been transformed into a “male prostitute” in both the advanced copy and the AP text. Which is it?

    • Pia

      In the official English translation, it’s a “male prostitute.” Seems like a very specific example was chosen.

  • LeonG

    Given that the new church of the springtime is so overwhelmed by large numbers of sodomite presbyters and sexually abusive religious this is more like political pragmatism on his part. It signifies what a terrible condition the modern church is in. “Male prostitute” is the operative phrase.

  • LeonG

    Now the door conveniently opens to exceptions which will soon become the rule. Little nwonder the new catholc church has lost most of its influence in the world since the 1960s.

    • AF

      Exceptions which become the rule…..how true….this happened with abortion in the UK. Abortion on the NHS was meant to alleviate back street use and has now become a prominent evil on its own.

      I think it v.dangerous to introduce condoms in any way what so ever. Of course there will be those who think that condom use will prevent many problems…yes among those who use them with fullest respect…..but the human condition being what it is, it will soon fall to those who maintain a degree of profound ignorance, and this can never be good in the long term….I am v.disappointed in this decision…..not alll of us are academic or intellectual enough to determine the right course of action in these matters….Patronising attitudes have nothing to do with my view point….I think it simply wrong to determine any use of condoms is a right one….no good will become of it, especially in the vulnerable minded. Shame!

    • AF

      Exceptions which become the rule…..how true….this happened with abortion in the UK. Abortion on the NHS was meant to alleviate back street use and has now become a prominent evil on its own.

      I think it v.dangerous to introduce condoms in any way what so ever. Of course there will be those who think that condom use will prevent many problems…yes among those who use them with fullest respect…..but the human condition being what it is, it will soon fall to those who maintain a degree of profound ignorance, and this can never be good in the long term….I am v.disappointed in this decision…..not alll of us are academic or intellectual enough to determine the right course of action in these matters….Patronising attitudes have nothing to do with my view point….I think it simply wrong to determine any use of condoms is a right one….no good will become of it, especially in the vulnerable minded. Shame!

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  • Lurker #59

    @Dr. Pia,

    Thank you kindly. I cannot read German so I wont be able to locate the exact passage within the actual book. If you can would it be possible for you to post the offical book text on Tuesday? Thank you very much.

  • http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com Grandmère Mimi

    “Now the door conveniently opens to exceptions which will soon become the rule.”

    One can only hope that other exceptions will be allowed, especially in the case of married couples when one spouse is HIV-positive. In areas like Africa, where HIV infections are widespread, the disease is passed on mainly through heterosexual sex. The male prostitute exception helps those couples not at all.

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  • Red

    The most accurate analysis and comments on Pope Benedict’s statements about condoms is this one by Fr. Federico Lombardi of Zenit.

    Note that he said that

    “Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support analogous positions”.

    This means that what the Pope have said should not surprise anyone because he had actually not said anything new. That prostitues act responsibly when they use condoms so that they or their partner may not be infected, is not a new teaching but has always been part of the official teaching of the Church.

    Hence, there is no need to twist the words of Pope Benedict just like what Jimmy Akin and Janet Smith have done.

    http://www.zenit.org/article-31024?l=english

    http://www.zenit.org

  • patm

    Heard your interview this morning on Teresa’s morning show and wanted to ask about your comment on condom use with married couples. You discussed the situation of marriage where one spouse is HIV-positive and noted that condom use would not be an easy answer since it is a contraceptive. And yet, if a woman must be on the Pill for serious health concerns and does not intend to use the Pill as a contraceptive, it’s allowed because that contarception is not the purpose. (or so I’ve heard). If that’s the case, wouldn’t the same apply to condom use in marriages where the primary purpose is protection of the spouse?

    • Pia

      Excellent question and I’m sorry we didn’t have time to discuss it. Yes, there are cases in which a couple could use a condom without it functioning as a contraceptive, but – this is where it gets tricky – from a Catholic perspective, consummation of the marital act requires the deposit of semen in the vagina. (Hope I don’t get flagged by filters!) The act is not consummated without the deposit. In the case of someone using the pill for therapeutic purposes, the marital act is not directly impeded. To be clear, the situation of the pill being used for therapeutic purposes is very particular and not widely applicable.

    • Phil

      patm,

      The woman may not intend to use the pill as a contraceptive but the pill is also a abortifacient. It’s also a barrier as is the condom in being open to new life.

      • Pia

        In this case, there are a couple of options. 1. Use a form of the pill that is not an abortifacient. 2. Know how to use a really effective form of fertility awareness and abstain on the fertile days so that there’s no chance of conception. However, I think the cases of “therapeutic” use of the pill are pretty far and few between. There’s a great deal being done with medicine, especially NaPro Technologies to address women’s health concerns in a more holistic and effective manner.

  • Lurker 59

    An update to what I have been tracking.

    1.) The Italian of the l’Osservatore Romano reads

    Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico,

    2.) The AP is using the OR text to create this translation which is the only translation I have seen in English reporting

    “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom

    3.) The official English text as published by Ignatius from an advance copy of the book http://www.patheos.com/blogs/piadesolenni/pope-oks-condoms

    “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom,

    4.) I have run across some people who have stated that the German journalists are using the term “rechtfertigen” which means justified, which may be the l’OR text translated back into German.

    5.) The actual German text from the book reads as follows

    Ich würde sagen, wenn ein Prostituierter ein Kondom verwendet,

    taken from Sandro Magister’s via Lori Pieper http://subcreators.com/blog/2010/11/21/the-pope-the-press-and-condoms-oh-my/

    We can now conclude that the text of the OR is flawed and has introduced a word that is foreign to the origional statement of B16.

    The following questions need to be answered:

    A.) Is the l’OR text actually the text from the Italian book?

    B.) What influenced the Ignatius transation to ad a basis during the translation process?

    The more that this gets pulled apart the more that it appears to me that there as major problem here as between the l’OR and the German is completly different and the change is unwarrented.

  • Sam Schmitt

    “That prostitutes act responsibly when they use condoms so that they or their partner may not be infected, is not a new teaching but has always been part of the official teaching of the Church.”

    This simply is not what the pope said. Even less is it “teaching of the Church.”

    Far from “twist[ing] the words of Pope Benedict,” Jimmy Akin and Janet Smith provide very clear and reasoned analysis of what he said.

  • Dennis

    I won’t purchase a copy of “Light of the World” because it has sown a lot of confusion about the Church’s teachings. I was harassed at a job in a clinic at a major univeristy because I was unwilling to participate in a condom distribution program that was supposedly aimed at curbing the transmission of HIV. I took a lot of heat for it. Now the people like those who were my opponents then are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim how overly rigid people like me are when it comes to preventing HIV infection. I suffered a lot at the hands of the culture of death and now I feel a bit betrayed by this book and the reaction it has caused.

  • Dennis

    I was speaking with a seminary professor who is a very faithful Catholic. He said he is having a difficult time understanding the things that are being said about this issue. Therefore, I guess I don’t feel too bad about my not understanding this whole problem since a seminary professor is havng some problems interpreting it too. I have had to deal with this matter of condoms/HIV in the real world in a medical clinic setting. It affects me a lot. I might someday again work at an STD clinic. If I were told to distribute condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, etc., what should I do now? Previously I would just have told the clinic director that I couldn’t participate in prescribing condoms because it is against my religious beliefs. Now what can I do, given what has been said and written by the Pope, his critics, and others? And speaking of STD’s: why limit the example to HIV? What if the person has not HIV but any other sexually transmitted infection. Does the pope’s statement cover those cases. I am now reading that there are people saying that hetrosexual couples could employ condoms to prevent disease transmission. It seems that all of this could never end. It’s much too confusing for us average Catholics.

    • Phil Marlin

      Dennis,

      Your doing the right thing in not participating in prescribing condoms. Having condoms has not reduced STD’s or unwanted babies but has increased STD’s and unwanted babies. People have more sex and more often with people they would not normally have sex with because of the false security of condoms.

      I forget the name of the country in Africa but it’s the only country that has reduced HIV because they promote not having sex outside of marriage and not using condoms.

      • Pia

        Uganda is the country. When I was working on this issue a few years ago, Botswana & Zimbabwe had some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection. Condoms were readily available in Botswana & Zimbabwe and did not have any apparent effect in decreasing the rate of infection. In 1991, Uganda had an infection rate of more than 20%, but the rate dropped to 6% by 2001, ostensibly due to the ABc approach. It’s important to note that when ABc was first introduced, the Ugandan government was pushing abstinence and fidelity. Condoms were acceptable in the case of a sero-positive couple, not as a well-if-you’re-going-to-do-it-anyway answer. That’s why the ‘c’ was lower case. In my old files, I probably have screenshots of the Ugandan government’s website which spelled this out. I think things have been moderated in the switch to ABC.

  • Jen

    Hi Dennis,

    These might help you understand what’s happening now.

    The truth about condoms by Fr. Martin Rhonheimer

    Secondary Moral Obligations by Jeremy Pierce

    Moral Exemptions in Contraceptive use: What the Pope really Meant? by Redentor de la Rosa

    You may tell that seminary professor to read these three works, and then asked him to explain them to you.

    Thanks

  • Jen

    Dens,

    It would be better for you to also ask these authors about your problem. They might be able to give specific answers to your questions.

    God Bless!

  • Dennis

    My difficulty with what happened with the book entitled, “Light of the World,” is that it was not handled properly by the Vatican information people. Now we have all sorts of people out there saying that the Pope said it is ok to use condoms to prevent transmission of HIV. Unfortunately, many medical professionals like me will be pressured at their jobs to participate in condom distribution programs. it’s hard enough to be pro-life in a secular medical world without that extra pressure being brought to bear on us. In my opinion, I hope that the Vatican has learned a lot from this and how much damage can result from poor communication skills.

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