Pope, Condom, TSA & Crucifix – UPDATED

With a title like that, what else could I be talking about but my Tuesday column:

I had been driven to the crucifix because I had become overwhelmed with the media/internet cacophony that had followed L’Osservatore Romano’s weekend revelation of Pope Benedict XVI’s thoughts on the use of condoms in certain situations, and by the uproar over newly put-in-place TSA regulations on pre-flight searches and pat-downs.

In both cases, reactions were swift, and they varied according to agendas but fell along predictable lines: so-called “liberals”—who had screamed about a “shredded constitution” and fretted about fourth amendment rights when the Bush administration looked to wiretap suggested terrorists—suddenly began to coo that they hadn’t been touched in a long time, and didn’t mind the “love pats” resulting from the greatly increased scrutiny of airline passengers in the U.S. Meanwhile, those who had defended the Bush wiretaps wondered if the new screening measures were an Obama-devised plot meant to make obedient subjects of raw, fiercely independent Americans.

On the condom front, the extremes of the “left” and “right” brought us contrasts in hysteria that ultimately came to a similarly flawed conclusion: that Benedict had “reversed” a church teaching. He had not.

Its funny how often extreme factions end up arriving at the same place, even as they start off from divergent perspectives.

In contemplating the crucifix, my attention was drawn to the horizontal plank to which Jesus’ arms were attached. That beam extends to the left and to the right. Christ is between them, in the center. He is the balance. If one moves too far in either direction, one moves away from the central Christ, and into imbalance. Move too far and you can no longer see him; you will be too far out, on the periphery—pulled there by the 10,000 things you have chose to focus on, and to fret about, and which ultimately pull you so insistently that, without a counterbalance, you slip away from
Christ, altogether.

You can read the whole thing here.

I’m sharing the Square today with Benedict XVI and Archbishop Chaput!. Heady company, indeed.

Meanwhile, Tony Rossi finds a way to mix the condom story with flying, as well, but differently:

“. . .Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. The story begins with Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, believing that love and human connections should be avoided at all costs because they’re unnecessary burdens that hold one back from living a fun and accomplished life. As a result, he spends his days engaging in sexual relationships with lots of women, essentially focused on his own pleasure. Through the course of the film, however, Bingham unintentionally develops bonds with two very different women and discovers that his views become skewed; he begins to actually yearn for the sort of love and stability he has previously denounced.

While still willing to engage in sex outside of marriage, he no longer sees it as the meaningless, self-centered biological act, as he had. In that sense, Clooney’s character is in the type of situation the pope is referring to in his example. He’s still doing something wrong, but he’s on the road to acknowledging that it is actually wrong and therefore, he is making progress. Again, a gradual moral awakening — after a long and culturally-approved slumber — is a positive move in the right direction. This is what Benedict is discussing.”

Tony also brings Flannery O’ Connor into the discussion so you’ll want to read it.

Simcha Fisher is also thinking about grace coming in increments

Finally, Deacon Greg has Archbishop Timothy Dolan (in snazzy cassock) talking Pope, Prophylactics and Preaching:

“The Pope didn’t say, ‘Oh good, you should use a condom,’ ” Archbishop Dolan said, referring to a controversial comment the pope made in a book that is being released worldwide on Tuesday. “You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

Dolan is going to be a very good and productive president of the USCCB. He is an American Original, with a genius for getting beyond stuffy constraints and teach clearly.

UPDATE:
The Press Office of the Holy See issues further clarification and it’s safe to say this story has legs


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