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.

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

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Izy

    Every time you put up the the name Flannery O’Connor, you’ve got my attention, baby. I went over to read Rossi’s discussion of Wise Blood and how it deals with grace’s slow working upon a damaged soul. That the nuanced age-old teachings of the Church is lost in the loud-mouthed, short-attention-span MSM isn’t surprising at all. It’s like asking the cow to play the violin.

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  • Jeff

    Hmmmm, who is on the left of Christ, and who is on the right? Who makes the call, also?


    It is amazing, to see those once claiming their rights are being trampled, now advocate for the touchy TSA approach. Democratic Partisans seem to embrace anything which is pushed by a Democrat – while vilifying in a truly hypocritical nature whatever is done by a Republican.

    And I have to agree, there are elements on both sides which tend to rush to a very uniformed emotive reaction – of course the Democratic Partisans are simply far worse in this regard. They seem to rarely take substance into account for anything – especially in terms for example, of socialist failures in the realm of Europe, when analyzing there policy approach for the USA.

    Spain is a pure disaster, having spent massively on “green” governmental economic stimulus – and this is ironically exactly what Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, Schumer, Clinton, Obey, etc., were pushing in the USA. Only in the STATES, the Democrats were staring at these environmental pushes with bureaucratic gold in their eyes – ready to cash in as Mr. Rangel or the Clintons have done throughout their ‘public’ lives.

    I like Archbishop Dolan, seems quite sound, ethical, capable, insightful, etc. He would certainly make a better Secretary of State, than the current Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Right now the world is blowing up in the face of the once boasted “smart power”. North Korea not only sank a South Korean ship without any genuine response from the Sniper Dodger, they are growing with increased aggressive escalation – and revealing a very dangerous NUKE threat. One has to remember Mrs. Clinton actually bragged on GRETTA’s “On the Record”, about how easy it would be to deal with North Korea. Yet, like the Mortgage Meltdown created in the 1990′s, the Clinton record comes to haunt the former Co-Partner, as the prior Clinton Appeasement of the nutty Dictatorship in North Korea continues to burn all today. Isn’t it amazing, we no longer have Saddam as this dangerous threat, for a Presidential Administration to deal with?

    No longer is Saddam rewarding PLO suicide bombers, or lobbing missiles at Israel, etc., he is finished – and the FREE Iraqi People are moving in a constructive political offering for the World. GW Bush deserves as much thanks as Our fine US Military, and the various Allies like Great Britain, Poland, Australia, Italy, South Korea, etc., for this positive improvement in the Globe.

    Yet today, Hillary and Barack’s ‘smart power’ joke, has made matters so much worse, as Iran, Syria, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, etc., are all smelling weakness, taking advantage, growing with sincere concern.

    We could use someone like Archbishop Dolan, to provide some common sense in this Obama Administration and the Clinton State Department. Their return to the Clinton-Carter appeasing weakness has only aided the horrid threats in this World. The Democratic Party’s terrible offering again strikes, making a bigger mess than before.

    They even have revealed to have been meeting with a fake dupe, pretending to be a representative for the Taliban. Here Hillary Clinton was seeking more appeasement and bribery, and they were dealing with a bigger ‘con’ than they themselves.

    Could it be more absurd? Only a few months before the midterm elections, Mrs. Rodham Clinton announced how she was bringing “peace” to Palestine and Israel. Smart power indeed.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Personally I think the Pope should have just let the whole condom issue alone. He’s trying to rationalize what appears to be two opposing issues. Either you are allowed to have sex with a prostitute or not. To say that you are not allowed but if you do wear a condom is a contradiction. Am I now allowed to masterbate as long as I use a condom? His logic would extend to that. Frankly he should have said that married heterosexuals should be allowed to use a condom. This is the one Church position I really disagree with.

  • Greta

    Maybe the thing to do would be to tie this “new” condom message to the one that if it offends, pluck it out or maybe cut it off. That way after using the condom for gravely disordered behaviour, one could simple cut it off and throw it away with the used condom and thus be free of this gravely disordered conduct. That would mean a kindly gentler and more modern condom support tied together with the Ol time religion.

    I still say that it would be best if the vatican assumed the left would take anything said and distort it and thus decide to speak in very short sentences with no possible alternative understandings. We get these long winded writings when God seemed to understand witnessed by the ten commandments. Even here, the left somehow misses thou shall not kill by weaseling on abortion or thou shall not commit adultery with oral sex not really being sex or wondering what the meaning of the word “is” is. That is what makes removing it such a reasonable and final approach.

  • Jeff

    His comment, as clarified by Father Lombardi, is already being laughably twisted even by some magazines claiming to be Catholic, i.e., it is now “ok” to use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. This is NOT what the pope said, nor do condoms necessarily prevent the spread of AIDS. The Holy See will have to issue further clarifications now, because the world is hearing that it is ok to use them, and some Catholic organizations are already talking about distributing condoms as part of their ministry.

  • Mutnodjmet

    Anchoress: Thanks for your detailed review of the whole reaction to the “condom statement”. The reactions say much about the people having them.

    I wanted to share with you a rare post I made today that utilizes my professional background. The case of the Sister undergoing the enhanced pat-down is used.

    RISK ASSESSMENT: Sensible Security Matrix that the TSA Can Use

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Your site is one of the things I will be giving thanks for! :)

  • http://queenofallsaints.wordpress.com Nicholas Jagneaux

    Too bad one can’t leave comments at Tony Rossi’s site; otherwise I would have thanked him for writing this:

    Though Motes’ initial actions and intentions are misguided, grace is nevertheless moving his heart, mind, and will in the right direction. You could even say that he is sinning his way toward faith.

    Anchoress, thank you for linking to his comments; and for yours, as well.

  • charles

    Suffice it to say when a statement needs “further clarfication”, it really, really, shouldn’t have been said.

  • John

    I know you like Fr. Martin, and if I could email him I would. But he totally misconstrues what the Pope clarified through Lombardi. His clarification was that he meant not just a male prostitute – but also a female or transsexual one. Fr. Martin interprets the clarification without considering the question posed to the Pope – did you just mean male prostitutes? Fr. Martin ends up saying that the Popes comments permitting condom use apply to anyone in a relationship. Thats grossly inaccurate.

  • Jeff

    Nice that transsexuals were thrown in there too. Just to make the whole thing that much more of a fiasco.

  • F

    You have the Sinai Christ! I LOVE that image!!! I think He is so attractive in that one, and I’m late coming to liking icons. First time I saw it, He left me breathless. I had to remind myself that this was Jesus and not some hunk in a bar, but wow! Is He ever good looking in that icon. I don’t know what it is! My mom totally disagrees and dislikes it intensely. I guess everyone relates to them differently. Its in that Sinai icon that I could sense Him as the lover of my soul finally. I could finally get what women religious mean when they say, with all spiritual decorum, that He is their spouse. I mean this in the proper Catholic theological context of course and with all respect. Is that your little altar? I need to do that. I used to have a little shrine when I was a child.

  • Sal

    Kind of like the Susan G. Komen Foundation having to ‘clarify’ that while they’re affiliated with Planned Parenthood, just ‘not with that part’ of it.