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by Jimmy Akin

Introduction

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VOL. XXIII, NO. 11

POPE DOES NOT JUSTIFY CONDOM USE
In Response to Media’s False Reports
WHAT THE POPE REALLY MEANT GO TO THE SOURCE IN ORDER TO FIND THE TRUTH THE POPE

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by Cardinal Raymond Burke

POPE BENEDICT ON CONDOMS IN “LIGHT OF THE WORLD”
by Dr. Janet E. Smith

AND

CONDOMS

by John M. Haas

DID THE POPE “JUSTIFY”
CONDOM USE IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES?
by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.

DEFLATING THE NYT CONDOM SCOOP
by George Weigel

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POPE BENEDICT AND THE CONDOM QUESTION
by Fr. Joel O. Jason, SThL

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THE POPE SAID WHAT ABOUT CONDOMS???

PRELATES WORLDWIDE DEFEND POPE’S COMMENTS

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A RTICLE TITLE Introduction* An invitation to read the book
In his foreword to this remarkable book—structured as a conversation between Benedict XVI and journalist Peter Seewald—George Weigel praises the German Pope for his “frankness, clarity and compassion.” This is very true. It’s also an understatement. No serving bishop of Rome has ever spoken so openly and disarmingly as Benedict XVI does in Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. Benedict (as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) and Seewald have worked together in the past. While Seewald asks blunt questions, the Pope’s trust in him is clearly high. The resulting exchange between the two men is bracing and memorable, an absolutely mandatory read for anyone who wants a sense of the Petrine ministry and its burdens from the inside. And yet, one comes away from this text with a mix of exhilaration and sympathy. The exhilaration springs from meeting in Benedict an extraordinary Christian intellect, articulate and unfiltered; a man prudent, generous, and penetrating in his judgment, candid in his self-criticism, brilliant but accessible in his thinking, and unshakeable in his faith. The sympathy flows from knowing that, in the current media climate, almost anything Benedict says may be hijacked to serve other agendas. And exactly this happened even before the book’s formal release—but more on that in a moment. Seewald covers a lot of terrain with his questions, from China to liturgy to Fatima to the theology of the End Times. Each reader will gravitate to the themes that most interest him or her. But a few are worth special attention. First, Seewald deals early and extensively with the Church’s sexual abuse scandal. Benedict’s answers are patient, tranquil, humble, and honest. This Pope is not a leader who downplays the damage done to innocent children and families, or evades responsibility, or makes excuses for evil actions. He is well aware of the scope of sexual abuse in other religious communities and public institutions, but he does not use that as an alibi for the sins of Catholic clergy. Nor does he ever stray from the priority of healing for victims. Second, for a man once thuggishly caricatured as Rome’s doctrine police, Benedict speaks with convincing sensitivity about the sanctity of human freedom and conscience, and the dignity of other religious believers. Like his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict has a profound respect for Judaism as the root of Christianity and the Jewish people as our “fathers in faith.” His discussion of the challenges inherent in dialogue with modern Protestantism, which takes so many different forms, is masterly for its fraternal charity and candor. And while some readers may find his assessment of Islam too optimistic and irenic—time will tell whether secularism or Islam poses the greater challenge to today’s Christian believers—Benedict wisely notes that:
* Taken from www.firstthings.com.

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Islam is lived in very different ways, depending on its various historical traditions.... The important thing [is] to remain in close contact with all the currents within Islam that are open to, and capable of, dialogue so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence. Finally, and maybe most powerfully, Benedict offers a withering critique of modern notions of “progress” and the practical atheism that infects nearly every developed society, beginning with Europe. For the Pope, the real battle lines in the modern world do not divide Christianity from other religious traditions. Rather, “In [today’s] world, radical secularism stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.” When secular society seeks to reduce progress to material development, to exile God from public life and to ignore humanity’s profoundly religious needs, then it starves the human spirit and attacks real human progress, which always has a moral dimension. Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world’s media. One of the sensitive issues that Benedict treats in this book is the question of AIDS in Africa and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of infection. No institution in Africa has done more to combat AIDS and support its victims than the Catholic Church. But intense controversy—at least in Europe and the United States—has always surrounded the Catholic rejection of condom use in AIDS prevention. The Church holds that condom use is morally flawed by its nature, and that, equally important, condom use does not prevent AIDS and can actually enable its spread by creating a false sense of security. In the context of the book’s later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope’s comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances. One might reasonably expect the Holy Father’s assistants to have an advance communications plan in place, and to involve bishops and Catholic media in a timely way to explain and defend the Holy Father’s remarks. Instead, the Vatican’s own semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, violated the book’s publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early. Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought. Don’t let that happen. Don’t let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It’s an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man. [Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver]

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W Pope is OPE REALLY what It’s clear that the HAT THE Pholding to MEANTthe Church has always taught in these matters.

What the Pope Really Meant
by Cardinal Raymond Burke* In the midst of activities related to the consistory of Nov. 22, Cardinal Burke took some time to read an advance copy of Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, Pope Benedict’s booklength interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, just as a controversy about the Pope’s views on condom use broke in the press. Cardinal Burke discussed the issue by phone Nov. 22 with Register news editor John Burger. In Light of the World, Peter Seewald poses the objection that “it is madness to forbid a high-risk population (AIDS) to use condoms.” To which Pope Benedict answers, in part, “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.” Seewald asks for a clarification: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of
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condoms?” The Pope answers, “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.” What is the Pope saying here? Is he saying that in some cases condoms can be permitted? Cardinal Burke: No, he’s not. I don’t see any change in the Church’s teaching. What he’s commenting on—in fact, he makes the statement
* Cardinal Raymond Burke is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the court of final appeal at the Vatican. The Wisconsin native is the first American to hold that curial position. Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed him to the post in 2008, elevated him to cardinal Nov. 20, along with American Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and 22 other bishops and archbishops from around the world.

D OCUMENTATION SERVICE very clearly that the Church does not regard the use of condoms as a real or a moral solution—but what he’s talking about in the point he makes about the male prostitute is about a certain conversion process taking place in an individual’s life. He’s simply making the comment that if a person who is given to prostitution at least considers using a condom to prevent giving the disease to another person—even though the effectiveness of this is very questionable—this could be a sign of someone who is having a certain moral awakening. But in no way does it mean that prostitution is morally acceptable, nor does it mean that the use of condoms is morally acceptable. The point the Pope is making is about a certain growth in freedom, an overcoming of an enslavement to a sexual activity that is morally repugnant [unacceptable] so that this concern to use a condom in order not to infect a sexual partner could at least be a sign of some moral awakening in the individual, which one hopes would lead the individual to understand that his activity is a trivialization of human sexuality and needs to be changed. Is “the world” assuming too quickly that the Pope all of a sudden is open to “compromising” on condoms, that this may be a small yet significant opening toward “enlightenment” for the Catholic Church? For example: In rare cases, Pope justifies use of condoms (New York Times). “Condoms OK” in some cases—Pope (BBC). Boston Herald quoting male prostitutes saying “too little too late,
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but it may encourage condom use, and that’s a good thing.” Cardinal Burke: From what I’ve [been] seeing of the coverage in the media, I think that’s correct, that that’s what they’re trying to suggest. But if you read the text there’s no suggestion of that at all. It’s clear that the Pope is holding to what the Church has always taught in these matters. He starts out—the context of the question—he starts out by saying that when he was asked this question on the plane on his way to his pastoral visit to Africa, he felt that he was being provoked, and he wanted to draw attention to all that the Church is doing to care for AIDS victims. In Africa, the Church is the main agent of care for the AIDS victims, and so he was trying to draw some attention to that. The text itself makes it very clear that he says the Church does not regard it as a real or moral solution. And when he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing. If the media has misunderstood it, is this perhaps a failure of Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican to communicate effectively? Is there a need to “dumb things down” so the media gets it? Cardinal Burke: I hope now the fact that the media has interpreted this in a way, at least from what I can gather from the communications that I’ve received, this false interpretation is rather widespread, that
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WHAT

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POPE REALLY MEANT Did you see any Catholic commentary on this, e.g., Janet Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit? Do you agree with her interpretation? Cardinal Burke: I did. I thought it was a good commentary. It’s quite accurate. She goes into it quite in depth. She might have underlined a little bit more the words of the Holy Father himself, although she does: When she was asked if the Pope is indicating whether heterosexuals who have HIV could reduce the wrongness of their acts by condoms, she says No. “In his second answer, he says the Church does not find condoms to be a real or a moral solution.” Again, she repeats, “the intention to reduce the transmission of an infection is a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.” That is, the intention is the first step, but that doesn’t mean that the Holy Father is justifying the means by which the person wants to fulfill that intention. So, if nothing has changed in Catholic teaching on sexuality or the use of condoms, has this conversation changed anything? Cardinal Burke: I don’t see it at all. What I see is the Holy Father is presenting a classical position of the Church from her moral theology. I imagine that self-mastery and selfdiscipline is not an immediate accomplishment, so we have to understand that it may take people
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it will be rather important for the Holy See now to clarify the matter. [The Vatican Press Office did indeed issue a clarification Nov. 22, saying, “The Pope again makes it clear that his intention was not to take up a position on the problem of condoms in general; his aim, rather, was to forcefully reaffirm that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, advice, accompaniment, both to prevent people from falling ill and to help them if they do.”]

The text itself makes it very clear that he says the Church does not regard it as a real or moral solution. And when he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing.
That’s what’s going to have to happen now, because even some of the commentators who might be in general well disposed to the Holy See could misinterpret this and take it that indeed the Holy Father is making some change in the Church’s position in regards to the use of condoms, and that would be very sad.
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D OCUMENTATION SERVICE time to reform their lives. But that doesn’t suggest that he’s diminishing the moral analysis of the immoral actions of the male prostitute, for instance. It seems that perhaps some of what he says in the answers to Seewald’s questions might lead to a renewed conversation on the nature of married love and sexuality. Cardinal Burke: That’s what I would hope, and I think that’s what the Holy Father was suggesting in the beginning of that part of the conversation with Peter Seewald, where he engages in that whole point about the trivialization of human sexuality. He says, for instance: the fact of the matter is people have access to condoms. That shows us in fact, as he points out, that condoms don’t resolve the question, and that’s when he begins, “the sheer fixation on the condom implies a sort of banalization of sexuality, which after all is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as an expression of love, but only a certain sort of drug that people administer to themselves.” He talks about the whole fight against the banalization and dehumanization of sexuality and the need to see human sexuality as a positive good. And sexual activity as having a positive effect on the whole of man’s being, being an expression of man’s goodness. So that’s the context, and I would hope that this matter going forward, in being clarified, there’s a real possibility of teaching more clearly about human sexuality. Did anything else about this conversation between Pope Benedict XVI and Peter Seewald surprise you? Cardinal Burke: I think that what is remarkable about it, in general, is that the Holy Father granted the interview and speaks really very directly about a whole wide range of very complex questions, and there’s a great deal of his usual erudition and knowledge of Catholic teaching. And he’s very straightforward too. Peter Seewald, when he gets things mixed up, for example, at one point in the conversation about ecumenism, Seewald said he was quoting then-Cardinal Ratzinger, talking about the dialogue with the Orthodox and so forth, that Cardinal Ratzinger held the position that the pope was “first among equals”— which of course, as the Pope points out to him, is not what he said at all. The pontiff has certain responsibilities in the Church, so he can’t be equal to all the patriarchs, for instance, of the Orthodox Church. There are a lot of excellent clarifications that the Holy Father makes, but I would say that what’s most striking about it is the wide range of topics and the Holy Father’s willingness to comment on them. Seewald also brought up a question in regard to the declaration Dominus Iesus, and the Holy Father simply said that it’s too complex an issue to deal with in the setting of the interview. !

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POPE BENEDICT XVI DISCUSSES CONDOMS AND THE SPREAD WHAT THE POPE REALLY MEANT

OF

HIV

A look at what the Pope really said.

Pope Benedict XVI Discusses Condoms and the Spread of HIV
(An excerpt from Light of the World, Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Pope Benedict XVI)
From Chapter 11, “The Journeys of a Shepherd,” pages 117-119: 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

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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.

Source: catholicworldreport.com.

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POPE B called ON a turning “LIGHT OF THE W That Christ himself ENEDICT for CONDOMS IN away from sin.ORLD ” is what the Holy Father is advocating here; not a turn towards condoms. Conversion, not condoms!

Pope Benedict on Condoms in “Light of the World”*
by Dr. Janet E. Smith**

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o the charge that “It is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms,” in the context of an extended answer on the help the Church is giving AIDs victims and the need to fight the banalization of sexuality, Pope Benedict replied: 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
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more human way, of living sexuality. What is Pope Benedict saying? We must note that the example that Pope Benedict gives for the use of a condom is a male prostitute; thus, it is reasonable to assume that he is referring to a male prostitute engaged in homosexual acts. The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. He is not speaking

* Taken from catholicworldreport.com. ** Dr. Janet E. Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She speaks nationally and internationally on Catholic teachings on sexuality and on bioethics, and has published numerous articles and several books on sexuality and bioethics. She is serving a third term as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family. She is author of The Right to Privacy, a study of Roe v. Wade and related court cases.

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D OCUMENTATION SERVICE to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature. The Holy Father does not in any way think the use of condoms is a part of the solution to reducing the risk of AIDs. As he explicitly states, the true solution involves “humanizing sexuality.” Anyone having sex that threatens to transmit HIV needs to grow in moral discernment. This is why Benedict focused on a “first step” in moral growth. The Church is always going to be focused on moving people away from immoral acts towards love of Jesus, virtue, and holiness. We can say that the Holy Father clearly did not want to make a point about condoms, but wants to talk about growth in a moral sense, which should be a growth towards Jesus. So is the Holy Father saying it is morally good for male prostitutes to use condoms? The Holy Father is not articulating a teaching of the Church about whether or not the use of a condom reduces the amount of evil in a homosexual sexual act that threatens to transmit HIV. The Church has no formal teaching about how to reduce the evil of intrinsically immoral action. We must note that what is intrinsically wrong in a homosexual sexual act in which a condom is used is not the moral wrong of contraception but the ho10

mosexual act itself. In the case of homosexual sexual activity, a condom does not act as a contraceptive; it is not possible for homosexuals to contracept since their sexual activity has no procreative power that can be thwarted. But the Holy Father is not making a point about whether the use of a condom is contraceptive or even whether it reduces the evil of a homosexual sexual act; again, he is speaking about the psychological state of some who might use condoms. The intention behind the use of the condom (the desire not to harm another) may indicate some growth in a sense of moral responsibility. In Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), John Paul II spoke of the need for conversion, which often proceeds by gradual steps: To the injustice originating from sin … we must all set ourselves in opposition through a conversion of mind and heart, following Christ Crucified by denying our own selfishness: such a conversion cannot fail to have a beneficial and renewing influence even on the structures of society. What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring an interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about concretely in steps which lead us ever forward. Thus a dynamic process develops, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God and the demands of His definitive and absolute love in the entire personal and social life of man. (no. 9)
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POPE BENEDICT

ON

CONDOMS

IN

“LIGHT

OF THE

WORLD ”

Christ himself, of course, called for a turning away from sin. That is what the Holy Father is advocating here; not a turn towards condoms. Conversion, not condoms!

The Church is always going to be focused on moving people away from immoral acts towards love of Jesus, virtue, and holiness. We can say that the Holy Father clearly did not want to make a point about condoms, but wants to talk about growth in a moral sense, which should be a growth towards Jesus.
Would it be proper to conclude that the Holy Father would support the distribution of condoms to male prostitutes? Nothing he says here indicates that he would. Public programs of distribution of condoms run the risk of conveying approval for homosexual sexual acts. The task of the Church is to call individuals to conversion and to moral behavior; it is to help them understand the meaning and purpose of sexuality and to help them come to know Christ, who will provide the healing and graces that enable us to live in accord with the meaning and purpose of sexuality. Is Pope Benedict indicating that heterosexuals who have HIV could reduce the wrongness of their acts by using condoms? No. In his sec(311) 11

ond answer he says that the Church does not find condoms to be a “real or moral solution.” That means the Church does not find condoms either to be moral or an effective way of fighting the transmission of HIV. As the Holy Father indicates in his fuller answer, the most effective portion of programs designed to reduce the transmission of HIV are calls to abstinence and fidelity. The Holy Father, again, is saying that the intention to reduce the transmission of any infection is a “first step” in a movement towards a more human way of living sexuality. That more human way would be to do nothing that threatens to harm one’s sexual partner, who should be one’s beloved spouse. For an individual with HIV to have sexual intercourse with or without a condom is to risk transmitting a lethal disease. An analogy: If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing. !

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Statement on Pontiff’s Words Regarding Condoms
by Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ Here is a statement by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, regarding the words of Benedict XVI regarding condoms as recorded in a book, “Light of the World.” AT THE END of chapter 10 of the book “Light of the World” the Pope responds to two questions about the battle against AIDS and the use of condoms, questions that reconnect with the discussion that followed some statements that the Pope made on the theme during the course of his trip to Africa in 2009. The Pope again clearly stresses that at that time he had not intended to take a position on the problem of condoms in general, but wanted to affirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, counsel, being with people both to keep them from getting sick and in the case that they do get sick. The Pope observes that even in the non-ecclesial context an analogous awareness has developed, as is apparent in the socalled ABC theory (Abstinence - Be Faithful - Condom), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are more decisive and basic in the battle against AIDS, while condoms appear in the last place as a way out, when the other two are not there. It should thus be clear that condoms are not the solution to the problem. The Pope then broadens the perspective and insists on the fact that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to banalizing sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a “drug.” Fighting against banalization of sexuality is “part of the great effort to help sexuality be valued positively and have a positive effect on man in his totality.”

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STATEMENT ON ON CONDOMS IN “LIGHT OF THE WORLD ” POPE BENEDICT PONTIFF’S WORDS REGARDING C ONDOMS

In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the contemporary discussion of it, the Pope reaffirms that “naturally the Church does not consider condoms as the authentic and moral solution” to the problem of AIDS. In this the Pope does not reform or change the Church’s teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of responsible love. At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat for the life of another. In that case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection may be “a first act of responsibility,” “a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality,” rather than not using it and exposing the other to risking his life. In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change. Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support analogous positions; it is nevertheless true that we have not heard this with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even if it is in a informal and not magisterial form. With courage Benedict XVI thus offers us an important contribution of clarification and reflection on a question that has long been debated. It is an original contribution, because on one hand it maintains fidelity to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in refuting an illusory path like that of the “confidence is condoms”; on the other hand, however, it manifests a comprehensive and far-seeing vision, attentive to uncovering the small steps—even if only initial and still confused—of an often spiritually and culturally impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.

Source: www.zenit.org.

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In the first place a DOCUMENTATION SERVICE “moral” cannot be solution which is not “justified.” That is a contradiction.

Did the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances?*
by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.**
id the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances? No. And there was absolutely no change in Church teaching either. Not only because an interview by the Pope does not constitute Church teaching, but because nothing that he said differs from previous Church teaching. Then why all the headlines saying that he “approves” or “permits” or “justifies” condom use in certain cases? That’s a good question. So good that the interviewer himself asked virtually the same question during the interview. The Pope made a statement in the interview, which statement has now been widely quoted in the worldwide media. Immediately, the interviewer, Peter Seewald, posed this question: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?” The Pope clarified and expanded on his previous statement. So let’s look at the two statements. After saying that “we cannot solve the problem [of AIDS] by distributing condoms…” and that “the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality…” the Pope says: There may be a basis in the case
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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” (all emphasis mine). That is a heavily qualified, very tentative statement. Nevertheless, it prompted Seewald’s question, quoted above. But let’s first take a closer look at this statement. The original German for “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals…” is “Es mag begründete Einzelfälle geben….” The English here is a faithful, accurate translation.” Begründete” comes from “Grund” = “ground,” and it means both the soil we stand on and a logical foundation. There is some ambiguity because it could have the weak sense of “some basis for” or a
* Taken from catholicworldreport.com. ** Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. is founder and editor of Ignatius Press, the North American publisher of Light of the World, and publisher of Catholic World Report.

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DID

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POPE “JUSTIFY”

CONDOM USE IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES ?

strong sense of “a logical or ethical foundation for.” This is perhaps why Seewald asked the follow-up question, so we’ll turn to that in a moment. It is important to note that there are two very serious mistranslations in the Italian version of the Pope’s remarks, upon which many early reports were based, since the embargo was broken by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. (That’s another story.) First, the German speak of “ein Prostituierter,” which can only be a male prostitute. The normal German word for prostitute is “[eine] Prostituierte,” which is feminine and refers only to a woman. The Italian translation “una prostituta” simply reverses what the Pope says. Equally problematically, “giustificati” = justified, was used in the Italian translation of “begründete,” and arbitrarily resolves the ambiguity one-sidedly. The Pope responded: “She [the Church] 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” (emphasis mine). In the first place a solution which is not “moral” cannot be “justified.” That is a contradiction and would mean that something in itself morally evil could be “justified” to achieve a good end. Note: the concept of the “lesser evil” is inapplicable here. One may tolerate a lesser evil; one cannot do something which is a lesser evil. But the crucial distinction here is between the “intention” of the male prostitute, viz. avoiding infecting his client, and the act itself, viz. using a condom. Since this distinction has
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been missed in almost every report I’ve read, it calls for some elaboration. This distinction, in moral philosophy, is between the object of an act and the intent of an act. If a man steals in order to fornicate, the intent is to fornicate but the object is the act of theft. There is no necessary connection between stealing and fornicating. In the case of the Pope’s remark, the intent is preventing infection and the object is use of a condom. Here’s an example of this distinction that parallels what the Pope said. Muggers are using steel pipes to attack people and the injuries are severe. Some muggers use padded pipes to reduce the injuries, while still disabling the victim enough for the mugging. The Pope says that the intention of reducing injury (in the act of mugging) could be a first step toward greater moral responsibility. This would not justify the following headlines: “Pope Approves Padded Pipes for Mugging” “Pope Says Use of Padded Pipes Justified in Some Circumstances,” “Pope Permits Use of Padded Pipes in Some Cases.” Of course, one may morally use padded pipes in some circumstances, e.g., as insulated pipes so that hot water flowing through them doesn’t cool as fast. And one may use condoms morally in some cases, e.g., as water balloons. But that also would not justify the headline “Pope Approves Condom Use,” though in this case it could be true. But it would be intentionally misleading. In sum, the Pope did not “justify” condom use in any circumstances. And Church teaching remains the same as it has always been—both before ! and after the Pope’s statements.

The Pope’sDOCUMENTATION SERVICE carefully remarks must be read and they do not constitute the kind of license for condom use that the media would wish.

The Pope Said WHAT about Condoms???*
by Jimmy Akin

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he controversy erupted Saturday morning when L’Osservatore Romano unilaterally violated the embargo on the book by publishing Italian-language extracts of various papal statements, much to the chagrin of publishers around the world, who had been working on a carefully orchestrated launch for the book on Tuesday. Among the extracts was one dealing with the use of condoms in trying to prevent the spread of AIDS, and the press immediately seized on this (e.g., Reuters, Associated Press, BBC online). And so we were treated to headlines like: • Pope says condoms sometimes permissible to stop AIDS • Pope: condoms can be justified in some cases • Pope says condoms can be used in the fight against Aids Particularly egregious is this statement by William Crawley of the BBC: “Pope Benedict appears to have changed the Vatican’s official stance on the use of condoms to a moral position that many Catholic
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theologians have been recommending for quite some time.” GAH! Okay, first of all, this is an interview book. The pope is being interviewed. He is not engaging his official teaching capacity. This book is not an encyclical, an apostolic constitution, a papal bull, or anything of the kind. It is not published by the Church. It is an interview conducted by a German-language journalist. Consequently, the book does not represent an act of the Church’s Magisterium and does not have the capacity to “change the Vatican’s official stance” on anything. It does not carry dogmatic or canonical force. The book (which is fascinating and unprecedented, though that’s a subject for another post) constitutes the Pope’s personal opinions on the questions he is asked by interviewer Peter Seewald. And, as Pope Benedict himself notes in the book: It goes without

* Taken from www.ncregister.com.

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THE POPE SAID WHAT saying that the Pope can have private opinions that are wrong. I don’t point this out to suggest that what Pope Benedict says regarding condoms is wrong (we’ll get to that in a moment) but to point out the status of private papal opinions. They are just that: private opinions. Not official Church teaching. So let’s get that straight. Among the disservices L’Osservatore Romano performed by breaking the book’s embargo in the way it did was the fact that it only published a small part of the section in which Pope Benedict discussed condoms. As a result, the reader could not see the context of his remarks, giving the reader no way to see the context and guaranteeing that the secular press would take the Pope’s remarks out of context (which they would have anyway, but perhaps not this much). Especially egregious is the fact that L’Osservatore Romano omits material in which Benedict clarified his statement on condoms in a followup question. So L’Osservatore Romano has performed a great disservice to both the Catholic and non-Catholic communities. Fortunately, now you can read the full text of the Pope’s remarks. Also, in anticipation of the controversy that these statement would produce, Dr. Janet Smith has prepared a helpful guide to what the Pope did and did not say. Let’s look at the Pope’s remarks and see what he actually said: Seewald: ...In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to
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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. Benedict: ...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. [EMPHASIS ADDED] 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. Note that the Pope’s overall argument is that condoms will not solve the problem of AIDS. In sup-

D OCUMENTATION SERVICE port of this, he makes several arguments: 1) People can already get condoms, yet it clearly hasn’t solved the problem. 2) The secular realm has proposed the ABC program, where a condom is used only if the first two, truly effective procedures (abstinence and fidelity) have been rejected. Thus even the secular ABC proposal recognizes that condoms are not the unique solution. They don’t work as well as abstinence and fidelity. The first two are better. 3) The fixation on condom use represents a banalization (trivialization) of sexuality that turns the act from being one of love to one of selfishness. For sex to have the positive role it is meant to play, this trivialization of sex—and thus the fixation on condoms—needs to be resisted. So that’s the background to the statement that the press seized on: 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. [EMPHASIS ADDED] There are several things to note here: First, note that the Pope says that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals,” not that
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there is a basis. This is the language of speculation. But what is the Pope speculating about? That condom use is morally justified? No, that’s not what he’s said: that there may be cases “where this [condom use] can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way to recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed.”

By “a humanization of sexuality,” the Pope means recognizing the truth about human sexuality—that it must be exercised in a loving, faithful way between a man and a woman united in matrimony. That is the real solution, not putting on a condom and engaging in promiscuous sex with those infected with a deadly virus.
In other words, as Janet Smith puts it, “The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using
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THE POPE SAID WHAT condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.” At least this is the most one can reasonably infer from the Pope’s remarks, which could be phrased more clearly (and I expect the Vatican will be issuing a clarification quite soon). Second, note that the Pope immediately follows his statement regarding homosexual prostitutes using condoms with the statement, “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.” By “a humanization of sexuality,” the Pope means recognizing the truth about human sexuality— that it must be exercised in a loving, faithful way between a man and a woman united in matrimony. That is the real solution, not putting on a condom and engaging in promiscuous sex with those infected with a deadly virus. At this point in the interview, Seewald asks a follow-up question, and it is truly criminal that L’Osservatore Romano did not print this part: Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms? Benedict: 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 differ(319) 19

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ent way, a more human way, of living sexuality. So Benedict reiterates that this is not a real (practical) solution to the AIDS crisis, nor is it a moral solution. Nevertheless, in some cases the use of a condom displays “the intention of reducing the risk of infection” which is “a first step in a movement toward … a more human way of living sexuality.” He thus isn’t saying that the use of condoms is justified but that they can display a particular intent and that this intent is a step in the right direction. Janet Smith provides a helpful analogy: “If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.” There is more that can be said about all this, but what we’ve already seen makes it clear that the Pope’s remarks must be read carefully and that they do not constitute the kind of license for condom use that the media would wish. !

D media for your understanding of what Do not depend on theOCUMENTATION SERVICE Benedict XVI states, go to the source in order to find truth and not someone’s misunderstanding and false interpretation of what was actually stated.

Go to the Source in Order to Find the Truth*

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he bishop of Fargo is encouraging the faithful to not trust the media to interpret the words of Benedict XVI for them, and to read for themselves what the Pope has to say about condoms. Bishop Samuel Aquila made these statements in response to the flurry of reports that suggested the Holy Father approved the use of condoms in some cases. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, spurred the media activity when it published several excerpts from the book-interview with Benedict XVI titled “Light of the World,” which is scheduled to be released Tuesday by Ignatius Press. At the end of the tenth chapter of the book, the writer, German journalist Peter Seewald, asked the Pontiff two questions on the fight against AIDS and the use of condoms. Seewald referenced the Holy Father’s comments on this topic while aboard the papal plane
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on the way to Cameroon and Angola in March, 2009. To the charge that it’s “madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms,” Benedict XVI replied: “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.” Seewald then asked the Pontiff, “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?”

* Taken from www.zenit.org.

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The Holy Father replied, “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.”

He does not offer a new moral evaluation of the use of condoms, neither in principle nor practically in this circumstance, but is merely describing a psychological development as one, even in the grip of sin, can begin to acknowledge the safety and human dignity of another.
Bishop Aquila noted that the Church “has always celebrated the truth and beauty of human sexuality,” and that an “unchanging part of that celebration throughout history is the Church’s teaching that sexual expression must be open to life [... and] that sexual union within a marriage is between one man and one woman.” “Despite recent news articles which falsely construe the words of Benedict XVI to suggest otherwise,” he added, “that teaching has not changed in any way.”
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No shift “At issue here are the words of Pope Benedict XVI regarding condom use,” the bishop continued. “The news stories and some of the comments solicited from the public would interpret his words as proclaiming a shift in the Catholic Church’s teaching on condom use, and contraception in general. [...] “This conclusion is incorrect as can be easily seen by examining the actual text from the book. The Holy Father is not condoning the use of condoms, but making an observation regarding the awakening of a sense of responsibility in the people who are caught up in the habitual sin of prostitution. “He does not offer a new moral evaluation of the use of condoms, neither in principle nor practically in this circumstance, but is merely describing a psychological development as one, even in the grip of sin, can begin to acknowledge the safety and human dignity of another.” Bishop Aquila then urged the faithful and “all people of good will to read the entire book.” “Do not depend on the media for your understanding of what Benedict XVI states,” he said, “rather go to the source in order to find truth and not someone’s misunderstanding and false interpretation of what was actually stated.” !

D OCUMENTATION SERVICE It is difficult teaching moral truth in a day of instant communication and media manipulation.

The Pope and Condoms*
by John M. Haas

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he publication of a series of interviews with Pope Benedict XVI by the journalist Peter Seewald, Light of the World, is a case in point. In reading an advance copy of the book, one knew the mass media would immediately focus on one thing and one thing alone: the Pope’s remarks on condom use and the struggle to prevent the spread of AIDS. Indeed, the first headline that I encountered after excerpts of the book were released was: “Pope OK’s Condoms.” Briefly, this is what the Pope actually said: Condoms are neither the effective way nor the moral way to stop the spread of AIDS (the Church “does not regard it as a real or moral solution”). He also said, “we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms.” He states that the AIDS epidemic has resulted in large measure from the irresponsible and selfish use of sexuality. Then he expresses hope for the conversion of a sinner by suggesting that the use of a condom MIGHT be an expression of his concern for the “other.” This might be seen therefore a first step toward loving and respecting the “other” so that he would eventually embrace a life of either fidelity or abstinence, the only
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approaches which have truly proven to be successful. There has been debate for years over the moral legitimacy of the use of condoms by discordant couples, that is, couples in which one member is HIV positive or has AIDS. There are two fundamental moral problems which stoke this debate. First of all, taking into account the high failure rate of condoms, would it be morally licit for a spouse to put his wife’s health and even life at risk for the sake of sexual intercourse? It is difficult to see how this could be justified. The marital act is to be love-giving and open to life. In the case of a spouse with AIDS, intercourse even with a condom could well be a potentially deathdealing act. The second fundamental moral problem has to do with the contraceptive character of condoms. It is true that the use of a condom in a single case might diminish the risk of the transmission of the AIDS virus but it could also have a contraceptive effect. The Church’s unchanging and unwavering position on the immorality of contraception is well known. But there were some

* Taken from www.catholiceducation.org.

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moral theologians who tried to argue that the condom was not being used to contracept but rather to lower the risk of spreading AIDS. The contraceptive effect was merely foreseen but not intended. With such an understanding, it was argued, the use of the condom would not actually be an act of contraception but of disease prevention. The matter continues to be debated among theologians but the more common opinion among moralists faithful to the magisterium is that the use of the condom would be wrong because it could endanger the life of the spouse and could be an act of contraception. It is interesting that the Pope entirely sidesteps this particularly vexing debate by the example he uses to consider condom use. He reflects on the decision of a (presumably homosexual) male prostitute to use a condom. In such a case, there can be no question of the contraceptive effect of the condom. Consequently his example does not relate to the debate over the use of condoms by discordant couples. But interestingly the Pope does not really reflect on the question of the effectiveness of condom use in reducing the transmission of AIDS. He rather wants to reflect on the moral state of the person who would use it with the hope that that person would begin to assume moral responsibility for his sexual activity. There is no question that the Church considers acts of prostitution and homosexuality to be gravely immoral and disordered. However, the Church in her love of souls always looks for some indication that
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the sinner might “come to his senses.” In the case at hand, the Pope says the use of a condom in a particular case MIGHT be “a first step in the direction of … a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed…” Obviously this first POSSIBLE step in the direction of “moralization” cannot make an act of prostitution or homosexuality or contraception good. But it does indicate that the moral conscience might still be alive and might eventually bring one to conversion and new life. A careful reading of the text could not possibly lead one to conclude that the Pope has approved condom use. He says quite explicitly: “it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.” Indeed, it can aggravate it. Prof. Edward C. Green of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University would seem to agree with the Pope. He wrote in a recent book, Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS (Matthew Hanley and Jokin de Irala, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2010), “In fact, [condom use] might actually contribute to higher levels of infection because of the phenomenon of risk compensation, whereby people take greater sexual risks because they feel safer than they really ought to because they are using condoms at least some of the time.” The interview with Pope Benedict indicates no change in Church teaching but is a renewed call for chastity and abstinence as the most effective means of fighting the spread of AIDS. !

D example of SERVICE This latestOCUMENTATIONpack journalism was a disservice in itself; it also highlighted several false assumptions that continually bedevil coverage of the Catholic Church and the Vatican.

Deflating the NYT Condom Scoop*
by George Weigel** ere is what the New York Times reported to its readers on November 21: “Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS...” No, the Pope did not say that in his new book, Light of the World, to which I had the honor of contributing a foreword. As misleading as the Times story was, it was hardly the worst of the maelstrom of media misrepresentation, which was initiated by the once-authoritative Associated Press. This latest example of pack journalism was a disservice in itself; it also highlighted several false assumptions that continually bedevil coverage of the Catholic Church and the Vatican and one specific media obsession that is, to be brutally frank, lethal in its consequences. The first false assumption beneath the latest round of media condomania is that the Church’s settled teaching on sexual morality is a policy or a position that can
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change, as tax rates can be changed or one’s position on whether India should be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council can change. To be sure, the theological articulation of the Catholic ethic of sexual love has been refined over centuries; it has come to an interesting point of explication in recent years in John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” But it has not changed and it will not change because it cannot be changed. And it cannot change or be changed because the Catholic ethic of sexual love is an expression of fundamental moral truths that can be known by reason and are illuminated by revelation. The second false assumption beneath the condom story is that all papal statements of whatever sort are equal, such that an interview is

* Taken from www.nationalreview.com. ** George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. His new book is The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy.

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NYT CONDOM SCOOP such interviews never are going to be used for the most serious exercises of papal authority. As for the media obsession, it is, of course, with the notion of Salvation by Latex. Shortly after the Pope’s visit to Africa, where he was hammered by the press for alleged insensitivity to AIDS victims because of his reiteration of the Catholic sexual ethic, a distinguished student of these matters, Dr. Edward Green, published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post with the striking title, “The Pope May Be Right.” Green, who is not a Catholic, made a powerful case that abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage are, empirically, the genuine AIDS-preventers. He was right, according to every thorough study of this terrible plague. But you would never know that by the coverage of Catholics and condoms— just as you would likely never learn that, as a global institution, the Catholic Church serves more AIDS sufferers than any other similarly situated community. What humane purpose is served by this media obsession with condoms? What happens to the press’s vaunted willingness to challenge conventional wisdom when the issue at hand is anything touching on sexual license? It seems to disappear. And one fears that a lot of people are seriously hurt—and die—as at least an indirect result. Consciences indeed need to be examined in the matter of condoms, Catholics, and AIDS. But the consciences in question are those of the press. !
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an exercise of the papal teaching magisterium. That wasn’t true of John Paul II’s international bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, in which the late pope replied to questions posed by Italian journalist Vittorio Messori. It wasn’t true of the first volume of Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, in which the Pope made clear at the outset that he was speaking personally as a theologian and biblical scholar, not as the authoritative teacher of the Church. And it isn’t true of Light of the World. Reporters who insist on parsing every papal utterance as if each were equally authoritative— and who often do so in pursuit of a gotcha moment—do no good service to their readers. The third false assumption was that a “historic change” in Catholic teaching of the sort that was misreported to have taken place would be announced through the medium of an interview. It will perhaps come as a blow to the selfesteem of the fourth estate to recognize an elementary fact of Catholic life, but the truth of the matter is that no pope with his wits about him would use the vehicle of an interview with a journalist to discuss a new initiative, lay out a pastoral program, or explicate a development of doctrine. Light of the World is chock-full of interesting material, explaining this or that facet of Catholic faith, reflecting on the successes, challenges, and communications errors of the pontificate to date, even pondering personal questions such as the possibility of a papal retirement. But
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Seewald’s Take: “A Crisis of Journalism”
THE AUTHOR of the new book-interview with Benedict XVI showed visible disappointment that the text has been reduced by the media to a misrepresentation of a few statements on condoms. What the Pope’s talking about in the interview is the “future of the planet,” Peter Seewald said, discussing “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs of the Times,” available from Ignatius Press. The German author decried a “crisis of journalism” when he presented the book at the Vatican. He referred to the media flurry spinning through the world, when L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, published several excerpts from the interview. One of the texts released was from the end of the 10th chapter, when Seewald asked the Pontiff two questions on the fight against AIDS and the use of condoms. Those statements have been taken out of context or falsely presented in headlines around the world. “Our book,” the author said today at the presentation, “speaks to the survival of [our] planet that is threatened; the Pope appeals to humanity—our world is in the process of collapse, and half the journalists are only interested in the issue of condoms.” Seewald insisted that the Pope was promoting a “humanization of sexuality” and posed the deeper question: “Does sexuality have something to do with love?” For the Bavarian writer, excessive concentration on the issue of condoms is “ridiculous.” Meanwhile, he reflected, the issue of transforming the world that the Pope proposes is forgotten. Seewald affirmed that the Holy Father presented a wide-ranging panorama in the six hours of interviews conducted last July at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. But he urged getting to what’s important in a book such as this: discovering what the Pope does and says. That is the “gift” of this book, the author suggested: being able to “hear his voice,” see the way he interprets his pontificate, “to live” beside him in a very personal way. Giant among men Benedict XVI might be placed in the category of the “small popes” when compared to the “great popes” like John Paul II, the author reflected. However Seewald does not hesitate to speak of him as a “giant”—because of his ideas, his authenticity and capacity for dialogue. The German author—who rediscovered his Catholic faith in dialogue with Cardinal Ratzinger in the ‘90s—explained that he worked without any censorship from the Pope, who allowed him to write freely and only offered “clarifications.” The journalist expressed his admiration for the Holy Father, with his “elevated point of view” as a “brilliant intellectual,” and his “spiritual strength,” as well as his “simplicity.” [Anita S. Bourdin, zenit.org]
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POPE B too deep a THE CONDOM QUESTION Pope Benedict is ENEDICT AND theologian and a thinker to be presented from a shallow and surface level interpretation.

Pope Benedict and the Condom Question*
by Fr. Joel O. Jason, SThL**
his article seeks to clarify the perceived confusion and surprise that greeted the whole Catholic as well as non-Catholic world. International as well as local journal headlines read: “Pope says condoms are justified in fight against HIV.” “Pope says condoms are acceptable in some cases.” “Pope softens on teaching on Condoms, Aids and Contraception.” “Pope: Condom use OK for fight against AIDs.” The whole controversy started from a supposed “leaked” German interview the Pope granted to journalist Peter Seewald in an upcoming book yet to be released entitled “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs of the Times.” For the sake of intellectual integrity, let us see what the Pope really said from this excerpt of the transcript of the interview connected with the condom question: Here is that portion in it’s entirety: From Chapter 11, “The Journeys of a Shepherd,” pages 117-119: Peter Seewald: 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.
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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. Pope Benedict: 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
* Taken from www.rcam.org. ** Fr Joel is a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Manila. He is currently Dean of Studies at San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe Makati and teaches Fundamental Moral Theology, Sexuality and Integrity and Bioethics. He also heads the Commission on Family and Life of the Archdiocese of Manila.

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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 (emphasis mine). 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 (emphasis mine). 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 (emphasis mine). 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 con28

dom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, (The preceding is the only sentence the secular media focused on to reach their conclusions) 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 (emphasis mine).

The headlines we read, regarding the supposed change Benedict proposes on the consistent sexual ethics of the Church connected with condoms and HIV, are clear examples of a text taken out of context.
(The next question and answer was totally ignored by the secular media) Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms? Pope Benedict: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution (Emphasis mine), 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 (emphasis mine). So with the full text in question now presented, what conclusions can we derive?
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POPE BENEDICT

AND THE

CONDOM QUESTION

First things first. There is a principle in Biblical interpretation that goes: “A text, out of context, is pretext.” It means that every text of the Bible should be understood in its integral context: in the unity of the whole message of a chapter, of a series of books, of the theology of the writer, and even the unity of the whole Biblical message. Taken in isolation, a text in the Bible can be reduced to a pretext, i.e., a half-truth or at worst, a misleading misinterpretation. The headlines... regarding the supposed change Benedict proposes on the consistent sexual ethics of the Church connected with condoms and HIV are clear examples of a text taken out of context. As you can see, Pope Benedict gave a long answer to a rather short question. I highlighted the parts that spell out clearly Benedict’s convictions as well as that of the Church’s. What some interpreters took out in isolation was that part where it says, “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…”. They did not even finish the whole sentence. With these laid out, so what now did Pope Benedict NOT say? 1. First of all, this is a personal interview. Pope Benedict is not speaking here in his capacity as the Supreme Teacher of the Catholic faith. What you find in the book is not proposed as official teaching nor pronouncement being sent out to the Catholic faithful. Some of the things we can read here can even fall in the category of personal opinions and therefore do not and cannot present
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themselves as official Magisterial teachings. If the Pope wants to hold out a new teaching based on his reasoned discernment as the Successor of Peter, a personal interview is not the place to do it. Everyone who knows basic Catechism understands this, much more the Pope. And so headlines claiming, “Pope changes teaching on Condoms, Contraception and HIV”, or “Pope: Condoms OK in fight Against AIDS” are totally way out of line. 2. Nowhere in the text of Pope Benedict’s response can we find a summary justification of the morality of condom use. This is clear in the texts I highlighted. Let me highlight them once again: “…that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done,” ; “…But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself” ; “ 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” ; “…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.” I don’t see how the quotes above translate to “Pope OKs Condom Use”. On the contrary, the above quotations reflect the consistent conviction of the Church regarding condom use vis a vis HIV/AIDs: that condoms are not the solution. If at all, they contribute to the perpetuation of the problem. Condoms can only reduce the risk of infection. And with the fatally serious threat of HIV/AIDs, risk reduction is not acceptable. Prevention is the only acceptable option. And pre-

D OCUMENTATION SERVICE
vention is only served by abstinence (for the unmarried) and monogamy and fidelity (for the married). In the first place, Pope Benedict’s response was not even a direct commentary on the possible moral justification of condom use, clearly not for contraception. He was making a moral speculation on what may be going on in the heart of one (a male prostitute) who uses the condom in a homosexual or heterosexual sex act. What did Pope Benedict intend to say? Pope Benedict was specific in his response. He spoke of a “male prostitute” who uses a condom. What the Pope stressed was not that condom use is OK in the case of a male prostitute engaged in heterosexual or homosexual acts. He merely said that “this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility…” Perhaps an analogy can help us appreciate what the Pope is saying (for this point I will modify a principle I picked up from lay moral theologian Janet Smith). There are two robbers. One uses a real knife with a real intent to kill and harm. The other uses a plastic knife because he has no real intention of killing. He only intends to frighten and intimidate. Both men will be committing an evil act. But obviously, between the two, it is the one who employs a toy knife that shows at least a hint, a semblance, a little amount of moral responsibility which hopefully, can still mature to a real and correct kind of moral responsibility that will let him realize that robbing people is an evil option to take. Does this mean the Church will teach that it is “OK” and moral to rob people using a fake knife? No. The Church simply says that between the two, the one with the fake knife is the one that manifests a semblance of an “assumption of responsibility,” immature it may be. The same logic can be applied to Pope Benedict’s example. Obviously, the mere fact that the person used a condom indicates a “semblance of responsibility.” One who engages in prostituted sex without a condom, shows a total absence of moral responsibility, for himself or for the other. Compared to this one, one who uses a condom at least shows a hint of “assuming a responsibility” which Benedict hopes can be a “first step in the direction of a moralization” i.e., hopefully it can develop to a more correct kind of responsibility, not in the direction of regular condom use, as secular interpreters assumed, but, as Benedict finished his sentence, (which the secular media left out), “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.” As we see here, Pope Benedict is too deep a theologian and a thinker to be presented from a shallow and surface level interpretation. The Pope and the Church’s consistent ethical teachings deserve more than that. We pray that the media may also assume responsibility in reporting matters related to faith and morals. We pray that intellectual integrity and professionalism may not be sacrificed for the sake of ideology, sensationalism ! and paper sales.

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RELATES W ORLDWIDE D Portrait” ’ S Benedict BookPcalled “Astonishing EFEND POPEof COMMENTS XVI

everal prelates worldwide have released statements defending Benedict XVI’s comments, published in a new book, “Light of the World,” which have drawn secular and religious attention around the globe. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, spurred a flurry of media activity when it published several excerpts from the book-interview with the Pope. A press release from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales affirmed that the Pontiff is saying “that the fundamental response of the Church is and should be to guide, to support and to accompany those who have contracted HIV.” It pointed out that “over 25% of all AIDS care worldwide is provided by Catholic organizations.” Catholic teaching Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, affirmed that “HIV/AIDS is wreaking havoc in Africa, where the Catholic Church is heavily involved in the care of those infected and their surviving family members.” He noted that Benedict XVI, in the book-interview, underlined “the basic Christian and Catholic teaching on sexual activity.”
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Prelates Worldwide Defend Pope’s Comments* S

The archbishop endorsed a statement from Bishop Anthony Fisher of Parramatta, Australia, who said, “Despite some misinterpretation in the international media, the Pope has not deviated from or altered in any way Catholic teaching on the intrinsic wrongness of contraception or on reserving sexual intercourse (‘the marital act’) to marriage, that is of a man and a woman.” “Pastors have long recognized that in cases such as homosexual intercourse, conception and marital acts are not at issue,” Bishop Fisher said. He continued: “Using a condom in this situation is clearly not contraception. It is clear that even here the goal must be to move the individual to living a truly ‘humane,’ that is a chaste and loving, sexual life.” From the Philippines, the head of the Manila Archdiocese’s Commission on Family Life, Father Joel Jason, noted that “the Pontiff’s words were clearly taken out of context” by the media. The priest noted that the Holy Father’s response “was not even a direct commentary on the possible moral justification of condom use, clearly not for contraception.”
* Taken from www.zenit.org.

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D OCUMENTATION SERVICE He continued: “And so headlines claiming, ‘Pope changes teaching on Condoms, Contraception and HIV,’ or ‘Pope: Condoms OK in fight Against AIDS’ are totally way out of line.” Father Jason asserted, “Nowhere in the text of the Pope Benedict’s response can we find summary justification of condom use.” dialogue with human reason.” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver affirmed that “no serving Bishop of Rome has ever spoken so openly and disarmingly as Benedict XVI does” in this book. “And yet,” he added, “one comes away from this text with a mix of exhilaration and sympathy.” The prelate explained, “The exhilaration springs from meeting in Benedict an extraordinary Christian intellect, articulate and unfiltered; a man prudent, generous, and penetrating in his judgment, candid in his self-criticism, brilliant but accessible in his thinking, and unshakeable in his faith.” “The sympathy flows from knowing that, in the current media climate, almost anything Benedict says may be hijacked to serve other agendas,” he continued. “And exactly this happened even before the book’s formal release.” The archbishop acknowledged that “intense controversy—at least in Europe and the United States— has always surrounded the Catholic rejection of condom use in AIDS prevention.” “The Church holds that condom use is morally flawed by its nature, and that, equally important, condom use does not prevent AIDS and can actually enable its spread by creating a false sense of security,” he affirmed. Archbishop Chaput concluded: “Don’t let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It’s an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.” !
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“What comes across so clearly throughout the book is the warmth of his humanity, his deep faith in God and his profound understanding of the serious issues facing society and the Church, and the vital role of religious belief in dialogue with human reason.”
Fascinating insight Despite the media focus on these themes, the bishops of England and Wales noted that overall the book “gives a fascinating insight into the humanity of the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.” “Throughout the interview, Pope Benedict returns to what it is to be human and what that understanding entails,” the conference affirmed. It added, “What comes across so clearly throughout the book is the warmth of his humanity, his deep faith in God and his profound understanding of the serious issues facing society and the Church, and the vital role of religious belief in

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NOVEMBER 2010

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