Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to undo an Infallible decision: slowly!

The thing about Pope Benedict XVI is not to underestimate him. He has a brain, he has lived a long time, and he may just know exactly what he is doing when he says or writes something. In this report (being noticed across the world) he says something in a published interview which acknowledges the faint possibility that a condom might have its uses:

"Church teaching has long opposed condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception, although it has never released an explicit policy about condoms and HIV. The Vatican has been harshly criticized for its opposition.


Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

Benedict called it "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexuality."

He used as an example male prostitutes, for whom contraception is not an issue, as opposed to married couples where one spouse is infected. The Vatican has come under pressure from even some church officials in Africa to condone condom use for monogamous married couples to protect the uninfected spouse from getting infected."

Note the careful wording here. Not condom use as a contraception but as a prophylactic. A risky move raising the hypothesis of a male prostitute using a condom, but steering clear of the context of married, potential-for-procreative sex. But why say this at all?

It has to be at least possible that wily Benedict is opening the door to a softening of the Roman view on contraception which is the least popular, least adhered to teaching of the church of recent times. He may not say anything more in his lifetime but he has thrown the next pope a lifeline. Bit by bit of undoing and reversing is the way to undo an infallible decision without looking too obviously like admitting to fallibility!

9 comments:

liturgy said...

Sorry, Peter, you are missing the context of the story. The condom stuff is in chapter eleven, in the context of Benedict’s March 2009 trip to Africa. The trip was largely overshadowed by controversy about the pope saying that condoms actually make the HIV/AIDS crisis worse. The Vatican even went so far as to alter what he said after he said it. Benedict is clearly still annoyed and says he was “provoked”. The RC teaching is not against condoms per se. You can use condoms for Hamster Hot Air Balloons, water bombs, ice lolly makers, and now the pope has stated gay male prostitutes can use them when either has HIV/AIDS. No lifeline has been thrown to any future pope. Sorry. This is a non story. Nothing to see here. Move along to the next blog post please.

Peter Carrell said...

It is imminent (the next post) but I cannot guarantee it will not be a non-story :)

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

Bosco, in reading the linked article from the periodical you have made a slight leap. The pope said that a male prostitute might morally use a condom to prevent the spread of HIV, but he did not specify that this was a gay prostitute. Neither did he specifically mention that this hypothetical prostitute's client was also male.

However, I can see your justification for the leap when they mention that in the case of this hypothetical male prostitute there is no concern that it would be used to prevent contraception. That would only be the case if the client were also male.

But for me that then raises a different moral question. If this hypothetical male prostitute's client was a female what would be the Roman Church's moral take. Because then contraception would enter the picture. Is it a bigger sin to protect the client from the transmission of HIV and in the process prevent the possible conception, or to possibly infect the client with HIV, but allow for the possibility of a conception, in spite of the fact that then the child of such conception might also be at risk of being infected with HIV.

These are heady questions for a church convinced that consensual sex between two people of the same gender is a far greater sin than heterosexual rape, because the rape could result in conception.

Andy S said...

I wouldn't trust the Associated Press' distortion if I were you Peter.

This is a far more reliable assessment

Peter Carrell said...

The question, Andy S, would be whether in time, the Roman church would acknowledge that moral awakening in people might include taking care to limit population growth, by means of artificial as well as natural means of contraception.

Your link leads to an article which has a curious oversight, not dealing with the question of the implication of the Pope's remarks for a faithful married couple where it is discovered that the husband is HIV positive. One implication of those remarks is that the husband should use a condom rather than abstinance as a means of enhancing the good of deepening marital love and affection.

Andy S said...

the Roman church would acknowledge that moral awakening in people might include taking care to limit population growth, by means of artificial as well as natural means of contraception.

Limiting population growth is not the problem - indeed in the developed world the children of the sixties have not produced enough children resulting in aging populations and the need to import people from more fecund areas.

Both the Pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow understand this and have spoken of it.

Here is an example of what family planning in England has accomplished
Facing the axe: Diocese that has twice as many Muslim worshippers as Anglicans

not dealing with the question of the implication of the Pope's remarks for a faithful married couple where it is discovered that the husband is HIV positive.

Which begs the question on how the "faithful husband" became HIV positive in the first place.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

Which begs the question on how the "faithful husband" became HIV positive in the first place.

Andy your ignorance of the subject matter is hanging out for all to see. Or is it a preferred bias.

There are many folks who are possibly exposed to HIV without it having to be in a sexual encounter. Your assignment is to think about it, study it, inwardly digest it and then get back to us with how many folks work and volunteer in situations where they could easily become infected with HIV.

Andy S said...

If what you say is true David then why are condoms touted as the panacea for Aids?

I know condoms are sacred objects to those bound for the infernal regions and I also know hell fodder also wants to drag as many souls as they can along with them, which explains why this gross misrepresentation of the Popes statement is in the media, and why out of an entire book it is the only one that is coming in for scrutiny.

But then again hell, like sexual morality is an idea well past its used by date according to the nuanced modern mind.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

Again Andy, your extreme bias gets in the way of intelligent conversation with you about pretty much anything.

As an aside, do you smile? Are there moments of shear happiness about life that you enjoy? Or is it all about your righteous judgement and condemnation of others? Just remember, in all aspects of the judgement that you hand out to others, you must also live a life that meets that standard without exception, or you fail your own standard of judgement and risk having condemned yourself to hellfire.

No one touts condoms as a panacea. But in study after study, they are one of many tools in the arsenal against HIV infection that are proven successful against the spread of the disease. However, other tools in that arsenal are abstinence, monogamy with a tested uninfected partner, limited number of sexual partners.

Unfortunately, in some cultures where misogyny and abuse are rampant, some women and children do not have options of all the tools, so if their sexual partners could be persuaded to use condoms there is a level of protection.

But there are many emergency first responders and medical personnel who are exposed to HIV everyday. Most successfully avoid infection. A few are no so lucky. And there was no sexual contact involved in the exposure.