might as well bring this one up right away


Thoughts. Go. James, that means you. By the way, happy consistory day! Woo Cardinal Burke! 😀

The puzzling part to me: “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.”

How exactly would such moralization work? What would the monitoring process look like? How would letting a male prostitute use a condom to prevent disease help him “on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants”? It’s the Pope we’re talking about here, so I’m not asking these questions flippantly. I just don’t get it.

The friend who sent me this link emphasized the importance of “reading the whole text”. Presumably there is more to what Benedict said here in the actual book. Looks like I will have to read this one. (Maybe this is all a marketing ploy by Ignatius Press… let’s bring in the conspiracy theories… heh heh. Maybe this isn’t even an excerpt from the book at all… maybe someone made it up… heh heh heh.)


Related: another friend sent me this link: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/20/pope-says-condoms-may-be-ok-in-some-circumstances/?hpt=T1.

The notable from this is that apparently John Allen suggested what BXVI said could also be applied to heterosexual couples. I think that’s a stretch. Rather than retype, I’ll just post what I wrote to said friend:

“I think Allen makes a jump saying that it would be ok for heterosexual couples too. Presumably the only reason why it would be ok for a male prostitute to use one at all (in very early stages) is that somehow his being a prostitute would be justified… by what, giving him a source of income to live by? I don’t know exactly. That’s the really mysterious part that I’m trying to figure out. Even if that is the case, how practically could one monitor the development of such a person, etc. But if that’s the reasoning, it can’t apply to heterosexual couples. Really… if sex must be both procreative and unitive, I don’t see how condoms ever work… but maybe my understanding of sex is wrong.”

There’s a lot here. Let me know your thoughts.

One last thing… can’t wait for the BC Students for Sexual Health come out on Monday and distort HH’s words like none other.

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4 Responses to might as well bring this one up right away

  1. James P. Cahill says:

    On Burke in Red – Excuse me while I yak on my computer. At least Wuerl (who has publicly and eloquently refuted Burke’s crazier notions) got the nod as well. Between the time he was announced as a Cardinal and his actual elevation, Burke managed (in disturbingly simplified theological language) to tell every Catholic who voted for any pro-choice candidate that they committed a sin. Excuse me while I don’t rush off to my nearest confessional. This flies directly in the face of everything in Ratzinger’s 2004 letter. See my facebook page for complete coverage of this latest example of Burke’s utter inability to keep his mouth shut on anything remotely political.

    On Dolan’s election – Dolan himself is fine. He’s pastoral, down to earth, and reasonably moderate. He’s also media savvy – something Cardinal George (as much as I love him) was very much not. The election itself however was a nightmare. Kicanas got smeared before the election because he was rector at Mundelein and allowed McCormack the pedophile to stay on there. According to Winters, “They sent text messages to bishops. They called the bishops’ rooms at the hotel. It was ugly.” So Kicanas (A Quigley man by the way) lost to Dolan on account of a bunch of bishops getting scared by a bunch of legionaries and conservative bloggers who didn’t like Kicanas for whatever reason. Bishops didn’t want to be seen as “soft on sex abuse” and thus voted for the safe candidate, Dolan. Basically, Dolan won on fear. As my mother wrote, “Dolan has ‘no idea what was behind his election.’ Please.” Church politics – as I’ve said before – is a very dirty business, as this mud-slinging shows.

    On the condom thing – we’ll have to wait and see. The fact that Benedict had the guts to even mention the possibility of nuances on the condom issue is encouraging. The question is, how far will this go? He’s opened the door to let a bit of light through – but we’ll have to see if the logic here will come to apply to heterosexuals and couples with HIV.

    Mike – I think you’re missing the Pope’s point. With the male prostitute example the Pope is saying its ok to use a condom because there is no conception to prevent and thus the condom would be used purely to prevent the spread of disease. The responsibility and awareness the Pope is talking about is the awareness of the transmittable disease and thus the responsibility of not spreading it to another. I think.

    I would certainly be in favor of expanding this logic to heterosexual couples where one person has HIV. Logic is based on double-effect: The reason for the use of the condom is the prevention of disease, rather than the prevention of conception. The fact that the condom does in fact prevent conception is thus in this case a second and unintended effect of the action. The primary effect is the preservation of life – or prevention of death. This makes sense if we’re attempting to be pro-life.

    Condoms are not inherently evil. They are pieces of plastic. If they are being used primarily to prevent the creation of life, they are bad. If they are being used primarily to prevent the spread of disease (and ultimately death) they are good. Makes sense to me – and I think Aquinas would agree.

    I think the Vatican has had this rationale in the bag for a while, they were simply worrying about public reception i.e. New York Times headline reads, “Pope gives Ok for Condoms!” Let me know how BCSSH plays this one.

    Read this from Andrew Sullivan. He’s Catholic, Gay, and usually quite fair – as he is here. Sullivan isn’t shy about his word choice, by the way.


    Overall – Bravo to Benedict for at least beginning to tackle an issue which has required an answer for an extremely long time. However, I believe he know needs to do what Allen is suggesting he could do and extend the logic beyond the isolated case of the male prostitute.

  2. Eric says:

    James, from what I see, the Pope is not saying that condoms are OK for hiv positive male prostitutes, only that it may be BETTER than not. Very big difference.

  3. Eric B says:

    Hi Mike,
    I love the blog! And I can’t help but jump into the fray (as if doing it every Monday-Friday isn’t enough…)

    James, there are some issues with your analysis from a natural law perspective. The material cause of a condom, being nothing but a plastic sheath, is not inherently immoral anymore than a knife is as a piece of metal. But that’s not the issue the Church is addressing: the problem is whether the USE of a condom within sexual intercourse IS inherently immoral or not. And while it’s possible that a case could be made that the intention is not to inhibit the procreative aspect of sex (and thus make the act licit in terms of double-effect), I don’t see how you can say the same thing about the unitive aspect of sex. In that case, the condom is intentionally interfering with the unitive aspect of sex, and that makes it very difficult to justify its use in terms of double effect since the evil effect is directly intended and not a mere unintended consequence.

    But even the first case, with the condom not being intended to inhibit procreation, seems a bit specious. The point of using the condom is to render the act sterile because the nature of the HIV virus is to spread via the reproductive faculties, especially when a male is infected. One could argue that the intent IS to make the act primarily one of contraception because, again, the nature of HIV transmission requires sterile sexual intercourse so that it’s not passed on.

    I’m not saying that there is not an answer to these problems, but they are very serious issues that the Church is weighing. As for Aquinas, I have a hard time believing that he’d tell people to use condoms as opposed to living a life of chastity. Doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with him, though.

  4. Pingback: 2010 in review | Ad te levavi animam meam

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