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Monday, November 22, 2010

The Condom Conundrum

"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." - Pope Benedict XVI

"She (the Church) of course does not regard it (condom use) 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." - Pope Benedict XVI

Actually, it's not really a conundrum - I just like the alliteration. But those in the Church (and outside it as well) who want to see a liberalization of Church teaching on contraception, they've interpreted the Holy Father's statements as expected: a U-turn, a potential shift in teaching. Sorry, that's not what it is. And some of the more orthodox commenters have expressed consternation - not so much at what the Holy Father said, but how the aftermath was handled by the Vatican PR - that the Holy Father is speaking on topics that are better left alone.

Based on what I've read all across the Innerwebs, it seems to me the Holy Father has spoken clearly on Church teaching regarding condoms, contraception and the sinful nature of man. His job is to teach, in season and out of season, regardless of the subject. After all, issues concerning morality and the dignity of the human person are rather important, and need to be engaged.

Which leads me to what I think is one of the most cogent thoughts I've read thus far:

From Fr. Z:

I wonder if the Holy Father goes forward with controversial statements knowing that they are going to create a furor precisely because he knows that there will be a public discussion to follow...
We say we want a voice in the public square. That isn’t going to be easy. Our responses aren’t going to look like clean white packages with plastic wrap.
Recall the Pope's speech in Regensburg back in 2006, and his reference to Islam. And the statements on AIDS and condoms he made to reporters on his Africa trip. Discussion ensued. There was engagement in the public square. So if these latest statements, taken from his forthcoming book "Light of the World", is a clarion call for us to better learn and understand our faith, in order to be salt and light out in the world, in order to generate discussion and clarification of Church teaching, and lead others to truth...well, that's a good thing, isn't it?

So what do you think?

For a thorough analysis of the Holy Father's statements, check out Jimmy Akin at the National Catholic Register, as well as his follow-up article.