NEWS:  December 27, 2010

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

BENEDICT ON CONDOMS: A FORGOTTEN PARAGRAPH - Having received my copy of the Pope’s book Light of the World, I could verify that amid the press hullabaloo on his declaration on condoms, a decisive paragraph was omitted by the Vatican press-release, source of that media information already commented. The question and answer that immediately followed his controversial affirmation that a male prostitute may use prophylactics as “a first step in the direction of moralization” are these:

Peter Seewald: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

Benedict XVI: “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” (Light of the World, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010, p. 119).

Several Vatican cardinals approve condoms

Vatican Cardinals Cottier, top, Barragan and Turkson had approved condoms before Benedict XVI
These words, much more lenient than those reported by the press, can be analyzed from two different perspectives:

1. Regarding the extension of the use of condoms

This paragraph extends condoms far beyond the mentioned use by male prostitutes, later broadened by the Pope, according to Fr. Federico Lombardi, to include female and transsexual prostitutes. Indeed, here Benedict XVI generically admits other cases where condoms are allowed. Such statement invites speculation.

A. To extra-marital sex

Actually, if condoms are permitted to avoid spreading AIDS, why could they not be used to prevent venereal diseases as well? It seems that these cases would also fall under the Pope’s “exceptions” for “reducing the risk of infection.” If one adds the permission given for prostitutes and their clients to this implicit authorization for venereal diseases, then it follows that almost all extra-matrimonial sexual activity - condemned by the 6th and 9th Commandments - are now “pastorally” protected by the Pope .

Based on such words, it is not hard to imagine that Novus Ordo confessors en masse will advise those of their penitents who still do not practice contraception that they may do so in order to achieve “a more human way of living sexuality.”

B. To marital sex

But if the use of prophylactics is allowed to prevent the spread of disease in extra-marital sex, why not also inside marriage when one of the spouses has some contagious disease? It is difficult to avoid this obvious consequence of the papal permission. Thus, we have the virtual approval of the use of condoms in conjugal life to prevent AIDs or other infections.

A further development of Benedict’s permission – which seems inevitable to me – was made by The Tablet: “How, for example, does one explain to a woman in poor health in a shanty town that what the prostitute next door may do to avoid infecting, or being infected by a client, is not permitted to her to avoid more child-bearing, even though she can scarcely feed the children she already has? (‘New kind of conversation,’ The Tablet, November 27, 2010, p. 2, editorial)

One sees that the progressivist mind – of which The Tablet is a good example – will take Benedict’s “exceptions” and apply them to “social diseases.” This poor mother may be a more creditable exception than the male prostitute mentioned by the Pope. Indeed, why could she not use prophylactics as “a first step in the direction of moralization, a first assumption of responsibility”? (Light of the World, p. 119).

If this is so, why are condoms not permissible as well to an unfortunate man who became handicapped in a work accident? He can no longer work to maintain his children… And what about the case of the spouse who became addicted to drugs? Would he or she not also be included among those who can use condoms as “a more human way of living sexuality”?

Following this path of preventing contamination and sympathizing over abnormal social situations, one sees that the use of prophylactics can be extended to countless cases either inside or outside of marriage. This seems to be the practical and inevitable consequence of that papal statement.

2. Regarding its supposed pastoral criterion

A word is needed to clarify the “pastoral” character of those words, to explain to what degree they change Church doctrine.

A. Traditional concept of pastoral

Fr. Filippo Perlo - Tuthu, Kenia, Catholic mission

1903 - Fr. Filippo Perlo in Tuthu, central Kenya. Shortly after the start of the mission the natives abandoned nudism
The old Propaganda Fidei, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, made use of some prudent pastoral norms regarding transitory evils that were tolerated by missionaries in their work of expanding the Faith and converting peoples. I give a characteristic example: Missionaries were sent to Africa to convert tribes that practiced total or partial nudism, which meant that the missionary had to tolerate such nudity even when it presented a close occasion of sin. What was the pastoral approach of the Church in those cases?
  • Regarding the spiritual life of her missionaries, she would send men who were of an age where purity problems were less intense or had already given proof of the strict practice of virtue in this matter. They were called viri probati - proven men.

  • Regarding the nudism of the natives, the Church would live with that bad situation for a limited time while she was fighting to abolish it. If the natives refused to accept the Catholic Faith and Morals, the missionaries would leave that area.

  • This policy of temporarily admitting a moral evil was done as discreetly as possible in order not to give the impression that any doctrinal concession had been made.
So, to convert those poor souls to the Catholic Church, some valiant missionaries would risk their own salvation. They would live amid bad customs for a very limited time while trying to eliminate them. Other religious congregations, instead of working to convert barbarians, would try to convert prostitutes. Toward this end, they would also temporarily admit some of their bad behaviors. This was the pastoral approach of the Catholic Church when she worked to convert persons from paganism, false religions or vicious states of life.

B. Sophistic concept of pastoral

A change occurred in the general orientation of the Church, however, when John XXIII founded the Secretariat for the Unity of Christians. Afterwards Paul VI established two other secretariats - one for dialogue with non-Christians and another with non-believers. These three secretariats represented a turn-around in the missionary character of the Church. She no longer sought to spread the Faith and convert others, but rather to unite with them, accepting their respective errors. Ecumenism and dialogue were fostered, and conversions put aside.

Consequently, the Propaganda Fidei, which before the Council was the most powerful Congregation, second only to the Holy Office in doctrinal matters, saw its name changed to Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and lost its importance.

Fr. Pedro Julia has a Hindu appearance

1996 - After 30 years in India Fr. Pedro Julia did not convert one single person...
As for the actual missionary work, the Council further added the directive for “inculturation,” which is to adapt Catholic liturgy and piety to the customs of the pagan peoples. Again, conversions were no longer the goal. Along these lines, I remember the case of the Spanish Jesuit Pedro Julia who, after 30 years in India, proudly boasted he never converted one single person to the Catholic Faith… (The Week, October 20, 1996, p. 8 - Kerala, India).

This toleration of evil, removed from its main goal of conversion to the Catholic Faith and Morals, became simply concessions to the moral errors practiced by those peoples. We saw scandalous examples of these criteria being applied by John Paul II on his visit to Oceania, admitting topless women in his presence, even in his Masses (here, here, here, here and here). Thus, “pastoral” now means accepting the moral errors practiced by a group of people.

Benedict’s norms on condoms were supposedly “pastoral.” He knows that in practice they contradict Catholic moral doctrine. He admits them as a lesser evil in order to foster a vague and non-religious morality, and his defenders pretend they do not change Catholic Morals. However, this vague morality establishes no specific parameters – acceptance of the Catholic Faith and a change of moral conduct in a short period of time – to allow the provisory admission of any lesser evil. Without a clear purpose to change lives, as the Church used to have before the Council, this “pastoral” admission of a lesser evil actually becomes the effective approval of that evil.

Hence, since the Conciliar Church no longer wants to convert anyone to the Catholic Faith and Morals, its “pastoral” is nothing but a ruse to permit living with something forbidden. The same kind of pastoral-doctrinal contradiction has been dishonestly employed to allow “Catholic divorce” and homosexuality in seminaries and parishes. Now it is being alleged to permit condoms. This is not pastoral; it is the relativization of Catholic Morals.

An editorial in the progressivist National Catholic Reporter confirms this contradiction in Benedict’s words and tries to explain them as a necessary maneuver their public must understand and support. “The institution,” it says, referring to the Church, “must first do what it thinks necessary to make it appear that nothing new has been said [on condoms] or realized, even when it has. But this much is clear: Benedict’s statements take the discussion out of the absolute and ideal and into the relative and messy word in which most of us live. … What we are likely to see now is the power that comes from understanding pastoral direction” (NCR, "Pope’s Condom remarks: A step into the real world," December 10, 2010, p. 28).


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