Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pope says sometimes condoms can be justified? WTH?


In a headline that is sure to create a firestorm, the Associated Press has run a story about an upcoming book featuring interviews with Pope Benedict XVI.  Apparently, while still saying condoms are not a moral solution for male prostitutes, the Pope has said their use could be justified.  Did the Pope really say that?  Was he misquoted?  Did the book say that?  Is it being misquoted?  This will cause an explosion of opinions and articles in the upcoming weeks.  I'm curious to see what happens.  My first guess is he was misquoted, or they are arranging his words to make them sound as if he said something he didn't really say.  Simply because of the context - that it would be justified in the case of male prostitutes?  I'm waiting for clarification from the Vatican before I go much further.  Will it be some strange 'justified does not mean right' argument?  We'll have to wait and see.  If, of course, there was no misquoting or misrepresenting of his views, then this is quite a bombshell, says volumes about a legion of things, and will become a mess for apologists on every conceivable side of the Catholic blogosphere for years to come.

UPDATE:  I just checked several versions of this story, and they all appear to be coming from the same source.  MSNBC, FOX, AP, NPR all are giving little more than the above link.  With so little information at hand, waiting would be the best strategy.

UPDATE II:  OK, as the story starts to filter, and more services are expanding their coverage and trying to figure out what it's all about, more information is coming forth.  So the AP has a more complete story than the original release.  In it, the following quote is given:
""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," Benedict said."
With this, it appears more that the Pope is more less saying that it's a step in the right direction, not that it's really right.  Though the use of the word 'justified', if he used it, could be a problem. Even so, it is still a little troubling, and some folks are going to wonder if some strange, subtle form of 'better to add to the sin if it's for the right reasons', thus calling into question such things as the Church's teaching on other philosophical subjects, is happening here.  I'll see what more comes out.  The more comes out, the less bothersome it may look.  Or it may look worse.  We'll have to see.  But for now, this much more has been released.


We are finally getting down to brass tacks.  Kudos to the angels and saints over at Get  I was waiting, waiting, waiting for them to sort through the media firestorm, the cheers from Gay Rights and AIDS activists, the finger pointing at liberal blogs and general confusion everywhere else.  As usual, it looks like much of the media has made hamburger from the meat of the story.  Here is the full part of the interview from the book, without any added words (you know, like 'justified') being thrown in:
"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."
It's Pope Benedict's actual response to a question about the media firestorm that broke out in 2009 when he mentioned that a reliance on condoms could make the HIV pandemic worse.  Note there is no use of the word justification, permissible, or anything of the sort, despite headlines like:

Pope says condoms sometimes permissible to stop AIDS
Pope Says Condoms to Stop AIDS May Be Acceptable
Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV?
Pope signals historic leap in fight against Aids: Condoms can be justified

Some even had the 'quote' in their stories with those words inserted.  Geesh.  Is there any wonder that, as Mark Shea says, getting the truth about religion from the media is like milking a bull?  Read the analysis of the media coverage at Get Religion here.  It's posted by the ever reliable and always enjoyable Mollie Ziegler.  This, by the way kiddies, is why I wait until I hear from sources other than the first media headlines before formulating an opinion about things.

Lesson to learn: Do NOT take your instruction about religious teachings from the media!


  1. I agree. There is no reason for the bad reporting. By the way, nice show of restraint on your part.

  2. Good post. Thanks for keeping it real.

  3. I knew the first headlines had to be wrong. I hope they spend as much time correcting the story as they did getting it wrong in the first place.

  4. Yea, no question about it, the Media sucks!
    I immediately think of the "authentic Love" of the Papacy when everyone gets all excited about what they hear. There are cases that don’t fit the rigid rule set by the Magisterium. For example when a husband and wife wish to share their love and to do so would be dangerous (i.e. one has disease which could make spouse ill). It is always the intent.
    Condoms, just like all other non-living things are "objects" they are neither good nor bad. Their purpose exists only for our intent. Just like money, beer and guns. They exist for a reason. You can choose to give your money to charity or you can hoard it for selfish reasons. How we choose to use our “stuff” is up to us.
    But really, when is the last time our secular society reports such things in mature context?

  5. As more is released, I'm actually wondering if the Pope was making a statement about the modern approach to sexuality - one that is based on sexuality being based on pure natural urges without morals, while at the same time trying to establish a new set of morals like 'thou shalt wear condoms.' We'll have to see.


Let me know your thoughts