the Pope does not reform or change Church teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human
sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.
At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat to another person’s life. In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be ‘a first act of responsibility’, ‘a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality’, rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk.
2) Archbishop Chaput on the whole medial hysteria and criticises l’Osservatore Romano
The Church holds that condom use is morally flawed by its nature, and that, equally important, condom use does not prevent AIDS and can actually enable its spread by creating a false sense of security.
In the context of the book’s later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope’s comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances. One might reasonably expect the Holy Father’s assistants to have an advance communications plan in place, and to involve bishops and Catholic media in a timely way to explain and defend the Holy Father’s remarks.
Instead, the Vatican’s own semi-official newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, violated the book’s publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early. Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought.
Don’t let that happen. Don’t let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It’s an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.
From First Things (full text here).
3) Cardinal Pell’s warning against deducing a general law from an exceptional case:
In his recent interview, Pope Benedict insisted on speaking on the basic Christian and Catholic teaching on sexual activity: that such sexual activity is to be confined to the lovemaking between husband and wife. He urges abstinence from premarital and extra-marital sex and fidelity within marriage.
He also mentioned the possibility of a male prostitute using a condom against transmitting infection as a first step “in the direction of moralization. This is a delicate and difficult area, sometimes producing tragic consequences. I have not seen the German original of what the Pope said, but hard and exceptional cases can encourage bad law making.
Much work needs to be done to bring consistent, Catholic light into this grey and vexed area, while ensuring that the Catholic moral framework on sexuality remains intact.
Full text here.
4) The English translation of the disputed excerpt from the Book “Light of the World” at Catholic World Report.
5) Father Hunwicke’s comment:
Having contemplated the BBC translation of the German texts, I see what the Holy Father’s words mean. He is saying that if a rent-boy has unprotected sex, he is committing two sins: the mortal sin of homosexual genital intercourse; and the mortal sin of risking communicating a lethal infection. If, however, he uses a condom, while he is still committing the first of those mortal sins, he has to a degree excluded the second. By so doing he has, as we might say, taken a step in the right direction. But he has still committed a mortal sin and is still, objectively speaking, not in a state of grace. There is a sense in which it is not as bad to commit one sin as it is to commit two; but the commission of one mortal sin still means that one is objectively in that state of alienation from God which we Christians call Not Being In a State of Grace.
Our enemies, of course, do not understand (and have no interest in understanding) about Being In a State of Grace. Secularists are, even when they hold Oxford professorships, a generally dim lot … dim because of a bigoted determination not to understand. They just want to ask blunt and unnuanced questions about “Is it All Right to use condoms?”. Within this toddler-level mode of moral discourse, our Holy Father’s simple statement of the moderately obvious is bound to seem to them like a “change in his implacable opposition to the use of condoms”. So we have to listen to these dreary half-wits condescending to a rather abler mind than theirs by saying that “the pope has at least learned a little from experience”. Thank God, he has done nothing of the sort.
Full text here.