Sunday, November 21, 2010

What I've been taught about condoms

Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag. The Church doesn't teach that any and every use of condoms is itself a sin.

But I have to say I'm amused by the recent caterwauling over Pope Benedict stating what strikes me -- a same-sex-attracted man who has not lived a perfect life regarding chastity and has more than once reasonably feared coming down HIV-positive -- as fairly obvious, if obscure and of limited applicability.

As others, such as Jimmy Akin and Janet Smith, have pointed out, the whole context is essential, and Pope Benedict does not (CANNOT) alter the Church teaching on contraception. But here's the nub from his interview book "Light of the World" (emphasis is mine):
As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. 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. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
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.