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Condoms may be ‘first step’ in moralisation of sexuality, says Pope

By on Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pope Benedict XVI holds a copy of Light of the World with Peter Seewald, left, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella (Photo: PA)

Pope Benedict XVI holds a copy of Light of the World with Peter Seewald, left, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella (Photo: PA)

Benedict XVI has said that if those with HIV use a condom with “the intention of reducing the risk of infection” it might be the “first step in the direction of a moralisation” of sexuality.

He made the comment in Light of the World, a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, which was published today. 

Although Pope Benedict used the example of a male prostitute, the Vatican has clarified that his comments applied to both sexes.

In the book Mr Seewald asks the Pope about his statement on the way to Africa in March 2009 that condoms were not the solution to the Aids crisis.

Pope Benedict replies: “Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. 

“At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many Aids victims, especially children with Aids.

He continued: “In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

“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 banalisation 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 banalisation 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.”

He added: “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 moralisation, 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 humanisation of sexuality.”

Mr Seewald then asks the Pope whether he is saying that the Church is not opposed in principle to condoms. 

The Pope answers: “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.”

Today Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the Pope’s comments on condoms applied to women and transsexuals, not just male prostitutes.

Fr Lombardi told reporters: “I personally asked the Pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine. He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.

“This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point,” Fr Lombardi said.

At the weekend Dr Janet Smith, a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family, said: “[The pope] says that the Church does not find condoms to be a ‘real or moral solution.’ That means the Church does not find condoms either to be moral or an effective way of fighting the transmission of HIV. 

“As the Holy Father indicates in his fuller answer, the most effective portion of programmes designed to reduce the transmission of HIV are calls to abstinence and fidelity. 

“The Holy Father, again, is saying that the intention to reduce the transmission of any infection is a ‘first step’ in a movement towards a more human way of living sexuality.”

Fr Joseph Fessio SJ, editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press and a former student of Benedict XVI, said: “It would be wrong to say, ‘Pope Approves Condoms’. He’s saying it’s immoral but in an individual case the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he’s got to be more conscious of his actions.”

Leading Vatican commentator John Allen said: “Pope Benedict XVI has signaled that in some limited cases, where the intent is to prevent the transmission of disease rather than to prevent pregnancy, the use of condoms might be morally justified.

“While that position is hardly new, in the sense that a large number of Catholic theologians and even a special Vatican commission requested by Benedict XVI have endorsed it, this is the first time the Pope himself has publicly espoused such a view.

“The comments do not yet rise to the level of official church teaching, but they do suggest that Benedict might be open to such a development.”

John Thavis, another distinguished Vatican commentator, said: “These are nuanced comments, and one should read the passage in full to gauge the Pope’s position. The Pope’s answer seems to invite follow-up questions. 

“Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the Vatican has never proclaimed a ‘ban’ on condom use in Aids prevention; on the contrary, some Vatican theologians and officials have argued that for married couples in which one partner is HIV-infected, use of condoms would be a moral responsibility.”

He added that “despite journalistic hyperventilation” the Pope’s comments do not signal a major shift in Vatican thinking on condoms. 

“What the Pope has done is to raise the issue publicly,” he said, “making clear that the Church’s teaching against condoms as a form of birth control is different from its position on condom use in disease prevention.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, translated from the Italian by the National Catholic Reporter, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said: “The Pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the Church, but reaffirming it by placing it in the context of the value and the dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.

“At the same time, the Pope considers an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality respresents a true risk to the life of another. In that case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality, but holds that the use of a condom in order to diminish the threat of infection is ‘a first assumption of responsibility’, and ‘a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality’, rather than not using a condom and exposing the other person to a threat to their life.

“In that sense, the reasoning of the pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary shift. Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical personalities have sustained, and still sustain, similar positions. 

“Nevertheless, it’s true that until now they have not been heard with such clarity from the mouth of the pope, even if it’s in a colloquial rather than magisterial form.

“Benedict XVI therefore courageously gives us an important contribution of clarification and deepening on a question that has long been debated. It’s an original contribution, because on the one hand it remains faithful to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in rejecting ‘faith in condoms’ as an illusory path; on the other hand, it shows a comprehensive and far-sighted vision, attentive to discovering the small steps – even if they’re only initial and still confused – of a humanity often spiritually and culturally impoverished, towards a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.”

  • Gordon

    Mr. Editor, Do you believe for one minute that all of today's small Catholic families are not the result of artificial birth control? If you do, you certainly have your head in the sand my friend. Because for the vast majority of the Catholic people, using condoms or birth control pills has been a non issue and they have long judged such use with a clear conscience.

    The immorality has always been a Church with the mentality of the scribes and pharisees in putting heavy burdens around the necks of the faithful.Common sense should always be used in these matters… blessings… Gord

  • EC

    “Benedict XVI has said that if those with HIV use a condom with “the intention of reducing the risk of infection” it might be the “first step in the direction of a moralisation” of sexuality.”

    Anyone who read the what Pope Benedict actually said and thinks that what is quoted above represents or could represent what he said, is either foolish, careless or something worse.

    He said that a MALE PROSTITUTE, that is, a man who prostitutes himself to other men, are taking a step TOWARD morality. Thus: (a) the issue of contraception, which is why the Church is against condom use, does not even apply, and (2) he didn't say it was itself a moral solution. In fact he explicitly denies that it is. Yes, that is right. In the same source–an interview–that people are misquoting and misrepresenting, the Pope actually says as clearly that condom use is NOT a moral solution. Read it for yourselves.

    Sheesh… how many people are awake out there?

  • Petrus


    MY wife and I use no form of contraception. We have many friends who don't either. Anyone I have ever spoken to who doesn't follow the modern contraceptive mentality expereinces only a great freedom, peace and happiness which comes from God. So don't be fooled by the “heavy burden” red herring.

    Contraception is an enslavement. It's binds people to the false understanding that sex is simply for gratification. It diminishes personal responsibility and makes it easier for couples to be unfaithful. It encourages unhealthy materialism and can cause infertility and other health problems. After all that, it isn't even reliable. Thanks, but no thanks, Gordon. I am free of heavy burdens. I'm afraid that the heavy burden belongs to the slaves of contraception.

  • Clearthoughts

    EditorCT. I think a silent retreat away from blogging may bring you to your senses.

  • Louise

    I am shocked to hear what the pope has actually said regarding condoms use in exceptional cases as it goes against the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church handed down from the apostles. It smacks of rationalisation which relates to the modern world. We in the true church of Christ believe that those who live by God's laws are helped to keep their bodies undefiled and practice abstinence when there is a risk of infection to another. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and those who have aids must be prayed for and helped to be healed by good medicine and support and not by unnatural interventions ie condoms as this interferes with the sanctity of the marital act. I think that this statement is not an infallible statement therefore is not to recognised as part of our belief but a cause of scandal to those who truly live out their faith by keeping the law of God and trust in God. Lord have mercy on us.

  • EditorCT

    I note that Petrus has answered that part of your answer that considers the Church's teaching on birth control a “heavy burden” so I will merely observe that in the traditional Mass chapel that I attend, there are, indeed, large families – and a noisy bunch they were yesterday! Deo Gratias!

  • EditorCT

    How often do I need to say that the Pope should be CONDEMNING MALE PROSTITUTION not giving them advice on how to be more healthy (in inverted commas) prostitutes. And how often do I have to say that it is ridiculous to tell someone to do something evil as a step on the road to being moral. Utterly ridiculous.

    Yes he said it is not a moral solution but that is in the same context that he says the above.

    Again, I repeat, Pope SAINT Pius X says in his encyclical on Modernism, that it is a feature of Modernists that they will write something orthodox on one page of their writings and on the next, something unorthodox. That's what this Pope is doing.

    For heaven's sake stop digging.

    ps. Memo to Editor of the Herald – should I not be getting paid for this??????

  • EditorCT

    You are right to be shocked, Louise. Stay shocked. This is going to get worse – only this morning on Radio 4 Thought for the Day we had the Catholic commentator Clifford Longley saying that this marks the end of Catholic sexual morality being based on the natural law. Now, it is based on the humanisation of sexuality whatever that means. But he's quoting the Pope. No question about it.

    The Pope should recall his daft book from publication before any more damage is done, and issue a full, personal retraction of this monumental departure from Catholic doctrine. We know it carries no Magisterial weight, but the idiots who are wheeled out to comment on radio and TV – like Clifford-The Tablet-Longley and Jack-The Grin-Valero, don't know that.

  • EditorCT

    As Our Lord once said: ““If I have said something wrong, point it out. But if I spoke correctly, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23)

  • RJ

    Having heard the Pope's words quoted on the radio this morning, it does NOT seem to me that he has said the use of condoms can sometimes be justified. I think I, like many others, have fallen into the trap of interpreting what he did NOT say.

    I would just like to ask whether you think the use of condoms in heterosexual relationships is wrong for the same reasons that it might be said to be wrong in homosexual relationships (which are of course immoral). This a separate question from the Pope's remarks.

    Robert Bellarmine is a great saint but I am tempted to say that your certainty is based on the works of Robert Bellarmine as interpreted by….EditorCT.

    Even such a great saint and theologian as Thomas Aquinas would have said that the opinions of theologians must give way to the magisterium (and no, I am not saying these remarks by the Pope are magisterial statements). What I am saying is that you seem to be setting yourself up to define what magisterial teaching is (on the basis of Bellarmine?) and to judge the magisterium.

  • Bain

    EditorCT in over-drive.

    Error of fact [1]: “AIDS . . is a consequence of immoral behaviour. Nobody who obeys the teaching of the Church will ever contract HIV/AIDS.”

    EditorCT cannot be ignorant of the fact that the transmission of HIV is not exclusive to the sex act. Accidental exposure to HIV-infected blood still occurs.

    Error of fact [2]: All and every form of contraception is forbidden”. This incorrectly represents the Church's teaching. The Church's teaching is that it is always unlawful to use means which directly exclude contraception. The lawfulness of using therapeutic means which indirectly have a contraceptive effect is explicitly recognised in Humanae Vitae (1968) at 15.

  • Bain

    False attribution by EditorCT:- “it is ridiculous to tell someone to do something evil as a step on the road to being moral.”

    The Holy Father is not telling anyone to do anything evil, whether as a step to moralisation or for any purpose. The Church has no teaching on condoms as such. The Church, however, has a doctrine of marriage and within that doctrine is to be found the teaching that excludes as unlawful “any action which, either before or at the moment of or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent conception” (Humanae Vitae 14; cf. Casti Connubii at, e.g., 54).

    For this precise reason, although the sex act between two males will always remain an evil act, condom use by a male prostitute with a male client is not and cannot be an evil act any more than using a condom as a balloon is an evil act.

    EditorCT needs to be more circumspect when informing people what the Church teaches.

  • Susan

    It's quite simple really: the Church teaches that using a condom is never justified in any situation. End of. The Pope's comment was a private, non Magisterial matter and, as such, has as much weight as a statement made by any person. However, I think it was an unwise and confusing comment which would have been better not said.

  • RJ

    I think the Pope might have been saying that the intention (quite possibly based on a mistaken premiss) was a move in the right direction. The change in behaviour may not be.

  • Kenneth Kibathi

    The major question is :what has the catholic church always taught?are condoms bad because they prevent life from happening(birth control) or does the church prohibit them because they prevent disease.
    The former is the reason for prohibition.In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

    Contraception is “any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods.

    Pope Benedict only re-stated what has always been the case but in his book brings the question of disease prevention.

    To make this simple annalysis and observation one should objectively look at documentation regarding condoms and not merely rely on secular media interpretation who are not new to misinterpretation of papal messages.

    Why was Onan (Gen 38:8-10) struck dead;Was it because he pevented a disease or because he prevented life from happening?

  • EditorCT

    Well, RJ, will you quote here the words YOU heard this morning, because in every reportage that I've heard and read, his words are repeated, that in some circumstances, for individuals, e.g. prostitute, a condom may be permitted, first step to morality etc etc. If you've heard something different, please publish it here, pronto.

    To answer your question – it is the perennial teaching of the Church that ALL forms of contraception are illicit. So, of course, condoms are immoral and cannot be used either by normal couples or by homosexuals. That's why the Pope is so wrong – he's muddied the waters on this and now the enemies of the Faith are crowing.

    RJ, I really don't know where on earth you get the idea that I am “setting myself up to define what magisterial teaching is on the basis of Bellarmine and to judge the magisterium.”

    Cardinal – Saint – Robert Bellarmine wrote on the office of the pope. That's what I said. He corrected the errors that many Catholics have about the papacy. They think that everything a pope says must be correct, that he is always right. Saint Robert Bellarmine wrote at length to explain the role of the pope.

    But, frankly, every Catholic should know the definitions required to distinguish definitive Catholic teaching from speculative theology or personal opinions of pontiffs. I've made it a point to educate myself in these matters, because the simple definitions given us at school no longer suffice. The Church is now in the midst of a dreadful crisis of faith and authority so we need to be absolutely clear on the nature of papal authority, its limitations and extent. That way, we won't go embracing every error that has emanated from the Vatican these past fifty or so years, including this latest scandal.

    So, no, I'm not basing my understanding of the Magisterium on Saint Robert Bellarmine but on the entirety of Catholic doctrine, which embraces the teaching of Saint Robert Bellarmine (you'll often by referenced in footnotes to the writings of that great saint in the Church's catechisms)

    As I say: I've made a point of educating myself in these matters. I suggest you do the same.

  • RJ

    A nice closing insult. Thank you.

    But to return to the topic:

    There is a good article by a competent and, I believe, orthodox Catholic theologian, Janet Smith, here:

    It contains a link to the full text of the article concerned from the book, here:

    I am concerned by your attacks on the Pope because, behind them, I sense that you reject the magisterium of the Catholic Church as it has been expressed in the Second Vatican Council and by the Popes since that time.

    Your tone seems very angry. May you find peace, and perhaps you will pray that I also have true peace and a firm faith combined with charity.

    There is always room for more learning, and I am no exception.

  • Daphne McLeod

    We must remember that the Pope was not speaking Infallibly, there fore he was not prevented by God the Holy Spirit from teaching error. In the Church's long history we have had Popes before who have erred in their personal opinion about Doctrine and/or Morals. After all they are human beings. Catholics are only bound to accept as true Papal teaching that given officially to the whole Church by the Pope speaking as Head of the Church on earth, 'ex cathedra' from the Chair of St Peter. A remark made in private to a journalist is not included in this.

  • EditorCT

    How's it insulting to suggest you make sure you understand Catholic teaching on the authority of the Magisterium and the nature, extent and limitations of papal authority? Where's the insult there.

    I took a look at the link you gave to an article by Janet Smith (?theologian? What makes you think she's a theologian?) and here's the same old same old part of the interview quoted by her:

    “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.” END.

    Then she goes on to say what SHE THINKS he means. I'm not interested in what she thinks. The Pope's words stand alone. They cannot be misinterpreted. He's saying that there are cases where it may be morally licit to use condoms. That's not true. It is not the position of the Church and never will be.

    That's not “attacking the Pope” – that's pointing out that this pope is speaking error here. He is not teaching it as part of the Magisterial teaching of the Church, because the Holy Ghost will prevent that, but that doesn't change the gravity of his error, one bit. Lots of people think this is a change in teaching and will lead to more. Just listen to the “Catholic commentators.” By the way, Jack-The-Grin Valero said on TV news yesterday, that this would not be news to the charities working abroad, that condoms are OK to stop the spread of infections. “They've known that all along.” said Jack, grinning from ear to ear. Orthodox? Jack-The-Grin-Valero? About as orthodox as Austen Invereigh.

    Angry? You bet! So should you be. Every Catholic worthy of the name should be livid, beyond words, that souls are being led astray through the careless words and writings of this Pope. Or don't you believe in Hell?

    But being justifiably angry, doesn't mean I'm not at peace, Sugar Plum. Not at all. All the classic spiritual writers reassure us that peace resides in the depths of the soul and does not preclude just anger. Indeed, when a soul is truly at peace, clarity comes. The itchy modern Catholics, concerned only with making their presence felt in the sanctuary, are unfazed by this scandal, partly because they are ignorant about the limits of papal authority and think everything a pope says is gospel truth, but also because most of them are of the contraceptive mentality themselves. They're never going to get angry with a pope or anyone else who leads souls off the straight and narrow path that leads to Heaven and places them, precariously, on the road to Hell (if it exists, of course.) Friends who are RE teachers tell me that parents have been completely accepting of the totally disgraceful sex education programme in use in schools in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Yet their children are being sexualised and brainwashed with contraceptive advice, the likes of which Kinsey could only dream about. They don't care. Why not? Clearly, if they feared eternal damnation, they'd care a great deal and they'd be calling the so called Catholic educators to account – as well as the Church hierarchy who permit this (and many other) terrible scandal.

    Don't worry about me, RJ, worry for those who are making excuses for the Pope here, trying to justify his words. They are compounding the problem, they are making it more difficult to reach the truth. That is a sin against Faith. Like the Pope, they will be held to account.

    Of course there is always room for more learning. Who knows, maybe some day I'll learn something new as well…

  • Buddy

    My understanding is that for a catholic the sexual act is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, and must be open to the transmission of new life, so I guess that rules out condoms, sodomy, fornification, adultry, etc, full stop.

  • Cecilia

    We know as Catholics that the Pope was not speaking ex-cathedra when he made these comments about condoms in a private conversation reported in a book which has not been published.

    My worry is that, as a man who is the head of the RC Church and hopefully old and wise, could he not have chosen his words more carefully upon the world stage.

    I agree with all that the editorCT has said and only wish I could express myself as succintly. Someone should give her a job in the Vatican! God Bless her.

  • Diffal

    If Clifford Longley said that then he understands what the Pope said about as well as you do!

    The Humanisation of our sexuality is a return to our morality being based on the natural law as given by God, not an end to it.
    As the Holy Father says in the article you have read:

    “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.”
    That, for me, is basically what the “Humanisation of our sexuality” is about. Now if someone could give Mr. Longley a copy of what the Holy Father actually said we might get somewhere.

    Indeed there is nothing in what the Holy Father said that is incompatible with the Faith, let alone a monumental departure from it. The problem rests in the misinterpretation of the Holy Fathers words by those who prefer to fit the facts to their world view rather than the other way around.

  • Diffal

    “Nobody who obeys the teaching of the Church will ever contract HIV/AIDS” That is simply not true!
    There are several ways to get HIV/AIDS it is not simply a sexually transmitted disease. Contaminated blood products, healthcare workers and missionaries who care for the infected can contract the disease through neddle-stick injuries etc..

  • EditorCT

    Well, Cecilia, you won't be surprised to hear that I clicked “liked” for your post!

    A compliment (and what a compliment) at last! Well worth the long wait. God bless you for your charity.

    ps cheque in post…

  • EditorCT

    Absolutely. End of.

  • EditorCT

    That is all true, Daphne, except that, (a) we are bound to obey the Pope, not merely when he speaks “from the chair” (ex-cathedra) but when he repeats a teaching always held by the Church, such as contraception and abortion, among others and (b) as a thoroughly sound priest said to me on Sunday, we might avoid saying that the Pope “taught” this error about condoms since, as you rightly say, he was expressing an opinion and not, in fact teaching at all. The problem is, of course, that the no-brainers at The Tablet and Catholic Voices and other dissenting organs, will push the idea that the Church has now changed or will change its teaching on condoms and contraceptives in general. This is being heralded as “the beginning” of the change.

    What is coming across, however, is a real ignorance on the part of the laity, a fear of saying that the Pope might be wrong about anything. Crazy. Not Catholic and crazy.

    No priest, from the Pope down, can ever condone or encourage someone in sin. They may only condemn the sin and exhort the sinner to repentance. That's what the Pope should have done, not fished around for some kind of example (and to pick male, or any other kind of, prostitutes – goodness!) to demonstrate his “open-mindedness” or imagined theological know-how.

    These remarks of the Pope, however, are now on public record; even the Vatican statement repeating that the Church has not changed its teaching on condoms, repeated the Pope's exception. A scandal of unimaginable proportions.

    We need to pray for Pope Benedict – he's over eighty, isn't he? We need to pray hard for him … like now!

  • EditorCT

    Kenneth, I'm not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse, but obtuse you are definitely being, my friend.

    Every statement on condoms from the Vatican until this interview with a journalist, has condemned the use of condoms – end of. Whether for alleged disease prevention (which they don't do anyway) or contraception (doctors used to NOT recommend them for this purpose such is their failure rate) – no matter what the reason, they were condemned by the Catholic Church.

    As I'm rather tired of saying, no priest, from the Pope down, can encourage someone in a life of sin. To hear that a pope has allowed for homosexual prostitution to be a possible exception to God's moral law, is to hear a monumental scandal.

    Onan was struck dead for his contraceptive act; for interrupting the conjugal act. His act of “coitus interruptus.” was punished by death. But, hey, let me check my Catholic Bible to see if the writer of Genesis put something in parenthesis about coitus interruptus being permitted if the intention is to prevent disease.

    Nope. Nothing.

  • EditorCT

    Depends what you mean by “telling.” We teach by word and example, Bain, old boy. Word and example.

    The Pope's words are unambiguous and stand alone, as I'm tired saying. He's given dreadfully bad example. A double whammy. If I were a male prostitute, I'd be feeling quite pleased with the Pope. I've not received a personal message from him telling me, as an individual, that I can go on being a male prostitute, but hey, he's a busy man. He's travelling the world. He's writing books. Can't expect him to call my mobile and say “hope business is booming…”

    But, still, he's told the world that if there is to be an exception, if anyone in this world can break the law of God and still be a moral person, it's a male prostitute, I ain't complainin' about gittin' no phone call. No Mr Bain, No, Siree!

    Oh and Bain, whether it's more or less evil for a homosexual/prostitute to use a condom is a moot point. The Pope has given the clear impression that there can be exceptions to the moral law. Instead of reminding the journalist of the gravity of the homosexual/male prostitute's acts, he's suggested that it might be OK to help the sinner to sin more healthily. That's not moral theology that's papal stupidity. With all due respect, of course.

    Oh and Bain needs to be more circumspect when mis-informing people what the Church teaches.

  • EditorCT

    Bain,you are right. I am not ignorant of the fact that the blood bank has become infected and some innocent person may be affected. Thus I made no error – I merely omitted a well known fact because I rather presumed everyone would read my comment in the context of the Church's teaching on marriage and sexual behaviour, purity etc. If everyone lived as the Church teaches we should live, obeyed the moral law about sexual matters, there would not have been any such disease as HIV/AIDS. I think the context makes my meaning very clear. We all know that some babies are exposed to bad things in the womb, smoking, drugs, HIV but we don't mention it in every discussion. Nor did I make any error about contraception. You make a common mistake when you lump Natural Family Planning in with “contraception.” “Contra” = against – NFP is not “against” conception. Humanae Vitae acknowledges that, for serious reasons and for a limited period of time, a married couple may make use of the woman's ability to recognise her fertile days and abstain from sex. That's not DOING anything to prevent conception, that's making a personal sacrifice in order, for serious reasons and a limited period of time, to PERHAPS prevent conception – the possibility of a new life is always present and, as the couple promised in their preliminary questioning before their marriage ceremony and vows, they accept any children, willingly, from God, if a new life is conceived. Not remotely the same as taking pills or using devices to deliberately prevent conception.

    I am quite astonished, really, Bain, that you do not know that the Church absolutely prohibits all forms of deliberately preventing new life – contraception. Goodness, any BBC newsreader can tell you that. Apply for a job at the BBC. Soon.

  • Gordon S

    Dear Petrus,

    My wife and I used contraception for many years and also experienced a great freedom. When I ministered years ago as a permanent deacon in the church, i always told the young couples that using the pill was something they could do. Of course in our Canadian church, the young people really never considered not using contraceptives. They had the children that they could provide for and loved them dearly. The Canadian bishops left the decision up to the couples years ago and it was never retracted. God bless the Canadian bishops.

    You know Petrus, if the clergy were married instead of being celibate we wouldn't even be discussing this issue… come up higher my friend… blessings Gord

  • EditorCT


    Listen, if you see nothing of concern in the Pope's words to the journalist, put your feet up and read The Tablet. You're made for each other.

  • kenneth

    i am happy with the fair reporting that cnn does contrary to the slanting and one-sided news the bbc gives. please cnn keep it up.

  • kenneth

    mr. editor i consider your comments on “those uneducated catholics' both insulting and pre mature. for one the church does not teach that the pope does not err totally but that the pope does not err in dogmatic matters. then the popes comments on condoms was also not a dogmatic teaching.

  • EditorCT

    I've already answered this criticism, at some length. My post has disappeared. This is the second of my posts to have disappeared.

    I simply do not have the time to write up comments, only to have them deleted – I presume -and that, without any explanation. I am, therefore, withdrawing from this discussion.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Editor CT – we haven't deleted any of your posts. We don't know why they may have disappeared.

  • EditorCT

    Well, that's a mystery, The Catholic Herald. I'm having to go out in ten minutes, so will read through the blog when I get back to make sure my posts have, in fact, disappeared. Certainly on a quick skim and scan, I couldn't see them. Columbo will be on the case later, though, and if he finds that I'm wrong, I'll issue a fulsome apology of the kind the Pope should make over the confusion he's caused, pronto. See how I always stick to the topic, even when I'm off topic?

    ps. The Catholic Herald, I notice you didn't reply to my other post addressed to you – the one where I suggested I ought to be getting paid (handsomely) for my hard work on your blogs! Try £25,000 p.a. and we'll talk.

  • RJ

    The reason I think Janet Smith is a theologian is that I have read part of her book defending Humanae Vitae (didn't have time to finish it but then that's the way things are when you are studying theology) and that she holds an academic post as such. I don't believe she is promoting liberal hogwash and, if she were, I wouldn't touch her with a barge pole.

    Wouldn't put too much store by Jack Valero and Austen Ivereigh as theologians. Sounds like they need to do some study: PR isn't enough.

    By the way: do you accept the authority of the Second Vatican Council and Popes Paul VI, JPII and Benedict XVI? Do you include these in the Tradition?

    Yes, I do believe in hell.

    “He's saying that there are cases where it may be morally licit to use condoms.” If I wanted to wind you up, I could say: “That's what EditorCT thinks. I'm not interested in what she thinks.” There is a lot of debate as to whether he really is saying that.

    I was hoping you would tell me wherein the additional moral depravity of condom use specifically by homosexuals consists. I am not saying it isn't (possibly) more depraved, but I want to hear why you think it to be so.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thank you – we do appreciate all your hard work. Unfortunately, a salary is not possible at this time.

  • Susan

    What do you mean by “at last an ally”?? I said more or less the same thing as Petrus a day ago!

  • James H

    As soon as I heard the headline on Sunday, I suspected some smart*rse journalist had maneuvered the Pope into stringing a few words together that sounded like what he wanted to hear. A quick cut-and-paste job later, and voila! instant publicity for his book.

    Read the text, people. The Pope was talking about a (slightly) lesser evil. He hasn't dropped the ball, but he has been manipulated. It was only a matter of time.

  • James H

    The Pope is not endorsing condoms. He's saying in some circumstances they may be a lesser evil – a bit like saying it's better to rob a bank with a toy gun than a real one, because you know it's not going to kill anyone. The point is, he was making a subtle point which was leaped on by the media. It was only a matter of time until someone maneuvered him into it. It can happen to the best of us.

    I'm afraid I just can't agree with your reading of the quote.

  • James H

    So, you're saying:
    1) The Pope (or the church) was lying when the Third Secret was revealed? Or was it Sr Lucia?
    2) That Russia is still spreading its errors throughout the world?
    3) That the consecration didn't have the right words?

    I'm afraid you're starting to look like a schismatic.

  • James H

    “For the Pope to accept that condoms may be used for homosexual activity…”

    That, he simply did not do. Are you really so desperate to find fault with him?

  • James H

    Paul, you wouldn't have saved any more lives using condoms. Uganda is the only place in black Africa that brought HIV rates down, and they did it by pushing behavioural change. Southern Africa is overwhelmingly African church and Protestant, and their AIDS rates are the worst in the world!

  • James H

    “What to make of a pope who doesn't believe what the Church teaches? “

    There you go again.

  • Buddy

    Looks like we're singing from the same hymn sheet,which I might suggest should be the case from the prince to the pauper,all 1.2 billion. Did sister Lucia mention something about diabolical dissorientation?. Just a thought.

  • paul

    'Condoms don't protect at all. There's loads of evidence for that. So, far from saving lives, as you suggest, the Pope may well have made things much worse and COST lives.'

    Charities don't have an agenda usually, Christian groups and AIDS charities in Africa simply want to save lives. They are not part of some liberal conspiracy, I trust that as the 'troops on the ground' they are likely to know much better than me.

    Therefore we have two competing issues:
    1. the immorality of contraception and pre-marital sex
    2. the deaths of those who catch AIDS

    Now as much as I might respect the Church's teaching on sexual relations I do prioritize the the lives and children of those that will catch AIDS without a condom. This does not mean one cannot suggest abstinence as the very best option.

    Ask yourself this, is your position that as long as the Church's moral position is carried out and every box ticked, this negates the millions that will die if condoms are not used?
    ….its just because i thought the Church was PRO-life?

  • paul

    The fastest growing AIDS demographic are heterosexuals, not homosexuals. Frankly suggesting that homosexuals have 30 plus partners is obviously plucked from the air and is in reality i feel a homophobic slur and quite unfair.

    The issue is not about homosexuality in Africa which accounts for approximately 5% of the population, the issue is families and children and an economy ruined by this disease.

    What I promoting, and what many Catholic and Christian charities have been calling for is to promote abstinence as the best option and condoms if they will not abstain from sex. This is not contradictory, and would save the most lives and families from AIDS.
    The failure rate of condoms may be up to 15% worst case, but the rate of failure of unprotected sex is 100%. Are you suggesting that unprotected sex is better?

  • paul

    even in the case of certain death to one of the parties involved?
    I thought the church was PRO-life?

  • paul

    (I'm actually not asking, not ranting) What is the point of the Pope if we can disagree with his opinions? How do we know when to follow him or not?