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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.”

  • 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?

  • paul

    Very interesting, I looked this up and you are right. I am not in any respect against abstinence though and it is obviously the first and safest option. However for those that will have sex regardless of advise protected sex is around 90% safer than unprotected sex so that's why I would educate and distribute condoms as a second resort.

    Also in order to achieve this change the explicit sex education at ages of 12 upwards has been key to warning children about sex, and the Church's official position is not usually to support sex education like this.

  • paul

    Very interesting, I looked this up and you are right. I am not in any respect against abstinence though and it is obviously the first and safest option. However for those that will have sex regardless of advise protected sex is around 90% safer than unprotected sex so that's why I would educate and distribute condoms as a second resort.

    Also in order to achieve this change the explicit sex education at ages of 12 upwards has been key to warning children about sex, and the Church's official position is not usually to support sex education like this.

  • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ SamTASTIC!

    George Weigel (taken from nationalreview.com) has a good quote on this issue. I will let his words speak for me.

    “And here is Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor Janet Smith’s illustration of the technical point the pope was actually making, which touches on the question of what philosophers and theologians call subjective intention:
    'If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.'”

  • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ SamTASTIC!

    George Weigel (taken from nationalreview.com) has a good quote on this issue. I will let his words speak for me.

    “And here is Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor Janet Smith’s illustration of the technical point the pope was actually making, which touches on the question of what philosophers and theologians call subjective intention:
    'If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would be better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it [for that] would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.'”

  • paul

    I was replying to another poster and not you specifically, I don't just come here for 'answers' I come here to stimulate debate and to try and change opinions. i barely think it is disingenuous to have a perfectly legitimate conversation with another poster on a massive flaw in Catholic logic.

  • paul

    I was replying to another poster and not you specifically, I don't just come here for 'answers' I come here to stimulate debate and to try and change opinions. i barely think it is disingenuous to have a perfectly legitimate conversation with another poster on a massive flaw in Catholic logic.

  • paul

    'It does mean that they should not be deprived of that dimension by being obstructed (as in contraception).'
    My point is that natural contraception does do this therefore it in action is entirely the SAME in ACTION as artificial contraception, and entirely the same in MOTIVATION also.

    I hope you realize you are totally splitting hairs:)

  • paul

    'It does mean that they should not be deprived of that dimension by being obstructed (as in contraception).'
    My point is that natural contraception does do this therefore it in action is entirely the SAME in ACTION as artificial contraception, and entirely the same in MOTIVATION also.

    I hope you realize you are totally splitting hairs:)

  • EC

    “How often do I need to say that the Pope should be CONDEMNING MALE PROSTITUTION…”

    You don't need to say it at all. There is no ambiguity about this.

    “…not giving them advice on how to be more healthy (in inverted commas) prostitutes.”

    That is not what the Pope was doing in intention or effect. He is not giving advice at all. You are not picking up on what the Pope is doing for some reason.

    “…it is ridiculous to tell someone to do something evil as a step on the road to being moral. Utterly ridiculous.”

    Agreed. But, again, this is not remotely what is going on here. There is no means-to-ends thinking going on here. Nor did the Pope tell anyone to do anything. Not only does your interpretation lack justification, it an unnatural reading of the Pope's words.

    “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.”

    You are mistaken about what the Pope is doing, and I suppose all that can be said to you is to calm down and take a careful look.

    “For heaven's sake stop digging.”

    I don't know what you mean by this. I just think it is pretty easy to see that you are confused about what the Pope is expressing. If it is beyond doubt for you that you are not confused, if your interpretation seems extremely obvious to you, then I can see how you would be annoyed. But it wouldn't take much charitable interpretation to come to a different conclusion.

  • EditorCT

    The Church is not responsible for any deaths due to individuals indulging in promiscuity. The individuals are responsible for the deaths. By preaching the truth about sex – t hat it is “safe” and right, pleasing to God, only within marriage, the Church is most certainly being pro-life.

  • EditorCT

    EC, let's take a calm look at what the Pope actually said – I'll put my analysis of what he said is in parenthesis… I don't know how to bolden text in this system, or I'd have put my own words in bold to make it easier to follow:

    There may be a basis in the case of some individuals (i.e. sometimes it may be acceptable) as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, (i.e. example given) where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, (this action of using a condom may be a first step for the male prostitute to become moral) 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. (Note: the Pope gives no explanation as to how and why this effect might result from using a condom.) 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. (Note: the Pope does not define the “humanization of sexuality.”)

    Interviewer (probably with jaw on the floor): 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, (? ‘But’?) in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, (an intention hitherto condemned in every other Vatican statement on the subject) as a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality. (Firstly, what does “a more human way of living sexuality” mean? Secondly, the move from condemning an extra-marital or sodomite sexual act as evil of itself, to allowing, if not implicitly condoning, the evil act on the basis of “good intention” is a radical shift. If this were issued in a formal document, it would represent a manifest change in Catholic teaching.)

    If I have misinterpreted anything will you do what I've done – copy the Pope's actual words and put your own interpretation in parenthesis.

    By “stop digging” I meant, of course, stop trying to defend the indefensible. Check out the worsening situation by visiting our latest headline on the issue at http://www.catholictruthscotland.com where, as you will see, the Vatican “clarification” has extended the “exception” to include women and transsexuals.

    O what a tangled web the Pope has weaved.

  • EditorCT

    Dear Gordon,

    You appear to have forgotten that Christ The High Priest was celibate and He bequeathed His authority to His first priests, bishops and Pope, instructing that “He that hears you, hears Me…”

    It is a mark of the extent of the crisis that the local churches are permitting contracepting parishioners to be permanent deacons. Disgraceful.

    And the fact that you have been in a position to advise Catholic couples on this very serious matter and have told them to defy the authoritative teaching of the Church will come back to haunt you at your judgment.

    The Canadian bishops – as any well informed Catholic knows – are a schismatic bunch. I seem to recall that at the height of the clerical child abuse revelations, Canada was way up there with the worst statistics. Not surprising, given that they are telling their people to use contraception – and the pill that you recommend, remember, operates to abort. Shocking.

    Bishops everywhere should stop risking this kind of theological illiteracy by promoting ONLY vocations to the priesthood. People who want to play at being priests are dangerous, whether they manifest themselves as folk who want to give out Communion at Mass or, like you, permanent deacons. Get a real job.

  • EditorCT

    Galileo was persecuted by his colleagues in the scientific community, not the Church. Don't fall for the propaganda.

  • EditorCT

    Unfortunately, James H, the world at large thinks that that is PRECISELY what the Pope accepts. It's pretty hard to NOT read that into his words. “The Church does not think X is the solution but if Y does it for a good intention, that's acceptable.”

    Far from being desperate to find fault with the Pope, I'm desperate to praise him! I did praise him, for example, when, in the face of huge opposition from within the Vatican (and outside, of course) he lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops and issued Summorum Pontificum. “Well done” I shouted from the rooftops. What did you say on those occasions?

    But only an ignorant Catholic who thinks they have to keep the dirty laundry hidden, will try to defend anyone, from the Pope down, who causes confusion in a matter so serious as this moral issue.

    Far from being a loyal Catholic, those who defend a pope's error, are akin to those who followed the unfaithful bishops at the time of the English Reformation, and permitted John Fisher to be executed.

    They got it entirely the wrong way round – and so are you, it seems, in this case.

    .

  • EditorCT

    And there are other idiots in the world who think that it is wrong to criticise a pope even when he has publicly expressed an opinion which is at the very least, confusing and seems at odds with Catholic teaching and, at worst, at odds with Catholic teaching.

    Those are usually the same idiots who think the Pope is only teaching the Faith when he speaks ex-cathedra…

  • EditorCT

    James HJ,

    If you think the Third Secret has been revealed in its entirety, then you have not studied the facts.

    And if you DON'T see Russia's errors continuing to be spread throughout the world, you haven't studied the facts.

    And if you think the Consecration included the “right words” – i.e. Russia – then you haven't studied the facts.

    Here are the facts.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20101031-300671/Fatimas-third-secret-still-secret and http://www.fatima.org/crusader/cr31/cr31-32pg28.asp

    Study them.

  • EditorCT

    Now that the Pope's “clarification” has made things MUCH worse – to include women and transsexuals as well as prostitutes – it might be worth reminding ourselves that it's not so long since he was saying (rightly) that condoms make the HIV situation worse.

    See http://www.catholictruthscotland.com for link to the “clarification.”

    As one of our readers has just said to me on the phone, sadly, the Pope is making himself a bigger laughing stock that the Duke of Edinburgh…

  • Anthony

    Dear Editor CT,

    Everything the Holy Father says and writes shows his profound love and care for humanity. It also shows that he is truly a follower of the teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ: “love thy neighbour…”, “do unto others…”.(Can you hear bells ringing?)

    It may be a matter of tone, but by comparison (and, yes, I do mean by comparison) what you have been saying, at least from the way you have been saying much of it, appears to lack something of his humanity and humility.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not a mere political manifesto; nor is the magisterium. Of course, Joseph Ratzinger (I use his name only as a reminder of whose intellect you are so casually dismissive), Pope Benedict, the servant of the servants of God, does not need to be told this. Perhaps, for different reasons, you do.

  • RJ

    I don't think the additional clarification, removing the restriction to cases of male prostitution, need make a difference to the argument.

    The Pope says clearly that the use of condoms is “not a real or moral solution”. If it is not a moral solution, then it is not a morally acceptable solution, therefore it is not a solution. What is left? Only the recognition of a psychological movement in the right direction, even though this is “not a real or moral solution”, i.e. is a mistaken choice.

    Might be worth just rerunning the quote where the interviewer pressed him to clarify:

    She [the Church] 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.”

    To my mind, the word “intention” jumps off the page.

  • RJ

    Well, I don't think just not having intercourse is an act of obstruction. That seems fairly clear and not a matter of hair-splitting.

    You might be right in saying that the effect is the same but then the end does not justify the means.

    Re motivation: it is possible the motivation might be the same (e.g. spacing children), but then the morality of an act is not determined solely by motivation. The nature of the act has to be taken into consideration.

    Appreciate your good humour.

  • RJ

    Thanks Linus. I can't just find my post you are replying to but: I agree with the two sentences starting “The point was…” The next one I am not sure about (degree of sinfulness). I introduced the natural law element because I think there is a danger of reducing the debate to a matter of motives and consequences. I think the natural law offers a firm objective foundation which has a contribution to make. I think this valuable part of our tradition has been dismissed and neglected of late.

  • Reilly Tom

    This statement has nothing what so ever to do with me in any respect.

    And nothing written here- as in mine- makes not one whitof a difference to anything at all.

    No one knows what is or has ever passed through Benedict's mind.

  • Buddy

    Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments, so it follows that obedience, ie. observence of the ten commandments God's laws = love of God. So to repeat, I guess that rules out condoms, sodomy, fornication, adultry, etc. full stop. The question you must ask yourself now Paul is God pro-life.

  • RJ

    If anyone thinks that the Pope has legitimised the use of condoms in certain circumstances, please read this:

    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/11/23/guestview-did-the-pope-%E2%80%9Cjustify%E2%80%9D-condom-use-in-some-circumstances/

    especially the last 3 paragraphs

  • Gordon S

    My dear editor:

    You are not only confused and wrong, but I also find that for an editor of a ' Catholic” publication you are often very caustic in your opinions.

    I'm sure that you must be aware of the negative reaction by so many theologians and bishop's conferences around the world when the encyclical Humanae Vitae came out. The bishops of Canada were not alone in making significant qualifications to it. The bishops of Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and France etc. joined with their Catholic brothers in Canada in guiding the faithful on this issue.

    The bottom line on this, the encyclical is a non-infallible teaching an bishops such as the Canadian bishops stated, ' Couples may use contraception that if for various reasons [ the reasons much too long to go into here] they in following their conscience choose contraception because it is right to them they can be safely assured that they do so in good conscience..'

    Because of this, I as a deacon at that time spoke only what the college of bishops allowed. Oh, by the way, the contraception pill does not operate to abort. I find it shocking that you would mislead your readers by making such ludicrous statements.

    It is strange to me my dear editor that so many in your mind are illiterate theologically accept yourself!

    Further to that, your schismatic statements about the ordained deacons of our Church are very surprising to me. You must search your conscience my friend and I am certain you will consider a retraction on your very illiterate statements… may God bless and enlighten you my friend… Gordon

  • EditorCT

    Diffal, we know that it is possible to get HIV through contaminated blood in a transfusion. But, frankly, I gave you the benefit of the doubt, and assumed you would understand that my comment referred to those people who do not indulge in sex outside marriage. Let me spell it out. If a young boy and a young girl refuse to indulge in pre-marital sex and marry each other, then (apart from your blood transfusion situation which is not an everyday occurrence) they will not contract HIV.

    Then again, if they remain faithful to each other in their marriage, and do not fall ill and have to have a blood transfusion and end up receiving infected blood (a rare occurrence) then they will continue to go through life without contracting HIV/AIDS.

    Is that clear enough for you? In case not, allow me to add that I'm presuming – in both cases – that their parents were not HIV positive and that they, therefore, did not contract HIV in the womb.

    Oh and I'm also presuming that they don't take a walk through the local park, trip over a stone, and fall on to a needle (sticking up out of the ground, of course) thrown there by an HIV infected drug addict, drunk, female or male prostitute. If I've omitted any possible extra-promiscuity scenarios, join up the dots yourself.

    Allowing for these most unfortunate (and unlikely) scenarios, my case stands: those who live by the teachings of the Church on sexual morality, will live and die healthy lives…

    Well… not exactly DIE healthy lives, but you know what I mean, Sugar Plum…

  • EditorCT

    That's OK – we can re-negotiate the salary later. £15,000 and we'll talk…

  • Gordon SGordon S

    I meant, [except you] Gordon

  • EditorCT

    My post has disappeared, so I'll try to rewrite it concisely.

    Ironic, paul, yes. But in fact the Church's teaching cannot change on this issue of condom use no matter what the Pope's opinion. It is shattering that the Pope's opinion contradicts the teaching of the Church but bad popes are nothing new in the history of the Church. And in his behaviour in writing this book/giving this interview, Pope Benedict, despite the few (very few) good things he's done, is acting as a bad pope.

    You see, paul, Catholic sexual morality is not a matter of Church “policy” as you think. Whether or not we are instructed to fast from meat as opposed to some other penance on a Friday, comes under the heading of Church “discipline” or, you could say, policy. We must fast, but the detail can change at the whim of a pope.

    Not so anything at all to do with sexual morality. That is revealed truth. The revealed truth is that sex is a gift from God to be used to bring new life into the world. The fact that He made it enjoyable and something people want to do, is evidence of God's wisdom – who'd have children otherwise???? I speak as a teacher here!

    You are right in one thing however, paul. This pope has “become a moral pragmatist” and he'll be called to account for it at his judgment. May I remind you that it's not long since he was saying, in Africa, that, not only do condoms not prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS – they make it worse! So, he's causing confusion on this issue, whichever way you look at it.

    Doing something evil can NEVER be an act of responsibility. THAT is the teaching of the Church from the time of Christ until now.

    Pray for Pope Benedict – he's going to need all the prayers he can get to end this scandal before he meets His Maker.

  • John Kearney

    The trouble is do you perceive the use of conoms as an act of love between two human beings or as in Africa where there is little faithfulness just an act of sex. The Pope presumes becuase there is no ABC that is Abstinence, Being Faithful, and then using Condoms that there is little respect for the partner in a condom using culture. How can this be changed? By some measure of respect for the other person. Thjis is the context of the Pope`s statement. Male prostitutes who have wakened their conscience and have decided that sex has responsibilities are at least taking the first stip in that regard for the other, woman or man. It is a very low base which the Pope is working from and he does not juistify in any way the use of condoms. Damian Thompson asked the question if Male Prostitutes can use condoms why cannot a husband with HIV use one with his wife? Were we to assume as Damain does that the Pope was talking about the use of condoms then he is quite right. The use of concoms in one situration would affect the other situation. Then we could go on and ask but what about STD`s? What about Human Pappiloma Virus with the power to kill? What about many other STD`s like Chlamydia. Poor Damain cannot see that one exception leads naturally to another until the teaching has all but vanished and what is left is hypocricy. This was the response of the Catholic Church when the CofE introduced Divorce. It is her stance on euthanasia. It was her stance when doctors offered to kill a baby which was threatening a mothers life. Yes, to the world these were all harsh decisions but we were using the wisdom of God and not man.

  • EditorCT

    Talk about shifting goal posts! Until now, the excuse was made that the Pope was talking about male prostitutes only. Now that we're told differently, it doesn't matter any more!

    And yes, “intention” jumps off the page all right but, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats, it is never permitted to do evil so that good may result.

    So, the fact that “intention” jumps off the page at you, RJ, should awaken your Catholic sense and alarm bells should be ringing in your head. Loudly.

  • Petrus

    Gordon,

    Your comments are abominable. Don't try to wriggle out of the very grave thing you have done by saying “the Canadian Bishops told me to”. Tell me this, if the Canadian Bishops told Canadian Catholics to wear purple socks on a Sunday, would you go out and advise Catholics to do so? Unbelievable. You make the Bishops and the Pope sound like cult leaders.

    Casti Connubii also condemned contraception, as did Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae . Many early Church Fathers also made statements condemning the use of contraception including John Chrysostom, Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus of Rome, Augustine of Hippo and various others. Among the condemnations is one by Jerome which refers to an apparent oral form of contraception: “Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception.” In 1997, the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family stated:

    “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.”

    So the Church has always taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. The schismatic bishops, priests, deacons and laity of Canada and elsewhere will pay a heavy price for their evil deeds.

    “Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the

    road to perdition and are taking many souls with them.”

    Our Lady of Garabandal, June 18, 1965

    Woe to the priests and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their bad life are crucifying anew my Son! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry out towards Heaven and call for vengeance, and see how vengeance is at their doors, because there is no longer found anyone to implore mercy and forgiveness for the people; there are no longer generous souls, there is no longer anyone worthy to offer the Victim without blemish to the Eternal on behalf of the world.’

    ‘The Vicar of my Son will have much to suffer, because for a time the Church will be delivered over to great persecutions: this will be the time of darkness; the Church will have a frightful crisis.’

    Our Lady of La Salette

    “The devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls.

    “Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.”

    Sr Lucia.

  • Paulus

    Editor CT, I notice that you were a teacher (RE I believe) who retired early. A good job too, for there is more to RE than just blind acceptance. Thought, anaysis and discussion have always (at some point at least) been part of the emerging concensus of the Church. I wonder why you left teaching early… Would it be perhaps that you constantly found fault with others? Or found yourself at odds with the institutional Church? Or found yourself at odds with the various schools in England where you taught? It certainly seems to be a trait – confrontational with a nasty tendancy to sideswipe others – which emerges here.
    I applaud the Pope for his strength and courage. For people to suggest that wearing a condom is the greater moral evil (compared to not wearing one and exposing someone to the possibility of transmitting infection) has failed to grasp what the Holy Father is saying. There's no doubt that abstinence is desirable – in a perfect world. But our world is far from perfect. There seems to be an assumption that sexual morality is the greatest form of morality. The apparent fixation of the Church on matters sexual has lost millions of souls.
    Benedict, we are told, is anxious to kick-start a debate on the issue of contraception. He has succeeded. When he was elected I was disappointed. But he has shown himself to be strong, courageous and determined and that is much more than I could have hoped for.
    One more thing: the Pope is the Supreme legislator in the Church. End of. His intellect is beyond question and you will forgive me Editor CT, if I give his thoughts a teency-weency bit more weight than yours!!
    And Editor CT – if you don't like it I'll echo the advice you gave to a blogger on this page – leave!

  • Gordon S

    Dear editor,

    Surely you don't believe all of that junk you are peddling. You must be putting me on. Our Lady of La SaSalette? I never heard of that one. Come on, private revelation? Surely you don't make judgements on this questionable stuff.

    Where is the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in your thought patterns? On the one hand you often write how we must obey the magisteriam and on the other you say what the college of bishops say really doesn't matter. Make up your mind my friend. This is why I said you are often confused. Or do you only play the devils advocate?

    It is a good thing that you are not a part of the hierarchy because the faithful would often be hurt by you instead of being loved. I am certain of that. You appear to have an axe to grind of some sort.

    Come up higher my dear editor because there is so much more when you cut yourself loose from the shackles of anger. There is so much more when your life manifests the love of Christ… blessings… Gordon

  • Susan

    “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 ”

    That's the bit which is more difficult to grasp and there is an astonishing ignorance amongst the laity about this.

  • John Kearney

    Editor CT, I am surprised to hear you red the article twice yet did not get its drift. Let us put the matter in context and the context is Africa. The opinion of the Pope and many others is that women are sexually used and abused on a large scale by men who have little regard for faithfulness. Yes they do use condoms to protect themselves but their promiscuity is such that they have little regard for the woman. The Pope said that some moral fibre must be introduced into the situation, some kind of regard for the women. He then noted that since male prostitutes use condoms in a situation they would hardly regard as loving they are showing some kind of caring which is at least a step in the right direction.where some responsibility was being shown Nowhere did he say their use of condoms was correct. This is so clear to me I find it remarkable that you fail to understand. When I heard the BBC telling me that the Pope had said that condoms were useable in some circumstances I was ready to leave the Church. Where indeed was the authority I believed in when one Pope contradicted another. I immediately went to my PC and looked up the facts. I read the comments of leading Catholic commentators throughout the world and they were unanimous that no such thing had been said. You are introducing a new element into the debate which few will understand and others will just treat with contempt. That he was not speaking infallibly. That will not matter to his enemies but it undermines his friends..

  • RJ

    The Pope has said: “It is not a moral solution”. What more do you want?

  • RJ

    Further to my comment below: yes, it is not right to do evil that good may come of it. I don't believe the Pope has said that. You do.

  • EditorCT

    Listen, SamTASTIC

    Forget about Janet Smith. I am always suspicious of someone who describes themselves as a “theologian” – I doubt if she's any more qualified than me.

    The quote she gives which you cite, indicates that “intention” is what is important in morality. And that IS what the Pope said in that part of his interview relating to male prostitutes (and now, we know, woman and transsexuals – helpful clarification!)

    But, sweetheart, THAT is the breach with Traditional Catholic Morality: intention is NOT the key to a moral act. It is the ACTION that is important. As I've said already a thousand times, if you kill your granny with the intention of easing her end of life suffering, you're still guilty of murder.

    And, in fact, in a court of law, the bank robber who uses an imitation gun or a gun with no bullets, gets PRECISELY the same sentence as if the gun were real and loaded. That's the law here in the UK.

    So, why not just admit that it would have been much wiser of Pope Benedict not to have contradicted Pope John Paul II by admitting an exception to the absolute moral law on condoms.

    Because, you see, once you admit of an exception, you betray the absolute law. If one group can use condoms if their intention is good, why not others? Hence the Pope's spokesman had to race in there and said – “Yes! woman, too, and transsexuals….The Pope didn't just mean male prostitutes.”

    Now, the Pope is either going to have to come out and retract what he said which contradicts the doctrine of the Church, or he is going to have to allow people to use condoms (and then pills etc.) when their “intentions” are good.

    It's all so clear, it could be a glass of water.

    Signed, EditorCTASTIC!

  • EditorCT

    John Kearney,

    With respect, you should not have rushed to your computer to read what the “commentators” are saying. You should have raced to read the Pope's own words – that's the obvious place to start.

    Secondly, it is no reason to leave the Church. Popes can and do err in their private sayings, in all sorts of ways. We've had Pope Benedict pushing ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue so that you have to look hard to find a Catholic today who believes the doctrine outside the Church there is no salvation. They just don't believe it any more. The Church still teaches that, but nobody would think so listening to the private speeches of the recent popes, including this one. Similarly, e.g. Pope John XXII – all through his life, right to the end – believed and said openly that he believed only in a general Judgement at the end of time, not, as the Church teaches, a private judgement then Heaven, Hell or Purgatory, with the General Judgement coming at the end of time. So, popes in error is nothing new. The miracle of infallibility is that none of them has attempted to makes these false teachings binding on the Faithful by using formal pronouncements etc. That's the miracle of papal infallibility. You final sentence appears to imply that you think the Pope HAS spoken infallibly on this departure from Catholic sexual morality. Allow me to enlighten you. Infallible pronouncements do not come via interviews with journalists. No, John, the Pope was NOT speaking infallibly. If that statement had been promulgated as infallible teaching, it would have been proof that Christ has failed in His promise to guide His Church until the end of time. Christ cannot fail. Popes can fail but that promise of Christ will prevent them making their error binding on the Faithful. What he said was a monumental error and he will have to answer for it at his judgment.

    The fact is that, contrary to what you say, the BBC were correct in reporting that the Pope has said there may be an exception to the moral law on condoms – and that is a scandal. It's ridiculous to deny the self-evident truth.

    Finally, I smiled when I read that you were worried about him contradicting Pope John Paul II – check this link to see that he's also contradicted himself! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29734328/

  • EditorCT

    Paulus,

    I'm surprised at your interest in my career. I'll pander to your curiosity in a second, but first, allow me to ask you to come back on here and tell us all what YOU do or did for a career and whether or not YOU had any “relationships” problems because it is certainly not usual in blogging to come on all guns blazing to confront another contributor for the purpose of badgering them with personal questions. The usual format is to contribute to the debate. Apart from in jest, I think the rule of thumb is to avoid all personal remarks – and certainly avoid being nasty.

    Anyway, since I'm flattered at your interest in my career, allow me to allay your fears. The only “relationship” problems I've ever had, thank God, were with modernist liberals in a Catholic institution who refused to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as their reference source when teaching about the Faith. Since there is a statement at the very beginning of the Catechism, a message from Pope John Paul II saying that this Catechism is to be the first source, the “norm” for priests and teachers, I felt duty bound as Head of Department to explain to them that this was really not satisfactory at all, at all. They didn't like that. One of them boasted about being a contraceptor and another told me we differed in our beliefs about the Real Presence and the Mass which was, he insisted, no sacrifice. “Relationships”? Well, let me tell you what the authentic Catholics, students, parents and priests told me – any “relationships” problems there, were not caused by me, Sugar Plum – unless of course you think I should have rolled over and said “Amen”?

    Indeed, the proof of the pudding….. I was soon head-hunted by another school and took up a Head of RE post there. In all, I've held four Heads of RE posts and enjoyed every one. I retired, Honey Bunch, for purely domestic reasons – although I still home-school on a voluntary basis – at the invitation of parents – so, don't you worry about my “relationships” – I get along jes fine, thank you very much.

    Now, what about you? What sort of work to YOU do, Paulus?

    As for your remarks about the topic – there is just nothing I can say that I've not already said. You are clearly not informed about the nature of the Church and its authority; you are, like so many others here, unable to distinguish authoritative papal teaching from the personal opinion of a pope, the latter carrying no weight of authority at all, so you cannot apply the description “Supreme Legislator” to these condom comments.

    But it makes me smile to see all the liberals, who hitherto got themselves tied up in knots trying to justify their contraceptive dissent by arguing that it is non-infallible teaching, now screaming from the rooftops that this exception by the pope is infallible.

    Hilarious!

    Now, don't forget, Paulus. What sort of work to YOU do? Any “relationships” problems? Everything hunky dory? Ah jes can't wait to hear, Sugar Plum!

  • EditorCT

    You appear to be totally contradicting what you said in your original post – do you or do you not, think the Pope was wrong to make an exception in the moral law for prostitutes? Not just males, females as well AND transsexuals? (I can't believe this question has even arisen – incredible…)

  • Paulus

    Editor CT
    Thank you for your comments.
    I am delighted to be able to tell you that I am (or was) a humble electrician, now retired. And yes, I suppose that I have had the occasional relationship problem at work. But – and here's the key – most of them are usually solved by dialogue and accomodation, not by badgering etc etc. Your style is very confrontational but – I'll give you this – you certainly stick to your views, however misplaced, but misplaced they are. Your well known views that Catholics should not attend the post Vatican II Mass are a source of scandal. They put at risk souls and they cause those who listen to you to stray into real error. Just as you have often reminded people that they will have to account for it before God, so will you. And I'm not sure that I would like to be in your high heels at that point!
    The reality is there WILL be discussion in the Church. There WILL be debate. And there will be complex moral situations which NEED to be addressed. The Pope recognises that a Church which remains silent on such matters will be ignored. You might not like it – but hard luck. Now, having said all that I have re-read my post which I can see was a tad harsh – so I apologise.
    Now, to the issue. The reality is the Church is changing, evolving and the Pope knows this better than anyone. And at what point does something become 'tradition'? The element of tradition is something that emerges, over time, from within the Church. Yes, its more complex that that but the process must start somewhere and for this issue it starts here, now. And its been started by the Pope. The emergence of HIV / AIDS has meant that urgent questions arise which need answers. The Pope was, I think, trying to lay out a kind of roadmap to a better moral decision-making process where the starting point was the situation he cited. He has said NOTHING about contraception and certainly has engaged, probably for the first time, with youth who are desperate for guidance.

  • Petrus

    Oh dear, oh dear! I'm afraid your schismatic mindset is well and truly showing through. La Salette is an approved apparition. On July 19, 1851, the fifth anniversary of the apparition,[dubious – discuss] the apparition was officially approved in a pastoral letter by the diocesan bishop under the title of Our Lady of La Salette. He wrote in his mandate:

    [The apparition] has within itself all the characteristics of the truth, and that the faithful are justified in believing it beyond doubt and for certain. … (art. 1) … Hence, in order to bear our warmest gratitude to God and to the glorious Virgin Mary, we authorise the devotion to Our Lady of La Salette. We allow the clergy to preach on this great event and to draw the practical and moral consequences arising from it. … (art. 3) … We expressly forbid the faithful and the clergy of our diocese ever to speak or write against the event which we proclaim this day and which, henceforth, demands the respect of all.”

    This letter was later published, in translation, in the Osservatore Romano on June 4, 1852.

    On October 7, 1850 Luigi Cardinal Lambruschini officially approved the mandate of the bishop of Grenoble.

    Now, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope. The Pope has authority over the bishops, individually and as a body, as well as over each and every Catholic directly. It is absolutely clear that heresies or novelties cannot form part of the authentic Magiesterium. So, by obeying the de facto schismatic Bishops of Canada, you are NOT being loyal to he Magisterium, you are contradicting it.

    Neither the Pope individually, nor the Magiesterium can impose any heresy or novelty, so any Catholic with even a basic understanding of the faith would have had alarm bells ringing on hearing the Bishops of Canada saying what they did.

    God have mercy on the souls of these infidels. God have mercy on His Sacred Ministers who encourage Catholics to commit mortal sin. God have mercy on His unfaithful Deacons who promote and use contraception.

  • EditorCT

    Me? Lack humility? Gerraway…………….

    Here's a link to something the Pope says in his book that has, so far, not been mentioned by the media

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004842.htm

  • John Kearney

    Dear EdotorCT

    I do take heed of the statements of Pope Benedict. Last Saturday evening I thought that indeed the Pope was in heresy and had contradicted the teaching of former Popes. I was ready to leave the Church in total despari. But what is happening here is that the media and those catholics favourable to condoms are twisting things to ensure the Pope said condoms were OK, even against the evidence. The place was Africa, the context was the way women are treated there. Yes the men use condoms but with little or no regard fro the women. They pass from one women to another and have little care for them. It is in this context that the Pope said that even male prostitutes who use condoms are showing at least some sign of caring and recognising that sex does bring some responsibilities. The men in Africa do not. That is what the Pope thinks and those who disagree should take up this point. What is clear is that he was not in any way suggesting the use of condoms was right. I am sorry EditorCT you are totally wrong on this and are doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church and those who are fighting to have the true voice of the Pope heard. This is my second attempt to post this. If it is removed it will tell me I am right.

  • EditorCT

    John, I really have to admit that I am struggling to understand your posts. Your very first sentence states that you “thought the Pope …. had contradicted the teaching of former Popes.” You need go back no further than Pope John Paul II whose position – that condoms are NEVER allowed – is well known. As for you “fighting to have the true voice of the Pope heard…” – I take it you've not read the Vatican clarification? There, the Pope denies that he made an exception to the “no condom” law for male prostitutes only; his spokesman said he made a point of asking the Pope about this and the Pope said “no!” He meant the exception to apply to women and transsexuals as well! For goodness sake – how much clearer does it have to be, before you will do what we are duty bound to when a prelate, even a pope, is in error – speak out to defend, not the erring prelate or Pope, but the truth!

    I'm certainly not alone in my concerns about this scandal. Check out this link

    http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=633525&publicationSubCategoryId=134

    And the man behind the Soho Masses for “gays” – ex-priest, Martin Pendergast –certainly seems to have welcomed the Pope's statement – hardly likely if there were no exception.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/nov/23/pope-shift-condoms-no-surprise

    I think you may be confused because you think I'm saying that the Pope has changed the teaching of the Church – although I've explained ad nauseum that that is not my concern. The Pope has repeated the Church's prohibition on condoms, only this time, spectacularly, he has allowed for exceptions – male prostitutes, women and transsexuals. It's the EXTRA bit that is of concern, not his correct denunciation of condom use in general.

    By admitting of exceptions to an absolute rule, John, he has changed the absolute rule to something other than “absolute.” “Absolute” means there are NO exceptions.

    It's not moi who is doing a disservice to the Church – it's all those ignorant Catholics who, because they do not understand the nature, extent and limitations of papal authority, think that they have to rush to defend every word the pope utters. Ridiculous.

  • EditorCT

    Paulus,

    There's nothing “humble” about being an electrician – or anything else for that matter. I remember when the bin men were on strike in Dublin some years ago and an acquaintance of mine, related, I'm sure, to Hyacinth Bucket, returned from holiday there with turned up nose to say what an awful place it was, rubbish everywhere, stinking city. I was very tempted to point out to her that if I were to introduce her to a dinner guest and say “meet Fred, he's a bin man” she'd have trouble shaking his hand. Everyone, every job in society, as that bin men's strike proved, is important.

    Paulus, no need to apologise but thank you for your generosity in so doing. Your post wasn't harsh, so don't worry at all about that. In the cut and thrust of debate, sometimes things get a little heated but that's OK – I tend not to feel the heat – we don't get much of it up here in Glasgow!

    You accuse me of “badgering” and “being confrontational” and take it as a sign that I'm likely to have poor relationships. Listen, if the blog author or if you or any of the bloggers want me to disappear, just say the word. I'm a really busy gal and – believe it or not – I'm here out of a sense of duty (you won't be able to see it from where you are, but my halo is shining and shimmering…) In any discussion, whether written (as in blogging) or oral, debaters come back at each other, argue their case, to and fro. I don't interpret the other bloggers as badgering me, although they keep making the same points. I have to be patient. They don't have the same giant brain as moi, they're not as clever, they can't see things as clearly – I dunno. I'm too humble to go on adding to the list, but you'll get my drift. So, I'm sorry you regard my participation in the discussion as “badgering” – that is not, she said smiling wryly, my intention – and since “intention” seems to be the fashionable word of the moment, I hope you'll accept my apologies for appearing to badger you or anyone else. Like I say, not my intention…

    With respect, though, I must correct your apparent belief that doctrine and morals can be changed following “debate” and “discussion.” Not so. Your misconception about the Church – that it is “changing and evolving” betrays a gap in your understanding of the divine origins of the Church, and its nature. Christ established the Church, and made it hierarchical, so that we would have a Pope and a body of bishops to rule – not to dialogue with us but to rule us. The Church can never be a democracy. As Cardinal – now Blessed – John Henry Newman once said: “God gave us the Church to save us from ingenious speculations and reasonings of our own.”

    You ask “what is tradition?” and go on to say that “tradition emerges.” Not. Tradition – with a capital 'T' – which refers to those teachings which have been held in the Church since the death of the last Apostle. What the Apostles believed, we believe. There are “traditions” in the Church, secondary matters such as fasting laws etc. which may be changed by the lawful authorities, but that is not the same as Tradition. The oral Tradition of the Church came even before Scriptures. So, Catholics have always looked to the two key sources of revelation – Tradition (what the Church has always believed from the beginning, what was passed on from Christ to the Apostles, His first bishops) and Scripture. The Church gives equal weight to Tradition and Scripture in passing on the Faith and morals to us.

    I'm surprised at your claim that I have “well known views that Catholics should not attend the post Vatican II Mass” and you say that these “well known views” of mine are a source of scandal. I doubt very much if any of my views are of any interest to anyone, but I must put your mind at rest because I've never told any Catholic not to attend the new Mass. I don't like it. I avoid it like the plague. When asked my opinion, I have said to fellow Catholics that I could not, in conscience attend it or recommend it, but I've never said to anyone “you should not attend…” Indeed, only last week I had lunch with a friend who attends with her family because there is no traditional Mass available in the area in which she lives. I understood her rationale; she doesn't want her children to fall out of the Mass-going habit so she takes them along, reluctantly, to her parish church where they all suffer in silence. At no point did I say “you should not….” As it happens, she's contributed to this blog, so if I'm fibbing, she'll spill the beans.

    Now, the Mass is a different topic, so, out of respect for the blog author, I think we should leave that matter there. No doubt, there will be liturgical threads come along and we can continue our discussion on the Mass then. In the meantime, if you visit the Mass section of our website at http://www.catholictruthscotland.com and follow all the links, you will, perhaps, come to a better understanding of why the new Mass is so controversial and unacceptable to many Catholics.

    Finally, back on topic, you've perhaps unwittingly put your finger on one of the very serious problems caused by the Pope's exceptions to the condom prohibition – that the young are “desperate for guidance” on sexual matters. The horrendous truth is, that whereas before, the Church was absolutely clear on this issue, now the waters have been muddied and those desperate young people have been given stones instead of bread.

    Signing off now – next time I need an electrician, I'll be in touch!

  • EditorCT

    Paulus,

    There's nothing “humble” about being an electrician – or anything else for that matter. I remember when the bin men were on strike in Dublin some years ago and an acquaintance of mine, related, I'm sure, to Hyacinth Bucket, returned from holiday there with turned up nose to say what an awful place it was, rubbish everywhere, stinking city. I was very tempted to point out to her that if I were to introduce her to a dinner guest and say “meet Fred, he's a bin man” she'd have trouble shaking his hand. Everyone, every job in society, as that bin men's strike proved, is important.

    Paulus, no need to apologise but thank you for your generosity in so doing. Your post wasn't harsh, so don't worry at all about that. In the cut and thrust of debate, sometimes things get a little heated but that's OK – I tend not to feel the heat – we don't get much of it up here in Glasgow!

    You accuse me of “badgering” and “being confrontational” and take it as a sign that I'm likely to have poor relationships. Listen, if the blog author or if you or any of the bloggers want me to disappear, just say the word. I'm a really busy gal and – believe it or not – I'm here out of a sense of duty (you won't be able to see it from where you are, but my halo is shining and shimmering…) In any discussion, whether written (as in blogging) or oral, debaters come back at each other, argue their case, to and fro. I don't interpret the other bloggers as badgering me, although they keep making the same points. I have to be patient. They don't have the same giant brain as moi, they're not as clever, they can't see things as clearly – I dunno. I'm too humble to go on adding to the list, but you'll get my drift. So, I'm sorry you regard my participation in the discussion as “badgering” – that is not, she said smiling wryly, my intention – and since “intention” seems to be the fashionable word of the moment, I hope you'll accept my apologies for appearing to badger you or anyone else. Like I say, not my intention…

    With respect, though, I must correct your apparent belief that doctrine and morals can be changed following “debate” and “discussion.” Not so. Your misconception about the Church – that it is “changing and evolving” betrays a gap in your understanding of the divine origins of the Church, and its nature. Christ established the Church, and made it hierarchical, so that we would have a Pope and a body of bishops to rule – not to dialogue with us but to rule us. The Church can never be a democracy. As Cardinal – now Blessed – John Henry Newman once said: “God gave us the Church to save us from ingenious speculations and reasonings of our own.”

    You ask “what is tradition?” and go on to say that “tradition emerges.” Not. Tradition – with a capital 'T' – which refers to those teachings which have been held in the Church since the death of the last Apostle. What the Apostles believed, we believe. There are “traditions” in the Church, secondary matters such as fasting laws etc. which may be changed by the lawful authorities, but that is not the same as Tradition. The oral Tradition of the Church came even before Scriptures. So, Catholics have always looked to the two key sources of revelation – Tradition (what the Church has always believed from the beginning, what was passed on from Christ to the Apostles, His first bishops) and Scripture. The Church gives equal weight to Tradition and Scripture in passing on the Faith and morals to us.

    I'm surprised at your claim that I have “well known views that Catholics should not attend the post Vatican II Mass” and you say that these “well known views” of mine are a source of scandal. I doubt very much if any of my views are of any interest to anyone, but I must put your mind at rest because I've never told any Catholic not to attend the new Mass. I don't like it. I avoid it like the plague. When asked my opinion, I have said to fellow Catholics that I could not, in conscience attend it or recommend it, but I've never said to anyone “you should not attend…” Indeed, only last week I had lunch with a friend who attends with her family because there is no traditional Mass available in the area in which she lives. I understood her rationale; she doesn't want her children to fall out of the Mass-going habit so she takes them along, reluctantly, to her parish church where they all suffer in silence. At no point did I say “you should not….” As it happens, she's contributed to this blog, so if I'm fibbing, she'll spill the beans.

    Now, the Mass is a different topic, so, out of respect for the blog author, I think we should leave that matter there. No doubt, there will be liturgical threads come along and we can continue our discussion on the Mass then. In the meantime, if you visit the Mass section of our website at http://www.catholictruthscotland.com and follow all the links, you will, perhaps, come to a better understanding of why the new Mass is so controversial and unacceptable to many Catholics.

    Finally, back on topic, you've perhaps unwittingly put your finger on one of the very serious problems caused by the Pope's exceptions to the condom prohibition – that the young are “desperate for guidance” on sexual matters. The horrendous truth is, that whereas before, the Church was absolutely clear on this issue, now the waters have been muddied and those desperate young people have been given stones instead of bread.

    Signing off now – next time I need an electrician, I'll be in touch!