This past week, a new book by the Holy Father entitled: “Light of the World” went on sale. In an interview with Peter Seewald, Seewald proposes for discussion the common supposition that it is crazy to tell an area battling an epidemic of the AIDS virus not to use condoms. After defending the Church’s leading role in fighting AIDS, the pope made the following statements (that have been taken far out of context my many media outlets).
Pope Benedict: “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.”
Seewald: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?”
Pope Benedict: “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.”
The Pope is not saying that condoms are a good thing. He is not condoning their use (note: not a real or moral solution). Neither is he trying to support the prostitution business. He is saying that for someone who is already engaging in immoral behavior (prostitution), the “intention” to try and keep from infecting someone with whom he is engaging in this immoral behavior by using a condom — could be “a first step” towards realizing the humanity of the other and finding a better way to live. Not a last step. Note: the intention is only one part or source of moral action. The other two parts of a moral action, the object and the circumstances, are still problematic – thereby rendering the action immoral. The Holy Father seems to be drawing attention to the fact that the intention is less selfish and therefore, “a first step.” Overall, Pope Benedict criticizes the “banalization of sexuality” that treats sexuality as just another outlet of escape where people fall into addictions and become incapable of truly expressing love in and through physical intimacy.
Even with respect to the lands so ravaged by AIDS, the Holy Father reiterates his remarks where he states that “we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms.” In other words, the Church and her Head remain united about the truth of human sexuality and the necessity of remaining open to life.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§2370)
…”every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, 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” is intrinsically evil:
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.
Actual Excerpt from B16’s new book
Analysis of Fr. Richard (My Moral Theology Professor)
Cardinal Burke on Pope’s comments
Jimmy Akin on Pope’s comments