St John the Baptist: Herald of the Saviour of the World
Gerald Warner writes a very good blog post today on the childish rantings of Richard Dawkins, whose critical analysis of the Holy Father's comments in Africa, concerning the most effective ways in which to combat AIDS/HIV, were so deeply thought out that he described our theological and intellectual giant of a Supreme Pontiff as 'stupid, ignorant and dim'.
I've already written an article in defence of the Holy Father and his comments in Africa and made it clear what I think of Dawkins and his surface deep, humanistic, Godless ideology which is commonly bracketed as 'atheism'. Clearly, he was angered by Pope Benedict XVI's comments and so were many others. The question is; Is the anger of the multitudes really about condoms, or is it a rejection of the whole of the Holy Father's public statement that what Africa needs, that what the World needs, is to embrace a radical concept based on the 'humanisation of sexuality'?
When Our Blessed Lord walked the Earth and the herald of the Gospel, St John the Baptist preached of His arrival, both firmly taught using the language, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' Our Blessed Saviour preached repentance to men and women, calling those present, and by virtue of the Church's proclamation of the Gospel, us as well, to amend our lives and live lives fully human, yet fully alive in relationship with God.
The problem with the whole Pope/Condoms/AIDS/HIV debate, is that the call of the Holy Father, proclaiming that only a new vision of human sexuality at one with the Creator, will answer both our human need to be loved and to love and our desire for a sexual relationship, is actually rather difficult. The fury of the World is about men and women whose response to the words of the Holy Father is this: "We don't like change!"
It is a lot harder to actually reflect upon our lives, show repentance for our more reckless sexual adventures, or our selfish attitudes towards sex and human relationships, than it is to just carry on doing the same but 'wear a condom'. The condom, in a way, symbolises the shallowness of human sexual relationships in the 21st Century. They symbolise the 'quick fix' society, the society that is afraid of true commitment, true love, full union, marriage, fidelity, chastity and ultimately children.
Africa, the West, the UK, the US, Europe is ravaged by high rates of AIDS/HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and earlier and earlier teenage pregnancies. The World's solution to the problems resulting from the fact that we are shagging around like rabbits is the easy fix: Condoms.
The Church's solution to the problems resulting from the fact that we are shagging around like rabbits is the hard fix: 'Repent, believe in the Gospel and change your ways.'
We don't like change. We are creatures of habit. So, we'll keep thinking condoms are the answer, when they aren't. The answer is the Church's vision of human sexuality and human relationships, which, unsurprisingly, is more challenging, more humanising, more Divine and more difficult to live than the Government's slogan: 'Wear a condom'.
The other much overlooked comment the Pope made was regarding the second aspect of a 'two fold appraoch' to the AIDS/HIV crisis, involving solidarity with those suffering from the illness itself, pointing to the work of religious communities in Africa and beyond doing just that. Perhaps these people have a deeper understanding of what true human love is all about: Compassion, mercy, love, tenderness, kindness and friendship with those who suffer.
Yet, the Church is well aware of our human frailties, our moral difficulties, perplexities and our uncanny ability to flee what is good for us body and soul into fleeting pleasures. The Church proclaims salvation from our sins because of the redemptive action of Christ which we commemorate during Holy Week. While, Christ did not come for the healthy, He came for the sick, He also came to show us that His way was not the easy way. His way, is the hard way, the Way of the Cross. Through His Vicar on Earth, Pope Benedict XVI, He says to us, 'Follow Me.'