He isn't lying so much as being ecumenical with the Truth...

Hardtalk
BBC News Channel
11.30
Friday, 2nd July 
Stephen Sackur interviews Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.

'Stephen Sackur (S): "Let's look at some specific issues then... Not so long ago on a visit to Africa, Pope Benedict said that in his view the distribution of condoms can aggravate and does aggravate the problem of HIV Aids. Now there are no scientific polls on this but I would suggest to you that most people in a country like the United Kingdom would fundamentally disagree with that position.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols (N): Yes I would agree with you and I think that most people in this country would disagree with it.

S. Do you disagree with it?

N. No. I don't actually. I wouldn't express it like that.

S. You think that condoms aggravate the problem of the spread of HIV Aids?


N. No, I wouldn't express it quite like that. What I would say is that the spread and the use of condoms in Africa have plenty of champions and still Aids spreads. So I think there are deeper questions that we should be asking and when you ask those questions, for example from the perspective of women in Africa, then you've got to say "Actually we should be looking for an understanding of sexuality that is something that isn't just contained within a technical response. I think the distribution of condoms is a technical response from a western technological cuture being imposed on a society which doesn't work like that.

S. But when you tell me that I cannot help thinking back to the interview I recorded for this programme not so very long ago with the Catholic bishop of Rustenburg, Kevin Dowling, and for him condoms was anything but a technological debate. He says that in his particular diocese he has decided that condoms are a crucial part of the healthcare alternative offered to women because he says they save lives and more than anything else he is pro-life and being pro-life has led him to believe that he has to challenge his own Pope on this fundamental issue.

N. Well I respect his views. He's been there. I've never been to Africa. That's why I would be cautious in expressing the view precisely on this point in practical terms. The point I was trying to make was the point that we can engage in a debate about in this country which is what is the meaning of human sexuality. What actually is it about? Is it a recreational activity? Is it a casual relationship activity? It is something intrinsically involving procreation? How exactly do understand human sexuality? And these are the underlying questions which I think the Pope provokes which many people find uncomfortable but nevertheless are very valid.

S. But I just wonder whether you sometimes feel uncomfortable because on the one hand your Catholic faith and your belief in the Pope and this Pope in particular leads you to a position where you want to be loyal. Loyalty is a fundamentally important part of the Roman Catholic tradition. On the other hand maybe from time to time like Bishop Dowling you believe that this Pope or any particular Pope takes a stand that you can't share. How do you wrestle with that personally?

N. Well I think we start off here by wanting say, and this would be my most fundamental commitment, would be a search for truth, a search for what actually helps me to know who I am, what my destiny is, what my deeper origins are, what is going to make sense of this myriad of experiences that make up a daily life. And I think the church is misunderstood when the Church is represented as saying we possess the truth and from here on we'll give it to you. And Pope Benedict would never say that. He would say and I would try and echo that we are searchers for the truth. We want to be possessed by the truth - not possessive.

S. But your perception of the truth may be different from his. For example in 1986 the famous letter he wrote on homosexuality in which he described homosexual acts as intrinsically and objectively disordered. Do you in your view of truth and searching for truth disagree with that?


N. Well again you have to understand the language. That's a technical language that draws on scholastic philosophy for over a thousand years and what it ...

S. (interrupting) But Archbishop When you say that you're probably losing a large part of the audience. People want to know from a senior churchman like yourself.

N. Well let me tell you what it means. It means there here is an understanding that human sexuality is to do with procreation and sex between two people of the same sex will never produce a child.

S. And is therefore unnatural.

N. ... Therefore it is not along the line of the order, the pathway, of sexuality as understood in this tradition.

S. You see you will know as well as I do there are social trend surveys in the United Kingdom and many other western developed nations which suggest that on issues like the view of homosexuality the general population is getting more and more "liberal"

N. Certainly.
S. And yet you and the Pope are sticking to a deeply traditional, small "conservative" line. Therefore the disconnect between the general population and the Roman Catholic church appears to be getting wider. Does that not worry you?

N. Well no, what would worry me more frankly is to try and refashion a message simply to suit a time. I think there is if you like a critical distance to be held between how the church struggles to understand a revealed truth and how a society is moving. If they're too close there's no light. If they're too far apart there's no light.

S. There's no church. If they're too far apart frankly there's no church

N. There might be no church. That's true.

S. There'll be nobody in the pews.

N. That's true.

S. And let me first just quote [to] you, sorry to interupt but it is important, the Pope in his letter to Irish Catholics in which he expressed great remorse for what happened in Ireland going back to the child sex abuse scandals. He said and I'm quoting his words now: "Fast-paced social change has occurred often affecting peoples' traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values." The Pope himself surely recognises there is a problem here and is the Chruch not going to have to respond to it?

N. Well let me quote the Pope back to you in 1986, I think it was, as a theologian he said he could foresee the day when the church in some parts of the world had shrunk so much that it would become a small flock.

S. He used the word "remnant"

N. Yes he probably did. That's a very biblical expression. So he's not ... afraid of that. He would put fidelity over success so the criteria we're here for is not success.

S. You say he's not afraid of becoming "a remnant" he would put orthodoxy, loyalty, purity

N. No, no a search for truth.

S. OK so maybe purity of theology before ...

N. (interrupting) That is the experience of every Christian. That's the experience of everybody who loses their security loses their status in a society loes their life in martyrdom. It's the whole pathway of fidelity to Christ. It's just the way it is.

S. The Church of England for example in this country is taking a rather different view. They believe there has to be some flexibility. The church has to be a reflection of society's values to a certain extent and therefore we see women priests, women vicars, and there's obviously in some parts of the Anglican Communion, women bishops.

N. Certainly.

S. Some of their vicars are also prepared to sanction gay unions. That church is showing flexibility. Is the Catholic church not going to have to do the same eventually?

N. I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?

S. Well I'm just asking you. You're rather an important player in the Catholic church. What do you believe it should be?

N. No no. There's no doubt in my mind that our first call is to faithfulness and not to sucess. And if faithfulness involves that kind of shrinking then so be it. But it's not as if the church has policies and then focus groups then tries to re-shape so that it captures the mood of the day or the wind and therefore gets momentum behind it. That's not simply the way the Catholic Church understands itself.

With thanks to John Smeaton for re-producing the interview. Any thoughts? The 'Who knows what is down the road?' quote leaps out from the screen like a frightening ghoul in a Worlock Ghost Train ride.

Comments

Philharmonium said…
I can see one glaring error in his response: Condoms have been made 'widely available' in Africa, yet HIV-AIDS continues to spread, so a 'less technical' solution is required (i.e. the spread of Catholicism/Christianity). Yet this has been 'widely available' in Africa for far longer than condoms; indeed it is the dominant religion in most African countries and has a far higher proportion of believers than does Western Europe (even Italy can't boast the same rate of faithful as, say, Uganda). So while he may argue that widespread availability of condoms has not curbed AIDS (it has, there are innumerable WHO reports on this demonstrating that HIV infection rates fall in areas where condoms are distributed), one could similarly argue that 'widespread Catholicism' has done flip all to curb infection/change behaviour.
Mike said…
Philharmonium

Firstly, you are confusing Catholicism and ‘Christianity’. Catholicism is not the dominant form of Christianity in many African states. Eg. Those which were under British rule. I don’t think that non-Catholic forms of Christianity are opposed to the use of condoms.
Secondly, you have totally ignored the clear evidence from the Philippines and Uganda that programmes which encourage abstinence/marital fidelity rather than rely on the indiscrinminate distribution of condoms are actually much more effective in countering AIDS than condoms are.

John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has pointed out: “Uganda is perhaps the biggest success story in the fight against AIDS and much of its achievement is because of changes in sexual behaviour, particularly emphasis on abstinence and fidelity.

Condoms have been promoted as a last resort, but a report by USAID on Uganda found that condoms were not a major factor in the decrease in HIV transmission. In fact, the decline in transmission rates began before the widespread promotion of condoms.

Critics of abstinence claim that people are not strong enough to resist, but this is unsubstantiated propaganda. In one district of Uganda, it was noted that fewer than 5% of 13- to 16-year-olds were sexually active in 2001 compared with 60% in 1994, a significant change in sexual behaviour achieved in just seven years.

Unlike some of its neighbouring countries, Uganda has had a decline in HIV transmission for well over a decade and 98% of people with no education are aware of AIDS -- one of the highest awareness rates in the world.”

The evidence from the Philippines:
“Despite the increasing incidence, in the Philippines each year the number of infections and deaths is far lower than other countries in South East Asia. In 2008 there were 9 thousand infections in the country (0,1% of the population) and 308 deaths. In the same year in Thailand, where international associations have made massive campaigns to promote condom use, there are 610 thousand infected (1% of the population) and 31 thousand deaths. This disproportion in favour of the Philippines is mainly due to the spread of Catholic education within families. The Church has always been active in ensuring care and solidarity for the sick, but especially so in the field of education with campaigns and prevention policies that are actually able to stop the spread of the infection.” (http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=16163&size=A)
And as James Preece has pointed out:
“The Pope isn't alone on this, Harvard Scientist Edward C Green is not a Catholic nor does he consider it wrong to use condoms for contraceptive purposes, but he agrees with the Pope: Condoms make things worse...
...intuitively, some condom use ought to be better than no use. But that's not what the research in Africa shows.
Why not?
One reason is "risk compensation." That is, when people think they're made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.
[...]
...ongoing multiple concurrent sex partnerships resemble a giant, invisible web of relationships through which HIV/AIDS spreads. A study in Malawi showed that even though the average number of sexual partners was only slightly over two, fully two-thirds of this population was interconnected through such networks of overlapping, ongoing relationships.
So what has worked in Africa? Strategies that break up these multiple and concurrent sexual networks -- or, in plain language, faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones.”
http://www.lovingit.co.uk/2009/04/the-pope-and-condoms-in-africa.html
Patricius said…
Thanks for the transcript of this interview which throws into sharper focus the interviewer's attempts to manipulate the Archbishop. For that reason I am unwilling to criticise any shortcomings in some of his replies.
Physiocrat said…
What is one to make of this? Who would have sex with someone known to be HIV+, with or without a condom?

Now what the situation is this? Faithful woman, unfaithful husband. What is the woman to do? The options are no condom, condom or abstinence within the marrige.

That is the choice.

As is often the case, if I was going there I would not start from here, but we are where we are.
Margaret said…
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5987155.ece
Areas of Africa that have managed to reduce the spread of AIDS (such as Uganda) have not done so with condoms alone, but by using education based on christian teaching on stable, faithful relationships.
Philharmonium said…
"John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children says".... yeah, let's not question that source! It's like me telling you Mary Hardface from the Militant Secular Sex League spoke out in favour of abortion!

However, I do not deny that Catholicism has (from what I've read) been of great benefit to Ugandan society in combating HIV. It was not the sole factor in this success story though. The president (Yoweri Museveni) adopted a radical strategy and really threw his weight and the resources of the state behind an anti-aids campaign encompassing both religious groups AND condom distribution programmes. In addition, the relatively strong nature of the medical services over there (at least in the last decade or so), including a well-funded system of rural clinics capable of registering and tracking HIV sufferers has been greatly responsible for lower transmission rates. Effectively, Uganda copied successful Western HIV prevention strategies, of which promotion of abstinence was merely a part.

As the WHO puts it:

"Since 1990, a USAID-funded scheme to increase condom use through social marketing of condoms has boosted condom use from 7% nationwide to over 50% in rural areas and over 85% in urban areas. The social marketing scheme involved sales of condoms at subsidized prices or free distribution by both the government and the private sector. The scheme was also backed up by health education and other public information. Meanwhile more teenage girls reported condom use than any other age group -- a trend reflected in falling infection rates among 13-19 year old girls in Masaka, in rural Uganda. "
Margaret said…
@Physiocrat
A World Health Organisation study showed that condoms users still had a 40% relative risk of catching an STD. So if 100 people get AIDS without condoms, 40 people will get AIDS with condoms. It stands to reason that if condoms do not offer 100% protection against pregnancy they cannot offer 100% protection againts AIDS. The odds are worse than Russian Roulette.
Philharmonium said…
Anyway, I am a bit suspicious of this 'Dark Continent' stuff - after all, we are speaking about the African continent as if it were a school populated with children who we can either punish or give moral guidance to! These are adults capable of making free choices

p.s. on a non-condom related tip - can one of you please explain why Vincent Nichols keeps getting it in the neck?? I honestly don't get it!
If the Church is a hierarchy which you trust to God to ensure is arranged for the benefit of humanity, then why does one of its number get subjected to constant and vicious attacks? Why is it OK to rip into Vince and not the Pope/Holy father? Is it just because you happen to agree with one and not the other - prompting my question; if Mr. Nichols were elected Pope would you still be able to attack him like this?

I hope I'm not being rude here - but I honestly don't understand why a) he is so reviled and b) why it is OK to take wild swings at an elected Bishop. Seems a bit Anglican to me!
Philharmonium said…
Oh and I just Googled 'HIV and Philippines' to check the situation (I hope my wife doesn't see this in the web history; she'll think I am planning some seedy sex-tour!)

The first 3 hits report:
(Reuters) - The Philippines diagnosed 143 people with HIV in January -- a national high -- and the country's health secretary said on Thursday she would seek more public funds to distribute condoms among high-risk groups. [Jan, 2010]

"We're alarmed over the sudden big increase of HIV infection cases since December 2009," [the Health Secretary] said. "At the rate we are going, in three years we are going to have more than 30,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines."

"[the Health Secretary] said the government has stopped allocating funds for condoms due to church pressure. Catholic bishops helped build opposition in Congress to block a reproductive health bill that they said promoted sex education and artificial contraceptives.

"efforts to promote condom use in the poor Southeast Asian nation have raised the ire of conservative Roman Catholic bishops opposed to artificial contraception, however, threatening to worsen the already shaky relations between the government and the church."


From the Digital Journal (a Filipino online paper):

"Former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the leaders of the call center industry to pursue awareness campaigns in workplaces to stem the rise of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines.
Ople, a Senate bet in the May 2010 elections, cited the yet-unpublished study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Population Institute, which noted that in the past 10 months there was a dramatic increase in the number of young urban professionals affected by HIV/AIDS."

Yeah it looks like there are no problems in the Philippines!

Oh, and finally, lest a low rate of HIV infection or a low uptake of condoms be mistaken for an adherence to the type of sexual mores you would advocate, I cite the Asia Times:

"This [is] a country that has anywhere from half a million to 2 million sex workers, a good majority of whom don't require their customers to wear condoms. This in a nation that has more than 7 million overseas workers, separated from spouses and often engaging in risky sexual behavior. This in a country that, as of the moment, has practically no awareness program to teach the exploding population of young people about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

So, what's going on..... ?


"the bitter truth behind the incredibly low HIV/AIDS figures being dispense by the Philippine government [is that they are a fabrication] While the government proudly proclaims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has passed the Philippines by, the scope of the problem is, in fact, much larger than anyone knows. In fact . . .the Philippines couldn't possibly have such a low HIV/AIDS rate as all the ingredients of an epidemic clearly exist in the country. The Philippines is sitting on a social time bomb fueled by utter complacency and denial on the part of the government. And if something isn't done to tackle the problem soon . . . an entire generation of Filipinos may be unnecessarily decimated.....

The Catholic Church, however, sees the condom as a contraceptive device and thus bans its flock from using them. In the Philippines the Catholic Church has always held great power and their influence has led to disastrous results for awareness campaigns."
Philharmonium said…
blimin' heck - I just typed out a long message and it was too large. Anyway, to condense it slightly:

Regarding the Philippines: you really ought not to trust Church statistics on this one. I will cite you excerpts from two newspapers.
1) From the Asia Times, reviewing an expose by an Australian health-worker: [note how in the description of the sexual mores of the average Filipino the picture one gets is anything but traditionally Catholic!]

"This in a country that has anywhere from half a million to 2 million sex workers, a good majority of whom don't require their customers to wear condoms. This in a nation that has more than 7 million overseas workers, separated from spouses and often engaging in risky sexual behavior. This in a country that, as of the moment, has practically no awareness program to teach the exploding population of young people about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

Right from the book's ominous cover, it becomes clear the answers to these questions are not what government officials would want to hear.

Chapter by chapter Wilkinson systematically lays bare the bitter truth behind the incredibly low HIV/AIDS figures being dispense by the Philippine government. The 75-years-young author, who has been a crusader for social issues in the Philippines for many years, writes that, "in the investigations, the more questions that were posed, the thicker the blanket of silence came down". But through meticulous research he manages to show that while the government proudly proclaims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has passed the Philippines by, the scope of the problem is, in fact, much larger than anyone knows. In fact, Wilkinson points out, the Philippines couldn't possibly have such a low HIV/AIDS rate as all the ingredients of an epidemic clearly exist in the country. Instead, he insists, the Philippines is sitting on a social time bomb fueled by utter complacency and denial on the part of the government. And if something isn't done to tackle the problem soon, he says, an entire generation of Filipinos may be unnecessarily decimated.

he Catholic Church, however, sees the condom as a contraceptive device and thus bans its flock from using them. In the Philippines the Catholic Church has always held great power and their influence has led to disastrous results for awareness campaigns."
Philharmonium said…
Chapter by chapter Wilkinson systematically lays bare the bitter truth behind the incredibly low HIV/AIDS figures being dispense by the Philippine government. The 75-years-young author, who has been a crusader for social issues in the Philippines for many years, writes that, "in the investigations, the more questions that were posed, the thicker the blanket of silence came down". But through meticulous research he manages to show that while the government proudly proclaims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has passed the Philippines by, the scope of the problem is, in fact, much larger than anyone knows. In fact, Wilkinson points out, the Philippines couldn't possibly have such a low HIV/AIDS rate as all the ingredients of an epidemic clearly exist in the country. Instead, he insists, the Philippines is sitting on a social time bomb fueled by utter complacency and denial on the part of the government. And if something isn't done to tackle the problem soon, he says, an entire generation of Filipinos may be unnecessarily decimated.

The Catholic Church, however, sees the condom as a contraceptive device and thus bans its flock from using them. In the Philippines the Catholic Church has always held great power and their influence has led to disastrous results for awareness campaigns."

Reuters has recently reported on the bitter fruit recently harvested by this trend [http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62335B20100304]

In spite of the explosion of HIV cases "the government has stopped allocating funds for condoms due to church pressure. Catholic bishops helped build opposition in Congress to block a reproductive health bill that they said promoted sex education and artificial contraceptives. The head of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Nereo Odchimar, has criticized Cabral's policy of encouraging condom use, saying it weakens the country's moral fiber and destroys family life."

A Catholic success story? Hardly!
Philharmonium said…
Oh sorry - I though the first post was deleted. Sorry to clog up your page! Delete the posts (the Philippines one) or there will be too many to read
The Catholic Church, however, sees the condom as a contraceptive device and thus bans its flock from using them. In the Philippines the Catholic Church has always held great power and their influence has led to disastrous results for awareness campaigns."

Uh-huh...Yeah, right. Everytime a Catholic goes to bed the Church's 24 hour CCTV is there watching him so he doesn't use a condom. It's just like Big Brother. It's all wired up to the local parish priest's computer room.

If you don't want HIV, the message is don't shag randoms, practise chastity and get married. That's a bit too simple for the World which rejects the Truth concerning love and sexuality, and so it has to invent condoms so that sex can be the pleasureworld of going to Alton Towers experience it is presented to us to be.
Are you on a mission to evangelise the Faithful of Christ? Are you in the pay of Durex?

I agree with most of what the Archbishop says. The condom is a symbol of everything wrong with us. It is a symbol of our inability to commit to one loving relationship. A symbol of our failure to give ourselves totally and without reservation to another. It is a symbol of our failure to practise chastity. It is a symbol of our failure to trust in God and to live in accordance with His plan.

The condom reflects terribly badly on the whole human race. We don't have self-control, that is basically why the condom was invented. It certainly wasn't invented to 'help combat the spread of aids'.
Philharmonium said…
No, my point was that a) the Philippines is NOT a success story for the Catholic Church. It is a story of a government-Church mission to distort HIV infection rates which has produced (according tot he professionals) an epidemic of HIV by sweeping the problem under the rug. Given the way people relate to one another sexually in that part of the world (which is vastly different to the European model), an anti-condom campaign wasn't exactly a good idea. Like I say, if the Church was so successful in teaching abstinence in the Philippines, why do all traveller's tales/statistical surveys/journalistic reports point to a hedonistic blend of casual sex, prostitution, and HIV infection.

You may say the Church has a simple point, and perhaps it does. But that point clearly hasn't reached the average Filipino, who does not treat sex as a gift from God. So, what business would the church have interfering with health programmes aimed at saving lives? If it can't change sexual behaviour, and let's be honest, in the Philippines it hasn't, then maybe it should let health professionals have a go
Philharmonium said…
Margaret - can you supply the link to that WHO report? A 40% risk of contracting HIV through condom use? That is either bullsh*t or a creative misreading of the data
Philharmonium said…
Hang on though Laurence, I cited the article as saying

"The Catholic Church, however, sees the condom as a contraceptive device and thus bans its flock from using them. In the Philippines the Catholic Church has always held great power and their influence has led to disastrous results for awareness campaigns."

And you give the caustic response

"Uh-huh...Yeah, right. Everytime a Catholic goes to bed the Church's 24 hour CCTV is there watching him so he doesn't use a condom. It's just like Big Brother. It's all wired up to the local parish priest's computer room."

Well, then why discuss social matters and the Church at all?? If you take the view that the Church's teachings have no influence on parishioners then why worry about whether or not an anti-condom message is being sent by Vincent Nichols? Either the church DOES have the means to influence people or discussion is irrelevant.
Phil

Good catechesis should bring good fruits.

But, the fact remains that often it doesn't matter what a Priest says in the pulpit.

People are still subject to the same temptations as everyone else. People will always ignore good advice.

The Church was established to teach nations the truth, but it was also established primarily for the SALVATION OF SOULS, to preach repentence and to reconcile men and women to God.

The Church does not force its hand on anyone. Good and holy teaching from the pulpit is actually quite rare now, but you will find it in some areas. There are good and holy Priests but even good and holy Priests cannot 'control' their congregation.

Ultimately we have free will. We can choose between right and wrong.
Margaret said…
Hello Philharmoinium, the 40% statistic is for cumulative risk.
'Cumulative risk is the likelihood of an outcome occurring at least once, given a repeated number of risk exposures. How effectively a condom can reduce one's infection risk for a single act of sex with an infected partner is important, but what happens to the risk of infection after repeated exposures-even for always condom users-helps determine whether the uninfected partner ultimately becomes infected.
Mann et al, 34 for example, show that if one assumes a 3% slippage and breakage rate and a disease-specific infectivity of 0.50, then the expected risk reduction for one act of sex with an infected partner while using a condom correctly is 98.5%. The calculated cumulative risk of condom failure is 14% for 10 acts of sex with an infected individual, 26% for 20 acts of sex, and 37% for 30 acts.
If incorrect condom use is added to the likelihood of condom breakage and slippage, the risk of exposure and subsequent infection is also higher. According to Warner et al, 27 in a population of self-selected well-educated men who averaged more than 5 years of condom experience, 10% of all condom uses left the male user with a potential risk of infection (slippage, breakage, and incorrect use). The authors concluded: Given the level of exposure to unprotected intercourse during condom use in this population, we suspect that exposure levels may be even greater in less-experienced, less-educated populations, such as new condom users and adolescents.27
If the findings of Warner et al 27 of a 10% disease exposure rate is correct, 40% of consistent condom users would experience infection after just 10 sex acts if the disease in question has an infectivity of 0.50. Thirty acts would result in 79% being infected, even for consistent condom users. The risk of infection would be substantially higher if less than consistent condom use occurs.'
http://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/Fulltext/2002/12000/Condom_Effectiveness__Factors_That_Influence_Risk.13.aspx
Dominic Mary said…
It's perhaps regrettable that he seeks to avoid confrontational phrasing in some circumstances; but I'm not really sure that ++Vincent has strayed too far from the Holy Father's position - after all, he said quite clearly that the future of the Church might be smaller but more faithful : and he does make the important point (even if a bit indirectly) that fidelity is more important than flexibility . . .
Philharmonium said…
@ Margaret: Ah, I see. OK, so anyone who has over 30 sexual partners has a 40% cumulative risk of exposure to HIV - not quite the same thing as saying 'there is a 40% chance of getting AIDS through safe sex.'
Interestingly, you are prepared to cite the STD journal/health statistics to support that 40% claim while ignoring their innumerable other claims that condoms are an effective means of combatting STDs.

No one (or at least not me) is saying 'sleep with as many people as you can, even in an area where HIV is rife, just use a condom'. Clearly sexual restraint is going to be part of any strategy.

I am simply questioning why the Church is 'getting involved' in areas of HIV pandemic. Laurence, I can well understand your point about free will etc, but there is a difference between making an abstract ethical point and using the social power of the Church in a country such as the Philippines to encourage continued exposure to danger. Why is the Church being vocal and antagonistic about condom use in the Philippines (where people sleep around freely and clearl haven't 'understood' the place of this anti-condom message in the Thomist system of etchis) but not in, say, America? Simply because it has more power int he Philippines. Ergo, the Church is not simply making an abstract point, but is making a deeply pernicious and deadly intervention.
Look, let me be clear - if you see condoms as 'bad' because they divorce sex from procreation, then so be it - you understand that to be the function of sex and no one is stopping you.
But the Philippines, a country with 2 million prostitutes where where casual sex is the norm is not in the same situation. Teach them that to be a good Catholic is to have sex ONLY in marriage and ONLY to produce a child. Fine. That already implies that condoms should not be used; leave the rest to free will. But to simply send an anti-condom message out is a baffling act of interference
The Church is not Social Services.

Her jurisdiction is not to go around dishing out condoms and giving people personal sexual advice.

The Church preaches the Gospel. Few, if any people, are in any doubt as to what Church teaching is on sexual morality and the use of artificial contraception in marriage.

It is acceptable to say, 'this is a difficult teaching' or, 'people struggle with this teaching', but that doesn't mean that the Church's message is unambiguous.

And I would re-iterate, the rates of HIV in the UK alone would dwindle if the Church's teaching on sexual morality were practised widely.

Faithfulness, chastity to those unmarried, constancy in marriage, the life of prayer, the life of the Sacraments - these are what will reduce the HIV rates in the UK and beyond.

The condom, far from helping the problem merely encourages promiscuity, sexual licence and recklessness. If you have any doubt about that just watch an episode of Channel 4's 'Skins'. That's what young people watch - that's what young people do - and as far as I can see, with rates of 200,000 abortions a year - the message of 'safe sex' is NOT working!
You don't have to go to Thailand to talk about this Phil. Our culture is highly sexualised and that is what we are raising children in. 10 years time, things will be much, much worse.
I'll bet you I can fine more than one gay man in Brighton who got HIV even though he was wearing a condom.

After all - they split. I've known friends who got pregnant. Why? The condom split!

I'm not making this a gay issue - just talking from a local perspective and from people I know.

The government's emphasis on 'safe sex' only sends more teenagers to Marie Stopes. Marie Stopes fund the 'safe sex' line because they know full well more abortions will be the result.

I can offer you some further information which is pretty good evidence that the 'contraception' and the sexualisation of the young has been a tactic used by more than one 'family planning association'.
Philharmonium said…
Well it should stop giving out medicines and close all Catholic schools and hospitals, then it can stick to preaching the gospels like you want it to.

But anyway, I didn't say the Church was a social service, or that it should give out condoms (God forbid!). The article above clearly states that condom distribution services were banned from parishes in the Philippines. That is a different matter.

"And I would re-iterate, the rates of HIV in the UK alone would dwindle if the Church's teaching on sexual morality were practised widely."

Yes, it would fall to zero (presuming intravenous drug use stopped as well). But the Church's teaching are not followed, because the majority are not Catholic. In the Philippines, where the majority ARE Catholic, its teachings are still not followed. Go figure. Anyway, I am saying the anti-condom message is confused. All the Church needs to say is the function of sex is procreation within marriage. That is a clearer expression of its teachings.

p.s., If you use 'Skins' as your bench-mark for contemporary social values then you are a rather deluded fellow! It's like me using 'The Magdalene Sisters' as my point of reference for understanding Catholicism. It is designed to shock, don't base your worldview on it

p.p.s., I just realised, 'skin' is a term for a condom. Is that why the show is called Skins?? I never really thought about it - I probably just presumed it meant rolling papers or something.
Nuns, missionaries and other religious communities care for the sick. That's their vocation - its what Our Lord TOLD us to do directly. It is a work of Mercy to alleviate the suffering of the afflicted.

The idea that a parish Church would give out condoms would be the totally wrong message, since the Church cannot approve of fornication or the use of artificial contraception in marriage. I'm sorry Phil but some things are just plain obvious.

Remember the Church is there to save Souls, not to encourage vice.
Philharmonium said…
I'm not saying they should give out condoms!!! But you do agree now, the Church IS a social service!
Philharmonium said…
Well I'm not sure how being gay works. You're talking to a man who has slept with two women in his life; his wife and one other as a young and foolish student some 15 years ago. That said, I don't see why you can't distinguish between the ethical system you employ in your life and the health care requisite for others. You remind me a lot of the hysterical anti-smoking lobby who complain about smokers getting NHS treatment (I know you smoke, it's just an analogy): they can't distinguish between their personal dislike of smoking and the necessity to provide surgery for those who have freely chosen to take the risks associated with it. Banning operations for smokers seems to me to be beside the point, a bit like trying to ban condoms in areas where the Church has a foothold. It doesn't encourage morality or committment to Church teachings, the net level of personal sin remains the same, just more people get HIV and leave orphans. Seems a bit silly to even argue about it really, I can't believe you would WANT anyone to die of HIV, so closing your eyes to the overwhelming medical evidence of effective combined strategies (such as Uganda) is a bit daft
No, the Church is not a social service. It is the instrument of salvation. The works of mercy She performs are a result of Her being a 'city built upon a hill' a 'light to the World'. Works of mercy are salvific to those in receipt of mercy and those who give them.

The Church is about as successful at governing the sexual lives of Her members as it is of governing the murder rate of the mafia - She can't. People have free will. People can choose to accept or reject Her teaching.
Philharmonium said…
Right, but then if the government wanted to crack down on the mafia I wouldn't expect the Church to say 'that is forbidden; leave it to their free will'. Which is what it IS doing when governments try to crack down on HIV/AIDS. Silly man

OK, one last try:

a) Condoms are forbidden because they divorce sex from its procreative function

b) A man who sleeps with a prostitute does not intend to produce a child, therefore he divorces sex from its procreative function

c) This man has sinned whether or not he uses a condom - it is the same sin

d) However, if he refuses to use a condom, or if condoms are generally unavailable, he may contract HIV and pass it on to his wife and their child (the number of HIV orphans in Africa and Asia is a staggeringly grim testament to this phenomenon)

e) Banning condoms in this case would not stop sin, it would only cost lives

f) The Church is complicit in the spread of HIV on these grounds
Margaret said…
@Philharmonium
You do not need 30 sexual partners to expose yourself to a cumulative risk. My original post was in response to Physiocrat's concern for a women married to an unfaithful AIDS infected husband who would be exposed to cumulative risk if the husband insisted on continuing a sexual relationship despite the danger. And why wouldn't I use sources which provide facts which so strongly support the Pope's 'controversial' statements, even if the bodies which produce them choose to give out such dangerous advice despite their own research.
The Church is not organised enough to 'crack down on condoms' or launch a 'War on Condoms'!

The Church can't even organise, from the top down, the Latin Mass to be celebrated in every Diocese in Britain.

The Church struggles even to organise a Papal Visit.

Condoms are secular governments very myopic solution to the spread of HIV, sexual diseases, 'unwanted pregnancies' and even to the point of family planning. This is the Government's 'solution'. It is failing the nation, each nation, abysmally, since the answer to the effects of sexual promiscuity is chastity - not more sex using condoms which, as we know, can and do fail.

The Church's solution is more holistic, person-centred, or rather God-centred, encouraging people, Catholics first and foremost, to strive to live in accordance with the Will of God, in which and in Whom is all wisdom. This means...

OK, one last try:

a) Condoms are forbidden because they divorce sex from its procreative function.

Indeed. The use of contraception in marriage is something to be brought to Confession. It is to be discouraged because it divorces God from His sovereign creative right.

b) A man who sleeps with a prostitute does not intend to produce a child, therefore he divorces sex from its procreative function.

Yes, he does. Since when did the Church encourage either prostitution or soliciting their services? If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute or instead goes back and takes care of his missus then he's doing himself, God, his wife and the prostitute a favour.

c) This man has sinned whether or not he uses a condom - it is the same sin.

Indeed. He should get himself to Confession pronto and confess to both sins.

d) However, if he refuses to use a condom, or if condoms are generally unavailable, he may contract HIV and pass it on to his wife and their child (the number of HIV orphans in Africa and Asia is a staggeringly grim testament to this phenomenon).

It isn't up to nuns to give prostitutes or those soliciting their services condoms since they are not to encourage prostitution or any vice, but encourage them to give up prostitution and love God. If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute then he can save himself the consequences, grave though they are, that you now posit.

e) Banning condoms in this case would not stop sin, it would only cost lives.

No. What cost lives is his demeaning of women by seeking them purely for sex to satisfy his personal lusts. If he doesn't do this then he shall not suffer, nor will he makes his wife suffer nor her poor child suffer the consequences. The father and husband has responsibilities to his wife.

Besides, has the Thai government banned condoms? I think not! After all, they know how much money sex tourism brings in, don't they?

f) The Church is complicit in the spread of HIV on these grounds.

No, because the Church suggests very wisely that a man has sex with his wife only. The Church is not culpable for the man's sin, nor the woman's sin nor their illicit sexual act. It is not responsible for his betrayal of his wife nor for the catching of any sexual diseases which may result from the man sleeping with a woman who is paid to sleep with men. They are all adults and they can choose between right and wrong. Perhaps this is what annoys you. We play with fire, we get burned.
The Church is not organised enough to 'crack down on condoms' or launch a 'War on Condoms'!

The Church can't even organise, from the top down, the Latin Mass to be celebrated in every Diocese in Britain.

The Church struggles even to organise a Papal Visit.

Condoms are secular governments very myopic solution to the spread of HIV, sexual diseases, 'unwanted pregnancies' and even to the point of family planning. This is the Government's 'solution'. It is failing the nation, each nation, abysmally, since the answer to the effects of sexual promiscuity is chastity - not more sex using condoms which, as we know, can and do fail.

The Church's solution is more holistic, person-centred, or rather God-centred, encouraging people, Catholics first and foremost, to strive to live in accordance with the Will of God, in which and in Whom is all wisdom. This means...

OK, one last try:

a) Condoms are forbidden because they divorce sex from its procreative function.

Indeed. The use of contraception in marriage is something to be brought to Confession. It is to be discouraged because it divorces God from His sovereign creative right.

b) A man who sleeps with a prostitute does not intend to produce a child, therefore he divorces sex from its procreative function.

Yes, he does. Since when did the Church encourage either prostitution or soliciting their services? If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute or instead goes back and takes care of his missus then he's doing himself, God, his wife and the prostitute a favour.

c) This man has sinned whether or not he uses a condom - it is the same sin.

Indeed. He should get himself to Confession pronto and confess to both sins.

d) However, if he refuses to use a condom, or if condoms are generally unavailable, he may contract HIV and pass it on to his wife and their child (the number of HIV orphans in Africa and Asia is a staggeringly grim testament to this phenomenon).

It isn't up to nuns to give prostitutes or those soliciting their services condoms since they are not to encourage prostitution or any vice, but encourage them to give up prostitution and love God. If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute then he can save himself the consequences, grave though they are, that you now posit.

e) Banning condoms in this case would not stop sin, it would only cost lives.

No. What cost lives is his demeaning of women by seeking them purely for sex to satisfy his personal lusts. If he doesn't do this then he shall not suffer, nor will he makes his wife suffer nor her poor child suffer the consequences. The father and husband has responsibilities to his wife.

Besides, has the Thai government banned condoms? I think not! After all, they know how much money sex tourism brings in, don't they?

f) The Church is complicit in the spread of HIV on these grounds.

No, because the Church suggests very wisely that a man has sex with his wife only. The Church is not culpable for the man's sin, nor the woman's sin nor their illicit sexual act. It is not responsible for his betrayal of his wife nor for the catching of any sexual diseases which may result from the man sleeping with a woman who is paid to sleep with men. They are all adults and they can choose between right and wrong. Perhaps this is what annoys you. We play with fire, we get burned.
The Church is not organised enough to 'crack down on condoms' or launch a 'War on Condoms'!

The Church can't even organise, from the top down, the Latin Mass to be celebrated in every Diocese in Britain.

The Church struggles even to organise a Papal Visit.

Condoms are secular governments very myopic solution to the spread of HIV, sexual diseases, 'unwanted pregnancies' and even to the point of family planning. This is the Government's 'solution'. It is failing the nation, each nation, abysmally, since the answer to the effects of sexual promiscuity is chastity - not more sex using condoms which, as we know, can and do fail.

The Church's solution is more holistic, person-centred, or rather God-centred, encouraging people, Catholics first and foremost, to strive to live in accordance with the Will of God, in which and in Whom is all wisdom. This means...

OK, one last try:

a) Condoms are forbidden because they divorce sex from its procreative function.

Indeed. The use of contraception in marriage is something to be brought to Confession. It is to be discouraged because it divorces God from His sovereign creative right.

b) A man who sleeps with a prostitute does not intend to produce a child, therefore he divorces sex from its procreative function.

Yes, he does. Since when did the Church encourage either prostitution or soliciting their services? If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute or instead goes back and takes care of his missus then he's doing himself, God, his wife and the prostitute a favour.

c) This man has sinned whether or not he uses a condom - it is the same sin.

Indeed. He should get himself to Confession pronto and confess to both sins.

d) However, if he refuses to use a condom, or if condoms are generally unavailable, he may contract HIV and pass it on to his wife and their child (the number of HIV orphans in Africa and Asia is a staggeringly grim testament to this phenomenon).

It isn't up to nuns to give prostitutes or those soliciting their services condoms since they are not to encourage prostitution or any vice, but encourage them to give up prostitution and love God. If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute then he can save himself the consequences, grave though they are, that you now posit.

e) Banning condoms in this case would not stop sin, it would only cost lives.

No. What cost lives is his demeaning of women by seeking them purely for sex to satisfy his personal lusts. If he doesn't do this then he shall not suffer, nor will he makes his wife suffer nor her poor child suffer the consequences. The father and husband has responsibilities to his wife.

Besides, has the Thai government banned condoms? I think not! After all, they know how much money sex tourism brings in, don't they?

f) The Church is complicit in the spread of HIV on these grounds.

No, because the Church suggests very wisely that a man has sex with his wife only. The Church is not culpable for the man's sin, nor the woman's sin nor their illicit sexual act. It is not responsible for his betrayal of his wife nor for the catching of any sexual diseases which may result from the man sleeping with a woman who is paid to sleep with men. They are all adults and they can choose between right and wrong. Perhaps this is what annoys you. We play with fire, we get burned.
The Church is not organised enough to 'crack down on condoms' or launch a 'War on Condoms'!

The Church can't even organise, from the top down, the Latin Mass to be celebrated in every Diocese in Britain.

The Church struggles even to organise a Papal Visit.

Condoms are secular governments very myopic solution to the spread of HIV, sexual diseases, 'unwanted pregnancies' and even to the point of family planning. This is the Government's 'solution'. It is failing the nation, each nation, abysmally, since the answer to the effects of sexual promiscuity is chastity - not more sex using condoms which, as we know, can and do fail.

The Church's solution is more holistic, person-centred, or rather God-centred, encouraging people, Catholics first and foremost, to strive to live in accordance with the Will of God, in which and in Whom is all wisdom. This means...

OK, one last try:

a) Condoms are forbidden because they divorce sex from its procreative function.

Indeed. The use of contraception in marriage is something to be brought to Confession. It is to be discouraged because it divorces God from His sovereign creative right.

b) A man who sleeps with a prostitute does not intend to produce a child, therefore he divorces sex from its procreative function.

Yes, he does. Since when did the Church encourage either prostitution or soliciting their services? If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute or instead goes back and takes care of his missus then he's doing himself, God, his wife and the prostitute a favour.

c) This man has sinned whether or not he uses a condom - it is the same sin.

Indeed. He should get himself to Confession pronto and confess to both sins.
d) However, if he refuses to use a condom, or if condoms are generally unavailable, he may contract HIV and pass it on to his wife and their child (the number of HIV orphans in Africa and Asia is a staggeringly grim testament to this phenomenon).

It isn't up to nuns to give prostitutes or those soliciting their services condoms since they are not to encourage prostitution or any vice, but encourage them to give up prostitution and love God. If the man doesn't sleep with the prostitute then he can save himself the consequences, grave though they are, that you now posit.

e) Banning condoms in this case would not stop sin, it would only cost lives.

No. What cost lives is his demeaning of women by seeking them purely for sex to satisfy his personal lusts. If he doesn't do this then he shall not suffer, nor will he makes his wife suffer nor her poor child suffer the consequences. The father and husband has responsibilities to his wife.

Besides, has the Thai government banned condoms? I think not! After all, they know how much money sex tourism brings in, don't they?

f) The Church is complicit in the spread of HIV on these grounds.

No, because the Church suggests very wisely that a man has sex with his wife only. The Church is not culpable for the man's sin, nor the woman's sin nor their illicit sexual act. It is not responsible for his betrayal of his wife nor for the catching of any sexual diseases which may result from the man sleeping with a woman who is paid to sleep with men. They are all adults and they can choose between right and wrong. Perhaps this is what annoys you. We play with fire, we get burned.
Philharmonium said…
Firstly, it is the Philippines we are discussing not Thailand. Secondly, I wasn't suggesting that the man who sleeps with a prostitute is an innocent bystander, I was simply acknowledging that in a country with 2 million prostitutes, it must be a popular pastime. Thirdly, the Church can't advise these 2 million prostitutes to 'give up sin and embrace God'. Do you have ANY understanding of how the world works outside of Brighton and Hove? Those 2 million Filipinio prostitutes aren't merely 'bad eggs' who haven't embraced the gospels. They are relied upon to provide for their familes in a world where their bodies are their only means of making money.

The debate here is quite simple - let's not get off topic. In the Philippines, the Church was ACTIVELY INVOLVED in STOPPING the distribution of condoms to prostitutes. It was not ACTIVE in STOPPING prostitution itself. Therefore it was complicit in the spread of HIV.
'Thirdly, the Church can't advise these 2 million prostitutes to 'give up sin and embrace God'.'

Indeed, but it can advise the entire World population to 'give up sin and embrace God'. The Pope does this regularly, I believe.

I wasn't judging the prostitutes. The greater guilt, surely, is with those men betraying their wives while on business trips abroad.

Phil. I do not believe, for one moment, that nuns were raiding brothels and removing condoms on pain of death.

Condoms are not available at the back of the local parish Church. Prostitutes going to Mass would not expect the Church to be providing condoms to anyone. Please, give prostitutes who are Catholics some degree of intelligence! They go to Church to pray and to do what Catholics go - not to pick up contraceptives.

And I repeat - condoms do fail. If I know people whose condoms have failed, I'm sure there are plenty of people in the Phillapines whose condoms fail. Besides - don't we usually send them the cheap ones?
Your entire argument collapses if the condom splits Phil. Beneath that instant moment when that incident occurs is not a shred of morality, though you dress it up as compassion. Its bullshit and, what is more, its the bullshit our Government spends billions every year promoting.
What you are proposing is vice, sin and moral evils and their natural effects (sexual diseases) being lessened or mitigated somehow by condoms. You are trying to protect people with condoms, yet you are only putting plasters on a gaping wound.

Yet condoms do not get to the heart of the matter. It is the human heart in which choices are made. That is what Jesus Christ is interested in! The heart of man, man's salvation, man's redemption!

Jesus Christ would never cheapen our great Dignity as His adopted sons by dishing out condoms to all. He wouldn't want that for us, nor for the prostitutes you describe. He wants us, BODY and SOUL and He wants us to give to Him the gift of our bodies and our souls - that is the gift of a Priest to God and a Nun to God and also between spouses in Marriage as well!
Physiocrat said…
There is another issue around all this - poverty. That is why there are so many prostitutes in some countries. There is major economic injustice, institutionalised. That is the greater sin.

And what does the church say and do about it? Very little. It preached against the evils of communism but with a few honourable exceptions has always supported the ruling unjust economic structures. The Social Teaching encyclicals are good as far as they go, but they fail to spell the situation out as clearly as they might. In fact, it is hard work to extract anything solid out of them that could be used as the basis to develop policies that were in accord with economic justice.

The fundamental cause of poverty everywhere is one and the same - landlessness. The landless have no option but to work for whatever wages a landowner will offer them, or else pay rent to the landowner for the privilege of working on the land. And who made this land? God made it.

Now when has the church spelled this out plainly? And why not? A clue was revealed a few days ago. The church has substantial property empires which are used to support various activities. And so it has vested interest in protecting its revenue stream.

Last Sunday's readings were about missionaries being sent out with little more than the clothes on their back. Isn't it time we returned to this model and divested ourselves of property empires so that we were free to preach the truth about economics?
georgem said…
I'm afraid the Archbishop reminds me of a man who espouses the views of the last person he speaks with. It might be the Pope, or a BBC reporter, or Chris Patten, or Oonah Stannard or CMOC.
Hence he agrees with everyone and no-one and when asked to give a response which actually reflects his beliefs appears stumped and in grave danger of coming over as shifty and evasive.
Maybe one day there'll be an Archbishop of Westminster of some intellect who doesn't want to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
How long, O Lord, how long?
Natasa said…
The Archbishop sounds like a good politician. Ouch. It may get him somewhere in this wildly anti-Catholic country but such vagueness on relevant issues is not helping the Church.