Does the Principle of Double Effect Work for Infertility?

Yes, indeed it does.

If one of a married couple is infertile or becomes infertile, the principle of double effect comes into operation and holds theological water, in stark contrast to condoms.

This is because while the outcome of sexual intercourse is known not to result in new life due to one partner lacking fecundity, no practical attempt has been made, either through intention or application, through the employment of a barrier between spouses, to thwart the creation of new life or to restrict or inhibit total self-giving in marriage.

It is not the sin of the couple that means that no new life will come about, because they are fulfilling the unitive purpose of sexual intercourse within marriage.

St Gerard Majella: Patron of the infertile
Furthermore, the couple do not defy God's sovereign power or the supernatural gifts of God, in as much as history bears witness to the power of the intercession of the Saints in granting, by their prayers, to a number of couples, the number of which is not negligible, who piously adhere to popular devotions, encouraged by Holy Mother Church, that which is impossible for man, because such gifts are both possible and easy for God.

For just as condoms are not 100% effective and have a failure rate, the number of which is rather conveniently unquantifiable, so it is true to say that many couples have found that either one or the other is not 100% infertile. Therefore, they are still, despite diagnosis, in principle, open to the possibility of new life.


Theresa of the villa said…
But the Holy Father complained not about the use of sex for non-procreative purposes, but about the "banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves." Note that - "no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love." What a sweet and ennobling sentiment. I don't wish to be aggressive, but perhaps the unmarried or out of love (if that expression makes sense) have difficulty in understanding the millions of faithful Catholics who DO see sex as an expression of love, an innocent and tender way of celebrating their holy matrimony. You seem to render sex banal, not be engaging in it excessively, but by assuming it is a mechanical act solely for the production of a child. Admittedly this does NOT change Church teaching, he was offering his private opinion. But hey, if it's good enough for the successor to Peter, it's good enough for me

Can you not see that the 'expression of love', however well-intentioned, using a condom in whatever circumstances, does, objectively speaking, turn the marital act into a sort of drug that people administer to themselves', in total contradiction to Church teaching, because the use of the condom changes the marital act from sexual union, to mutual masturbation.

Have a read of the link from which I have drawn the quote below:

'I have further argued that the condomized intercourse of HIV-discordant spouses is non-marital
because it is not apt for generation (proles), for marital union (fides) or for spiritual communion (sacramentum). Whether or not it is contraceptive – and condomized intercourse often is – it is clearly not conjugal.

To admit that condoms might be used by HIV-discordant couples would bring into question a great deal of Catholic teaching about sexuality and marriage, contradict the 1977 Decree of the CDF,66 and make incoherent the Magisterium in this area from Casti connubii and Humanæ vitæ through to John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and beyond.67'
Theresa of the villa said…
I see your point (though I'm not sure what you mean by "objectively speaking" - you mean presumably accoring to a "subjective" point of view that you happen to share, i.e. Rev. Fisher's? if not perhaps you can qualify why non-procreative sex is 'objectively' speaking turning sex into a banal act. What is the objective fact you have apprehended here that transcends your own view?)

the problem is, the pope has clearly indicated that non-procreative sex is not inherently banal. Banal sex, he seems to suggest (and I quite agree) is the use of the body for mere pleasure. But the use of the body as a path to the soul, to deepen a matrimonial bond as a way of maintaining family harmony, is not to render sex banal. For example, the jewish tradition of couples having sex on a Saturday would fall within this idea - the point is not to make sex banal, but to express their rightful love in a natural way. Is it not natural for a married couple to be in love? if not I don't know what is
I think you are picking the bits of the Holy Father's interview that you like, but dismissing the bits you do not like. You will accuse me of doing the same, I am sure, but, given that he does not even mention married couples, how can you presume he is discussing them?
'If not perhaps you can qualify why non-procreative sex is 'objectively' speaking turning sex into a banal act. What is the objective fact you have apprehended here that transcends your own view?'

The 'banality' or not, of some sexual activity, is not really a matter of Church teaching. Church teaching is good and evil and distinguishing the difference between the two. Church teaching is concerning sin and salvation.

Objectively speaking, the use of the condom is not 'banal', but 'disordered' and 'contrary to natural law'. Ironically, the Church would speak, traditionally about condoms, in the same way in which the Church speaks about homosexual acts.

'Intrinsically disordered, against nature, objective moral disorder. Etc, etc'
Theresa of the villa said…
Of course I am, but I do think it significant that a pope spoke, albeit off the official record, in a way that appeared to contrast banal hedonistic and loveless sex with loving and non-banal sex. Had he wanted to insist ont he distinctiony ou make there would have been no need to do this. He could quite easily have repeated the line that any non-procreative sex is wrong. He didn't.

p.s., on your double-effect argument, I am still not sure how this applies to couples who choose the infertile period of the cycle to have sex. They are not intending to produce a child, but to have sex. As such, you must say their intent is evil. But the church does not say this
Theresa of the villa said…
Ok, so I misread you (or read properly but we got confused.) You did say that "objectively speaking" using a condom "turn[s] the marital act into a sort of drug". This is not an objective fact. it is your own opinion (and the opinion of an unmarried man I might add). Millions of faithfully married couples with families of their own will tell you that their sex lives do NOT render sex a drug, they accord sex a place in the maintainence of the couple's affections (and therefore of the stability of the family unit) that you seem unprepared to acknowledge. One day i hope you will find true non-banal earthly love you will realise how important this is. For my part I would say it might be an earthly matter to love my husband, it might be a sin to love his company in a way that doeasn't produce children. So be it, marital love is a sin I can live with
Re: Infertile periods.

Because those couples fulfil the unitive dimension of the conjugal act, whereas those who use condoms fail, totally, to fulfil either the unitive or procreative dimensions of the conjugal act.

I fear your position is not compatible with Church teaching. It is nice. It is a misty eyed, romantic view of what constitutes love and love making in the modern era. It is not, however, sexual intercourse according to the traditional teaching of the Church.
By the way, the HF can complain about...

'the banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves'...

without endorsing the use of condoms within marriage.

Can you explain to me why you see this as some hidden code for 'you can use condoms in marriage when one partner is HIV positive'?
Theresa of the villa said…
By unitive purpose you mean what exactly?

OK, so let's get this straight, you advise a young married couple to see sex as a necessary evil intended solely for the production of children, and that any warmth of love is merely a 'misty eyed' modernism? You assume therefore that, hitherto recent times, no one regarded sex as an expression of love?

Can I just take a wild guess here - you've never actually experienced authentic romantic love toward another human being have you? I suspect you're not the best person to interpret the way loving couples with children should behave with one another
Theresa of the villa said…
I never once mentioned HIV, you've got that ont he brain. I only said the HF indicated that love was an appropriate dimension of human sexuality, a dimensiont hat was overlooked by the sex-crazed secular world. To stand against the promiscuity of the World and its obsession with sex does not mean that I have to stand against sex in general. God made sex pleasurable and emptionally fulfilling (again, many married couples will tell you this). I'm not talking about condoms as such even, I'm merely celebrating the fact that the HF noted love (and not necessarily procreative love) could be a legitimate element of sex. I'll put it this way, we are (relatively) young, have two children and both have to work to support the family. I don't see renouncing sex as necessary under those circumstances. We haven't abused sex, or rendered it banal. We used it to start a family as God intended. Why must my husband and I therefore remain celibate until we can afford another child?

also, bear in mind there is (unfortunately) an economic dimension to life these days. When Aquinas wrote it was common for families in a then predominantly agicultural society to have ten or so children. Children came with the seasons as a natural part of life. I live in a down at the heel city and have to work, I am not in a position to live like that. None of this implies I am rendering sex banal
I did not say sex was a 'necessary evil for the production of children'.

Nowhere did I use that phrase. I can tell that you are losing this argument because you are now being deliberately misleading about what I have said, or have, perhaps, misunderstood.

I am saying that defending condom use in marriage, which is neither procreative nor unitive, therefore is gravely sinful, defies the whole meaning of sex within marriage - that of uniting a couple sexually (one flesh) in the marital act (a truly wonderful and holy thing, as Pope John Paul II made clear. Yes, Popes think sex is great) and more, removes the couple's status as 'co-creators' in being open to new life.

It's two sins for the price of one condom and as we know, the wages of sin is death, and the price of sin is the blood of Christ who died for it upon the Cross. Therefore, should we do it we should go to Confession.

In conclusion, seeing that the foundation of your argument is crumbling (for you have not built it on 'Rock') you took a 'wild guess' about me and my personal life and I can confirm that you were very wrong.
So you are describing a situation in which a Catholic couple should use NFP.

Apparently its far more accurate and far effective than artificial contraception anyway.

Using NFP does not run contrary to Church teaching either.
Theresa of the villa said…
I'm not losing an argument. I'm not really having an argument that can be lost. I will continue to see sex as a natural and healthy part of married love. You can do what you want.

how is it not unitive? Define that please

i do not need a foundation for love, only the lonely do. I have God and Pope benedict on my side
Theresa of the villa said…
1) where do you get your data from? Can you show me a single study that will affirm NFP is a more effective method of contraception than condoms correctly used?

2) But the point is that if NFP is OK with the Church, why can't a Catholic square condom use witht heir conscience? The intention is the same.

I have no doubt it is essentil to have a Church producing logical and consistent rules for its followers. But I also have no doubt that the Church assumes the good will of the individual follower. No doubt it is useful to some people to think in terms of inflexible rules holding the cosmos together. But those people, I presume, are the rudest rule breakers there are. If repeating a mantra of abstract rules you cannot live by helps soothe your guilty soul then so be it

'A natural family planning method is as effective as the contraceptive pill, German research suggests.

The symptothermal method (STM) assesses fertility levels during the monthly cycle by measuring body temperature, and observing cervical secretions.

The Human Reproduction study found using STM correctly led to a rate of 0.4 pregnancies per 100 women per year.

UK experts said natural family planning was effective - provided it was taught properly and carried out correctly.

A University of Heidelberg team assessed STM in a study of 900 women.

The lowest pregnancy rate was found among women who abstained from sex during their most fertile period, as defined by STM.'

Will that satisfy you?

It is not the same as condom use since it fulfils the unitive dimension of marital sex. Gosh. How many times does it have to be said?

JPII certainly didn't see the 'Theology of the Body' as being 'abstract'. He saw it as the full expression of Christian love in marriage. If anything contributes to the 'banal' way in which sex is treated in Western society, it is dependence upon the condom and the pill.
Theresa of the villa said…
gosh, one last try:

DEFINE the unitive dimension of marital sex

hadn't seen that study. I stand corrected. Now if only every married couple could have access to expensive and time consuming medical tests...
Well Theresa, can anyone really blame the Faithful when almost no priests preach about it and while in the Church in England and Wales, there is at Diocesan and parish level, tacit consent and widespread acceptance of the use of condoms and total ignorance of NFP?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158

These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.

In contrast, "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 :159

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.160

2371 "Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of transmitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference to man's eternal destiny."161

Define unitave? In this context? I'll give it a go.

The uniting, bodily, physically, spiritually and emotionally, without any reservation, of the spouses. The total giving of self between married partners during sexual intercourse.

The article I referred to earlier got it right when it said that many now see sex as 'an extreme form of kiss'.
Theresa of the villa said…
I hereby renounce Catholicism as the jesuitical insanity of celibate men.
'How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!'

I would urge you not to give up. We may be poor sinners, in this vale of tears, but Our Lord did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. The Church is the hospital of sinners, Theresa, not a gilded gallery of Saints.
For all have fallen short of the Glory of God.
We are all in the same boat. We all need God's saving help. I've personally never found the forgiveness of sins too controversial.
Observato Romano said…
Today Sandro Magister in his Chiesa blog at L'Espresso in Rome, published the following quotation from the Pope's book which I think is directly related to the question of condoms, and cuts more deeply to the heart of the matter:

''The perspectives of "Humanae Vitae" remain valid, but it is another thing to find humanly accessible paths. I believe that there will always be minorities that are deeply persuaded of the correctness of those perspectives and that, in living them, will be so fully rewarded that they will become for others a fascinating model to follow. We are sinners. But we should not take this fact as evidence against the truth, when that high moral standard is not met. We should seek to do all the good possible, and sustain and support one another. To express all of this from the pastoral, theological, and conceptual point of view as well in the context of current sexology and anthropological research is a great task to which we must be more and better dedicated.''
Mike said…
Can someone else butt in here? I’ve read all through this interchange and I have to admit that I haven’t understood all of it. But there are a few things that seemed a bit odd.

Firstly, Theresa seems to have a bit of a problem with celibate men laying out what married couples should do. Hmmn! Does that mean that Theresa has a problem with Jesus laying down how married couples should behave? Or a Pope?

Then there is this bit:
“I have no doubt it is essential to have a Church producing logical and consistent rules for its followers. But I also have no doubt that the Church assumes the good will of the individual follower. No doubt it is useful to some people to think in terms of inflexible rules holding the cosmos together.”

Well, it is not the Church that “produces” the rules. The Church merely passes on the rules laid down by God.
I don’t know whether the Church “assumes the good will of the individual follower” although it might be more important to know what God “assumes”. But what do we mean by “good will”? The Nazis probably thought they were acting from “good will”. A certain lady who was recently in court for killing her son certainly thought that she was acting in “good will”. It might be a little too easy to think that we can get away with ignoring God’s Commandments because we think that we are acting from “good will”. So, if someone comes to Confession and says “I’ve just killed my mother and my motive was to put her out of her misery” I don’t think (or I hope not, anyway) that the priest will say, “That’s OK. You were acting with good will.”
As to inflexible rules, I would have thought that the Ten Commandments are pretty inflexible although there are circumstances where one person is allowed to kill another. And I can’t say that I remember any part of the Bible where it says that all that God wants is that we act from “good will”.

Finally Theresa comes to the conclusion (or appears to) that Laurence is correct in what he says about Church teaching on condoms and says that she renounces Catholicism. This, if true, would be a pity. If we believe that God exists, that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus founded the Church (the Catholic Church) and that He guaranteed that that Church will not err then we cannot reject the Church just because we don’t like a particular doctrine. If Theresa renounces Catholicism she renounces the guarantee which Jesus gave Peter. Is she going to do that because she does not like a particular doctrine? Was her belief in Jesus’ promise based on her understanding of something to do with sex in marriage or was it based on something more fundamental? If we are Catholics we do our best to understand the Church’s teaching but we do not examine each doctrine in order to decide for ourselves whether or not we believe it.

Just as an aside, when I go on holiday to Bavaria I sometimes visit places where they have preserved old houses and the furniture which went in them. I have been intrigued to find that very often there are two beds in the main bedroom. I sometimes wonder how they produced families – bit of a squash and all that. But, presumably that’s how they practised “natural family planning” in those days.. (Incidentally, even today, a “double” bed in Germany is like two single beds joined together. I don’t envy German married couples.)
georgem said…
The unitive part of the sexual act is that the man and woman are absolutely united in one flesh. The use of a condom prevents this. It is a barrier to becoming one flesh.
Bombadil said…
The arguement over NFP vs artificial contraception appears to be coming from a slightly distorted basis here, that is not kaking the issue, as seen by the Church, any clearer.
As far as I can see it, nothing has been said of the fact that we are to see life received through marriage as GIFT from God, rather than something the couple reaches out to take. This is naturally the same distortion that has lead us to difficulties with IVF.
Anyway, once this is taken into account, the matter is clearer, as it is further divorced from the intentions of the couple. In NFP, in the case that the couple intend to avoid the conception of a child, they partake in the full unitive aspect of sex (which is by definition open to life) at a time when the gift of a child may not be offered.
In the case of the use of artificial contraceptives however, this is clearly the flat rejection of the gift of life.
Note that in the case of NFP, selfish intentions on the part of the couple may make its practice sinful. By its very nature however, artificial contaception is always wrong.
santoeusebio said…
Theresa: Don't be ridiculous - you cannot possibly apostatize on a blog!

Anyway your use of the word Jesuitical is utterly wrong. The Jesuits were notorious for finding "cases" (casuistry) which excused any sin in the book. Read Blaise Pascal's "Lettres Provinciales". One of the greatest underminers of Humanae Vitae was Archbishop Roberts SJ of Bombay. (By the way has anybody heard of any Jesuits lately?)

Nicolas Bellord
catholic pragmatist said…
Ho ho ho, lozza! I've just popped back to say you're wrong, wrong, wrong! Ler me rub it in your face, my son! The pope via the vatican has just clarified that the pope's remarks also apply to females. It is now an open matter according to catholic teaching as to whether it is morally preferable to use a condom as a method of disease prevention (rather than primarilly for contraception) when couples (heterosexual or heterosexual, or even transexual) engage in sexual relations. It is not even necessary for one of them to know they are hiv-positive - it is sufficient that they use a condom to prevent the possibility of hiv-infection if that is a realistic possinility (which it is in our modern world).

''News just breaking: the Vatican has confirmed that the Pope’s comments about condoms also apply to women. Here’s the key quote from Fr Lombardi:

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “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,” Lombardi said.''

Similarly, if it morally permissable for a non-married hetero or homosexual couple to use a condom in certain circumstances then it is equally so for a married couple where one partner is known to be hiv.

The pope hasn't changed authoratative catholic teaching but by his comments he has made it clear (ie clarification) that humanae vitae applies to condoms as a contraceptive device rather than a method of disease prevention. It is now an open matter in official church teaching regarding whether using a condom to prevent hiv-infection is morally justified when a couple do not feel they can practice abstenance. As such individuals catholic may discern their own consciences and do that which they think is morally right. Catholic aid workers, priests and religious, as well as theologians can now openly debate the isssue - and have a responsibility to explain the church's open stance about this in reflection to the couple's individual circumstances. They have a duty to present an even handed explanation of the moral issues and not present a doctrinaire one-sided position.

Can you please now eat your words. I hope it does not cause you to loose your faith. The matter seems to have hit a raw nerve with you as you have published 6 postings on this in less than 2 days. However, it is clear from the most recent clarification that your intrepretation of the pope's remarks are not consistent with what he actually meant.

No. It isn't.

Until the HF aims these kind of statements at both practising married Catholics, rather than male, female and transsexual prostitutes, your case lacks validity.

If the HF had addressed any of these issues within the context of marriage (and explicitly a Catholic marriage), then, yes, your rejoicing would have some basis.
People who place themselves outside of the Ark of Truth and Salvation, sexual 'outlaws', so to speak, the Church cannot possibly expect these to strive to live Catholic teaching with regard to artificial contraception. It would be absurd to expect them to. The HFs humble hope is that one day they shall.

I do not agree with the His Holiness that the use of the condom amounts to some kind of moral 're-awakening', since both male and female prostitutes in the West use hundreds of condoms every year and I doubt that many who leave a life of prostitution would say that it was the condom that set them on the 'road to redemption'.

It strikes me that upon your death bed, your final prayer will be for the Pope to order condoms for married couples to be sold at the back of every parish Church. Despite all that the HF has said, I don't think it is going to happen.

The Holy Tradition of the Church condemns it totally and I think Pope Benedict XVI has a great deal of respect for both the Doctors of the Church (who will be in the Court of Heaven at his Judgement) and the Magisterium (which he has not the authority to change).

Still, you seem to think this is your hour, so over to you.
Colin said…
"Pope Benedict XVI has a great deal of respect for both the Doctors of the Church (who will be in the Court of Heaven at his Judgement) and the Magisterium (which he has not the authority to change)."

You've changed your tune! So after banging the drum for fidelity tot he Pope for gawd knows how long, it seems you are just as prepared as anyone to turn around and viciously imply that he will be judged by the doctors of the church (most of whom asserted it was a sin to declare the earth goes round the sun, not sure if he will be punished for saying otherwise or if they will let him slide for that). i would imagine that the heir to St. peter has a better handle on theology than you, so I will assume that, while he does not change the Magisterium, his comments should be followed. You yourself have made reference to his wise counsel on other occasion when he has spoken at public events and in interviews, you have never before dismissed his words as an irrelevance. Do not be so weak in your committment to the Holy father to turn your back on him now
Ben Trovato said…
Look at what the Holy Father actually said: it was the intention to minimise harm to another, not the use of a condom, which he sees as possibly the first step in a moral awakening....
How can I turn my back on the HF? He hasn't altered Church teaching anyway.

I'm sure the HF is very aware that he will be judged more acutely than the lay faithful since his Office is so high.

So far, from what he has said, I believe he is right. The only thing I disagree with is whether condom use can lead to a moral reawakening in the person.

Our Lord doesn't need condoms in order to change human hearts and lives. That said, as Ben says, he is looking at the intention of the prostitute to think of others, rather than the outcome.

All in all, I think what the HF has said is very good. The only problem is that it could be misconstrued and misunderstood by the Faithful.
Colin said…
Well, we know Christ showed sympathy toward the prostitutes. And we know there are young men and women (and indeed transsexuals) in the poorer nations of the world who have little option other than to sell their bodies. Often they do this to support their families, and really, from what I have heard from 'on site' assistants who have worked with CAFOD, these people really and truly have no option. Unemployment of almost 100% for women in some areas (i.e there are no jobs beyond domestic service and prostitution, and often the two roles merge) mean that those with young families, or elderly relatives, have to sell their bodies. I can only say that, faced with such an horrendous life, to still be able to cling to the idea that, through insisting on condom use, they are helping the 'clinet's' wife avoid HIV, is a very good thing for these women indeed. It allows the smallest glimpse of free will and the Good to emerge from an otherwise entirely miserable life. The Holy Father is quite right to say that this offers them a moral outlet.

i admit it's not perfect, but we can't assume everyone has the choiches we have.
catholic pragmatist said…
CAFOD welcomes Pope Benedict’s comments on the possible use of condoms
CAFOD welcomes Pope Benedict’s comments on the challenges for people posed by HIV and the possible use of condoms as one aspect of preventing infection.

They resonate with the real challenges that CAFOD has faced in discussion with our partners on the ground for many years and which we know Cardinals, Bishops and moral theologians have also wrestled with; the Pope’s comments will surely prove helpful in moving these discussions forward.

It is increasingly recognised that there is no simple quick-fix solution to HIV prevention. We ask our programme partners in the developing world to give people all the facts necessary to reduce their risk of HIV, including the scientific evidence that condoms can reduce though not remove the risk.

Alongside enabling this fully informed choice for individuals, prevention strategies must, if they are to be effective, seek to change the social and economic circumstances that make people vulnerable to HIV, including poverty, gender inequality, forced migration and sexual violence.

Our home-based care programmes and our work with children orphaned as a result of HIV remind us forcibly of its devastating impact on the poorest and most disadvantaged people, and we will therefore continue through our programmes and work to influence government to press for change on the social and economic circumstances that make people vulnerable to HIV and to mitigate its impact.
catholic pragmatist said…
American tv news channels are now reporting the latest Vatican clarification which also includes:

'even in some cases where this may preclude the possibility of conception'

We were right and you was wrong!
The HF understands the desire to use a condom as as 'first step' away from selfishness that might lead to a more moral life. This is as valid for men as it is for women.

However, CP, the HF is not endorsing condom use within marriage, for Catholics. Until the HF says that, at magisterial level (which I doubt he will), all we can say is that the HF is saying makes perfect logical sense to those yet to make a break with prostitution.

Colin, yes I am sure the HF is aware of the diabolical nature of prostitution and that sometimes it is against the will of the individual prostitute.
santoeusebio said…
Many commentators are saying that the Pope was just talking about intentions. I.e. the intention not to spread HIV is a good one and that he did not approve the use of a condom. Fr Lombardi then issued a statement where he said:

In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk..

The words which I have emboldened starting with "rather" seem to me to put a gloss on the Pope's words which is unjustified. Lombardi is saying that the first step is the use of the condom rather than the intention. That is not what the Pope said.

That having been said many commentators fell back on the argument that the Pope was only talking about male prostitutes presumably in some homosexual act where the use of a condom cannot be contraceptive and is therefore morally indifferent.

But then Lombardi claims that the Pope did not necessarily mean just male prostitutes but female as well and throws in transsexuals as well (which the Pope certainly did not mention) just to add to the confusion.

Thus commentators are thrown back on the intention only argument.

I wonder whether the problem is not Lombardi SJ.

Nicolas Bellord
Colin said…
I doubt that the Director of the Vatican Press Office would be allowed to issue a clarifying statement the following day without checking the words were representative of the Pope's intentions. After all, both Lombardi and benedict are multi-lingual scholars and would hardly be likely to mince words a second time. I am simply horrified that so many bloggers (not you Laurence! but there are some others...) are prepared to issue a knee-jerk denunciation of the HF simply because he said something they might not like! Sheesh, why not just grab a copy of Luther and have done with it
santoeusebio said…
Well Cardinal Burke has come out with a statement which seems to contradict the slant put on the Pope's statement by Lombardi. See Father Ray Blake's blog.

Time to suppress the Js again?

Nicolas Bellord
Colin said…
With the greatest of respect to Cardinal Burke, he is not in daily contact with the HF nor is he appointed to distribute the latter's teachings through the Vatican Press Office. I therefore see no reason to assume his interpretation is closer to the intentions of the HF than Lombradi's
santoeusebio said…
Colin writes:

I doubt that the Director of the Vatican Press Office would be allowed to issue a clarifying statement the following day without checking the words were representative of the Pope's intentions.

I can believe just anything about the Vatican's PR!

As to Cardinal Burke being close to the HF I just do not know. What I am relying upon is textual analysis of what the HF, Fr Lombardi and Cardinal Burke have said. It is clear that Lombardi has claimed that in the case of a female prostitute the use of a condom with the intention of preventing HIV is licit. The HF said nothing of the kind. He said the intention could be indicative of a moral awakening - he said nothing to suggest that using a condom in a contraceptive situation was licit.

Lombardi wrote:

In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk..

The HF said nothing of the kind particularly as to the part I have emboldened and it is very serious misrepresentation.

Cardinal Burke on the other hand accurately represents what the HF said.

Do you disagree? If so please quote the relevant texts.
Colin said…
I don't disagree with your analysis of the text as such, but I do disagree that the inferences you draw are correct (i.e. that a more textually grounded exegesis of some ad hoc comment made some way into a lengthy interview - i.e. when his mouth was running - is the correct way to interpret this). I say, and I do not think this is by any means illogical, that one of the Pope's chief aides and PR gurus who is in daily contact with him and is employed as a media go-between is far more likely to have sought clarification from the HF before speaking to the media in a pre-arranged broadcast. No? I reckon he will have asked benedict about this and - just a guess - if he went on air the next day and garbled it or spoke out of turn, the Vatican would have rebuked him publicly. I see no reason therefore to doubt his second statement.

Furthermore, I think the male/female/transsexual clarification was quite clearly intended to signify that the remarks applied to prostitutes. A lot of commentary (including Cardinal Burke's) has noted that people living objectively disordered or evil life styles should not be pardoned etc. But i think the Pope's remarks were intended to cover prostitutes who do no intend to live wicked lives, they just, well, have to in order to provide for their extended families. There are, we know, many young people who have no option but to do this. Tragic though it is, I think we can side witht he HF here - if God is saddened by this it is a sadness for the plight of these poor unfortunates, not against their choices
Common Sense said…
The Pope's comments were not meant to be restricted to prostitutes, that is an absurb conclusion. The Pope used an example of a prostitute to illustrate his point but full and careful reading of the text shows that what he said was intended to have wider significance.
Ben Trovato said…
CS - a ' full and careful reading of the text' shows that what the Pope was talking about was the intention to reduce harm. In the case of someone previously solely thinking about self, that is the dawn of a moral awareness - a step in the right direction.

However, 'a full and careful reading of the text' also shows (if one reads the whole text of Light of the World) that the Pope is very clear that intention alone cannot justify an action. He stands firm on the absolute rightness and wrongness intrinsic in actions (see pp 37-38 for example).

To leap from the Pope's comments to a conclusion that condom use is sometimes justifiable is going way beyond ' full and careful reading of the text, and is likely to be the result of wishful thinking - or deliberate misunderstanding - and that is what Laurence has been railing against.

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