The Pope said WHAT about condoms?
As a result, the early part of this week saw all kinds of reports and headlines, things like "Pope Okay's Condoms." Made me chuckle.
It was only when I had a conversation with two teenagers Monday night, and they told me that apparently the Pope says that using condoms is now okay, that I realized I'd better weigh in on this issue, and fast.
So I did on Tuesday - after consulting my Bishop, I sent an e-mail to everyone in the Edmonton Catholic School District, for which I am Chaplain, to clarify this issue, separating what the Pope DID say, from what he most definitely did NOT say.
If you want a more detailed (although more sophisticated) explanation, you can see it at Archbishop Richard Smith's blog: at http://archbishopsmith.blogspot.com/2010/11/exciting-events-in-rome.html. As Bishop, its HIS job to interpret the info we get from the Vatican in our own local area, so my explanation will be dependent on his.
What does the Pope say? Well, here is the issue in point form:
- the only relationship in which sexual intercourse is permissible in Church teaching is marriage.
- many choose to live outside of this teaching - this is a sign that the dignity and sacredness of sexuality is not valued; instead it is reduced to a act of pleasure and self-gratification, even like an addictive drug at times
- for those who live outside this teaching, particularly those who may be infected with an STD, condoms will never be the solution to the problem.
- however, when such a person chooses to use a condom, it at least shows a basic awareness that sexuality is about more than self-gratification, but also requires some responsibility for others. As such, it can be a FIRST STEP towards developing a healthy awareness of sexual morality.
- abstinence and marital fidelity will always be the most effective way of avoiding the spread of STD's.
So the bottom line - no, the Pope isn't saying condoms are now okay. It can just be a FIRST STEP that can lead a person to understand the morality of this situation.
Now, some people on the RIGHT of this issue, go so far as to say that the Pope didn't really say anything new at all. Well, while this might be true at a doctrinal level, I think something new HAS come from this statement, something that is long over due.
The Pope's statement clears up a very COMMON misconception held about us Catholics, and I regret to say, may even be held by some Catholics themselves.
Basically, its this: there are some who believe that the Catholic church would rather see people die of STDs than see them use condoms. This is NOT TRUE.
But what IS true is that condoms will not solve the problem of STD's, particularly the HIV epidemic sweeping across Africa.
There you go. Sure glad I'M not the Pope.