Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rubber Ban Man

"Gott in Himmel!"
I've said it before and I stand by it: "Not a week goes by without the press saying something about the Catholic Church". Say what you will about us fish-eaters but there is no other Christian body that gets as much attention as we do. It's not always accurate or sometimes it is painfully accurate but you can't say we don't get the attention of the media.
The Pope and author, Peter Seewald.
 Last week, Pope Benedict's interview with journalist Peter Seewald got the ink for the pope supposedly giving an ecclesial okey-dokey to the using condoms. The pope's comments from the just released book: "Light of the World" comes from this exchange:
Pope Benedict: As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a 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. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward discovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
Pope Benedict:
She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution,  but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

The companion costume "Air Hand Dryer" is featured elsewhere in the Truck Stop Bathroom costume department.
 Nothing to see here, folks. Seriously? This particular line of thinking, at least as I understand it, has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church.
First: It's not about condoms. Condoms are not evil in and of themselves. They have no will and no intent. They are morally neutral. And sometimes brightly colored.
Second: What the argument is about is another ABC: "Artificial Birth Control". Artificial Birth Control is the intentional use of some device for the express purpose to avoid pregnancy during sexual activity. Artificial Birth Control (condoms, IUD's, THE PILL, etc) use is considered a sin in the CONTEXT OF MARRIAGE. Yes, when you are married, you are not to hinder or suppress the openess to having babies. Ever. Sex=possibly baby making. It's all here in the much maligned Humanae Vitae. Read it all before you judge!
Artificial Bert Control?
 Third: So what does the church believe about condoms and ABC outside of marriage? My understanding is that sex outside of marriage is already wrong and not condoned by the Church as moral. So the Church won't tell you how to have safe immorality. It's like you know murder is wrong but ask me, your priest, if you were to kill your roommate, would it be better to use a gun or a knife. I have no opinion! Murder is wrong. I can't make it "right-er"!
So, what's the fuss?
The Pope had made some comment concerning the distribution of condoms in parts of Africa as a non-solution to the AIDS crisis. He basically stated that passing out condoms is giving up on the human ability to make positive sexual choices. He believes that people, no matter where they come from, are capable of ABSTINENCE and/or BEING FAITHFUL (ie: married).
The remarks above from the Pope show that he realizes that it is much easier to use condoms than trust the will of the person. The easy way out is not the Catholic way. It's not the way of salvation and it dehumanizes us. It's a shortcut as if to say, "Those people are not able to discipline themselves or have good marriages. Throw them condoms since they are going to do it anyway." This isn't our way as Catholics.

Only rabbits are accused of not controlling their desires. Silly rabbits..all that cereal eating.

The Pope stepped out just a bit and gave the interviewer probably more than most pastors will. He entered the discussion by going in the murky waters of discerning a morality in the context of sinful act. The Pope again was seeing only the best in human nature by saying that if a male prostitute (I humbly ask the Pope not to bring the alemay rostitutepays up again) uses a condom he may be showing a movement toward charity by not inflicting a disease on the ...umm... partner. He is showing responsibility in some sense.
No. The pope never said Rob Schneider films are good. Ever.
 To be clear, however, the Pope is still super-Catholic here. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. Gay sex, I presume, is wrong. Prostitution, as far as I remember, is wrong. But the human person is not wrong through and through. We are still given grace through Christ to transcend the wrongness and perhaps someday come to full righteousness.
I, personally, am proud of the Pope's comments. This can be a good moment to allow Catholics, especially, pastors to embrace the discussion of sexuality again like adults. Conceivably (pun intended) this is a very good thing.

Hopefully, we can also not hear about male prostitutes...or the overuse of the word banalization. It's just a me thing.