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Should the Pope clarify his remarks? He already did.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 29, 2010

 Amid the furor about the Pope’s statement on condom use, perhaps you’re asking why the Holy Father didn’t say something clear and unequivocal. Why didn’t he condemn the drive to accept recreational sex, and rely on condoms for safety? Why didn’t he say something like this:

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.

The above paragraph, of course, is exactly what Pope Benedict did say—in the paragraph directly preceding the one that’s caused all the fuss. Find it on page 119 of Light of the World

Evidently, then, the Pope’s words have been misinterpreted. So why doesn’t he issue a clarification. He could say, for example, that the Church “does not regard [condom use] as a real or moral solution.” Why didn’t he?

Actually he did—in the paragraph directly following the one that’s caused all the fuss. Again it's page 119. 

Thus, both immediately before and immediately after the controversial paragraph, Pope Benedict gave clear indications as to how his words should be interpreted. If you’re looking for another clarification from the apostolic palace, look in the book itself; it’s already there.

An ancillary question—and this one is not just rhetorical: Why did L’Osservatore Romano reprint the paragraph in which the Pope explores the argument for condom use, and not the follow-up paragraph in which he says that the Church “does not regard it as a real or moral solution”?

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  • Posted by: tturner3998 - Dec. 01, 2010 12:10 PM ET USA

    If preventing the disease were the sole use of the condom, then the Holy Father might have gone further and said it was morally good. However he did not do this because preventing the disease was not the whole of the action. Illicit sex was the whole of the action, and the condom use was ancillary to the act of 'engagiging in illicit sex'. Thus the condom use takes on the moral disvalue of the whole that it is a part of. The Church can't approve a thing that is inseperably part of something bad.

  • Posted by: happyseaotter8027 - Nov. 30, 2010 5:53 PM ET USA

    Excellent article! I debate on CAF and it's amazing how fast the rumors and mangling of the Pope's statement progressed. Even Catholics were getting very upset and saying that the Pope was OKing the use of condoms. Why don't people read the entire book or at least the chapter where the Pope's comments were shown? We have to know context. Oh ye of little faith!!

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