Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

damned if you do

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 13, 2004

The Times (of London, in this instance), reviews John Cornwell's latest oeuvre, The Pope in Winter:

These days, people think less of John Paul's contribution to the ending of the cold war, and more of his dogmatism, narrow-mindedness and sheer wrong-headedness. At what point, Cornwell asks, did he stop being the white hope of the world, and start turning into the stubborn old martinet who won't allow his priests to fight the spread of Aids with condoms?

Now that paragraph, boys and girls, repays study. Does the author believe that a trendy Wojtyla was passing out prophylactics in the streets of Krakow in September of 1978 but has "turned stubborn" in his dotage? Of course not. Catholic doctrine is unchanging, and this man stood by the doctrine at the beginning of this pontificate and stands by it today. Well, if the Pope hasn't changed, what has? The vigorish on the wages of sin. The catastrophic consequences of defying Church teaching about chastity has led to a vastly increased temptation to ignore Church teaching about condoms, by employing this pathetic bit of 1940s technology as a defense against the lethal results of lust, folly, and intransigence.

If every human being of Wojtyla's age had followed the Church teaching on sexuality that he propounds -- viz., by remaining a virgin until marriage and staying faithful afterwards, how many people would be dead of AIDS today? Zero. Yet in fact, not only have millions laughed at this teaching, but for years have laughed at anyone who did not conduct himself as if the teaching were laughable. This miscalculation has racked up about 20 million corpses -- among them some wholly innocent children -- and counting.

So, who's inflexible, narrow-minded, wrong-headed?

(I won't spoil the surprise by giving away Cornwell's conclusion.)

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