Vatican: Benedict XVI's Words Were Manipulated
Doctrinal Congregation Clarifies Pope's Thoughts on Condoms
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The congregation released a statement "On the Trivialization of Sexuality: Regarding Certain Interpretations of 'Light of the World'" today, regarding the book that was released by Ignatius Press last month.
The statement noted that "a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality."
"The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words -- a meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human sexuality is treated," it added.
The Pontiff's sentence from the book that was largely misunderstood is: "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 recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants."
The congregation noted that "some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church."
"In reality," it clarified, "the words of the Pope -- which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behavior, namely prostitution -- do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church."
"As is clear from an attentive reading of the pages in question," the statement affirmed, "the Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception."
It continued, "This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarized succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his encyclical letter 'Humanae Vitae,' when he wrote that 'also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation -- whether as an end or as a means.'"
"The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought," the congregation asserted.
It explained, "On this issue the Pope proposes instead -- and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively -- humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation."
"On the pages in question," the statement added, "the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behavior which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral."
"In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious," the congregation stated.
It explained, "Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment -- because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behavior which has repercussions on public health."
"In this situation," it noted, "the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute 'the real or moral solution' to the problem of AIDS and also that 'the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality' in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behavior which is the root cause of the spread of the virus."
"In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity," the congregation affirmed.
It noted that "some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the 'lesser evil.'"
The statement continued: "This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation.
"An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed.
"The Holy Father did not say -- as some people have claimed -- that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil."
The statement concluded, "In the battle against AIDS, the Catholic faithful and the agencies of the Catholic Church should be close to those affected, should care for the sick and should encourage all people to live abstinence before and fidelity within marriage."
"In this regard," it added, "it is also important to condemn any behavior which cheapens sexuality because, as the Pope says, such behavior is the reason why so many people no longer see in sexuality an expression of their love."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: http://zenit.org/article-31300?l=english