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Pope on Condoms

by Tim O'Donnell | November 23rd, 2010

Last night I finished writing a post about Pope Benedict’s recent remarks about the use of condoms that have created quite a buzz in the Catholic world and beyond but fortunately, for some reason I waited to post it.

Pope Benedict XVI

In a book released yesterday titled Light of the World, the Pope made news by saying the use of condoms is acceptable in certain circumstances.  It was widely reported he was isolating his approval to male prostitutes because that was the example used to illustrate a situation where it was more important to prevent disease than to condemn homosexuality or prostitution.  Scholars were quick to point out he was using an esoteric tenet of moral theology that acknowledges varying “degrees” of evil and that preventing the transmission of disease to ones partner is “less evil” than the non-sacramental sex act itself.

OK – whatever.

I was prepared to criticize the Pope because it seemed, by the narrow scenario described in the book he was saying that there was no scenario in which the use of condoms could apply to women.  I assumed it obviously had to do with the contraceptive element of condom use.

I would have been wrong to do so – it would have been premature recrimination.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, reported today that in light of the confusion, he directly asked Pope Benedict to clarify his remarks because there was much consternation throughout the world about his intended meaning. The pope clarified his position by saying it didn’t matter if a condom was used by women or men, that the prevailing issue was preventing the passing of disease to ones partner.

Wow.  This is huge!

It looks like the Pope meant much more than what it appeared he was saying just yesterday doesn’t it? As I perused the blogosphere last evening I saw many people trying to interpret what Pope Benedict was saying and the conversations ranged from hopeful to hateful and everything in between.  I commend The Vatican for quickly clarifying the actual, factual intentions of The Holy Father.  This too indicates a shift of consciousness and sense of obligation of The Vatican to communicate to the world in perhaps a new and evolved way.

By clearly and plainly including heterosexual use of condoms (in certain circumstances), it seems the Pope is serious about offering more than lip service in helping to fight the epidemic of AIDS.  Now his priests and Catholic missionaries, especially in Africa, have a legitimate tool in fighting against it.

Yesterday his remarks seemed narrow, a little confusing to some, open to interpretation by others and isolated to a group where contraception was not at issue.  Today however, quite a different story this becomes.  For the first time The Vatican is defining a scenario where contraception is acceptable.

This is very big news.  Anyone not acknowledging the magnitude of this clarification needs to have their head surgically removed from their keister.

I for one, am shocked at the pragmatism and humanity of the Pope – Congratulations Benedict!  I applaud your wisdom.

Read the AP story about todays clarification here:

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