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Old 11-21-2010, 01:11 AM   #16
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The full quote, in context:
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Peter Seewald: On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican's policy on AIDS once again became the target of media criticism. 25% of all AIDS victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40%. In Africa you stated that the Church's traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church's own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

Pope Benedict: The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on AIDS. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many AIDS victims, especially children with AIDS.
................................
In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

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 recovering 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.

Peter Seewald: 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 in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.
I'm not Catholic, so I may be reading the tea-leaves wrong, but so far as I can tell there's nothing actually new here. He doesn't seem to be signaling that Catholic AIDS care facilities may now recommend, let alone distribute condoms. Rather, he seems to be saying: "If you're going to engage in immoral sex, then I agree it's better to do that in a way which minimizes its dangers; that shows relative moral growth, a bit less selfishness. Still, I don't recommend that way, because to me that's like recommending you become a pickpocket rather than mugging people at gunpoint."

The problem with this is, we're talking doctors treating patients with a deadly, sexually transmissible disease. Many of whom--and/or, just as crucially, their partners/spouses--either simply don't subscribe to the view that nonmarital sex is unacceptable, or else they do in principle, but (obviously) currently lack the self-discipline to live by it. In such a situation, it's a doctor's absolute responsibility, by the very nature of the profession, to at least instruct the patient on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the transmission of the virus during sex. I can see no credible moral argument to the contrary.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:14 AM   #17
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As a (non-practising) Catholic, I had the very same reaction to this. What do you find so ridiculous about it?
Mostly it's just that the Catholic Church seems to be so behind the times, that any acknowledgment in this regard comes off pretty positively to me. And I'm more relieved to see him acknowledge the issues within the Church, and not avoid the topic.

I'm not a Catholic for the record. I have no idea now why I phrased that the way I did at the time.
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Old 11-21-2010, 02:37 AM   #18
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Fuck it, it's a start. Nobody would be expecting him to come out guns blazing in support of contraception, but hey, baby steps.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:22 AM   #19
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Are Catholoics suppose to applaud those that have their head in the sand?
I do not think that Pope is finally condoning the use of condoms. I think he feels that many of the issues of AIDS would be best handled by moral choices (committed monogamist relationships). However, if people chose to be sexually active with multiple partners, it is better that they do not transmit whatever diseases they may have caught to their partner(s).
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:28 AM   #20
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The full quote, in context:

currently lack the self-discipline to live by it.
I also wonder about the self discipline of the same selfish folks to actually wear the condoms. After all, why would they care what happens to the other person? Why would anyone that is already proven to be selfish voluntarily reduce their sexual pleasure by 99 percent?
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:12 AM   #21
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I just like the line "a volcano of filth, sent by the devil".
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:46 AM   #22
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I'm not Catholic, and am not going to congratulate or applaud him for finally coming around to the idea that condoms might be okay.
You've got my support on this discussion, I'll say that much.

Yeah. I'm glad he finally seems to be realizing a bit of a "No, DUH" concept here. I just wish they'd get off their strict sexual views (especially given the, um, scandal, to put it mildly with the priests that Canadiens was alluding to).

But then again, and I mean no offense to any Catholics here, given that I too am not Catholic, I fail to understand why some guy in another country halfway around the world is given a perch to tell me or anyone else how to live our lives, be it with sex or with any other issue, so I don't give his opinion a whole heck of a lot of weight anyway.

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Old 11-21-2010, 10:28 AM   #23
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I'm a Catholic (non-devout), but wow, the pope isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, is he?








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Old 11-21-2010, 10:38 AM   #24
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I'm a Catholic (non-devout), but wow, the pope isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, is he?








You may not agree with him, but his background is pretty impressive.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:12 AM   #25
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You may not agree with him, but his background is pretty impressive.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:43 AM   #26
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while not a fan of the pope I see very little in that quote I really disagree with
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:36 PM   #27
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I'm not Catholic, so I may be reading the tea-leaves wrong, but so far as I can tell there's nothing actually new here. He doesn't seem to be signaling that Catholic AIDS care facilities may now recommend, let alone distribute condoms. Rather, he seems to be saying: "If you're going to engage in immoral sex, then I agree it's better to do that in a way which minimizes its dangers; that shows relative moral growth, a bit less selfishness. Still, I don't recommend that way, because to me that's like recommending you become a pickpocket rather than mugging people at gunpoint."
Really. I think people are being far too eager here to think that the Pope is modernizing here. The flip side of people's interpretations here would be that he's endorsing prostitution, which--come on here--do you ever imagine him doing that? If anything, it signals his contempt for condoms as a tool for immoral whores. I doubt we're going to see a reform of Humanae Vitae during his papacy, and I find it doubtful amongst the JPII-appointed cardinals who make up pretty much the entirety of the voting College of Cardinals whose ideology is likely going to dominate the church for the next century or longer as they all choose like-minded successors both for the College and for the papacy.

The present reality is that the Catholic Church is getting more conservative, not less, and the Vatican sees its sexual doctrine as central to the Church's identity. Stranger things have happened with John XXIII and there's even whispers that much of the Vatican quietly acknowledges that its present homophobia, for instance, is entirely unsupported both Biblically and through science (remember that the Catholic Church vigorously opposes relativism, so it, in theory, cannot accept a "moral truth" that is wholly contradicted by "scientific truth"). But, with that, it is entirely paralyzed as to what to do with that knowledge; so, officially, it is all about maintaining the status quo and awaiting "further revelation from the Holy Spirit." And that may mean waiting a century or more as the rest of the world figures out these questions on its own. The world, after all, modernizes before its religion--never the other way around.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:52 PM   #28
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You may not agree with him, but his background is pretty impressive.
His reputation was that of an intellectual heavyweight in the Church, that's for certain. It was also noted by an intolerance for dissent, so he also had his hand in having Catholic academics who disagreed with him removed from universities.

His biography is truly quite interesting, though. At the time of Vatican II in the early 1960s, he was actually considered a liberal reformist. But in a fashion not at all unlike the former American Trotskyists who later became neoconservatives, he took a very sharp turn to conservatism as a reaction to the Marxist student leanings and university riots of the late 1960s.

I always find it intriguing when someone's ideology changes as sharply as it does. Mine certainly has changed over the last few years, but I can draw a lot of parallels between what I believed when I was more leftist and what I believe now; the methods I believe are most effective/pragmatic are largely what have changed. But I don't get that vibe from Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. As late as 1968, he downplayed the centrality of the Papacy (ultramontanism) in a nod to conciliarism, but, in effect, he's very much been about centralized Vatican authority for his entire career in Rome. I wonder sometimes what that says about him; but it reminds me that we are all human in the end, including the papacy.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:07 PM   #29
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I'm not in much of a position to defend Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, but out of all the reasons to criticize him, I've always found this the weakest--a kind of "reductio ad Hitlerum" to avoid having to come up with a substantive argument against his theology, of which there are multitudes of avenues open to criticism.

Imagining living under a brutal single-party dictatorship, I can perhaps understand those families who were not willing to risk execution to defy military conscription. And by every report, he was conscripted into the Hitler Youth as were all German 14 year-old boys, and was also drafted into the German infantry as a 16 year-old while in seminary. Overall, he's seen as being a typical member of the "Flakhelfer generation," which, to German ears, meant being ripped out of your adolescence and forcefully thrown into strict military service, while being too young to be involved with the Nazi regime in any way beyond its youth organizations.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:09 PM   #30
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I do not think that Pope is finally condoning the use of condoms. I think he feels that many of the issues of AIDS would be best handled by moral choices (committed monogamist relationships). However, if people chose to be sexually active with multiple partners, it is better that they do not transmit whatever diseases they may have caught to their partner(s).
Something everyone else realized decades ago, so yeah buried in the sand...
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