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Old 11-21-2010, 04:42 PM   #31
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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?
Well, not necessarily--if you're a teleologist. In such a system, lust actually serves a constructive purpose: it's one of nature's tools for leading you towards an understanding of (and exclusive "attraction" to) true beauty, true love, and Truth in general--your telos. So, in fact, it's exactly what you'd want and even expect to see, that voluntary modifications of lustful behavior would occur along the way; ones which reduce the "selfishness" of lustful behavior by incorporating at least some recognition of your partner's human potential. Obviously, not all teleologists would agree on specifics, like whether a physician should recommend condom use in such-and-such situation; but the general idea that proper direction of the sex drive is a process and not something people come to understand all at once, yes.
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Something everyone else realized decades ago, so yeah buried in the sand...
"Realizing" isn't the issue. I don't see where he's saying anything he didn't already believe to be true about the moral gradations in various kinds of sexual behavior.
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Old 11-21-2010, 06:35 PM   #32
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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.
While I'm not well-read on Catholic sexuality doctrine, two things that've always struck me as odd from what I have read are A) the doggedly literal way in which reproductive potential is worked into the model of spiritual fulfillment, such that sex in its absence is apparently spiritually debasing in its own right (whereas for, e.g., Aristotle, reproduction is merely what may happen on the way to achieving perfected love, not a spiritual good in itself); and B) the way in which the ideal form of love is treated as an absolute moral standard against which all acts preceding it must be judged, such that you get this (inconsistent) hypermoralization of the natural process, where "lesser" forms of love can only be seen as "perversions," revolting betrayals of your own nature rather than "intemperances." If you take these two quirks(?) to their logical conclusion, then yes, you paint yourself into a corner on questions like the one the Pope is countenancing here. Because you cannot say, "The capacity of intimate relationships to direct us towards higher love is independent of their reproductive potential," nor can you say "The present conduct within this relationship is intemperate, but with spiritual growth on the part of both partners, that can be fixed."

ETA--Having said all that, I'm not sure though how much sense it makes to embrace a holistic worldview, then complain endlessly about its slowness in responding to change and contingencies in the sociocultural environment; I think that may be a built-in weakness of such systems. (Not saying you're doing that, just musing on their place in the present in general.) By contrast, confronting change decisively is often a strong point for the mechanistic-reductionist worldview, where (e.g.) sexual health is imagined as a series of inputs with the desired output of freedom from disease; so, you can evaluate each input separately and with reference only to that quantifiable output of "health." But both systems have their strengths and weaknesses.

ETA (2)--Sully pounces:
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...Yes, I know Benedict is talking of a prostitute; but once you introduce a spectrum of moral choices for the homosexual, you have to discuss a morality for homosexuals...And so Pandora's box opens. If it represents a "moralization" when a male prostitute wears a condom, would it be another step in his moralization to give up prostitution for a non-mercenary sexual and emotional relationship? In such a relationship, would it be more moral for such a man to disclose his HIV status or not? If he does, would it not be more moral for him to wear a condom in sex than not?

...Of course, in a magnificently perverse way, this teaching privileges homosexuals. It's okay for a gay prostitute to wear a condom because he was never going to procreate anyway. But for a poor straight couple in Africa, where the husband is HIV-positive and the wife HIV-negative, nothing must come in the way of being open to procreation...even if that means the infection of someone you love with a terminal disease. It's then you realize that the Vatican's problem is not just homophobia. It's heterophobia as well.
I actually don't agree with this, in that I'm pretty sure the Official, Vatican-Approved Catholic Advice to a married, straight, HIV-positive man wouldn't be "Be faithful to your wife from now on--but whatever you do, don't use condoms!", but rather "Abstain permanently, period--because NO risk to her, or to any child she might conceive as a result, is acceptable." Which is not really all that different from the Official, Vatican-Approved Catholic Advice to Benedict's hypothetical gay HIV-positive prostitute, when it comes down to it. I think both stances derive from the aforementioned torturous fixation on procreative potential, and in that sense Vatican "homophobia" and "heterophobia" (might "gynophobia" be more accurate?) are ultimately inseparable.
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Old 11-21-2010, 06:46 PM   #33
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melon made some valid points.

I´m not a fan of Pope Benedict, he´s far too conservative. Like so many other people, my opinion is that amongst popes of the 20th century two of them stand out: John XXIII (Roncalli) and Paul VI (Montini). You may agree with me on John XXIII but when you hear Paul VI, one might automatically tie him to Humanae Vitae and the birth control pill. It is such a pity that the mass media of our modern, oh so liberal world, reduced him to that single point when it was Paul VI. who did much to help the poor people and who worked for peace. After all, it was him who said:

"If you want peace work for justice."

"No more war! Never again war! If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons."

"Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy."

As early as 1964, Paul VI created a Secretariat for non-Christian religions, renamed the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a year later a new Secretariat for Non-Christian Believers. In 1971, he created a papal office for economic development and catastrophic assistance. To foster common bonds with all persons of good will, he decreed an annual peace day to be celebrated on January first. Trying to improve the condition of Christians behind the Iron Curtain, Paul engaged in dialogue with Communist authorities, receiving Foreign Minister Gromyko and Nikolai Podgorny, just like his predecessor Pope John XXIII who shocked the conservative Vatican circles by receiving Chrustschow (there was no problem with Kennedy). We also shouldn´t forget that John XXIII played a significant role in the Cuban crisis.

It is interesting to note that you all missed to comment this part of the interview with Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger): "..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."

Like I said, I´m not a fan of this conservative Pope, but this statement is true. To everyone who so strongly opposes the Catholic church, see what good work many of its organisations do to help the poor and the suffering.

Who else does this, except of some NGOs? The liberals, who are more concerned about spreading their views in the media and patting themselves on their shoulders, than about poverty? The politicians and statesmen who send young men to war? The Wall street bankers? Oprah? Give me a break. Apart from bloating out how great condoms are to prevent AIDS, have you personally done a single thing to help those suffering from that disease? Have you been to Africa or Asia to give condoms to the people? Have you helped young Peruvian prostitutes to get out of their trap? http://www.catholicnews.com/data/sto...ns/0602361.htm
Have you helped indigenous people in Brazil and seen your sister killed, like Bishop Krautler who helps the Xingu? http://www.rightlivelihood.org/krautler.html "I'm convinced that another world is possible, in which indigenous and poor people finally shall live in dignity and peace." There are many more of them.

I don´t think the majority of us, me included, have done that. TALKING about it and feeling oh so great and liberal, but DOING nothing, is complete FAKE RUBBISH.

Folks, apart from all the true and necessary criticism directed towards conservative church circles (and it is necessary, I completely agree!) - if you are serious you also should note that the Catholic church nowadays does a lot to help people all around the globe. It hasn´t always been like this (see history of the Catholic church) so I´m rather grateful for the role the church often plays in our modern, industrial world where everything is about sales, economy, growth, more money, more money, but still you don´t know who you are.
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Old 11-21-2010, 07:11 PM   #34
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^ I don't disagree with the point about the Catholic Church's exemplary generosity overall here, and in fact I initially considered putting some comments to that effect in my first post upthread (as I have in previous threads where people were attacking Mother Teresa's operations, for instance, which I've personally volunteered with before). But in the end, I don't think the "Start your own damn AIDS care charity, if you want it done differently" argument I originally considered holds up here. First, because charities--particularly medical ones--shouldn't be competing with each other, but rather cooperating under a common vision of advancing health (since, for instance, AIDS patients in many areas will have only one affordably local provider to turn to). Second, because apart from all that it seems to me simply unacceptable for a doctor to not instruct HIV-positive patients on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing transmission, in the absence of permanent abstinence. I consider that "omission" malpractice, and cannot defend it--which I would be doing if I said "Leave them alone, it's their resources they're investing, invest your own instead." But you are absolutely right about criticism of current charitable approaches being no substitute for contributing your own money and time.
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Old 11-21-2010, 07:34 PM   #35
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there are more than a few Catholics out there
and some are influenced by what the Pope says, or what they think he says
so again, this is a good thing.


AIDS activists praise pope's condom comments - CNN.com
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Old 11-22-2010, 02:37 AM   #36
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melon made some valid points.

I´m not a fan of Pope Benedict, he´s far too conservative. Like so many other people, my opinion is that amongst popes of the 20th century two of them stand out: John XXIII (Roncalli) and Paul VI (Montini). You may agree with me on John XXIII but when you hear Paul VI, one might automatically tie him to Humanae Vitae and the birth control pill. It is such a pity that the mass media of our modern, oh so liberal world, reduced him to that single point when it was Paul VI. who did much to help the poor people and who worked for peace. After all, it was him who said:

"If you want peace work for justice."

"No more war! Never again war! If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons."

"Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy."

As early as 1964, Paul VI created a Secretariat for non-Christian religions, renamed the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a year later a new Secretariat for Non-Christian Believers. In 1971, he created a papal office for economic development and catastrophic assistance. To foster common bonds with all persons of good will, he decreed an annual peace day to be celebrated on January first. Trying to improve the condition of Christians behind the Iron Curtain, Paul engaged in dialogue with Communist authorities, receiving Foreign Minister Gromyko and Nikolai Podgorny, just like his predecessor Pope John XXIII who shocked the conservative Vatican circles by receiving Chrustschow (there was no problem with Kennedy). We also shouldn´t forget that John XXIII played a significant role in the Cuban crisis.

It is interesting to note that you all missed to comment this part of the interview with Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger): "..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."

Like I said, I´m not a fan of this conservative Pope, but this statement is true. To everyone who so strongly opposes the Catholic church, see what good work many of its organisations do to help the poor and the suffering.

Who else does this, except of some NGOs? The liberals, who are more concerned about spreading their views in the media and patting themselves on their shoulders, than about poverty? The politicians and statesmen who send young men to war? The Wall street bankers? Oprah? Give me a break. Apart from bloating out how great condoms are to prevent AIDS, have you personally done a single thing to help those suffering from that disease? Have you been to Africa or Asia to give condoms to the people? Have you helped young Peruvian prostitutes to get out of their trap? CNS STORY: In Peruvian jungle city, church works to help child prostitutes
Have you helped indigenous people in Brazil and seen your sister killed, like Bishop Krautler who helps the Xingu? Right Livelihood Award: 2010 - Erwin Kräutler "I'm convinced that another world is possible, in which indigenous and poor people finally shall live in dignity and peace." There are many more of them.

I don´t think the majority of us, me included, have done that. TALKING about it and feeling oh so great and liberal, but DOING nothing, is complete FAKE RUBBISH.

Folks, apart from all the true and necessary criticism directed towards conservative church circles (and it is necessary, I completely agree!) - if you are serious you also should note that the Catholic church nowadays does a lot to help people all around the globe. It hasn´t always been like this (see history of the Catholic church) so I´m rather grateful for the role the church often plays in our modern, industrial world where everything is about sales, economy, growth, more money, more money, but still you don´t know who you are.
A very well thought out and written post. It was a pleasure to read.
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Old 11-22-2010, 02:39 AM   #37
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there are more than a few Catholics out there...
over a billion...
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Old 11-22-2010, 02:47 AM   #38
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Second, because apart from all that it seems to me simply unacceptable for a doctor to not instruct HIV-positive patients on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing transmission, in the absence of permanent abstinence. I consider that "omission" malpractice, and cannot defend it--
I agree with you on this.

However, I do suspect that most people (even in Africa) have known for a long time about the dangers of un-protected sex. Even if the Pope dropped free condoms from a helicopter I doubt much would change. I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:23 AM   #39
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'Bout time the Pope finally admitted - to some degree - that condoms are a must in fighting AIDS. Its a small, tiny step but at least its a step.
I agree and I am a Catholic. Condoms have been proven to help stop the spread of Aids.
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:43 AM   #40
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I do suspect that most people (even in Africa) have known for a long time about the dangers of un-protected sex. Even if the Pope dropped free condoms from a helicopter I doubt much would change.
I agree, knowledge per se isn't the main problem, though it's a far more widespread one than you might think--I don't know current statistics for Africa, but I do know that the most recent ('06) National Family Health Survey in India, the most comprehensive source I know of for Indian AIDS awareness data (based on interviews with a quarter million married men and women throughout India, according to population distribution) found that 32% of the men and 65% of the women did not know that condoms reduce one's chances of getting AIDS. As expected, awareness was dramatically lower in rural areas, which might not be so bad were it not for the fact that labor migration rates--i.e., rural men leaving their villages for months at a stretch to find work, patronizing prostitutes along the way--are so strongly correlated with AIDS prevalence in India. That's higher than I would've guessed, but I can't say it shocked me, as I've personally had the experience of encountering an entire village's worth of people who'd recently lost a few members to AIDS, yet clearly didn't understand how the disease was spread ("We think it's the water," one man told me in broken Tamil--the village had been forcibly relocated a couple years prior to accommodate a hydroelectric project, given a few wells and some oil palm seedlings as "compensation," and I suppose if I were that poorly educated and isolated, I might've considered that a reasonable theory, too).

Then there's the matter of stigma: many if not most Indian men (straight and gay) feel highly embarrassed and/or humiliated to buy and use condoms, even once they hear that many prostitutes carry the virus. Of course their wives don't want to inquire as to their possible extramarital sexual activities, either. The same is true in Africa. This is really the main problem, but it's also one where a doctor's stressing that, "If you're going to have sex as an HIV-positive person (or multiple sex partners as an HIV-negative one), you must use a condom," can make a difference: doctors are granted considerable authority by their patients, all the more so obviously when they've just looked you in the eye and told you, You have this virus, and here are some of the medical implications. It's the same general principle as counseling Type 2 diabetics on diet: chances are you already know the broad contours of what they're telling you--yet haven't been doing it--but when a doctor tells you, Look, you have this disease (or are at high risk for it), for many, that will provide the emotional jolt needed to get them to make some changes--maybe all the changes the doctor would ideally like to see, maybe not, but some reform is better than none. It's a doctor's responsibility to use that authority, not just his/her diagnostic and treatment expertise, to stress what is critical, preventively speaking, with a patient; you don't just go, "Well, obviously this one's a lost cause or s/he wouldn't be in this state."

I don't necessarily think it's important for Catholic AIDS care facilities to distribute condoms. I do think it's critical that they stress to patients the risks they take (and inflict) when they or their partners choose to have nonmonogamous sex, and certainly sex while HIV-positive, without condoms. Of course, public information campaigns to the same effect, to reach people before they get to the point of seeking testing or treatment in the first place, would be even better, though I wouldn't hold my breath re: the Catholic Church funding those.
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:43 PM   #41
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Tells me more about your lack of historical knowledge, honestly. As melon pointed out, he was only a Hitler youth member (heck, even Hans and Sophie Scholl as well as the rest of the White Rose members haven been members, and the two of them even liked it very much in the beginning. Until later, when they realized what was really behind it) and later you didn't get asked if you wanted to be a "Flakhelfer".

I have mixed feelings about this, too. On the one hand, it's an improvement from his predecessors stance (who, one might remember, was far more behind on the issue, yet is regarded so much more positively by many), and any word that even remotely takes away the stigmatisation of condoms can only be positive.
On the other hand, in his statement he makes it quite clear that the concept of sexuality within the Catholic church is still outdated.

But progress is good, and as we all know, in the Catholic church it can takes centuries, so we might regard this as "light-speed".
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:05 PM   #42
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It looks like my more cautious/conservative interpretation was probably correct.

http://www.nationalpost.com/m/blog.h...izon&s=Opinion

I'm on my phone currently, so I can't quote anything in particular, but the whole editorial is worth a read.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:42 PM   #43
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My question is why is the Catholic Church being single outed? Other Christian denominations have the same point of view in regards to sexual morality and so do several Non-Christian faiths.

Evangelicals, Jews and Muslims are not dropping condoms out of helicopters either. In some circumstances their views may be more harsh. The Vatican doesn't rule the world. It is only suppose to be a guideline in which Catholics are trying to live their lives by. I may not believe in or choose to have multiple sexual partners. But, I don't judge anyone either. It's not my call. Aids can be a killer, we all know that. I would much rather see people have protected sex than to pass on this disease.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:02 AM   #44
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My question is why is the Catholic Church being single outed?
Well the Catholic church is against pretty much any form of safe sex aren't they, even in married relationships? So that makes them a little different from many religions.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:09 AM   #45
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You are probably right and I attend a Catholic Church for spiritual belief only. I had a very high risk pregnacy. It was not recommended by my Dr. to get pregnant again. I did exactly what my Dr. recommended.

This is where I seperate my spiritual belief from politics or anyone interfering in what is my best health interest.
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