More MSM Foolishness on the Condom Kerfuffle

Monday, November 29, AD 2010

To be honest, I’m a little tired myself of the Great Condom Debate of 2010, and had no intention of blogging about this business.  Then I read this article in the Washington Post, and after almost giving myself a concussion from banging my head on the table, felt the need to vent a little.    It manages to combine MSM ignorance regarding the nuances of theological debate with some casual Catholic dissidence on a great moral matter.    Good times indeed.

The reporter, Michael Ruane, was getting reaction from the parishioners at St. Matthew’s Cathedral yesterday.  It should be noted that until ten months ago this was my parish, and I’m still heavily involved with it.  That the reporter managed to nail down a few people who disagreed with the Church on the issue of contraception is not necessarily an indictment of the Cathedral, as I’m sure he would have – unfortunately – received similar responses at most Churches.

To begin with, Ruane inaccurately summarizes the issue:

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One Response to More MSM Foolishness on the Condom Kerfuffle

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

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2 Responses to Must Read: Mark Brumley

Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

Tuesday, November 23, AD 2010

I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).

In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.

For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert.  I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.

So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction.  Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!

This point is obvious enough that Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is breaking his own arm from patting himself on the back so hard from this discovery (here, here, and here)!

Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.

But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.

Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS

Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online

When Are Points Not Worth Making on Pope & Condoms – Darwin

Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM

Ed Peters: L’Osservatore Romano as Origin of Problem – Fr. Z

Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column

Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)

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48 Responses to Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

  • Steve Kellmeyer’s analysis is brilliant and depressing:

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010Anyone Can Use A Condom?
    Well, the Pope has doubled down on his statement concerning condoms:

    “I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.” [There is that insistence that condom use is a move towards objective good. Again.]

    “This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

    The clarification is significant.

    Yeah, I’d say that last sentence was the understatement of the year.

    Here’s the problem.

    In order to be able to use condoms, the principle of double effect must apply.
    In order for the principle of double effect to apply, the following must be true:

    The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.
    The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.
    The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.
    The proportionality condition The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.
    1a) The use of a condom in a heterosexual encounter is not morally good or indifferent. Insofar as it is contraceptive, it is intrinsically evil. Fail on Test #1 for heterosexuals.

    However, insofar as the use of a condom is NOT contraceptive, it is NOT evil. Since the use of a condom between homosexuals is not a contraceptive act, Pass on Test #1 for homosexuals.

    2a) Since the seminal fluid which carries the sperm also carries the STD, and these two cannot be differentiated or separated, the means of achieving the bad effect (stopping the sperm from being communicated) is identical to the means for achieving the good effect (stopping the STD agent from being communicated) – the same barrier prevents both from obtaining. Fail on Test #2 for heterosexuals.

    Since the presence or absence of sperm is immaterial to the sodomitical act, Pass on Test #2 for homosexuals.

    3a) All that you have, according to the Pope, is a good intent – the desire not to transmit disease, either to yourself or to others or both. Pass on Test #3 for both groups.

    4a) The good effect, keeping disease from being transmitted, is a lesser good than preventing the coming into existence of an immortal person who has the capacity to praise and glorify God for all eternity. Disease and death are temporally self-limiting – at most, they will only apply for a few decades out of eternity, while the person that may be conceived will exist for all eternity. The difference in goodness is infinite. Fail on Test #4 for heterosexuals.

    Since homosexuals cannot bring an immortal person into existence, Pass on Test #4 for homosexuals.

    Results:
    In order for double effect to apply to the use of condoms in marriage or any other encounter, all four tests must pass. As you can see, for heterosexuals, three out of four do not. For homosexuals, all four tests pass and condom use is not a problem.

    Indeed, as I pointed out yesterday, the principle of double effect doesn’t even apply to the homosexual act, since the homosexual act has only one effect – pleasure. There is no procreation, thus there aren’t two effects whose relative merits have to be judged, as there are for the heterosexual act.

    But, of course, because the Vatican is not bothering to explain any of this, and because the Ignatius Press book does not bother to explain any of this, all of this is being ignored. The Pope’s failure, the Vatican’s failure, to adequately contextualize the Pope’s words is creating a firestorm.

    As I said yesterday:

    Just as an action can have multiple consequences, so I can have multiple intentions when I carry out an action.

    According to the Pope, when I use the condom, I may sin through the intent to commit sodomy or fornication, but I do NOT sin by intending to reduce disease transmission.

    Insofar as I use the condom only for that purpose, I do not sin.

    Indeed, according to the Pope, insofar as I use the condom for that purpose, I take the first actions towards moral good, the humanizing of the sexual act.

    It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s what he himself says in the first part of his answer.

    Now, when it comes to sodomy, there is NO difference between the use of a drug that reduces the probability AIDS will be transmitted and the use of a condom.

    So, it is absolutely the case that the Pope is endorsing the use of a condom to prevent disease transmission per se because when I use it FOR THAT INTENTION, I am moving towards the good, which the Church endorses.
    So this is not a question of “how to sin in the least offensive way.”

    The Pope is saying anyone who uses a condom with the intent to reduce disease transmission is doing objective good – taking “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

    And, just as an aside, the Washington Times reports today on the development of EXACTLY the same kind of drug I hypothesized in my example yesterday: a drug that when taken daily by an HIV-negative person reduces the incidence of AIDS acquisition and transmission by 70%.

    Several people have asked whether this isn’t really just an academic question.
    After all, how many people actively involved in sinful sexual activities are worried about condom use?

    As I’ve pointed out previously, the way people rationalize sin is impressive. How many times have we heard the story of the priest or bishop who thought homosexual activity didn’t violate celibacy vows?

    Similarly, is it really outside the pale for those same priests or bishops to insist that they didn’t want to use a condom during their “celibate extra-curricular activities” because the use of a condom was sinful?

    No, I don’t think this was ever just an academic discussion.”

    http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2010/11/anyone-can-use-condom.html

  • Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

    Not at all, and I’m having trouble understanding why some Catholic commentators are not getting this.

    For instance, I don’t think that all and every one of those young misguided college activists vocally criticizing the Church for its condom stance are motivated by purely malicious desires. Some of them genuinely want to help suffering people, albeit in an ignorant and misguided way. Their advocacy of condoms is intended to be a recognition of the human dignity of African AIDS victims. They are wrong, of course, but it’s a better position that not caring whatsoever about the human dignity of suffering Africans.

    The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

  • Even with the clarification, this really ought not be as disconcerting as some apparently think it is. (As I’ve noted in another thread, I *do* think that it was highly imprudent of L’OR to publish *this* excerpt, particularly without comment or context.)

    The use of a condom in intercourse is gravely immoral. The intent does not change that.

    *But*, the intent in this example can and does indicate *some* positive stirring in the heart of the contracepting person, even though it doesn’t change the gravity of their sin.

  • Hey Tito,
    Add me to the chorus?

    http://vox-nova.com/2010/11/23/pope-benedict-doubles-down-on-condoms/

    By the way, good point Michael B.

  • Michael B. said : The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

    Perfectly and concisely written, Michael B. – thank you. Someone high up in the Vatican should say this. It won’t help with calming down the drumbeat from the major media outlets but the faithful could use more authoritative and concise teaching.

  • Interesting that Fr L. implied that Transsexuals are neither male nor female, but something apart.

  • From a comment on Brett’s thread over at Vox Nova:

    “So may I ask a serious question? For those people that are the so called cafeteria catholics, that read what is written, and yet use their own minds and come to their own conclusions on certain things. Were they wrong then? I mean I often listen to people who love to call out the cafeteria catholics and basically make them feel like they are sinners- or more prone to sin than others are. However, one has to reason for themsleves in some ways based on certain situations in the world. Another thing I notice when I look around on Sundays is, if everyone was not using some form of birth control, then why are the pews not filled with families with children of 5 to 8 children? I think this reversal by the Pope is really something. I personally was sort of amazed at the take by so many that it was only homo-sexuals the Pope was referring too. I just didnt see it that way when I read the statement for myself. Now more light has been shed by the Pope. Ijust think sin is what it is. Everyone know’s what sin is and sometimes we sin anyway. We are all sinners. Yet if we are going to sin, then wouldnt one take precautions? I mean I know that makes me a class ‘a’ sinner I suppose. But isnt that logic? With what we know today, and how man is fallen, why can we not use our own logic sometimes?”

    http://vox-nova.com/2010/11/23/pope-benedict-doubles-down-on-condoms/

    This I think is not going to be an atypical reaction among many, many Catholics. The Pope has blithely done serious damage through his remarks to basic Church teaching in this area. For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception. I will leave to others the task of picking out the slivers of silver in this deeply black cloud.

  • It’s interesting that the orthodoxy in Humanae Vitae seriously damaged Pope Paul VI’s papacy to the point he never issued another encyclical.

    The irony being that on the surface it looks as if Pope Benedict XVI has challenged this orthodoxy (Humanae Vitae) and in the end ultimately damaged his papacy to the point in which anything he says will be rendered irrelevant because of his off the cuff remarks.

    His Holiness has created a crack in Church teaching, as much as it was carefully worded, this “opening” will be used by dissident Catholics to further deconstruct more Church teachings.

    That is my grave worry.

  • It’s not clear that double effect is doing the heavy lifting here. In Rhohnheimer’s fuller articulation of his position in his debate with Fr. Benedict Guevin (available here: http://americanpapist.com/ncbq/562030k671p51440.pdf) he *rejects* the claim that his argument is grounded in double effect. He does so because (1) not *everything* praeter intentionem is analyzable according to double effect and (2) on his reading “using a condom” does not sufficiently render the *object* of the intentional act clear. If Rhonheimer’s thought is behind the recent clarification–and I would guess that it is–then double effect is a red herring. Now, you may not be persuaded by Rhonheimer’s arguments; but you don’t have to be. You just have to trust that the CHurch knows what she’s doing, here.

  • Donald,

    I would encourage you to better your understanding of the Church’s teaching in Humana Vitae and of the principles behind her sexual ethic before you go running around tellings us all that the sky is falling. Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?

  • “For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception.”

    If the distinction is true, it’s true, Donald, even if it might make it harder to understand and explain.

    There is no crack in Church teaching either, Tito… this position has been a licit one.

    Just yesterday I had a phone call from a woman who was very distressed because of the Church’s teaching on the illicit nature of having a tubal ligation even in the case where a pregnancy would be life-threatening. The subtlety of the Church’s teaching made it difficult to explain, but it is what it is.

    Not only is Benedict a brilliant theologian, but he spent 20+ years addressing precise questions like this and discerning the Church’s teaching. I understand why it might be somewhat confusing, but I think we can trust in the Holy Father.

  • WJ may be correct. Rhonheimer is clearly using a distinct understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect than has traditionally been used. Again he is taking off from Grisez’s development of the moral object if I understand correctly. This understanding of the moral object as well as double effect leads to some different and controversial conclusions including the validity of using condoms in marriage to prevent disease transmission. (It also allows for craniotomy to deliver a baby in order to save the life of the mother. But that’s a whole other can of worms.)

    This understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect has not been definitively endorsed by the Church and the Pope has called on moral theologians and philosophers to write about this theory so that the Church can proceed to pronounce on it. There are many out there who do disagree with it.

    The bottom line is the Pope, being the theoretician he is, offered a conditional “may” to his statement on the licitness of condom use. But that subtlety is lost on the MSM.

  • “Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?”

    His view should bloody well be more complete and subtle than my own since he has spent his entire life doing theology and I am just a country shyster. However, it takes no great subtlety of intellect to recognize that the Pope’s comments are an unmitigated disaster for the Church in regard to the use of condoms as contraceptives, and that the Pope doesn’t seem to be bothered by the havoc that his remarks have created. That strikes me as extremely irresponsible for the Vicar of Christ. If a Pope blunders badly, in my view, I am not going to pretend that I think he has engaged in some masterstroke.

  • One issue at play for the Church is that most people were already rejecting her teaching on artificial contraception. In my experience, anyone who was looking for an excuse to ignore the Church on this question already felt they had one. I’m not sure Benedict could have screwed this up as much as Donald and others think he did. What was there to screw up? Who is this demographic that was willing to listen to the Church on the question of artificial contraception until last weekend?

    It may even be possible that there is a demographic (though also a tiny one) that has now found the Church’s teaching more credible. Or at least they are more ready to hear it now that it is clearer that it doesn’t imply that the Church thinks prostitutes etc. are better off unprotected.

  • What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?

  • Prostitutes are better off not fornicating. Not using a condom.

  • Tito,

    Benedict said that condoms are never a moral solution. *Never*. He was clear on that.

  • Tito,

    That’s very true. But the Pope is not rejecting the proposition in question, so the point seems to be moot. Or do you think he is rejecting the proposition in question?

  • I know I’m stating the obvious when I point out that moral theology can be complex and very precise, exactly because the human person is a complex entity, particularly when it comes to human action. So if a question is posed which *necessitates* giving an answer with fine distinctions, we either try to avoid the question or explain the answer as best we can. But the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak… the question was asked.

  • “What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?”

    Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex, and that in regard to the example of the homosexual prostitute with aids, the prostitute’s idea of using a condom with its failure rate indicates that in addition to being involved in mortal sin he is also either hopelessly foolish or callous.

    This whole farce demonstrates that Popes should have long ago left collegiate bull sessions behind before ascending to the chair of Peter.

  • “maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But he *did*. Condoms are never a moral solution. That’s what he said.

    Why do you think this is a *farce*?

  • “Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But Donald–this would not have been true to say! I understand that this is what you you *prefer* Church teaching to be on this issue, but that doesn’t make it Church teaching! The reality, as Chris Burgwald points out, is much more complex and involves a much higher degree of precision.

  • Let me specify, in case there is confusion. Donald’s statement is not unambiguously correct for two reasons:

    1. “For any purpose” is too broad. Suppose that, for example, a married couple uses a condom during the act of fellatio (not ending in male orgasm) prior to the act of intercourse itself. The Church has no stance on this. What Donald means is something much more precise–that a condom may not be used in order to impede the properly procreative aspect of the marital act. But specifying what this entails is very difficult, especially in some circumstances, like:

    2. The case of an infertile couple one of whom is HIV positive. As Fr. Rhonheimer points out, the Church’s teaching on the use of a condom in this scenario is *not defined*. That’s not to say that there’s no answer to the question; it is to say that the Church has not been able, yet, to determine what the proper approach to this scenario should be. These are hard issues.

  • I guess WJ and Chris need to debate each other now.

    Chris, after the muddying of the waters the Pope engaged in his with his remarks, I wouldn’t wager five bucks on what he would say next in this area.

    It is a farce because the Pope obviously made a blunder and he is too proud or too cautious or too something to walk it back. Poor Father Lombardi gets to play the bumbling go between twixt a Pope who is apparently not going to explain himself any further and Catholics crying out for further direction from their Pontiff. It would take a heart of stone not to to see the comedic elements in this.

  • I don’t imagine that Chris and I disagree on anything substantive in this area. I am open to his correction or clarification, in any case.

    Donald, you continue to assert that the “Pope obviously made a blunder” even after you have admitted that the Pope has a far better grasp of the moral theology at work here than you do. Your claim that he “obviously made a blunder” is grounded in nothing than your obsession on what everybody is saying about this clarification in the two or three days since its first being reported, and your forecast that this clarification will somehow sound a death knell for the Church’s teaching on contraception–a teaching, as Brett points out, that was not exactly uncontroversial or readily accepted by Catholics even before the Pope’s comments. If you want to apportion blame to somebody, a better target, given your concerns, would be the editorial staff of LOR rather than Benedict XVI himself, who did nothing other than answer, truthfully and honestly, a question that was posed to him. Your own ‘preferred’ answer which you would substitute for Benedict’s actually misrepresents Church teaching! Reality is complex, Donald, which does not mean it is not also precise. It is both, and the moral theology of the Church, because it is *true*, is also both.

  • Okay, if we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, WJ is correct. So there is no debate between us. Jimmy Akin has done an admirable job recently and less recently trying to give a layman’s explanation of this… see here (http://www.jimmyakin.org/2006/05/contraception_e.html) from 2005 and here (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/understanding-the-popes-dilemma-on-condoms/) from the other day (Tito linked it on Monday).

    Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.

  • Here’s a key section from Jimmy’s recent article:

    “What the Church—in Humanae Vitae and the Catechism—has done is say that one cannot deliberately frustrate the procreative aspect of sexual intercourse between man and wife.

    “That’s actually a fairly narrow statement. It doesn’t even address all situations that may arise in marriages, because there may be situations in which the law of double effect would allow the toleration of a contraceptive effect as long as this is a side effect of the action rather than being intended as a means or an end.

    “It thus would rule out the use of a condom to prevent a husband and wife from conceiving a child, but that doesn’t address condom use in other situations. Thus far the Church has not explored the question of condom use—or other, typically contraceptive acts—in cases outside of marriage.”

    What Don wished the Holy Father would’ve said is something which the vast majority of Catholics — including orthodox, practicing Catholics — think the Church’s teaching is. And honestly, that’s often how I’ve personally taught it for “popular” consumption, because it’s simpler and easier. But in the end, it’s I who have done the disservice to the truth, not the Holy Father.

    (There’s a reason I chose dogmatic theology instead of moral! 🙂

  • “Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.”

    I think he blundered in a number of areas actually:

    1. Interviews to be published in book form are not a proper forum for a pope to be engaging in fairly abstruse theorizing. Save that for lengthy encyclicals where he can provide a full array of caveats for specialists to earn their butter analyzing for the next few centuries and the specifics of which the laity will happily be ignorant of.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    8. Failure to recognize that advice to confessors hearing a confession is bound to be misconstrued by the media and many, many Catholics.

    I am sure that I can think of many more. This is a disaster of the first water on so many levels. As to the doctrinal implications, we will simply have to wait until the Pope sorts out this mess, assuming he ever does.

  • Donald,

    I continue to think you are exaggerating the fall-out from this (Will anybody even talk about this two weeks from now? I doubt it.), but I have to chuckle at a couple of your items: the “hapless Fr. Lombardi” is really a terrific phrase.

  • Actually WJ I hope no one will be talking about this in the next two weeks, as I think the whole affair is damaging to the Pope. Unfortunately the Pope has sent in motion debate in an area where there are many questions, and until the Pope addresses the questions, if he ever does, the debate will continue. The mainstream media, which knows as much about Catholicism as Bill Clinton does about chastity, will move on to other things until some priest begins handing out condoms to gays and says he is doing this out of obedience to the pope or a nun decides for the same reason to pass out condoms to female prostitutes for use by their male clientele. Sadly, I think this particular tempest is just beginning.

  • There’s another distinction which needs to be made…

    WJ has been noting (and I’ve concurred) that there’s actually greater complexity on the question of the morality of condoms than we often think. And that’s true.

    But in my reading of the excerpt from LOTW, I don’t think the Holy Father is necessarily getting into that topic. As I and others have noted, I think he’s making the point that someone who uses a condom to avoid passing on HIV is manifesting even the smallest spark of an awakening in their conscience. Even if condoms were wrong in every circumstance, this would be true. And we need not and ought not fear the truth.

    (I started this comment much earlier, hence its lack of interaction with the last couple posts.)

  • I concur. My presentation of the complexities involving the use of condoms was not intended as a parsing of the Pope’s statements in LOTW, but as a response to those who (seem) to think that a correct reading of HV allows no leeway for the Pope to do this. Chris is correct, though, that the interview itself doesn’t necessitate bringing in these other considerations. (They rather arise in trying to explain to others *why* what the Pope said isn’t a change or a development so much as a clarification of an existing position.)

  • I disagree. If he had said this in an encyclical it would have been worse. this interview was designed to be accessible to the general public; non-theologians can read it. Encyclicals largely aren’t read by the general public, which means what they get is entirely through the media. Putting the nuances in an encyclical is a waste of time, b/c those nuances aren’t going to make it into the NYT.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    I think he did. It’s pretty clear; I really don’t know what the argument’s about. What else does he need to say?

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    I think the Pope has accepted that no matter what he says, it will be taken out of context or manipulated to serve the narrative of the secular world. He’s stop caring b/c there’s nothing he or anyone else can do about it. While the Vatican could do a better job with PR, it’s not like the bad press is BXVI’s fault.

    And sometimes, havoc is good. If someone using contraception reads this and sees “well, I can use it for disease prevention but not for other reasons,” then that is probably an advance in moral reasoning for that person. We can argue about the disease cases, but for most people that’s not an issue. The real issue is the ones who contracept so they can buy a Lexus, and those people may actually be struck to reexamine Church teaching, and their hearts may convert.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    It’s a factor to overall morality. But the failure rate doesn’t affect whether it’s a step in the right direction. It’s still immoral; failure rate is only relevant when we’re discussing whether you can use double effect to justify the use, a position the pope explicitly rejected.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    This isn’t a vague and unrealistic law school hypo; people have this situation in real life and need guidance as to how to their lives in accordance with the truth. Theology has very practical purposes, and this question and answer have very practical ramifications. Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    I agree with this one. LOR needs to have its shops cleaned. Heads need to roll.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    So when confronted with difficult questions, the pope ought to back down? I really don’t buy the notion you seem to be pushing, namely that the pope ought to avoid these difficult and tricky questions. If the Church is going to be a credible source of guidance, we need to plunge into these issues in order to provide witness even in the most of circumstances.

    As has already been said, this will be a non-issue outside of Catholic circles at least in the US. Many in Africa will try to justify use of condoms with this, but they’re the ones who have already been skirting the rules. I imagine it will take some time, but I expect there to be a more detailed discussion from the Vatican.

    And finally, all this snarking at the pope boils down to one thing: do you think the pope is a holy man? I think he is, and I think he is one who follows what he discerns is god’s will. I trust him to make the right decisions for the Church, and even when it seems cloudy I think all will turn out for the best. The pope can make mistakes, and while this didn’t go down in the ideal way, it’s hardly an unmitigated disaster. I think much fruit can come from this.

  • If what some have been saying that the Pope is very well aware that his comments would cause such a stir, then maybe an explanation is forthcoming from His Holiness in anticipation of the brouhaha.

    And if it isn’t, then this indeed is a blunder on the part of good Pope Benedict.

    If the pope is going to rely on “theologians” to explain away his comments, then why bother with the Magisterium.

    A statement such as this needs to be fleshed out in an encyclical, papal bull, apostolic letter, whatever means necessary on a controversial and heated topic such as condom-use.

    Not a second-rate paper that is the semi-official mouthpiece of the Vatican and armchair theologians such as myself.

  • “do you think the pope is a holy man? ”

    Not knowing him personally Michael I have no way of knowing. The Church has had holy men as Popes who have been disasters, Saint Celestine V is a prime example, and less than holy Popes who have been effective stewards of the Church, Julius II coming to mind in that category. Until this fiasco I would have said that on balance the Pope was an effective steward of the Church. Now I would not say that.

  • “Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.”

    Yes, the Catholic world was in anguish over whether male prostitutes using condoms were taking a baby step toward God as a result. What may be going on here of course is that the Pope took a lot of flak last year for his stance against the use of condoms by aids infected heterosexuals in Africa and he is simply tired of taking the flak. Until the Pope explains himself further, if he ever does, who knows.

  • Tito, the norm (with occasional exceptions) throughout the life of the Church is that the Magisterium presents what the Church teaches, and one of the tasks of theologians is to explain that teaching. Paul VI didn’t explain HV… theologians did.

    In many cases, the explanation requires significantly more paper than the teaching. To give an example which is one of the exceptions to the norm, JPII sought out to explain HV… look at the number of words he took in Theology of the Body (let alone his pre-papal books) to present his explanation of HV (which is a fairly short document).

  • HV is a very well written document, with the exception of order of certain topics.

    I didn’t need to read a 500 page theological journal on condom use through the lens of HV to know that using condoms at all was wrong on all levels.

    HV is a beautifully written and simple document.

    If it takes a 500 page theological journal to explain certain aspects of our faith, then I’m all for it.

    Hence my confusion with the pope’s latest statement. He wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra, regardless of how many times people such as Damian Thompson say that the pope gave his blessing to justified use of condoms (which His Holiness did not say whatsoever), nor was he expounding on a theological point.

    He gave his “opinion” in a certain situation where it “may” arise that a condom may be used.

    That is where my confusion comes from because was he then speaking and creating a new Church teaching or was he simply stating his opinion, or a little a both.

    Confusion.

    His Holiness cannot say seven months prior that condoms have caused an increase in the spread of AIDS in Africa and then reverse himself and say that it is acceptable in certain situation.

    Confusion.

    I’m confused! Confused. Confused.

  • Tito, he didn’t say it was acceptable. He didn’t say a condom may be used (i.e. he didn’t say it was moral to do so). Please read Brumley’s interview.

    And as Jimmy Akin indicates in the article at NCRegister which you and I have both linked to, HV doesn’t say that condoms are always and in every instance wrong.

  • Chris,

    I was paraphrasing and mocking Damian Thompson.

    I know he (Pope) didn’t say it was permissible.

  • Tito,

    Sorry, I didn’t catch the sarcasm… I haven’t read DT on this yet. 🙂

  • Chris,

    No biggie.

    🙂

    I know we’re engaging in dialogue on a difficult subject.

    I have friends who are solid Catholics with better foundations than I do that are just devastated by what the Pope said and so I want more clarification of what His Holiness meant by his comments.

    So I’m also commenting as proxy for them because the pope’s comments have disturbed me enough that I need to flesh it out myself in this forum to clear the catechetical cobwebs.

  • Don’t let this imbroglio unduly disturb you Tito. In 2000 years we have had plenty of them as one would expect of an institution that is Divine, but also Human.

    Mentioning Julius II above always reminds me of the finest film depiction of any pope:

  • Don,

    I’m not to worried about the Gates of Hell prevailing one bit.

    I guess my concern is more for my friends who seem to be having a minor (hopefully not major) crisis in their faith due to the Pope’s ‘comments’.

    That is a great film! The Agony and the Ecstasy!

    I love the line where Pope Julius II is setting contractual terms to a kneeling Michelangelo and he says “…for this you will be paid three, ahhhh, two thousand ducats, less the rent of the house”.

    Makes

  • I finally read the entire two pages (if that) of the ‘condom comments’ Pope Benedict was quoted in saying.

    The entire passage is pretty much clear on Church teaching and other topics.

    It’s the follow up question that provokes the ‘condom comment’.

    Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

    Pope Benedict XVI: 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.

    Basically the Pope did not endorse, justify (sorry Damian Thompson), nor bless (again, sorry Damian Thompson, you need new reading glasses) the use of condoms.

    It’s a first step.

    Meaning that a progression of this persons morality towards abstinence is in order, ie, understanding the fuller sense of sexuality. The procreative and unitive act that is ultimately what sex is for, of course, in a marital state.

    I feel much better.

    I’m purchasing the new book by Peter Seewald.

    The very first Peter Seewald interview(s)/book with then Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, was a major factor in bringing me back into the faith.

    Talk about a desert of heart and mind that needed the refreshing waterfall of Cardinal Ratzinger’s insight and wisdom.

    L’Osservatore Romano needs to be purged.

    First the editor, then the rest of the staff.

    Those guys are nasty, mean-spirited, and vindictive invertebrates.

  • I wouldn’t say that L’Osservatore Romano editors and work-staff are incompetent, they are fully competent.

    They openly and with full knowledge purposely released snippets of the book to get the media to react the way they did. Putting PBXVI in a tough situation on the narrowest of exceptions (if it can even be called that).

    L’Osservatore Romano is no better than the New York Times or National Catholic Reporter.

  • Glad you found the actual words helpful, Tito.

    For what it’s worth, a couple hours ago I recorded the weekly podcast, “Prairie Rome Companion”, I host in my day job, and my guest co-host this week was Carl Olson. I’d asked Carl last week to be on to talk about the new post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini which came out a couple weeks back (Carl wrote an article for it for OSV), but given his work for Ignatius Press, we also talked about the book. I’ll try to remember to give a link once we’re able to get it online, which will probably be early next week.

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When Are Points Not Worth Making?

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

The media firestorm swirling around Pope Benedict’s discussion of morality and condom use seems like a good illustration of the problem of great trouble and anguish being caused by making completely true and reasonable points. The pope’s comment itself is both true and sensible: there is nothing magically wicked about condoms in and of themselves, rather it is using them in order to render sexual relations sterile which is immoral. However, because the pope is such a uniquely high-profile figure in the world, both those (inside and outside the Church) who are desperately eager for the Church to approve artificial contraception as morally licit, and those who live in constant fear that the faith will somehow be betrayed to the ravening hoards outside, immediately went into full freak-out mode.

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20 Responses to When Are Points Not Worth Making?

  • I think one further factor to consider here is that, even if there is confusion around what the Pope said, that does not mean that people know less about Catholic teaching than they used to. Most people (inside and outside the Church) don’t know what the Church says on this stuff. Just yesterday, a Protestant who has known me for years, shocked me by suggesting that Catholics can only have sex when procreation is explicitly intended. Public discussion can’t do that much harm when everyone is already mistaken on the question in question.

  • I agree, somewhat, with Darwin here, but I feel the truth of Brett’s remark. What has been surprising to me isthe very great number of people who *think* that they know what the Church teaches in this area but who, judging from their frankly hysterical response to Benedict’s comment, really have no idea of the principles behind the Church’s sexual ethic. This points to a serious failure in catechesis–on the part of bishops, priests, and even the laity.

    Now, all this being said, I also think–but here I am open to correction–that Benedict’s statement *does* open the door somewhat for the Church’s prudential support of *some* ways of handling the HIV epidemic in Africa in *certain instances* which up until this point the hierarchy was wary of supporting. It seems to me that once you allow (1) the context of illiceity of sexual activity and (2) the possibility that using a condom in such illicit sexual activity *may* be a step toward arriving at a more fully human version of sexuality, at some point during which the illicit actions would cease altogether, then you have an argument for the *prudential* and *careful* acknowledgment that *certain* sectors of the population, *if* it is known that they will be acting illicitly in any case, *may* be encouraged “at least to use a condom.” Am I wrong here?

  • Your point seems to me well taken.

    In family life, among friends, at work, and in broader discussions like this, one simply must take the audience into account and ask how nuanced statements will be simplified and whether such simplification will have other than the intended meaning. This is particularly true for “public figures” such as heads of state.

    I seem to recall that His Holiness had a similar experience when he offered an academic point on the perceptions of Islam in the West.

  • No you are not WJ, and that is precisely why the Pope’s off the cuff remark is a disaster. People are going to argue that it is morally licit to use a condom to prevent STDs and the Church’s stand against this form of contraception goes right out the window. I cannot put a smiley face on this one. The Pope blundered and he blundered badly in apparently not recognizing the firestorm his theorizing would cause.

  • Donald,

    But I think this formulation is too vague: “People are going to argue that it is morally licit to use a condom to prevent STDs.”

    People may argue anything they wish, but the disputed proposition: “That it is morally licit to use a condom to prevent STDs” needs to be clarified and made more precise before you can even begin to affirm or deny it.

  • Yes, WJ’s post demonstrates the problem perfectly. No, the Pope didn’t say it could be licit to encourage condom use in certain circumstances. He simply pointed out that there are different levels of seriousness of sin, and someone who’s living a life of depravity might try to take a first step out of it by replacing a more serious sin (giving someone a deadly disease) with a lesser (but still serious) one like using a condom. It would be wrong to tell someone it’s okay to skip Mass every other week. But if someone goes from attending once a year to attending once a month, we can recognize that as a positive change while still understanding the remaining sin involved.

    I’m thinking that this kind of nuanced application of dogma to specific circumstances belongs in the confessional or rectory office, or even the pulpit, but not an edited interview. Not only is DarwinCatholic right about how it affects the three groups of people he mentions, but it was completely predictable that it would do so. Did we learn nothing from the way Humanae Vitae was treated? Millions of Catholics already thought artificial birth control was okay, despite that document’s complete opposition, simply because its very existence gave dissenters a context to go out and preach as if it taught the opposite.

    It’s just not enough to say, “Well, if you look at what the pope really said….” That’s not how it works in today’s world, if it ever did. If you want to get your message out clearly, you have to make it happen yourself. You can’t chat into a microphone for a while and expect that when it gets edited down and discussed in the press, your points will be clear and treated fairly. That will not happen.

  • Brett,

    I can see that to an extent, though I think people starting out in some degree of ignorance many not necessarily mean that any change is good. For instance, if a Catholic starts out with the idea that “the Church says condoms are eeeeeeeevil” and gets from this some muddled idea of “actually, the pope says it’s okay to use condoms sometimes” I think that person would have been made worse off. His original idea would have been a distortion of Catholic doctrine and lacked an understanding of why we don’t use contraception, but this new mistaken view is likely to be more destructive than his old mistake view in regards to his own life and morality.

    Nor, to be honest, am I all that optimistic that many non-Catholic are learning why the Church really teaches as it does about birth control as a result of this, since most of the reporting is so ignorant as to be little help in that regard.

    All that said, if one told the pope he could never speak on any nuanced topic at all for fear of being misreported and thus harming people, the pope could never say anything and that would be rather useless.

    I don’t have an answer here on this particular issue — though I think L’Osservatore Romano is rather at fault in this case for making a poor selection of quotes, given how avidly watched they are. And like all such teapot tempests, this will blow over soon enough and be forgotten by most people.

    I do think there are some topics which it’s problematic to spend too much time speculating, especially before a mainstream audience, however, because poking around the fringes can sometimes cause more harm than good in regards to understanding.

    WJ,

    It seems to me that once you allow (1) the context of illiceity of sexual activity and (2) the possibility that using a condom in such illicit sexual activity *may* be a step toward arriving at a more fully human version of sexuality, at some point during which the illicit actions would cease altogether, then you have an argument for the *prudential* and *careful* acknowledgment that *certain* sectors of the population, *if* it is known that they will be acting illicitly in any case, *may* be encouraged “at least to use a condom.” Am I wrong here?

    I think the problem is when we get to the word “encourage”. When you start encouraging people to do something, even when you say you consider it the lesser of evils, people immediately start getting the idea it’s okay.

    Pick something there’s agreement between the Church and secular culture is wrong and I think this becomes pretty clear: If the Church tried to reduce the injury to women in cultures where wife beating is common by saying, “Beating your wife is always wrong, but if you really must do so, please use a leather strap rather than a baseball bat, metal wrench, or other hard object. We would be happy to distribute leather belts to at any of our missionary facilities for this purpose.” I think people would be justified to run with the headline, “Church Endorses Wife Beating!!!”

    It seems to me that people who are already having illicit sex are prettly clearly willing to do what they want regardless of what the Church says, and that by pushing condoms through its organizations in Africa and other AIDS stricken areas the Church would mainly serve to destroy its ability to communicate its teaching on sexuality, and accomplish very little (if anything) to anyone’s benefit in slowing the spread of AIDS.

  • Aaron,

    Though to be fair, the interview in question was an un-edited, book-length interview by a journalist who has been completely fair and transparant with similar interviews with Ratzinger prior to his becoming pope. In this case, I think the inciting incident was L’Osservatore Romano’s choice to publish a short excerpt including that section of the book.

    But I think there is, at times, a danger for those who are deeply educated in theology to get interested in quirky moral situations which, presented to the wrong audience, can end up confusing ordinary lay people more than educating them.

  • I’m not sure how you discuss contraception without getting into nuance anyway, so I can’t fault the pope. I also don’t think it’s healthy to pretend a moral doctrine has no nuance when it does-intellectual dishonest may be more damaging than the misleading nuance. The Church is about truth, and not recognizing truth simply b/c the truth is difficult to explain is very dangerous doctrine to accept.

    The real culprit is LOR, who instead of waiting for the MSM to dig through a book to find this quote, served up the out of context quote on a silver platter, ripe for misinterpretation. They practically did the MSM’s job for them. Severe consequences for this, just the latest in a line of embarrassments from that paper, need to come.

  • In the context of homosexual “sex,” how is condom use in and of itself illicit? It has no contraceptive effect at all. Homosexual “sex” is certainly morally illicit, but I honestly don’t understand why or how the introduction of a condom in that context can be immoral. If anything, it can be, as the Holy Father suggests, a morally responsible act that lessens the overall sinfulness by trying to avoid giving (additional) injury to another.

  • There are so many hidden parts to this story that one might have to be Sherlock Holmes to put it all together. Why did the Vatican’s newspaper publish an excerpt of a rather long abstract conversation that the Holy Father had with Peter Seewald concerning an admitted very rare situation on the subject of condoms? The book is loaded with all kinds of fascinating info in which the Holy Father tells Peter Seewald his thoughts on the Abuse Scandal, Father Maciel, Islam, the world economy, and on and on. Yet, an abstract thought is published. The Holy Father has never claimed to be adept at political spin, but there are many in the Vatican who are. Why did someone (some people) allow this abstract thought to be published in the Vatican’s newspaper. What did they hope to gain? Did they hope to change the Church’s stance on birth control, or did they want to embarrass the Holy Father?

  • Dave,

    I think you’re overestimating the intelligence of the LOR folk; it’s unlikely that this was the result of some grand conspiracy, and more likely that it resulted from sheer incompetence.

    I have another question that perhaps a moral theologian might answer. If you *know* that a male prostitute will be engaging in illicit acts of sex with other males and you give him a condom and tell him that he must think of others, etc. are you formally cooperating with evil?

  • WJ said: If you *know* that a male prostitute will be engaging in illicit acts of sex with other males and you give him a condom and tell him that he must think of others, etc. are you formally cooperating with evil?

    I think one would have to instruct the prostitute that engaging in illicit sex is wrong, with or without a condom.

  • Zeppo,
    Sure, that is sensible, but it does not answer WJ’s question — unless you are suggesting that the boilerplate instruction gives warrant for such distribution. Frankly, I have always thought that the answer to WJ’s question, was yes until I studied “formal cooperation” and concluded that the answer was not so obvious and perhaps contingent on other subsidiary facts and circumstances.
    A similar question has come up in the context of the distribution of clean needles to users of illegal drugs, and it has been the subject of considerable debate on this very forum IIRC. I originally argued in favor of always immoral, only to allow additional self-study to confuse me into less certainty.
    I continue to think that the actual use of condoms by homosexual prostitutes is an easier moral question; the distribution of such items for such use strikes me as more fact dependent, though in the end both may involve prudential calculuses — unlike homosexual sex itself, which is intrinsically immoral.

  • I don’t think L’Osservatore Romano is “the Vatican’s newspaper” in the same sense it used to be. At least, not in the sense I thought they used to be. The best analogy I can think of is, unfortunately, the way Pravda was the voice of the Soviet Union.

    On a bit of a tangent, I don’t like what the internet has done to the way many (including me) view the Vatican. We want to know the inner workings, and look for subtle power plays. I wish I approached the Church more with reverence and less with sophistication.

  • WJ, I am the last person who believes in conspriacy theories. I simply believe that someone or some group had an agenda. As I indicated, there were so many excerpts that would have been far more fitting than the one they used.

  • Pope hinted he could resign, which may be a sign of approaching dementia.

  • I’ve not joined those who’ve been strongly critical of Gian Maria Vann’s tenure as editor of L’OR… until now.

    With others here and elsewhere, I concur that this was a major error on Vann’s part… of *all* the excerpts he could’ve chosen to publish, why this one? And why do so while the book was under embargo?

  • Chris

    I would ask what Ignatius thought of L’OR ‘s publication of the excerpts; I still can see it as being pre-planned by the two to get people talking and thinking about this very section of the book, and perhaps the Pope himself wanted it to be out in the public like this. We don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case. This strikes to me as something planned, not a mistake.

  • Henry,

    Prima facie that’s certainly plausible, but given that IP’s “official” blogger, Carl Olson, has been quoting and linking articles critical of L’OR’s actions at the “official” IP blog tells me otherwise.

Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

The Pope’s comments in an unauthorized excerpt release from Peter Seewald’s latest book, “Light of the World, The Pope, The Church and The Signs of the Times”, has caused quite a stir.

Basically he said, as an extreme example, if a male prostitute was to use a condom during sex, it was a step towards a better morality.

Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.

Nonetheless, the secular media, like clockwork, has declared that condoms are now allowed by all fornicators (not like dissident Catholics were following the teachings of the Church anyways).

So here is a short roundup of the better informed among us:

Pope Approves Restricted Use of Condoms? – M.J. Andrew, TAC

Understanding Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRgstr

Condoms, Consistency, (mis)Communication – Thomas Peters, AmP

Pope Changed Church Condoms Teaching? – Q. de la Bedoyere, CH

A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion

Pope: Condoms, Sex Abuse, Resignation & Movie Nights – John Allen

What The Pope Really Said About Condoms in New Book? – Janet Smith

Ginger Factor: Pope Approves of Condoms! – Jeff Miller, The Crt Jstr

The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms May Be ‘First Step’ In Moralization of Sexuality – Cth Herald

Pope Did Not Endorse the Use of Condoms – Fr. Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?

Did Pope Change Teaching About Condoms? – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

(Hat tips:  The Pulpit & Henry Karlson)

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15 Responses to Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-13-2009

Wednesday, May 13, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  Mark Shea has accused the pro-life anti-abortion torture defenders for creating the ‘nightmare’ of Patriot Act abuse.  A homeschooled kid was arrested under suspicion of sending death threats to President Obama via his computer.  It seems as if someone hijacked his IP address to issue those death threats.  As of now he is in jail and hasn’t been allowed to meet his family nor lawyers.

To read Mark Shea’s posting on this click here.

2.  Child molesters in the Church again?  Nope, but the mainstream media isn’t picking up on the story of a Los Angeles school district ‘repeatedly’ returning child molesters to the classrooms.  In a front page story on May 10 the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) “repeatedly” returned teachers and aides credibly accused of child molestation back to classrooms, and these individuals then molested children again.  The major networks, MSNBC, and CNN have failed to pick up on this story.

For the full story by Dave Pierre of NewBusters click here.

3.  It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.  Which is directly contrary to Pope Benedict XVI’s (as well as the Magisterium’s teaching) statement that condoms were not the solution to the problem of AIDS.  Fr. Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, is a board member of Millennium Promise which promotes condom use to fight the spread of AIDS.

For the article click here.

[Update I:I want to make an addendum that so many of you insist I make.  I want to also add that Fr. John Jenkins seems to support abortion as well as condom usage.

Millenium Promise, the organization that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member of clearly states on their very own website the following:

(http://www.millenniumpromise.org/site/DocServer/Millennium_Development_Goals_Report_2008.pdf?docID=1841)

Which can be found on the main webpage of Millenium PromiseEmphasis mine.:

Page 84 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Budget and Procurement. The budget for the HIV/AIDS response depends on a number of factors. On the treatment side, the major budgetary concern is the provision of ARV drugs to those in need. Beyond ARV costs, other costs include staffing, other medication, CD4 counts, prevention programming, condom provision, nutritional supplementation, and VHW support.

Page 85 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Communication for Preventing Disease and Changing Behavior: Behavior change communication plays a key role in preventing the spread of HIV and must be seen as a central element in any response to HIV/AIDS. This core intervention includes education, awareness building, advocacy, condom distribution, and education (both male and female), rights building, and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) promotion among other activities.

Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling; (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral, transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on abortion:

Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred. However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level, provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists.]

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88 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-13-2009

  • It is unfortunate, but unsurprising, that Mr. Shea’s response to the evidence that there is more to the story – in fact, that the underlying premise is 100% false – is to retort, “But Charles Krauthammer is eeevil.” Well, perhaps, and I’m no supporter of Charles K’s stance on torture, but that doesn’t make the story one is relating any more true.

  • I’m a bit surprised by his statement, but that is what he wrote and I printed it word for word. I can understand his passion, but to paint a whole swath of good Catholics as part of the problem in abusing the Patriot Act is a bit much.

  • Yeah, it sounds like on Shea’s story, the kid was arrested on a standard federal warrant (no Patriot Act invocation), the charge is that he repeatedly called in false bomb threats to schools in return for money from students (who wanted the day off), and he’s a known internet prank caller — though his mother disputes that he ever made bomb threats, and he has in fact been charge and appeared in court several times along with a state appointed attourney.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/05/teenage-bomb-threat-suspect-was-an-internet-prank-phone-call-star/

    So nearly everything Shea is basing his post on is wrong, but aside from that…

    I hope this isn’t a sign of Bush derangement syndrome morphing seamlessly into Obama derangement syndrome. There are enough real bad things to decry about the current administration without people insisting that homeschoolers are being scooped up by a Patriot Act weilding Obama and imprisoned without charge.

  • Very good news from Egypt, though. Especially as per the discussion we were having on that topic last week.

  • These comments on Mark’s blog sum up the problem with his post:

    Some kid gets arrested because of a law passed in 1939 which, sensibly enough, makes it illegal to make bomb threats by phone. His mother believes him to be innocent and says that this law passed in 1939 is somehow connected to the Patriot Act. Obviously she’s partial in this, and doesn’t know anything about the law, and is upset by the charges against her son. But what’s Mark’s excuse? What would make Mark spread the lie that this is about the Patriot Act, or uncritically repeat the kid’s mother’s assertions of his innocence?
    Thomas | 05.10.09 – 11:00 am | #

    ——————————————————————————–

    I do not like cops or the government. However, from the press release issued by the Department of Justice, the kid was arrested under Title 18, USC Sec 844(e). The press release also states that the charge is unrelated to the Patriot Act. A Federal Warrant was issued which means a Judge signed off on it.
    Rafael | 05.10.09 – 1:18 pm | #

    I am saddened by this article from mark Shea. If time had been taken to read three or four “current” articles on this situation, one would clearly see that the Patriot Act was not used in this instance, that long standing law was utilized, that the initial stories from the mother have been retracted and further that the quote from Charles Krauthammer (sp) has nothing to do with this case and that the quote used actually misrepresents the article that it is taken from. I enjoy Mark Shea’s articles on theology and catholic belief but this article is shameful for its lack of research and representation of incorrect facts as truth.
    Mike in Lebanon Kentucky | 05.11.09 – 11:30 am | #

  • It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    This does not seem to be supported by the linked to article. Father Jenkins apparently sits on the board of an organization that supports the Millennium Development Goals. Well, the Vatican also supports the Millennium Development Goals. If the fact Father Jenkins sits on a board that supports the MDG means that he believes in promoting condom use to fight AIDS, then logically one would have to conclude that the Vatican also supports this, which is absurd.

  • Darwin,

    Yes that story from Egypt is heart-warming. The judge could still rule against the convert, thus denying his right to a new ID card showing him as a Christian. But the convert has all his paperwork in order, so it will be interesting how the judge rules and what reasoning he uses to deny his request to change his ID card to show that he is a Christian and not a Muslim.

  • Thomas,
    Furthermore, it is possible that the mother may not be as innocent as we might otherwise assume:
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519570,00.html

    Mike,
    Yes, Mark has a short trigger. He has sound moral instincts, and I’m sure he is a good egg, but he routinely lets himself get offended before he has all the facts. And as the facts come in he shifts to painting straw men with a very broad brush and then proceeds to vigorously argue with them. It is torturous to observe, and since I oppose torture I seldom visit there anymore.

  • Blackadder,

    The Vatican supports the MGD, but the Vatican is not on the Millennium Promise as a board member.

    Logically you don’t make sense.

  • Vatican is not on the Millennium Promise as a board member.

    That’s true but irrelevant. The supposedly bad thing about Father Jenkins being on the board of Millennium Promise is that the organization supports the Millennium Development Goals, which the Vatican also supports.

  • BlackadderIV,

    Yes, it is true that both the Vatican [ed.-actually, the Vatican doesn’t support MGD after further research] and Fr. Jenkins support the Millennium Development Goals, but the Vatican is not on the board of Millennium Promise and Fr. Jenkins is.

    Hence since Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the further spread of AIDS and that Fr. Jenkins is a board member, then Fr. Jenkins by default supports condom usage.

    That in itself creates a scandal, even if the perception of a scandal is apparent, then Fr. Jenkins should not be a board member at all.

  • Hence since Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the further spread of AIDS

    What is the evidence that Millennium Promise pushes condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS? The only evidence cited in the article is that the group supports the MDG. Clearly this is not good evidence, as the Vatican itself supports the MDG.

    Maybe Millennium Promise supports condoms. Maybe it supports Satanic child sacrifice. Who knows. All I know is that the linked to article provides no evidence in support of the claim that the group (and by extension, Father Jenkins) does support condoms.

  • BlackadderIV,

    The Vatican clearly does not support the MGD’s. You know it and I know it. The Vatican would not support condom usage and abortion. Besides, nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.

    Fr. Jenkins on the other hand by his being a board member MP that supports condom usage and abortions, has not distanced himself from those MGD’s that support it.

  • Tito:

    I agree with Blackadder on this one. The article provides a weak link, too weak to charitably launch a criticism that assumes Jenkins is weak on contraception.

  • Michael Denton,

    As a board member of a pro-life organization I would not want my organization endorsing causes that go counter to Catholic teaching. I would resign or work towards amending the predicament.

    Fr. Jenkins has compromised himself by being a board member of said group. Fr. Jenkins is also president of Notre Dame, so we can assume he is very careful about what organizations he is a member of. He holds a high profile position and should be careful as a representative of the Catholic Church and her teachings. By being a board member he gives unwarranted assurances that it is o.k. to pass out condoms and procure abortions for whatever reasons.

    We can debate where the link is weak or not.

    The fact remains that it is causing scandal by his mere association, even more so now that he has made the monumental blunder of not only inviting the most pro-abortion president to speak, but also giving him an honorary degree in which creates more scandal.

  • The Vatican clearly does not support the MGD’s. You know it and I know it. The Vatican would not support condom usage and abortion. Besides, nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.

    The title of the article from Zenit I linked to is “Holy See Promotes Millennium Goals at U.N.” The first sentence of the article states “The Holy See urged the United Nations to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, saying that ‘it is an obligation in justice.'” I’m not sure how you can say that “nowhere in the article does it say that the Vatican supports MGD’s.”

    Fr. Jenkins on the other hand by his being a board member MP that supports condom usage and abortions

    Again, there’s no evidence that Millennium Promise does support condom usage and abortions. If you can produce some evidence that it does so, then okay, you’d have a point about Jenkins being a board member. But one shouldn’t accuse Father Jenkins (or anyone else) of supporting condom usage or belonging to an organization that supports condom usage unless one has some evidence that these claims are actually true.

  • BlackadderIV,

    I don’t have the link to the Zenit article you are referencing.

    The mere fact that MP supports MGD is enough to cause scandal. Even the perception of support is enough to cause scandal.

    Clearly you and I disagree on whether Fr. Jenkins supports condoms and abortion.

    We can leave it at that.

  • Tito,

    The link is here.

  • Here’s part of the article if you are having trouble with the link:

    NEW YORK, SEPT. 18, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- The Holy See urged the United Nations to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, saying that “it is an obligation in justice.”

    Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, stressed the importance of the development goals, which include eradicating half of the world’s poverty by 2015, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

    “It remains an obligation in justice in the service of human dignity to attain and even to surpass the Millennium Development Goals, thereby establishing an essential pre-condition for peace and collective security, and for the elimination or substantial reduction of the threat from terrorism and international crime,” he said.

  • BlackAdderIV,

    Thank you for the link.

    It seems the Vatican is clearly backing the MGD’s in rectifying the situation of the poor. That’s what I read in the article.

    I do see where you are coming from and I do agree with it to an extent. But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    Thank you for the vibrant discussion. You never fail to offer a positive and constructive debate.

  • Btw, where did the stuff about abortion come from? You started out by saying that Father Jenkins supported condom use to fight AIDS, and then at some point started adding “and abortion” to the end of your claims that Father Jenkins supports condoms. What’s up with that?

  • Tito:

    Since you say:

    But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    I think that then you should alter these claims in the original post:

    It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    and

    Fr. Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, is a board member of Millennium Promise which promotes condom use to fight the spread of AIDS.

  • But assuming you are correct, Fr. Jenkins is still causing scandal by the mere appearance of support of condom use.

    I don’t think scandal can be properly based on false accusations made against someone. Suppose I said that the American Catholic blog supported condoms, and repeated the claim a bunch of times. Would that mean that you should resign from the blog, because even the mere appearance of support of condom use was causing scandal? I don’t think so.

  • I continued reading the MGD and it shows that abortion is a contentious issue within the UN in further developing the MGD’s to include abortion.

    What’s up with your hostility?

  • Michael Denton,

    No such thing will be done.

  • BA,

    There is a clear link between the MGD and MP. You can debate until your face turns blue, but you can’t argue with facts.

  • I think Tito might have picked up on one of these articles:

    http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/index.php?s=228024285a02e66b8f754d589f7b900a&showtopic=93977&mode=threaded

    A further issue of concern is Millennium Development Goal #5 which is to “Improve Maternal Health.” In 2005 there was an enormous campaign to change MDG#5 to include women’s reproductive health – a code word for abortion. This campaign failed, but there is still an ongoing power struggle over this issue. Some organizations such as UNICEF and UNFPA have issued public documents stating that women’s reproductive health is indeed now included as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

    Since those seeking to incorporate abortion rights in the MDG failed in their efforts, it seems unfair to include abortion in the litany of accusations against Fr. Jenkins. That said, MDG#6 is pretty clear in its promotion of contraception.

  • I continued reading the MGD and it shows that abortion is a contentious issue within the UN in further developing the MGD’s to include abortion.

    It’s contentious, but for now abortion is not part of the MDGs. On that particular score, it thus unfair to imply that Fr. Jenkins has an abortion problem.

  • No such thing will be done.

    Y’see, Michael, Tito is infallible.

  • Michael I.,

    What are you studying again?

    Paul & BA4,

    I see where abortion hasn’t quite made it on the MGD agenda so I’ll refrain from accusing Fr. Jenkins on that point. Though he is still causing scandal for supporting condom distribution which is contrary to Catholic teaching.

  • Though he is still causing scandal for supporting condom distribution which is contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Even though I do agree that there’s an undeniable link between the Millennium Project and the Millennium Development Goals, and as a board member Fr. Jenkins is at least tacitly responsible for the end product, this still might be an over-reach. What was/is Fr. Jenkins role in developing those goals? Did he push back against MDG #6? Did he decide to continue to support the MDGs despite of this provision? And what of the Vatican’s seeming support?

    I don’t completely dismiss your concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

  • I don’t completely dismiss [Tito’s] concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

    Agreed.

  • I don’t completely dismiss [Tito’s] concerns, but I think this matter deserves further serious exploration before we declare Fr. Jenkins to be a supporter of condom distribution.

    Likewise, agreed.

  • I agree with the previous three commenters.

    Tito:

    You are out of line if you don’t retract. You have asserted that a priest openly rejects the teaching of the Church on contraception. This would be a very serious sin if true, and is a very serious charge, especially against a priest, and especially against a priest of high prominence.

    You, by your own admission, lack the evidence for such a charge. Perhaps Jenkins does support them, but you have not one bit of evidence other then “he’s on a group which is associated with this group that includes contraception.” You need much stronger evidence then that to accuse someone, particularly a Catholic priest, of such wrongdoing as you accuse.

    If you do not update the post with a correction, this post is calumny [ed.-if you continue to slander me you will be placed in moderation].

  • John,
    I agree as well. I do not think that being a board member of an organization that does has perfectly sound purposes but also supports condom distribution automatically makes one a supporter of condom distribution. For all we know Fr. Jenkins opposes condom distribution and has faithfully registered his objections at board meetings. One is not required by Catholic teaching to resign from each and every organization that takes actions or positions inimical to Church teaching — that is a prudential decision. That is exactly why we can have pro-life Democrats, and indeed it is good that we do. I have served on the local United Way board off and on for 15 years notwithstanding the fact that the local Planned Parenthood agency as a grantee. If fact, I have been instrumental in ensuring that donors can elect to direct their donations so as to exclude Planned Parenthood and helped devise the accounting procedures that give that actual effect. We cannot resign from the world. While one might argue that it is imprudent for Fr. J to remain a board member for reasons of potential confusion or scandal, that is a prudential calculus that belongs to him. The fact that he has chosen to remain a board member is very weak evidence that he actually supports condom distribution.
    All that said, perhaps Tito has other evidence and I missed it (in a hurry — lots to do).

  • Michael Denton,

    You will be guilty of slander if you continue with your uncharitable and dishonest accusations against me.

    I will not repeat what I’ve already explained why Fr. Jenkins seems to promote condom usage. Your obtuseness will not be tolerated if you continue with your behavior. This is your first and only warning. If you continue you will be placed on moderation.

  • Mike Petrik,

    By the simple fact that you are a board member of United Way makes you in formal cooperation with evil. United Way funds abortions and it is something not to be proud of. [ed.-I was wrong here, United Way operates independently at the local level.]

    I can see why there is hostility to my position. You clearly are going against church teachings.

    You cannot be publicly for abortion, but privately against it. Just like many typical ‘pro-life democrats’.

  • Everyone,

    That is the problem with complacency and nuance. By giving excuse after excuse to why Fr. Jenkin’s is on the board for an organization that promotes condom usage and quite possibly abortions is to fall into relativism.

    [ed.-edited for charity] Too many good and well-meaning Catholics make excuses for those Catholics that continue to drift away from Catholic teaching to the point that they are completely in camp with evil. Such as Fr. Jenkin’s honoring the most pro-abortion candidate in the history of the United States and Mike Petrik sitting on the board of an organization for 15 years that funds abortions is inexcusable.

    We need to change the culture, not be changed by it.

  • There is a clear link between the MGD and MP.

    First, it really should be MDG, not MDG. It’s Millennium Development Goals, after all, not Millennium Goals Development.

    Second, I’m not arguing that there’s no link between Millennium Promise and the Millennium Development Goals. That is very clear. The question is whether supporting the Millennium Development Goals means supporting condom use. Given the fact that the Vatican (which certainly does not support condom use) supports the Millennium Development Goals, I would argue the answer to this question is no.

    The specific MDG in question is number six, which is to “[c]ombat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.” Whatever some UN bureaucrat might say on the matter, isn’t it obvious that one could support that goal without supporting the use of condoms as a means to prevent the spread of AIDS?

  • BlackAdder4,

    I agree with your statement that you can support the goal without supporting the use of condoms as a means to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    What I say is that due to Fr. Jenkins actions of late he has brought the light of scandal upon himself. If he has done this, he may have made other mistakes as well. One of them being that he is a board member of MP. Assuming that he is there for the correct reasons, he is still causing scandal by bringing attention to such a scandalous position.

    And I do like MGD (Miller Genuine Draft), but yes, I was referring to MDG. Thank you for the fraternal correction.

  • Tito,

    No doubt Father Jenkins has made many mistakes and is open to criticism on many fronts. That doesn’t mean that one has free reign to accuse him of whatever one wishes.

    This doesn’t have to be difficult. You didn’t look into a matter very carefully, and ended up making a charge against Father Jenkins that isn’t supported by the evidence. Okay, it happens. The thing to do when this is pointed out to you is just to own up to the mistake, retract the charges, and move on. Retrenchment on such a matter will only serve to further damage your credibility.

  • Tito:

    Mike Petrik making excuses for those who actually support the very things you mention?

    My dear friend, you seem to be conflating one’s residence within a certain organization/entity with direct allegiance & support of the very activities it purportedly sponsors.

    If that were indeed the case, that this Guilt by Association automatically renders a person culpable of the very crimes you seem wont to prosecute him for, then that would make any citizen of the United States who pay their taxes guilty of similar crimes, given that the U.S. government provides monies to national abortion programs (and, even now, in light of Obama’s fierce Pro-abortion Crusade, it would seem globally as well); and, therefore, by that very same logic you’ve applied thus, makes every tax-paying U.S. citizen guilty of formal cooperation with evil, too.

    You’re better than this — or, at least, I should hope.

  • BlackAdder4,

    Again we can agree to disagree.

    I made no mistake and will not retract my facts on the matter.

    e.,

    Fr. Jenkins causes scandal by his mere association of such an organization.

  • Tito,

    The claim that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS” is unsubstantiated, and I agree with Michael Denton’s recommendation that it should be retracted.

  • Christopher,

    I made no mistake and will not retract my facts on the matter.

    You have your opinions on the matter which are incorrect. Fr. John Jenkins is causing a scandal by his board membership to an organization that supports the promotion of condom use.

  • I think that the baseless of Tito’s accusation has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of everyone but Tito, and demonstrating it to his satisfaction does not seem to be possible, so I’ll leave the conversation here.

  • BlackAdder4,

    Just because your unsupported accusations are supported by others doesn’t make it right.

    You are not satisfied unless your able to smear me which is uncharitable to say the least.

    The conversation would have been better served if you hadn’t participated in the first place.

  • Re: Millenium Promise

    Millennium Villages Handbook

    Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in
    controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a
    nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred.
    However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion
    practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level,
    provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists

    Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services
    are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat
    sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the
    reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling;
    (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral,
    transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

    So, while the absolute evidence is not in the articles, it is clearly in their approach.

    The insidious use of euphemisms like “prevention services”, “maternal health”, “reproductive health” etc. does not change the reality of what Millenium Promise is doing. None of us should be so naive as to believe they are being moral.

  • Off topic (and perhaps simply for comic relief at this point), is the icon typically used in Tito Edward’s posts a painting of the very man featured in the icon in blackadderiv’s posts?

  • Tito,

    Paul Zummo’s questions stand, and I note you have not bothered to respond:

    What was/is Fr. Jenkins role in developing those goals? Did he push back against MDG #6? Did he decide to continue to support the MDGs despite of this provision? And what of the Vatican’s seeming support?

    Until you actually provide evidence to substantiate your accusation, the claim that Fr. Jenkins personally support condom use is groundless.

    That you preface your claim with “it seems” indicates your own uncertainty in making the accusation.

  • Everyone,

    I am adding substantial evidence of Millenium Promise‘s goals for condom usage AND abortion to the posting.

    It will take a little while since Millenium Promise‘s handbooks have this burried in over 200 pages of “nuance”.

    Christopher Blosser,

    You continue to ignore my statement that Fr. Jenkins gives cause for scandal. [ed.-off topic]

  • e.,

    I use El Greco’s ‘Conde Ordaz’ picture.

    I’m not sure what Black Adder use’s but it’s not what I use.

  • Tito:

    Personally, I believe the charitable thing to do at this point is for you to retract your accusation.

    Although I can see your point concerning how the opinion of the mob does not automatically render theirs correct (argumentum ad populum); still, I can’t see how the accusation you’ve made against Jenkins can seriously be considered as anything but baseless at this point.

    While Jenkin’s own actions during the past months may appear downright reprehensible, I don’t think that faithful Catholics such as yourself should sink so low to the point of what appears to be calumny.

    As I’ve attempted to explain before, I don’t quite think that Jenkins simply being a board member automatically renders him guilty of personally perpetrating the very crime of which you seem to have prematurely prosecuted him for, no more than I would deem you — for simply being a tax-paying U.S. citizen — guilty of supporting national programs for abortion being that such programs are prominently financed by taxpayers’ monies.

  • Christopher,

    Until you actually provide evidence to substantiate your accusation, the claim that Fr. Jenkins personally support condom use is groundless.

    with respect, where exactly does Tito make the claim you are claiming he did? It is your own accusation which is groundless. Tito only claimed that Fr. Jenkins SEEMS to support condom use since he’s on a board of an organization, that despite suggestions to the contrary DISTRIBUTES CONDOMS and PROVIDES ABORTIONS.

    That you preface your claim with “it seems” indicates your own uncertainty in making the accusation.

    No, it’s a statement about APPEARANCE, in being on the board of an organization it APPEARS or SEEMS one is in support of their activities.

    Being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.

  • Matt,

    “Being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.”

    Are you quite serious about this?

    Do you also apply this same sort of logic to executive-level, middle management or even ordinary employees of companies, too? To even citizens of countries that happen to provide such monstrous support for abortion that they themselves do not personally advocate?

  • While we’re at it. Until the Church declares the particular techniques defended by some to be torture, it is completely uncharitable to refer to refer to those who defend them as “torture defenders”. The argument is clearly about the definition of torture, not whether or not we should be using torture, which, we should not, and most everyone in the debate agrees.

  • In regard to Mike Petrik there is no firmer pro-lifer.

    In regard to accusations, there should be evidence presented. As to Jenkins I think in order to claim that he supports condom use we need more than he is present on the board of Millenium Promise. I do agree with Tito that it strikes me as a fairly dubious organization.

  • I want to make an addendum that so many of you insist I make. I want to add that Fr. John Jenkins seems to support abortion as well as condom usage. I have added this to the original post as an addendum.

    Millenium Promise, the organization that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member of clearly states on their very own website the following:

    (http://www.millenniumpromise.org/site/DocServer/Millennium_Development_Goals_Report_2008.pdf?docID=1841)

    Which can be found on the main webpage of Millenium Promise. Emphasis mine.:

    Page 84 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Budget and Procurement. The budget for the HIV/AIDS response depends on a number of factors. On the treatment side, the major budgetary concern is the provision of ARV drugs to those in need. Beyond ARV costs, other costs include staffing, other medication, CD4 counts, prevention programming, condom provision, nutritional supplementation, and VHW support.

    Page 85 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Communication for Preventing Disease and Changing Behavior: Behavior change communication plays a key role in preventing the spread of HIV and must be seen as a central element in any response to HIV/AIDS. This core intervention includes education, awareness building, advocacy, condom distribution, and education (both male and female), rights building, and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) promotion among other activities.

    Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on condom usage:

    Contraception and family planning: Family planning and contraception services are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality. Services include: (1) Counseling; (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral, transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs

    Page 92 of Millenium Villages Handbook on abortion:

    Abortion services: In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established. In villages with a nearby district center with sound surgical capacity, these services can be referred. However, in instances where no district center or alternate post for safe abortion practices is accessible, abortion services can be offered at the village level, provided that sufficient surgical capacity exists.]

  • Tito, look at it this way. From another thread:

    The way Fr. Z links homosexuality with “rats” and the “devil” is scandalous and inappropriate for a priest of Jesus Christ.

    To which was replied:

    This is what Father Z wrote:

    “While it is true that the laborers in the Lord’s vinyard should be perfect enough in their spirit of dedication never to have to need any praise or thanks, they remain human beings. Furthermore, they are also under constant attack by the enemy of the soul.

    It takes but small crack for a rat to slip into a house. It takes hardly anything at all for the devil to insinuate his venom into a man’s daily reflections.”

    Would you agree that it was incorrect and wrong for the first person to say what he did? I think so. If you do, then please step back and see how what you’re saying about Fr Jenkins is similar (and I’m not sying Fr Jenkins isn’t wrong on a number of issues, but justice is justice).

  • e.,


    Matt said: being on the board of an organization which spreads evil is clearly scandalous, if not outright material cooperation with evil, even if one does not personally support those evils.”

    e. said: Are you quite serious about this?

    Absolutely. To clarify, I’m not talking about mundane evil, but the profound evils of abortion and contraception.

    Do you also apply this same sort of logic to executive-level

    Most probably yes.

    , middle management or even ordinary employees of companies, too?

    To a lesser extent, but yes in those cases too. This can be excused if there’s no direct involvement, and the individual has no choice to make a living for their family but to be employed at the organization. It would also depend on the amount of evil being spread. Let’s say Coca-Cola on the lower level, Proctor & Gamble in the middle, and Planned Parenthood at the highest. This group seems to be somewhere between P&G and PP in it’s promotion of evil.

    To even citizens of countries that happen to provide such monstrous support for abortion that they themselves do not personally advocate?

    Not to a substantial extent because citizenship is not a voluntary assocation. If the evil activity becomes so substantial that the nation is wholly corrupt, and there are alternatives we should leave, but in our current circumstances, I don’t see that as the case. There is still a “Culture War” going on, and really no safe haven elsewhere, we have no choice but to stay and fight.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    RE: Mike Petrik, I agree.

    RE: Tito’s suspicion about the organization, I agree.

    RE: Jenkin’s purportedly supporting those particular measures as detailed therein; that remains to be seen.

    Personally, even seeming to act on behalf of Jenkin’s is the last thing I’d ever countenance; however, given the subtle workings of certain boards I happen to be acquainted with, given its own “political” workup and their various agendas which not all unanimously agree to, this very detail would leave me initially skeptical.

  • Fr. Jenkins is on the board of a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization of Millennium Promises which at minimum gives scandal.

    I have not accused Fr. Jenkins of being personally for condom usage (or abortion). But I have said he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization.

    Notwithstanding all the evidence that I have provided that many of you have chosen to ignore.

  • It would seem that self-described “pro-life Democrats”, by virtue of their being Democrats, are actually pro-abortion.

  • Tito:

    “But I have said he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization.”

    Respectfully, the very same can be said almost about any one of us.

    If a person can automatically be condemned as being somebody who “seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization”, then a person who simply works for a corporation who also happens to do the same can likewise be condemned as such.

    Now, to be fair, Jenkins may well be guilty of having actually supported those very measures detailed in the handbook; however, as it stands, there is yet to be convincing evidence of the sort that would actually corroborate such a claim — even a claim as tentatively articulated as “he seems to be promoting these evils by associating himself with a pro-abortion and pro-condom organization”.

  • e.,

    Yes, I see your reasoning.

    The difference is that Fr. Jenkins is a Catholic priest. One who is the president of a world-renowned Catholic university. One that can be argued made a mistake of offering an honorary degree and an invitation to speak to Notre Dame’s graduates. He is now under the microscope because of his questionable actions. One can rightly say “is this a pattern of behavior?” Someone who goes contrary to Church teachings?

    It is only fair to ask if his example is giving scandal to others. His mere association with Millenium Promise gives credence that it’s ok to abort and use condoms since such a prominent Catholic is on a board of a UN NGO!

  • Just so we’re clear, my point was that Krauthammer says that if we have “the slightest belief” that torture will save “an innocent”, then this kid should, by Krauthammer’s own logic, be tortured. Obviously, the Feds have “the slightest belief” that his alleged bomb threats have some sort of substance to them or they wouldn’t still be holding him. So by Krauthammer’s logic it is a “moral obligation” to torture the kid, lest by some oversight he or his compatriots actually kill innocents. The post isn’t really about the Patriot Act: it’s about the logic of the rhetoric that is being put forward by major pundits and representatives of allegedly “conservative” thought. By Krauthammer’s standards, the Feds were actually neglectful of their moral obligations when they didn’t instantly start torturing him. Suppose the threat had been real!

  • With all due respect… (That being the general precursor to rhetorically laying into someone.)

    Obviously, the Feds have “the slightest belief” that his alleged bomb threats have some sort of substance to them or they wouldn’t still be holding him.

    Actually, that’s not clear at all. Calling in bomb threats is illegal even if they’re known to be false. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that he’s being prosecuted for making fake bomb threats, not on the suspicion that he was really going to bomb anything.

    it’s about the logic of the rhetoric that is being put forward by major pundits and representatives of allegedly “conservative” thought. By Krauthammer’s standards, the Feds were actually neglectful of their moral obligations when they didn’t instantly start torturing him. Suppose the threat had been real!

    I’m not really clear that his is put forward by “major pundits” or “representative of allegedly ‘conservative’ thought” either. Sometime along these lines was said by Krauthammer (a quirky sort of fellow himself, politically) once. I strongly doubt that, if ask, he would give the interpretation to his words that you are giving. And if one went around the country asking pundits and ordinary citizens the number (even among Fox News watchers) who would assert that the government has a moral obligation to torture anyone it has the least suspicion of being about to bomb innocent people is pretty clearly vanishingly small.

    I don’t think that your admirable witness against consequentialist arguments for torture is helped by assembling what amounts to a fairly preposterous straw man. Your arguments themselves are better than that.

  • Once again the clown Mark Shea has bombed. Certainly even now he’s scouring online archives, Krauthammer’s rubbish bin, Halliburton dumps, anything at all in a desperate attempt at uncovering some comeback lines. In this valiant Hamburger Hill like effort at misdirection he’ll be well advised to decline any offer of relief from Mr Comerford, the Walter Mitty of the blogosphere.

  • Ivan,

    Without the rudeness please?

  • Ditto Ivan’s remarks.

    Shea has sunk so low, he has himself become a self-parody; simply allow the guy to dig his own grave and he will… eventually.

  • Shea is no clown and needs no defense from the likes of e. and Ivan. They are best ignored.

  • Mark, Darwin Catholic

    I apologise for writing “the clown…”. I regretted that once it was posted.

  • “I apologise for writing ‘the clown'”

    Yeah, ‘Bozo’ would’ve been more apt where Shea is concerned!

    (apologies, Darwin Catholic — only messin’).

  • Christopher,

    Christopher Blosser Says:
    Wednesday, May 13, 2009 A.D. at 2:27 pm

    It would seem that self-described “pro-life Democrats”, by virtue of their being Democrats, are actually pro-abortion.

    You know that’s not what I or Tito said, so it’s simply a strawman.

    Since you asked though, membership in the Democrat party is material cooperation with evil and may be scandalous. Whether this is sinful or not would depend on a number of factors. Particularly to the degree one avoids apparent or actual support of the platform or pro-abortion candidates.

    Now, simple membership in a party is not the same thing as being on the board of an organization, which is done specifically to lend credibility to the cause and/or as a reward for faithful support. I have not heard Fr. Jenkins actively rejecting the approach of the group he is on the board of, and it’s likely that he would not be on that board if he was. As a prominent Catholic priest lending credibility to an organization which substantially spreads evil, he is giving scandal.

  • Matt,

    If Tito had expressed concern about Fr. Jenkin’s presence “lending credibility” to an organization that promotes condom use, I would be in complete agreement with him.

    In fact, I don’t think you would find a number of his colleagues voicing their dissent as happened on this post.

    But you and I both know he didn’t frame the argument in that manner.

    Rather, he publicly speculated that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    One is an expression of charitable concern, voiced in a respectful manner.

    The other is a deliberate misrepresentation and an unsubstantiated charge.

  • Christopher Blosser,

    If Tito had expressed concern about Fr. Jenkin’s presence “lending credibility” to an organization that promotes condom use, I would be in complete agreement with him.

    That’s good.

    In fact, I don’t think you would find a number of his colleagues voicing their dissent as happened on this post.

    But you and I both know he didn’t frame the argument in that manner.

    Rather, he publicly speculated that “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    Chris, that is one of the most aggregious attempts at changing the substance of a persons statement by quoting out of context I’ve seen in awhile. All you had to do to present your Christian brother’s statement in a more reasonable light is to quote the WHOLE sentence, instead of slicing it up for your own purposes.

    What Tito actually said:
    It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

    seem
    ??/sim/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [seem]

    –verb (used without object)
    1. to appear to be, feel, do, etc.: She seems better this morning.
    2. to appear to one’s own senses, mind, observation, judgment, etc.: It seems to me that someone is calling.
    3. to appear to exist: There seems no need to go now.
    4. to appear to be true, probable, or evident: It seems likely to rain.
    5. to give the outward appearance of being or to pretend to be: He only seems friendly because he wants you to like him.

    There is an appearance of support.

    One is an expression of charitable concern, voiced in a respectful manner.

    And that is what Tito was trying to do, regardless of whether or not he expressed it exactly as you wanted.

    The other is a deliberate misrepresentation and an unsubstantiated charge.

    And that is what CHRISTOPHER BLOSSER did by misquoting Tito’s statement.

  • Christopher,

    “Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    I said “seems”, not “believes”.

    I believe you misquoted me. Or it seems you misquoted me. See the difference?

    Which changes the entire context of what I wrote.

  • Tito,

    I thank you and Matt for proving my point.

    Let’s examine your sentence as a whole:

    “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    We can see from this:

    1) Tito is uncertain that Fr. John Jenkins actually BELIEVES in the promotion of condom use.

    2) He qualifies it with “it seems”

    3) But in the simple fact of doing so, he plants the thought in the public realm and casts aspersion on Fr. Jenkins.

    Again, if Tito had framed the argument in such a manner as:

    1) Fr. Jenkins is a member of the board of an organization that endorses the Millenium Goals
    2) Said organization has been known to advocate contraception in the fulfillment of the “goal”
    3) Fr. Jenkins lends the appearance of advocacy to this by his being on the board

    I would have little objection, because rather than rumor-mongering, you instead extend the invitation to Fr. Jenkins for clarification, and treat him with Christian charity such as every Catholic deserves.

  • Christopher Blosser,


    I think you and Matt for proving my point.

    Let’s take your sentence as a whole:

    “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.”

    We can see from this:

    1) Tito is uncertain that Fr. John Jenkins actually BELIEVES in the promotion of condom use.

    2) He qualifies it with “it seems”

    3) But in the simple fact of doing so, he plants the thought in the public realm and casts an unsubstantiated charge against Fr. Jenkins.

    Are we clear on why I object to this?.

    Tito didn’t plant the thought in the public realm, Fr. Jenkins did by being ON THE BOARD OF A PRO-CONDOM, PRO-ABORTION ORGANIZATION, which is a further complication of his support for honoring a rabidly pro-abortion politician and rejecting the correction of his own bishop. Tito brought it up for discussion on the blog, it was always in the public realm. Tito revealed nothing.

    Are you HONESTLY denying that Fr. Jenkins position on that board implies support for it’s operations in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, especially in light of his decision to reject the instruction of his bishop and honor a pro-abortion/condom politician?

  • Christopher,

    We are splitting hairs at this point.

    For me I take people at their word and I believe what you are saying is sincere. I take your fraternal actions to heart, but we’ve exhausted this debate well enough.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Matt,

    I’ve stated my case. I’m done with this.

  • It “seems” that Tito does not fully understand the concept of material cooperation, but pontificates on it with great confidence anyway.
    It “seems” that Tito has no idea how United Ways are organized or governed, but pontificates on them with great confidence anyway.
    It “seems” that Tito feels he can reach factual conclusions with great confidence simply by taking bizarre inferential liberties.
    It “seems” that Tito thinks that he is entitled to make all manner of unfair accusations, most especially if he qualifies them with “seems.”

  • Mike,

    I’ll concede that you aren’t in material cooperation, but in remote material cooperation with abortion.

  • I’ll concede that you aren’t in material cooperation, but in remote material cooperation with abortion.

    No more than any of us who live in this society.

    Tito, are ad hominem attacks wrong? If so, how does “It seems that Fr. John Jenkins believes in the promotion of condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS” differ from what Mike said? Best I can tell, the only difference is that while Mike slipped in “it seems”, his observations can actually be connected to your own words, whereas there is much less to go on regarding Fr. Jenkins.

  • As far as the rest of your ad hominem attacks, you need to think twice before you post or you will be banned.

    Tito: You really need to relax. You have now generated into ad hominem and ridiculous charges against someone who is merely pointing out the spuriousness of your charges. If you feel like lashing out against and banning Mike and anyone else who shows even the slightest hint of disagreeing with you, then frankly I have no use in visiting this site anymore myself.

  • Rick,

    If you want to delve into moral relativism, be my guest.

    It is scandalous that a prominent Catholic priest is a board member of an organization that actively promotes condom usage and abortion.

    But if you want to mock me and what I wrote I am fine with it. You can attack the messenger, but the fact remains that Fr. John Jenkins is a board member, not a volunteer on a Sunday morning passing out flyers, but a board member that has the authority to debate the direction of an organization that actively promotes moral evils contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Go ahead and attack me, but you won’t distract from this very fact.

  • Everyone,

    We all need to cool down about this (me included).

    So I am closing down the comments for this thread.

    We all need to think twice before posting comments and remember that we are all children of Christ. It would behoove all of us to be more charitable in how we treat each other.

    I appreciate fraternal correction, but that can’t be used as a weapon to bludgeon someone you disagree with.

    Pax!

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-25-2009

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. The great Cardinal Pell offered his thoughts on the future of liturgical development by stating that ad orientem will be mandatory so as to move away the priest as the center of worship back to Jesus Himself, ie, both the priest and the congregation should be facing towards God.  In addition, when the priest turns away towards the congregation, there should be a crucifix in between he and the congregation so as to maintain the center of worship God and not the priest.  What a wonderful and great Cardinal that Australia has!  Let us pray for more such strong leaders of the Church worldwide and especially here in America.  Ora pro nobis!

For the article click here.

2. Sister Janet Ferns, a nun who has worked in Nigeria and Zambia, has explained what most condoms are used for by the locals in Africa… to fish with.

For the link click here.

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