Friday, April 28, 2006

As expected ...

John Allen has a masterful summary of the condom buzz that's gotten everyone aflutter.
Lozano Barragàn, however, has stressed in subsequent interviews that the work of his office is on-going and provisional, and has indicated that it will be up to Benedict XVI to decide if a document should be issued.

The study seems, at least in part, a response to public discussions of the issue among senior church officials, including several cardinals, such as Jean-Marie Lustiger, the former archbishop of Paris; Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan; Swiss Cardinal George Cottier, theologian of the Papal Household under John Paul II; Cardinal Godfriend Danneels of Belgium; Cardinal Cormac Muphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England; and Lozano Barragàn himself, all of whom have supported condoms in the context of AIDS in one fashion or another.

Other senior officials have opposed such a move, including Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In a 2004 interview with the BBC, Lopez Trujillo, a Colombian, argued that the HIV virus is small enough to "easily pass through" latex. Lopez also asserted that condoms encourage promiscuity, which he deemed among the root causes of the pandemic.


St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

...the condom buzz that's gotten everyone aflutter...


Izzy wants to know if batteries are required.

Seriously, this is a tough issue, up there with considerations of barrier or hormonal contraception in cases where pregnancies would lead to recurrence of severe gestational diabetes, etc.

Slippery slope time (well, someone has to take the easy road!)...what about their use with other non-curable STD's--herpes for one, which can lead to devastating consequences for newborns?

At some level, if barrier contraception is intrinsically wrong, it remains thus even when prophylaxis is against disease. The Church has never argued for "safe sex," within or outside of marriage.

One the other hand, are pastoral considerations licit in the face of contagious terminal illnesses (even if "terminal" is more a relative term now as relates to AIDS)? What if pastoral considerations lead to infection, as Trujillo argues is possible?

This will be interesting to watch as it develops.

assiniboine said...

It certainly will be. A missionary bishop of francophone origin in a Third World country which shall remain nameless — but whose infection rate now approaches that of the worst-hit sub-Saharan countries — is on record as counselling that condom use in the campaign against HIV/AIDS is entirely to be encouraged. There is a Papal Nuncio in that country so it seems unlikely that the Vatican is unaware of these pronouncements. But this sort of thing is nothing new in the mission field, where intensely practical-minded Catholic mission personnel have long been known to read the doctrinal regulations rather broadly; I have encountered medical mission nuns who expressly counselled the use of “artificial” contraception, and I was once having tea in a medical aid post in the middle of the jungle with a Methodist mission “sister” (ie nurse-matron in Australasian terminology) in another jurisdiction which shall also remain nameless. There was a kerfuffle at the door to which she attended; when she returned it had been a deputation from the neighbouring Catholic mission aid post: the nuns had sent a woman who was about to give birth to her sixteenth baby with the message that “This lady seems to have a problem that we cannot really help her with but we are sure that you can.” Ie she needed a tubal ligation. One wonders what the ineffable Christopher Hitchens would make of that.

Gashwin said...

St. Eliz: while the church has defined contraception as intrinsically evil, it's never said anything about barrier contraception per se -- or at least it's never clarified that. Maybe we're reaching that level of clarity.

Remember too, that users of natural methods are supposed to eschew what's been called a "contraceptive mentality." NFP isn't the same as "Church approved condoms."

Assiniboine: Yes, the pastoral realities on the ground, especially in the mission field are, or at least seem, far from the "objective norm." But really, Christianity isn't just about law, is it? As to Hitchens, I'm sure he'll find something suitably apoplectic in this too ... :)