Did the Pope Condone Condoms in Certain Cases?Nov 20th, 2010 | By Tim A. Troutman | Category: Blog Posts
Several main-stream media outlets are running a story with headlines like “Pope says condoms acceptable ‘in certain cases’.” One does not even need to read the quotation in context to know that this is false. The reason one can know this is because the pope does not have the authority to do such a thing. The Catholic Church does not have the authority to overturn natural law. That is why she can never condone artificial contraception.
What the pope actually said was,
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality. See here. [H/T Chad Toney]
He did not say that it was permissible in some cases; rather he said that in the case of someone already engaging in an objectively immoral act, which can in no way be justified either with or without condoms, the use of a condom “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization.” Notice the crucial difference in what he actually said and what the media has portrayed him as saying. He is no more condoning the use of condoms than male prostitution.
Dr. Janet Smith has written an excellent rebuttal to the irresponsible treatment of this story by the media. In her article, she compares the scenario to bank robbery:
If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing. Read the full article here.
Unsurprisingly, many Protestant blogs (including some well known Reformed blogs), dissenting Catholic blogs, liberal blogs (and some conservative ones) are all running this story without the slightest attempt to read what was actually said – much less to understand it within the context of Catholic moral teaching. (I recommend reading Matt Yonke’s “Contraception and the Reformed Faith” to better understand Catholic moral teaching on this subject.) How quick the world is, including separated Christians, to jump on any opportunity to disgrace the bride of Christ! Well, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) If you want to find the Church that Christ founded, you don’t need to read through all of the articles on Called to Communion. You don’t even need to read the early fathers. Just find the Church that the world hates the most.