Did the Pope Condone Condoms in Certain Cases?

Nov 20th, 2010 | By | 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.

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  1. Thank you Tim. Telling that certain Reformed blogs (the bad ones) are running with this like it’s a shut case. The desire to score points against the Church trumps reality. The same folks know better about the media when it comes to their issues but the gloves come off when the media misreports the Holy Father. In a word: Pathetic.

  2. Wow Tim, that was fast. I was going to wait till the book came out. How naïve of me. Good job.

    Still, I’ll have something to say in the meantime at my own blog. People are already asking me about this. Any statement by a prominent ecclesiastic about condoms seems to raise a hornet’s nest that can’t be waited out. Sheesh.

    Best,
    Mike

  3. Sean – My sentiments exactly.

    Dr. L – well I don’t want to put any words into the pope’s mouth (or take any away) so I definitely don’t mean to claim here that I can anticipate the nuances of what he might have to say on the subject. But … yea you’re right – this is a hot topic and we both know that the way it’s being reported will cause scandal. I expect that the Vatican might say something in a week or two to clarify. (I wonder if that statement will get as much press…)

    Please share a link to your article when you write it if you don’t mind. I definitely want to read it.

  4. Thanks Tim.

    In addition to Janet Smith’s article, Jimmy Akin has posted a helpful clarification here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Taylor Marshall and martin canniffe , martin canniffe . martin canniffe said: Apolgetics coming thick and fast now http://bit.ly/bEojpq and here http://bit.ly/cdc8Kk [...]

  6. It’s hard to imagine that the use by sodomites generally, or sodomite prostitutes in particular, could be seriously considered “contraception.” So, I’m not sure the intro paragraph of this post is completely accurate.

    That said, I read a lot of Reformed blogs, and didn’t catch which ones are running this. Which “well known Reformed blogs [are] 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”?

    -TurretinFan

  7. TurretinFan –

    The claim I’m making in the opening paragraph is that the Pope is not overturning Catholic teaching on contraception. So if that is not accurate, that would mean that the Pope is overturning Catholic teaching on contraception. Is that the claim you’re making? If so, how do you square that with your statement that what he’s talking about isn’t even contraception at all? If he’s not even talking about contraception, then how could he be overturning current Catholic Church teaching on contraception?

    As for an example of Reformed blogs handling this just as poorly as the liberal media, Triablogue is one. I think that one’s pretty well known. Did you find their treatment of it adequate and fair?

  8. TurretinFan –

    I refuse to link it on account of the refuse spewing comments and invective vomit but you can look at the other reformed blog that starts with a ‘T’ for starters which features comments from other usual suspect Reformed bloggers that make their way around the internet. It is absolutely and utterly reprehensible.

  9. The whole thing is highly irresponsible. This is what I wrote elsewhere.

    This is a false headline. It is important to note that in the context of the yahoo article in question Benedict XVI states that the usage of a condom is not a moral solution and the term “Justified” is not quoted as being used by the pontiff.

    Quoting from the article at Yahoo:

    Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, they could be justified “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.” Benedict called it “a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexuality.”

    I really doubt that the term used in the actual interview is “justified” because that is such a loaded word, especially for a Catholic and especially for an Augustinian scholar like B16.

    I do not have the full context of the quotes but having read enough of B16’s writings and Catholic theology let me say that the point that the Pope is trying to make is that the usage of a condom, in certain cases, when the intent is to reduce infection, may be a first step towards a more human understanding of sexuality (which is, and always will be sexual activity within the context of a marriage between one man and one woman).

    To put it more directly, individuals have a right to protect themselves from getting an infection and this right is not lost by engaging in immoral activity. The usage of a condom in such cases remains immoral, and a poor choice, that will hopefully lead those that so choose to contemplate and seek out the true moral choices for preventing sexually transmitted infections. The intent to use the condom to limit sexually transmitted infections as the primary intent (as in there is no intent to not get pregnant as in the case of male prostitutes) reduces the immorality of the use, but does not eliminate it. Thus it is an option, but a less immoral option then other immoral options, in certain cases.

  10. “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.”

    Exactly. I find it interesting that the secular atheist media, Protestant media, and dissenting Catholic media care so much about what the Pope says. If they were intellectually honest, they wouldn’t, but sometimes it seems as if they are lying in wait to ambush the Pope and the Catholic Church at any opportunity.

    For example, if blogs like the one that starts with “T” was so convinced that what they had was the absolute Truth, then it simply wouldn’t cause them any bother at all whether or not the Pope declared World War III, let alone whether or not the media claims he’s reversing the Church’s teaching on contraception. When Mormons make any sort of claim, they are brushed off by the same folks as, “they are pagans anyway, who cares?”. Intellectual honesty would call them to do the same with Catholicism… but it doesn’t, curiously.

  11. I think everyone on this blog is painfully aware of why the media did this. They know well that the Church’s teaching will not change and they know well that Pope Benedict XVI would be the last person on earth to do such a thing (since they consistently attack him for his fidelity to 2000 years of authentic Christian teaching). So, they aren’t really reporting on a change in teaching. What they are doing is setting the Vatican up for a “clarification” of what the Pope said and attempting to excite those who are easily excitable whenever false information about Catholicism is written in the papers (that are only infallible to these people when it’s the Catholic Church that’s being attacked).

    They are doing this for the following reasons:
    1) To give a platform to dissenting Catholic theologians, whom they will quote perfectly, in order to portray a fractured Catholic Church.

    2) To have the Pope or sources loyal to Church teaching reiterate, once again, the unpopular teaching of the Catholic Church regarding contraception… the same teaching that had the same papers practically accusing the Pope of being the leader in genocide for not distribution condoms all over Africa. This to, once again, paint the Church in a deplorable light to the secular and Protestant aherence to the blessed dogma of widespread contraceptive use.

    3) To use this as another accusation of a public relations gaffe by the Pope or another Vatican “official”.

    It’s apparently a very effective method, for they’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. Some people like to buy snake oil from salesman who think like them, I guess.

  12. Joe – It’s funny how every liberal immediately accepts this casual interview as infallible and authoritative Church teaching because they have misunderstood the pope to be saying something that they like (that condoms are sometimes acceptable). Yet those some folks don’t think that Humanae Vitae is anything more than a suggestion.

    As Jimmy Akin explained above, even if the pope had actually said what the media is misrepresenting him as having said, it wouldn’t change a thing. A casual interview is by no means an official teaching of the Church and cannot act as one. Furthermore, the private opinion of the pope is not infallible or officially binding.

  13. Tim said:

    As for an example of Reformed blogs handling this just as poorly as the liberal media, Triablogue is one. I think that one’s pretty well known. Did you find their treatment of it adequate and fair?

    All I did was post a link to the FoxNews story with their opening paragraph and said “Really, some things need no commentary.” That was the sum of my commentary on the issue. Oh, the humanity!

    But it’s not at all surprising that someone who is ashamed and/or feels guilty about their church’s doctrine would freak out just because an article is linked. That, more than anything else here, is quite revealing.

  14. If anything the Pope is frankly too trusting with the media and a little naive to think that a comment like that would not be played up and grossly misinterpreted by the media in a matter of minutes. And after the media spreads the lie the enemies of the Church are all to eager to use it against Her even when they know it is a false characterization; such as the aforementioned ‘bloggers.’

    Now it’s a Drudge headline complete with a quote from a random priest in Africa applauding the Pope for his decision and saying that he’ll spread the news that people can now have ‘safe sex.’

    It’s almost unbelievable.

    This is not the first time that the media has taken a comment from a cleric and twisted the words to mean something unintended. The media does it all the time with Conservative politicians. Many of these Reformed bloggers are eager to come to the defense of their Republicans when it happens to them but the Pope? No such luck. All of a sudden the media is just an honest reporter. This is all so transparent.

  15. Peter – you saying that the libelous article to which you linked doesn’t need commentary implies that what was already said in the article speaks for itself and adequately represents the truth. What you are doing is deliberately spreading (and implicitly endorsing) false propaganda against the pope. I can understand that you disagree with the Church teaching on sexuality. But at least have the decency not to join in with the secular world in deliberate misrepresentation of the Church. No one at Called to Communion would ever do that to one of your leaders. Please return us the common courtesy.

    As for me being ashamed or feeling guilty about the Church teaching, I fully support the Catholic Church’s stance on _every_ issue (that’s why I’m Catholic). I would ask you what I wrote that made you think that, but that would imply that I didn’t already know (as does everyone reading this) that you had no good reason to say such a thing.

  16. Correction – I shouldn’t say that the reason I am Catholic is because I support all of her teachings. It’s the other way around actually. Of course, I already believed certain issues before becoming Catholic but some others, on my own study I had arrived at different conclusions. I had to submit to the magisterium teaching with a “faith seeking understanding” when I became Catholic.

    However, artificial contraception was never a difficult issue for me because I found it intuitively disordered, even as a PCA member.

  17. Hi all. I have been doing a bit of research on this. Let me give it and ask for some help.

    1.) The Italian of the l’Osservatore Romano reads Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico,

    2.) The AP is using the OR text to create this translation which is the only translation I have seen in English reporting
    “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom

    3.) The official English text as published by Ignatius from an advance copy of the book http://piadesolenni.com/pope-oks-condoms
    “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom,

    4.) I have run across some people who have stated that the German journalists are using the term “rechtfertigen” which means justified, which may be the OR text translated back into German.

    Given that the English book does not use the term “justified”, we have the following question that need to be answered.

    A.) What is the actual text of the German book as it will be published. Can anyone track down someone with an advance copy of the German book?

    B.) Why does the English text differ from the OR text (why does the OR text incorrectly refer to a female prostitute) ? Is the OR text actually the text from the Italian book?

  18. Nathan,

    Good questions… and that’s why it was reported the way in which it was… to cause confusion. No doubt, as I stated above, we’ll see a clarification of the Pope’s view on this and it will play directly into the hands of the media. You see, they (as you can see on Damian Thompson’s blog) have used this to portray the human, merciful, and sensible side of Pope Benedict. In other words, any clarification that may change the way this has already been interpreted will result in a retraction of the new labels of human, merciful, and sensible that have been conveniently and deliberately given to him. Any clarification will turn him into a demonic homophobe who wants everyone in Africa to die of AIDS… they’ll be a link to his embattled bishop in Belgium… etc., etc. It’s all part of the game. Evidently, it has worked remarkably well… again.

    So, relax… we’ll probably hear something soon. Just wait for the fallout that will be short-lived as it usually is. Then tune in next month when we go through the same dance all over again.

  19. Joe – Re: Damian Thompson – as another CTC contributor remarked privately – it was really disappointing to see his take on this because he’s normally pretty solid.

  20. [...] In case you’re curious about the comment of the Pope that made headlines–erroneous headlines–over the weekend, here’s an excellent article discussing it. [...]

  21. @Joe Palmer

    This isn’t something that is going to go away. When I am out doing apologetics, I still have to deal with JPII kissing the Koran. This is much more of an explosive issue because it is dealing with settled moral law and an unfortunate usage of the term “justified” in the OR translation of text from B16’s new book. Justified is a word with such loaded meanings especially when you are trying to deal with non-Catholic Christians who have a completely different understanding of the term. I am really hoping that it does not show up in the actual German text and this is all just games by whoever did the translation that is in OR.

    Though a clarification is warranted, I don’t think what will be produced will help matters at all. I love reading B16’s work, but short and to the point it is not and the issue at hand is fairly complex as people do have a right to protect themselves from infection, but they don’t have a right to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage, and they don’t have a right to use condoms during intercourse.

    The only thing that I can think of is perhaps in B16’s mind he doesn’t equate sodomy to intercourse which would remove the immorality of the usage of a condom during sodomite activity.

  22. @ Tim, thanks for the info and the one thing that catches my attention is what you have written, “Just find the Church that the world hates the most.” To which I say that’s the TRUE Church of Jesus Christ! Easy to find, isn’t it reformed brothers?

    @ Sean I totally agree with you, those guys from the reformed blogs (Beggars, Trio) are playing are double standard and joining the chorus of media moguls in bed ….. It is absolutely and utterly reprehensible.

  23. Here is the “clarification” we’ve been waiting for. It brilliantly explains it. It basically says what everybody else (faitful Catholics on this blog and elsewhere) has been saying, but much more succintly.

  24. http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/vatican-spokesmans-statement-on-condoms/

  25. Hey guys,

    There are two questions: the dividing line between good and evil, and the delineation of some kind of hierarchy of evil. Most of the confusion probably stems from the members of the press being unable to distinguish the first question from the second question.

    The Catholic Church has always taught that the only good type of sexual intercourse is that between one man and one woman who are married and not contracepting. Any other type of sexual intercourse or sexual behavior is a sin. No ifs, ands, or buts. So much for the first question.

    As for the second question, it is interesting to speculate about whether some types of mortal sin are more wrong than others, and whether person A, who is engaging in immoral sexual activity without a condom because he doesn’t care about spreading STDs is sinning more or less than person B, who is engaging in immoral sexual activity with a condom because he does care about spreading STDs. But whether we think person A’s sin is worse than person B, or person B’s sin is worse than person A, we all believe that both person A and person B are sinning. Because we are thinking about the second question of a hierarchy of evil, not the first question of the dividing line between evil and good.

    So the Pope isn’t even talking (directly) about the traditional matter of Church teaching, and any idea that he disagrees with that traditional teaching is therefore a tempest in a teapot.

    I don’t want to suggest that the Pope’s topic of conversation was useless, however, because maybe if we can discern a hierarchy of evil, then we can see encouraging or discouraging signs of people moving from more evil to less evil (or, sadly, the other way around) and then respond accordingly in ways that encourage people to move from less evil all the way to good. But our speculation on this matter, and the Pope’s speculation, should not receive the attention it has from people in the press who seem to be unused to examining moral questions in light of the subtleties and demands of either consistent moral philosophies or a well-formed conscience. That attention has just obscured the issues at hand.

    As a last point, I should also mention that maybe there is a good way to tell whether Person A is sinning worse than Person B, and that a consistent moral philosophy should always affirm that distinction. But a hierarchy of mortal sin is a subtle issue, and I think its easy for Catholics themselves to make mistakes if we immediately assert that in all circumstances Person B’s sin is worse than Person A’s sin. We all agree that if you add sins together, you’re always still sinning. But that rule by itself just states an upper bound for the goodness of the aggregate of actions (the aggregate is still a sin); it does not imply that you are always left with more sin than you started with. Even less does it imply that it is easy to measure such gradations of sin in the absence of the kind of knowledge that only confessors usually have. The second question is a subtle question, and we have to treat it with subtlety if we treat it at all.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  26. Joe Palmer – your link is worth highlighting as it appears to be an official response to the comment.

    Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, issued a statement today regarding Pope Benedict’s comments on condoms in an upcoming book. He called the pope’s remarks courageous and new, but not revolutionary. He said they upheld the church’s teaching on sexuality, but also recognized that in some cases a decision to use condoms may reflect concern for causing harm to others.

    Here is a CNS translation of Father Lombardi’s statement:

    At the end of Chapter 10 (Chapter 11 in the English edition) in the book, “Light of the World,” the pope responds to two questions about the struggle against AIDS and the use of the condom, questions that refer back to the discussion that followed the pope’s comments on this topic during his trip to Africa in 2009.

    The pope underlines clearly that, at that time, he did not want to express a position on the problem of condoms in general, but he wanted to affirm strongly that the problem of AIDS cannot be resolved solely with the distribution of condoms, because much more must be done: prevention, education, assistance, counsel, being close to people, both so that they do not become sick, and also in cases where they are sick.

    The pope observes that even in non-church circles a comparable awareness has developed, as is seen in the so-called ABC theory (Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condoms), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are much more decisive and fundamental in the struggle against AIDS, while the condom appears as a last resort when the other two are lacking.

    It should therefore be clear that the condom is not the solution to the problem.

    The pope then takes a wider view and insists on the fact that concentrating only on the condom signifies the “banalization” of sexuality, which loses its meaning as the expression of love between persons and becomes like a “drug.” To fight against the banalization of sexuality is “part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.”

    (Sean Patrick note: The Church’s teaching on sexuality is clear – Sex outside of a sacramental marriage between one man and one woman is fundamentally disordered as is contraceptive sex between husband and wife because contraception disrupts the procreative aspect of sexual union. You can read more on that by checking out John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’ for a good start)

    In the light of this ample and profound vision of human sexuality and its modern challenges, the pope reaffirms that the church “of course does not regard (condoms) as a real or moral solution” to the problem of AIDS.

    In saying this, the pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the church, but reaffirming it by putting it in the context of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.

    At the same time, the pope takes into consideration an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality may represent a real risk to the life of another person. In such a case, the pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality, but maintains that the use of the condom to diminish the danger of infection may be “a first assumption of responsibility”, “a first step in a movement toward a … more human sexuality”, as opposed to not using the condom and exposing the other person to a fatal risk.

    In this statement, the pope’s reasoning certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary shift.

    Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have maintained and still maintain similar positions; however, it is true that until now we had not heard them expressed with such clarity from the mouth of a pope, even if it is in a colloquial, and not magisterial, form.

    Benedict XVI therefore courageously gives us an important contribution that clarifies and deepens a long-debated question. It is an original contribution, because on one hand it maintains fidelity to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in refusing an illusory path like “faith in condoms”; on the other hand, however, it shows a sympathetic and far-sighted vision, attentive to discovering small steps — even if they are only initial and still confused — of a humanity that is often spiritually and culturally impoverished, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.

    Contrast the actual meaning of Pope Benedict’s statement to the treatment it received in the media and in the blogosphere.

    I predict that this clarification – one that should not have even been needed given the text of what the Pope actually stated – will get very little play in the media.

  27. Dear Tim,

    You wrote: The claim I’m making in the opening paragraph is that the Pope is not overturning Catholic teaching on contraception. So if that is not accurate, that would mean that the Pope is overturning Catholic teaching on contraception. Is that the claim you’re making? If so, how do you square that with your statement that what he’s talking about isn’t even contraception at all? If he’s not even talking about contraception, then how could he be overturning current Catholic Church teaching on contraception?I’m sorry for my ambiguity. I meant that this particular use of condoms is not contraceptive – and not violative of natural law on the grounds of separating the unitive and procreative (the usual objection to condoms), although perhaps there is some other objection that could be made (such as seeking to avoiding the consequences of sin, of something like that). Accordingly, the headlines can be true without the pope “overturning natural law” and such headlines do not require him to “condone artificial contraception.”

    I wasn’t suggesting that the pope was overturning anything.

    You also wrote: “As for an example of Reformed blogs handling this just as poorly as the liberal media, Triablogue is one. I think that one’s pretty well known. Did you find their treatment of it adequate and fair?”

    I’m not really sure that I would consider their initial post amounting to “some things speak for themselves” as a “treatment” of the subject. They have subsequently treated the subject in more depth – and hopefully you will find their treatment fair and adequate (in deference to Sean, I’m not providing links to their subsequent treatment).

    – TurretinFan

  28. TurretinFan,

    You said:

    Accordingly, the headlines can be true without the pope “overturning natural law” and such headlines do not require him to “condone artificial contraception.”

    That’s true.

    I’m not really sure that I would consider their initial post amounting to “some things speak for themselves” as a “treatment” of the subject.

    They’re treating it as if the media reports speak for themselves, as I stated above. This is a bad treatment. It would be better if they had not mentioned it at all if they didn’t want to give it fair treatment. This quibbling about words is… lame. Both you and I have better things to do with our time.

    They have subsequently treated the subject in more depth – and hopefully you will find their treatment fair and adequate

    I haven’t seen any treatment of it on their site but I’ll take your word that they have. All I saw on their site were attacks on me and none of them were worth refuting.

  29. K Doran said: ——

    As for the second question, it is interesting to speculate about whether some types of mortal sin are more wrong than others … ——-

    The Catholic Church has always taught that some sins are worse than others, which is why she makes the distinction between sin that is not mortal (venial sin) and sin that is mortal. In this particular teaching, the Catholic Church is following what is explicitly taught in scriptures and what is corroborated by human experience:

    —– If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal. 1 John 5:16-17 RSV

    CCC 1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,[129] became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

    Footnote 129 Cf. 1 Jn 5:16-17 ——-

    Are there some mortal sins that are worse than other? Human experience tells us that some sins are worse than others, but human reason alone isn’t necessarily reliable in determining if a particular sin is mortal or not. The Catholic Church has the God given authority to make that distinction, and she teaches that all sexual sins involve grave matter. She also teaches that that some sexual sins are worse than others.

    It is against the law in California to have sexual intercourse with an underage minor. It is illegal for an eighteen-year-old male to have consensual premarital sex with a fifteen-year-old girl. It is also illegal for an eighteen-year-old male to rape a fifteen-year-old girl. Both these offenses against the law end up in the court system in California, but if there is any justice in our courts, the case of consensual sex is not punished in the same way as the case of rape. Our sense of justice given to us by the light of the natural law tells us that this distinction is just, and the Catholic Church would concur with this. In both cases the sexual sin involves grave matter, but consensual premarital sex is not as heinous a sin as rape.

    For the issue at hand, it seems to me that all Pope Benedict XVI is doing is making a statement that anyone with an ounce of common sense would make – i.e. that if a male prostitute is infected with AIDS and he knows he is infected, he is doing something morally worse by having unprotected sex than he would be if he had sex while using a condom. If the male prostitute does not know for sure if he is infected with AIDS or venereal disease, he should not assume that he isn’t, nor should he assume that the person that he is going to have sex with isn’t infected with a STD. The homosexual community thoroughly understands that having promiscuous sex without using condoms involves a moral issue – i.e. if you are going to cheat on your life partner with a male prostitute, use a condom, because your life partner doesn’t deserve a death sentence because of your infidelity.

    Perhaps the real problem that some within the Reformed communities are having with Pope Benedict XVI’s statement lies in their refusal to acknowledge that the scriptures make a distinction between sin that is not mortal and sin that is mortal. Because their confusion about what the scriptures teach on the matter of mortal and venial sin, they can’t understand that the Pope is merely speaking common sense. If one’s theology does not acknowledge that God doesn’t the sin of jaywalking as the moral equivalent of rape, then one will certainly be incapable of acknowledging that there are differences between the level of wickedness in sins that are mortal.

    The man that does not acknowledge that the scriptures explicitly teach a distinction between mortal and venial sin will always be trapped in an internal conflict between his common sense and what his Protestant sect is teaching him. His conscience can’t help but inform him that God would be unjust if he judged the sin of a kid sassing his mom as the moral equivalent of a man raping a child. There is no escape for the Protestant from this internal conflict without the destruction of his conscience.

    IMO, the teaching moment that has been opened by Pope Benedict XVI’s statement with our Reformed brothers should not get bogged down in a discussion about the distinction between the relative wickedness of different types of sexual sin. Rather, the focus of the discussion should be on the distinction between mortal and venial sin.

  30. At least the reality is starting make its way around, no thanks to the mainstream press.

  31. Gentlemen,

    I want to quote a couple items from Jimmy Akin’s newly posted article on this issue, and then bring up what I think is a potential problem. You can find the article here:

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/understanding-the-popes-dilemma-on-condoms?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+%2540The+Daily+Register%2541#When:23:14:54Z

    Mr. Aikin wrote:

    “Now, the Holy See could in the future say that the principles articulated in Humanae Vitae regarding contraception also apply to all sexual acts outside of marriage, or some of them, or none of them. At least it could, hypothetically.

    In the article he explains that everythig Humanae Vitae had to say about contraception only applied to the “conjugal” act – that is, the sexual act within marriage. Hence, the Magisterium has not spoken regarding contraception out of marriage. That is why he thinks there are several Magisterial options open as I just quoted. The problem (potentially) with this idea is that it seems to me that the LOGIC employed in Humanae Vitae to explain why contraception is immoral within the “conjugal”/marital act is specifically because the natural law indicates that contraception is contrary to the natural function of the human generative faculties. These generative faculties “are what they are” and have a specific teleology according to natural law for men and women as such, regardless of whether they are married or not. Thus, although it is true that Humanae Vitae carries out its argument explicitly (exclusively?) within the context of the conjugal act; the immorality of contraceptives attaches to the natural function of the generative faculties themselves. THAT is why use of contraception (thwarting of the teleology naturally instantiated in the generative faculties) can never be a moral means to the end of preventing pregnancy, even when there are justifiable (grave) reasons for a couple choosing to delay conception.

    If I am right about the logic employed by Humanae Vitae, then I am not sure the Magisterium ever COULD say that the principles articulated in Humanae Vitae do NOT apply to heterosexual acts out of marriage as Mr. Aikin seems to think. I mean, even if the “good” intention among a fornicating couple, in the use of a condom, were to prevent the spread of HIV which one of the partners is known to have; given the intrinsic evil of thwarting the natural powers of human generative faculties during intercourse; contraception would still amount to the use of an evil means to achieve a good end -which is forbidden by Catholic moral theology. It seems to me that this situation maps as a nearly perfect analogy to the immorality of thwarting the natural powers of the generative faculties within marriage for the good of (justifiably) delayed conception, such that the distinction which Mr. Aikin is driving at, between “conjugal” sex acts and other heterosexual acts is beside the point. The only way out of that logic that I can see, is to say that since the question of contraception in the case I just described occurs entirely within the context of fornication or adultry; then somehow, the usual rule that the ends never justifies the means, is mitigated or non-applicable, given an already immoral context – but I have never heard such a theory propounded.

    Mr. Aikin goes on to say this:

    “In the interview he considered the case of a male prostitute. Male prostitutes aren’t all that common from what I’m given to understand. Certainly they aren’t as common as the female variety is supposed to be. Which raises the question of why the Pontiff would zero in on this example.
    Presumably, it is because male prostitutes most commonly service male clients, in which case the act is homosexual in nature and thus has no procreative aspect to begin with. The question of contraception thus doesn’t arise because there is no openness to new life in the act in the first place.”

    If the pope’s comments apply only to the HOMOSEXUAL situation, then there is no logical difficulty because the generative faculty’s natural teleology is already being thwarted by virtue of homosexual intercourse (where there is no openness to life). Like masturbation, the “contraception” (if one wants to call it that), occurs because no female is involved, and hence, no possibility for life (which ought to attend the use of male generative faculties) is absent. In that case, the use of the condom is STRICTLY to prevent disease and adds nothing by way of contraception. If that is what the pope means – no problemo.

    However, Aikin goes on:

    “He also might have chosen this example because males, whether behaving homosexually OR HETEROSEXUALLY, have a greater chance of infecting others with HIV, but my guess is that he’s thinking of homosexual prostitution in particular.” [emphasis mine]

    Again, if the pope’s example includes males engaging in HETEROSEXUAL activity, yet with a “good” desire to prevent HIV spread; then I think there is going to be a big problem here. It will be argued by many that if a male infected with HIV is morally permitted to thwart the use of his generative faculties during umarried HETEROSEXUAL intercourse, for the “higher good” of protecting the female partner from infection; then there is no way to consistently assert that a male WITHIN MARRIAGE cannot use a condom to thwart his generative faculties during “conjugal” intercourse for the “higher good” of spacing children.

    Thoughts??

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  32. Ray ,

    Re: the potential argument of heterosexual couples using contraception in marriage for the higher good of spacing children, I think since that has already been definitively ruled out in HV, the logic could never be validly applied. (That won’t stop the liberals from trying of course). The other thing is that, even assuming that he *is* including heterosexual intercourse in his hypothetical situation, he never said that the condom use is OK just that it “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization.”

    Furthermore, the grave reason of preventing someone from contracting a fatal disease (A), in my opinion, cannot be compared to the desire to space out children (B). In the former case (A), you’re using contraception for the unselfish sub-reason of preventing someone’s death. (I say sub-reason because you’re engaging in a self serving act – fornication – but given that sinful choice you have made a good choice of protecting the life of another.) In the latter case (B), you’re using contraception for selfish reasons except in some rare cases where finances might be a serious concern and even in such cases the gravity does not match that of case (A). That is, a poor family giving birth does not amount to the objective danger of infecting a man or woman with a fatal disease.

    My two cents.

  33. I thought of one other possibility. Maybe the law of double effect could be brought o bear.

    In the out of marriage heterosexual situation where the male partner has HIV, perhaps it could be argued that the condom’s primary goal is to stop the spread of HIV, where the condom is the ONLY way to prevent the spread of disease, and the contracepting ill effect occurs simultaneously, incidentally, and unavoidably to the good effect of disease prevention. This would be the law of double effect occuring within the large bubble of immoral fornication or adultry. The messy part here is trying to locate where the primary intention of the condom usage really lay.

  34. It could be useful to look at the issue in terms of “marginal contribution to sinfulness”.

    In the case of marital sexual relations, the contribution of the use of a condom to sinfulness is 100%, since it turns an otherwise good act into a sin.

    Consider now an act of adultery or fornication, which is a grave sin in itself. In my view, such an act does not become substantially more sinful if a condom is used. In economics’ terms, the marginal contribution to sinfulness of the use of a condom in an already illicit sexual relationship is not significant.

    And if there is a risk that one of the persons involved has a STD, the use of a condom may actually imply a negative marginal contribution to sinfulness, as the Pope said, although of course not nearly significant to affect the moral illicitness of the act.

  35. Johannes – thanks that’s exactly how I’m reading the statement (at least from the limited context we have available).

  36. An update to what I have been tracking.

    1.) The Italian of the l’Osservatore Romano reads Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta utilizza un profilattico,
    2.) The AP is using the OR text to create this translation which is the only translation I have seen in English reporting
    “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom
    3.) The official English text as published by Ignatius from an advance copy of the book http://piadesolenni.com/pope-oks-condoms
    “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom,
    4.) I have run across some people who have stated that the German journalists are using the term “rechtfertigen” which means justified, which may be the l’OR text translated back into German.

    5.) The actual German text from the book reads as follows Ich würde sagen, wenn ein Prostituierter ein Kondom verwendet, taken from Sandro Magister’s via Lori Pieper

    We can now conclude that the text of the OR is flawed and has introduced a word that is foreign to the origional statement of B16.

    The following questions need to be answered:

    A.) Is the l’OR text actually the text from the Italian book?
    B.) What influenced the Ignatius transation to ad a basis during the translation process?

    The more that this gets pulled apart the more that it appears to me that there is malice here because the meaning between the l’OR and the German is completly different and unwarrented.

  37. On the question of the purely prophylactic use of condoms between married couples one of whom has AIDS, see my post of a few years ago: http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2008/01/condomania.html.

  38. @Ray in #31

    ” if a male infected with HIV is morally permitted to thwart the use of his generative faculties during umarried HETEROSEXUAL intercourse, for the “higher good” of protecting the female partner from infection”

    As I see it, the male is using the condom to protect the partner from infection. As a side effect, it twharts the natural generative potential of the relation. Therefore the use of a condom does not add to sinfulness, and actually lessens it (though not nearly enough to cancel out the intrinsic illicitness of the relation).

    We know that it is perfectly licit for a woman to undergo a medical treatment that, as a side effect, suspends ovulation. From HV #15:

    “On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.”

    In my view, it is legitimate and logical to replace “cure” above with “prevent”. Do it and case closed.

  39. Tim,

    First I recognize that the pope is not making a magisterial statment here. Second, I suspect along with Jimmy Aikin that the pope IS talking about homosexual activity only. I just am not sure that Mr. Aikin is correct in thinking that the pope or the Magisterium MIGHT affirm condom usage in non-marital heterosexual situations.

    You are definitely right that HV has ruled out condom usage in marriage, but of course only a small percentage of Catholics pay attention. My concern is that an allowance for condom usage in heterosexual acts outside of marriage to prevent disease spread would actually present an unavoidable logical contradiction to the natural law BASIS upon which HV’s decision was forged. That would make HV very difficult to defend, as if it were not already, given our sex-crazed culture.

    I am probably missing your point, but I was not meaning to compare your A (prevention of a fatal dsiease) to your B (the dsire to space out children for no grave reason). Rather, I was comparing your A to the situation (rare as you say) where there really are good grave reasons for child spacing. The reason why a lot of folks have such a hard time with HV is because they cannot see the difference between NFP and contraception in cases where there really is some grave reason for spacing children. Both would have the supervening (good) goal of spacing children (assuming truly grave reasons), and both would achieve that goal on the practical level. The reason NFP is moral and contraception is not, is because the later is an immoral use of the generative faculties and the former is not.

    Your point about A being an unselfish motive would actually lend strength to the concern I have. It would go like this:

    The Magisterium through HV says that, within marriage, condoms are an immoral way to achieve a supervening moral end (spacing of children based on grave reasons) because condoms (as opposed to NFP) militate against the natural teleology found in human generative faculties.

    Now the Magisterium comes along and says that when it comes to heterosexual acts OUTSIDE of marriage, the condom (which still militates against generative teleology vis-a-vis the natural law) is okay for use to achieve supervening moral goal (prevening the spread of HIV).

    The fact that the moral goal of preventing disease spread is perhaps more selfless and more common than the rare instances of morally justifiable child spacing would only serve to highlight the discontinuity of the two positions.

    Like I said, the pope probably does not even intend this as an option, nor was his interview Magisterial in nature, even he did. I was just concerned that Mr. Aikin’s article was opening a dangerous door.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  40. 5.) The actual German text from the book reads as follows Ich würde sagen, wenn ein Prostituierter ein Kondom verwendet, taken from Sandro Magister’s via Lori Pieper

    Because of the structure of the German language, we actually wouldn’t be able to tell, from this snippet alone, whether important words have simply been inserted into the translation without a reasonable linguistic justification (pun intended). It would have been possible for another dependent clause following the conditional to include Rechtfertigung or rechtfertigen (I would say, if a Protistute were to use a condom, that…). However, I found the following at Catholicculture.org:

    Die bloße Fixierung auf das Kondom bedeutet eine Banalisierung der Sexualität, und die ist ja gerade die gefährliche Quelle dafür, dass die Menschen in der Sexualität nicht mehr den Ausdruck ihrer Liebe finden, sondern nur noch eine Art von Droge, die sie sich selbst verabreichen. Deshalb ist auch der Kampf gegen die Banalisierung der Sexualität ein Teil des Ringens darum, dass Sexualität positiv gewertet wird und ihre positive Wirkung im Ganzen des Menschseins entfalten kann. Ich würde sagen, wenn ein Prostituierter ein Kondom verwendet, kann das ein erster Akt zu einer Moralisierung sein, ein erstes Stück Verantwortung, um wieder ein Bewusstsein dafür zu entwickeln, dass nicht alles gestattet ist und man nicht alles tun kann, was man will. Aber es ist nicht die eigentliche Art, dem Übel beizukommen. Diese muss wirklich in der Vermenschlichung der Sexualität liegen.

    The full sentence, of which Nathan only quoted the very beginning, is bolded.

    My translation:

    I would say that, if a [male] prostitute uses a condom, it can be a first step towards moralization, [the assumption of] an initial bit of responsibility in re-developing consciousness of the fact that everything is not permitted and one can’t just do whatever he wants.

    If the German quote from the Catholicculture.org piece is accurate, then it definitely seems to be the case that this has been horribly mistranslated. The first clause in the official (?) English translation (“There can be individual cases that are justified”) has, in my opinion, no substantial basis in the German original.

  41. @ David Pell

    I did check prior btw as to if Rechtfertigung or rechtfertigen or the like was included but thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow. The text that I pulled from was from ultimately came from here (Lori Pieper just got me her link) http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1345667?eng=y

    BUT you are incorrect in saying that the official English translation is “There can be individual cases that are justified”. That is the journalist translation from the l’OR article. The text from the actual English book is given at Dr. Pia’s website (linked above) where she copied the text from an advance copy of the Ignatius English edition of the book.

    The offical English text reads
    (blockquote)“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom…”(/blockquote)

    In no way shape or form did B16 use the term justified — that is stemming from the l’OR and so far that is the origion of that term “justified” (I do not have the offical Italian text — the l’OR could be, but probably not, its own in house translation of the German where the term “justified” was added).

  42. Johannes #38

    I think you might be right in this regard. I mentioned that possibility in #33; but you may have been typing your #38 while I was posting that. Also, I just finished reading Mike’s article on the subject, and I think it (almost) comes down the same way. I say almost because his context is marriage and the conjugal act – not fornication or adultry. At the end of his article, he expresses the possibility that “condomistic” sex for prophylactic purposes may still be immoral within marriage due to question surrounding the unitive principle devolped in JP II’s TOB.. But as the discussion here is within the framework of an already immoral sexual nexus, I think his arguments probably do the trick to affirm that something like a double-effect licitness of prophylactic condom use (to prevent HIV spread) would be a sort of “move in a moral direction” within an already immoral context. The key thing, which Mike’s article does, and which the double-effect explanation achieves; is to remove the charge that condom use to prevent disease spread in non-married hetrosexual situations, necessarily entails use of an evil means to achieve a “good” end. THAT is the position I think needs to be avoided in order to preserve the logical basis which supports Humanae Vitae.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  43. Now I’d like to say something regarding the issue of the Church-condoms-AIDS.

    At a purely technical level, the analogy of the protection that condoms offer against STDs would be that offered by sunscreens against UV rays: significant but not complete. And if the user gets a false sense of safety and increases his exposure by orders of magnitude, he may be worse off than before.

    Now, it is NOT the Church’s business to deal with whether the protection offered by condoms is 100% or not. The Church works at a higher level, and its concern is people’s spiritual, not physical health. Even if condoms were 100% safe, the Church would stick to the doctrine that sexual relations outside marriage are grave sins, and that a grave sin is worse than death. (BTW, the prayer of act of contrition in Spanish makes it very clear with a statement missing in the English version: “I’d rather want to have died than have offended You”. It goes before “I firmly resolve…”)

    So, I find it depressing that so much in this document by Cardinal Lopez Trujillo is devoted to technical issues regarding condoms and their use:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_20031201_family-values-safe-sex-trujillo_en.html

    Because the Church’s criticism of condoms is not based on their effectiveness or lack thereof, but on higher-level reasons. The same reasons why the Church would criticize a policy of providing each man with a couple of high-end sex dolls, even though obviously the effectiveness of their use in preventing the spread of STDs is 100%.

  44. Thanks, Nathan. I tried to indicate with my (?) that I wasn’t sure what that English translation was. Either way, it’s clear that there’s no “justification” or “basis” in the original. Not only are the specific words not there, but the translations add a sense to Benedict’s original quote that I also don’t think can be found there.

  45. @ David and Johannes,

    Regardless of the “justified” thing, it seems that there is some sense in which the potential use of a condom by a male prostitue is being affirmed as ok/good/laudable????

    I mean how can something that “can be a first step towards moralization” be evil strictly speaking? If something is a step TOWARDS moralization, it seems to follow that it would be a “good” thing to take that step. I am just pointing out that there does seem to be some sense in which the pope is floating the idea that such an action / step is ok/permissable – GIVEN THE SPECIFIC CONTEXT AND DETAILS (and only this kind of context/detail).

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  46. @ David

    Yes exactly. Is someone playing games here with these translations? Because the terms “justified” and “on a basis” don’t exist in B16’s remarks this whole discussion is based on a fabrication and I have seen many discussion, from both sides, talking about cases where it is ok to do something morally evil. What a win for the devil that so many people are talking now about grades of moral evil and the permissibility of doing something less evil just because it is the lesser evil. In situations we are never allowed to simply do the lesser of two evils but we are called to always find the good option.

    @ Ray Stamper

    In the popes comments, the first step towards moralization is not the usage of the condom but rather the reflection that not all things are good to do which prompts the false decision to use a condom. The thought process of “this might not be a good idea as I could get infected and I have responsibility to the health of my own body” is the basis and first step not the subsequent decision to “use a condom as a solution”. I would argue that the subsequent decision to use a condom is actually a set backwards but not a full step, as the impulse to health is undercut, but not fully, by the desire for gratification or mostlikly $$ because we are talking about prostitutes and not their customers. That is what I would argue for the Pontiff is quite clear in the text that the usage of a condom is not a moral solution to the problem of “I don’t want to get infected” and thus I am reading between the lines a bit to say that the Pope is meaning that the impulse to protect ones health is the first step and not the actual usage of the condom.

  47. @Ray #42

    Having read Mike’s article, I see that in my previous post #38 the final easy “Do it and case closed” is UNwarranted for the case under discussion, because the replacement of “cure” in HV #15 by “prevent” applies only to medical procedures (“therapeutic means necessary to prevent bodily diseases”), e.g. if there is a terrorist threat and a woman is preventively taking an anthrax antidote that as a side effect suspends ovulation. A sexual act with condom is not a therapeutic mean necessary to prevent a disease (i.e. as opposed to no sexual act at all).

    Now, let’s analyze the case GIVEN the sexual act. Within marriage, the licitness of the act using condom, with the ONLY goal of preventing STD transmission, depends on the act still being a conjugal act, and thus on the correctness of Mike’s analysis (which IMV is correct). The two positions could be summarized as:
    Mike: with condom: licit (IF only goal is profilaxis!); without condom: illicit (against charity)
    Hardliners: with condom: illicit (not conjugal act); without condom: illicit (against charity)

    Now, if using a condom with a protective goal in a conjugal act does not make it illicit, then using a condom with a protective goal in an already-illicit sexual act does not make it futher illicit.

  48. @K. Doran in #25

    “As for the second question, it is interesting to speculate about whether some types of mortal sin are more wrong than others,”

    This is obvious. Abortion is clearly more wrong than contraception, adultery than fornication, homicide than stealth. This is not just from reason: the Church punishes abortion with excommunication but not contraception, and in the early Church adultery and homicide, but not fornication and stealth, were “capital sins” together with apostasy (when “capital sins” had a different meaning than now).

  49. At the end of second post before, it is “further illicit.”

  50. Nathan B writes:. —– In situations we are never allowed to simply do the lesser of two evils but we are called to always find the good option. —–

    I am not so sure about that. It is true that one can never do evil to bring about a good end, but one can make a choice between the lesser of two evils. Let us look at the case of casting a vote, where the only choice is between two candidates, A or B (or not voting at all.) Candidate A and Candidate B have identical positions when it comes to abortion; neither one has any intention of changing the status quo of legalized abortion on demand.

    The only real difference between Candidate A, and Candidate B, is that Candidate A has some remnant of the virtue of liberality alive within him, however imperfect. Candidate A would at least try to help the poor, even if his effort might be misguided in its effectiveness. Within Candidate B the virtue of liberality is completely dead. Candidate B hates the poor, and would ignore their needs if he were elected. Even worse, if given the chance, Candidate B would do whatever he could to make the poor suffer even more because he thinks that the poor are already getting too uppity and forgetting their place in the class order.

    Does the Catholic Church teach that it is sinful to cast a vote for either candidate because both candidates have no intention of ending the evil of abortion? Does the voter have to abstain from voting because his choice has come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils? No. The Catholic can vote for candidate A, if his motivation for voting is simply a desire to limit the evil that would be unleashed if B came to power. His intention for voting for A cannot be a positive choice for A because he supports A’s position for keeping intact the status quo of abortion on demand. A positive choice to keep abortion on demand legal is a sinful choice. The voter can, however, make a negative choice against B, because he is trying to limit the evil that B would unleash upon society by keeping B from coming to power.

    I think the case of condom usage by a male prostitute is somewhat analogous. The prostitute is making a personal choice to limit evil by using a condom, and it is irrelevant whether his sexual partner is a man or a woman. The Pope is merely saying that the prostitute’s desire to limit evil is a step in the right direction, and that is not a positive approval of condom usage. IMO, that is similar choosing between the lesser of two evils in voting. The Pope himself may decide to vote for Candidate A, and that in no way is an approval by the Pope of Candidate A’s position of doing nothing to end abortion.

  51. ‘Turretin Fan”

    They have subsequently treated the subject in more depth – and hopefully you will find their treatment fair and adequate.

    On this I went back to the blog to check their treatment. They have created eights threads in two days related to the condom issue. I read each one and all the comments. I am not going to go into details and argue the points they raise but needless to say they have not been fair.

  52. Sean – that doesn’t surprise me given some of the “treatment” they gave me!

  53. I wanted to note — given the nature of the blog and its large non-catholic audience — that this conversation relates to a cutting-edge theological and ethical matter (HIV has only been prevalent for 30 years or so, after all). This debate (namely, matters that HV did not explicitly address) is a good example where the Church’s teaching has not yet been fully explicated, and so it’s not surprising that given the thorny subject matter, the development of teaching in this area is a bit messy.

  54. @mateo

    I don’t buy that and your situation is not analogous. With your voting scenario you are talking about two candidates that have the same position on abortion. Thus your choice on who to vote for is not based on a lesser evil scenario on abortion.

    When we phrase choices as “what will bring about the net less evil” this is a trap by which we become habituated to excusing and allowing for evil. We should not condition ourselves to even think along such lines.

    When we are discussing condom usage by prostitutes, we are not discussing a lesser of two evils, but rather the addition of a different evil. Sexual activity outside of marriage is an immoral activity. The usage of a condom during intercourse is an immoral activity but for a completely different reason than sexual activity outside of marriage. Does condom usage reduce the immorality of intercourse outside of marriage? No. Thus the choice of using a condom does not reduce the net immorality of the sexual activity outside of marriage. Condom usage has a benefit of reducing the transmission of diseases, thus we can talk about condom usage having a positive morality when we talk about it to protect health. BUT when we talk about condom usage we must say that condom usage during intercourse is always a sin, but for very specific reasons which are unrelated to why intercourse outside of marriage is a sin.

    Let us look at this from the prospective of a male prostitute with a female client as it will make it clear that it is relevant as to whether or not the client is a woman or a man.

    Thus when we are setting up the equation we have

    Man+Woman
    Net Morality = (Good desire to protect health) – (Evil Desire for Intercourse Outside of Marriage) – (Evil Desire to Contracept)

    The Good desire to protect health does not outweigh the additional evil desire to contracept.

    Man+Man
    Net Morality = (Good desire to protect health) – (Evil Desire for Sodomy)

    now that appears to be less evil than
    Net Morality = – (Evil Desire for Sodomy)

    but the quantities in ( ) are non additive because they are different things and the equation is not graphed as a curve but as a three dimensional surface. The Good desire to protect health doesn’t effect the evil desire sodomy, it is effecting the degree of sinfulness for undertaking situations that result in harm to one’s physical body.

    One of the things that I have seen out there in trying to justify the Pope’s statement, that I do not like, is the argument that it is better to use a condom because otherwise it is like giving the other person a death sentence and thus trying not to harm that person is the better course of actions. This again is a false choice. People who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage are sinning and when they do so in a way that it results in a mortal sin, they are in fact living under a death sentence regardless of whether or not they are protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. They are foolishly choosing to protect the body while killing the soul.

    Anyway the first step towards morality is realizing that perhaps one needs to choose to protect their lives. The choice for the condom is a false solution to that first step.

  55. very true, out of the whole book this is the only thing they can pay attention to? Shows what kind of world we live in. People have become sensual and decadent without higher thought and objective reasoning intact, no search for truth, just grab and run what appeals to prurient interests. The church can only do right when it does wrong according to the media and liberal elites. The rest of liberals are sheep following their agenda by attaching to one of their benefits.

  56. Okay, as well informed and intentioned as this discussion has been I can’t help but think we are getting twisted around the thorns because we are coming at this from the wrong direction.

    What is God’s design for the Conjugal relationship? Total self giving and total acceptance of the other person. Please allow me to indulge in several long quotes (bold emphasis mine):

    John Paul II – Theology of the Body (of course not infallibly authoritative)
    The sentence: “The man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed,” expresses this innocence in the reciprocal experience of the body. This innocence inspires the interior exchange of the gift of the person. In the mutual relationship, this actualizes concretely the nuptial meaning of masculinity and femininity. To understand the innocence of the mutual experience of the body, we must try to clarify what the interior innocence in the exchange of the gift of the person consists of. This exchange constitutes the real source of the experience of innocence.

    Interior innocence (that is, righteousness of intention) in the exchange of the gift consists in reciprocal “acceptance” of the other, such as to correspond to the essence of the gift. In this way, mutual donation creates the communion of persons. It is a question of “receiving” the other human being and “accepting” him. This is because in this mutual relationship, which Genesis 2:23-25 speaks of, the man and the woman become a gift for each other, through the whole truth and evidence of their own body in its masculinity and femininity.It is a question, then, of an “acceptance” or “welcome” that expresses and sustains, in mutual nakedness, the meaning of the gift. Therefore, it deepens the mutual dignity of it. This dignity corresponds profoundly to the fact that the Creator willed (and continually wills) man, male and female, “for his own sake.” The innocence “of the heart,” and consequently, the innocence of the experience, means a moral participation in the eternal and permanent act of God’s will.

    The opposite of this “welcoming” or “acceptance” of the other human being as a gift would be a privation of the gift itself. Therefore, it would be a changing and even a reduction of the other to an “object for myself” (an object of lust, of misappropriation, etc.).

    We will not deal in detail now with this multiform, presumable antithesis of the gift. However, in the context of Genesis 2:23-25, we can note that this extorting of the gift from the other human being (from the woman by the man and vice versa) and reducing him or her interiorly to a mere “object for me,” should mark the beginning of shame. The latter corresponds to a threat inflicted on the gift in its personal intimacy and bears witness to the interior collapse of innocence in the mutual experience.

    ( John Paul II audience Feb 6, 1980) here

    and from Humane Vitae (also not it itself infallibly authoritative – but more authority than TOB)
    Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.
    ….
    It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.
    ….
    Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.” (8) Here

    and from Vatican II
    Gaudium Et Spes
    Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
    (I couldn’t resist emphasizing some key points in Bold and including a very long quote for full context)
    48. The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. Hence by that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other a relationship arises which by divine will and in the eyes of society too is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their off-springs as well as of society, the existence of the sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone. For, God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.(1) All of these have a very decisive bearing on the continuation of the human race, on the personal development and eternal destiny of the individual members of a family, and on the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family itself and of human society as a whole. By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown. Thus a man and a woman, who by their compact of conjugal love “are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19:ff), render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and of their actions. Through this union they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day. As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.(2)

    Christ the Lord abundantly blessed this many-faceted love, welling up as it does from the fountain of divine love and structured as it is on the model of His union with His Church. For as God of old made Himself present(3) to His people through a covenant of love and fidelity, so now the Savior of men and the Spouse(4) of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians through the sacrament of matrimony. He abides with them thereafter so that just as He loved the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf,(6) the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.

    Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and enriched by Christ’s redeeming power and the saving activity of the Church, so that this love may lead the spouses to God with powerful effect and may aid and strengthen them in sublime office of being a father or a mother.(6) For this reason Christian spouses have a special sacrament by which they are fortified and receive a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state.(7) By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfil their conjugal and family obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, which suffuses their whole lives with faith, hope and charity.Thus they increasingly advance the perfection of their own personalities, as well as their mutual sanctification, and hence contribute jointly to the glory of God.

    As a result, with their parents leading the way by example and family prayer, children and indeed everyone gathered around the family hearth will find a readier path to human maturity, salvation and holiness. Graced with the dignity and office of fatherhood and motherhood, parents will energetically acquit themselves of a duty which devolves primarily on them, namely education and especially religious education.

    As living members of the family, children contribute in their own way to making their parents holy. For they will respond to the kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust. They will stand by them as children should when hardships overtake their parents and old age brings its loneliness. Widowhood, accepted bravely as a continuation of the marriage vocation, should be esteemed by all.(8) Families too will share their spiritual riches generously with other families. Thus the Christian family, which springs from marriage as a reflection of the loving covenant uniting Christ with the Church,(9) and as a participation in that covenant, will manifest to all men Christ’s living presence in the world, and the genuine nature of the Church. This the family will do by the mutual love of the spouses, by their generous fruitfulness, their solidarity and faithfulness, and by the loving way in which all members of the family assist one another.

    49. The biblical Word of God several times urges the betrothed and the married to nourish and develop their wedlock by pure conjugal love and undivided affection.(10) Many men of our own age also highly regard true love between husband and wife as it manifests itself in a variety of ways depending on the worthy customs of various peoples and times.

    This love is an eminently human one since it is directed from one person to another through an affection of the will; it involves the good of the whole person, and therefore can enrich the expressions of body and mind with a unique dignity, ennobling these expressions as special ingredients and signs of the friendship distinctive of marriage. This love God has judged worthy of special gifts, healing, perfecting and exalting gifts of grace and of charity. Such love, merging the human with the divine, leads the spouses to a free and mutual gift of themselves, a gift providing itself by gentle affection and by deed, such love pervades the whole of their lives:(11) indeed by its busy generosity it grows better and grows greater. Therefore it far excels mere erotic inclination, which, selfishly pursued, soon enough fades wretchedly away.

    This love is uniquely expressed and perfected through the appropriate enterprise of matrimony. The actions within marriage by which the couple are united intimately and chastely are noble and worthy ones. Expressed in a manner which is truly human, these actions promote that mutual self-giving by which spouses enrich each other with a joyful and a ready will. Sealed by mutual faithfulness and hallowed above all by Christ’s sacrament, this love remains steadfastly true in body and in mind, in bright days or dark.It will never be profaned by adultery or divorce. Firmly established by the Lord, the unity of marriage will radiate from the equal personal dignity of wife and husband, a dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love. The constant fulfillment of the duties of this Christian vocation demands notable virtue. For this reason, strengthened by grace for holiness of life, the couple will painstakingly cultivate and pray for steadiness of love, large heartedness and the spirit of sacrifice.

    Authentic conjugal love will be more highly prized, and wholesome public opinion created about it if Christian couples give outstanding witness to faithfulness and harmony in their love, and to their concern for educating their children also, if they do their part in bringing about the needed cultural, psychological and social renewal on behalf of marriage and the family. Especially in the heart of their own families, young people should be aptly and seasonably instructed in the dignity, duty and work of married love. Trained thus in the cultivation of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to enter a marriage of their own after an honorable courtship.

    50. Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents. The God Himself Who said, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) and “Who made man from the beginning male and female” (Matt. 19:4), wishing to share with man a certain special participation in His own creative work, blessed male and female, saying: “Increase and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day. here

    Now I think that when we come at things from this direction we see that much of the confusion about this issue regarding condom use under any situation within marriage can be clarified. The mutual love and self giving, sanctifying and sacramental bond of marriage is profaned when for any reason one or both spouses selfishly places their wants and desires above the health and well being of their spouse or even themselves. The case of an HIV infected spouse is just an extreme one: a spouse who insists upon using their spouse for sexual pleasure while willfully (with or without a condom) risking the health and life of a their spouse. There are other examples of selfishness and inappropriate sex within marriage. As noted above, John Paul II caused controversy that lusting after ones own spouse was still lust and that it too is an act of using the other person rather than an act of reciprocal self giving and accepting.

    One thing that seems to often go missing in these discussions, even among orthodox and faithful Catholics is that SEX IS INDEED OPTIONAL!. Awful as that is to recognize, there are other situations where married couples may find themselves being abstinent for long periods of time and even for the remainder of their marriage, usually the health or impotence of one spouse or the other, but also due to long periods of separation.

    So the need to use a Condom in what ever situation and particularly in the case of one spouse infected with aids is being driven by a selfishness which is already profaning the sacred design of the Marriage Covenant. It has nothing to do with “depositing sperm in the vagina” – it goes to the spiritual heart of the union between two people fully accepting and embracing each other and unselfishly loving the other.

    Of course mortal sin is individual and to sin mortally the usual conditions apply. For a woman in a particular culture and particular circumstances whose HIV infected spouse imposes himself upon her we certainly have a case for drastically diminished culpability. But objectively the use of a condom in the marital act is still a mortal sin.

  57. ??? did I botch the HTML that badly??? I don’t know what happened to my BlockQuotes and my HREF links

  58. @Ray

    So far we have focused on the licitness of prophylactic use of condoms. We agree that it is licit in an already-illicit relation, based on Mike’s analysis and the double effect. I also hold that it is licit in a marital relation, based on Mike’s analysis (my #47, where I spelled “prophylaxis” in Spanish;-)

    Now I’d like to focus on the point you address in your #31: contraceptive use of condoms in an already-illicit relation, where the situation as described by Jimmy Akin is:

    “Now, the Holy See could in the future say that the principles articulated in Humanae Vitae regarding contraception also apply to all sexual acts outside of marriage, or some of them, or none of them. At least it could, hypothetically.”

    and your position is:

    “If I am right about the logic employed by Humanae Vitae, then I am not sure the Magisterium ever COULD say that the principles articulated in Humanae Vitae do NOT apply to heterosexual acts out of marriage as Mr. Akin seems to think.”

    Well, below I quote from a magisterial statement that lends support to the position that the HV principles apply ONLY to conjugal acts: the 1987 CDF instruction “Donum Vitae”.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

    Section II: Interventions for human procreation

    “By the term heterologous artificial fertilization or procreation, the Instruction means techniques used to obtain a human conception artificially by the use of gametes coming from at least one donor other than the spouses who are joined in marriage.”

    Subsection A: Heterologous artificial fertilization:

    1. WHY MUST HUMAN PROCREATION TAKE PLACE IN MARRIAGE?

    Every human being is always to be accepted as a gift and blessing of God. However, from the moral point of view a truly responsible procreation vis-à-vis the unborn child must be the fruit of marriage.

    For human procreation has specific characteristics by virtue of the personal dignity of the parents and of the children: the procreation of a new person, whereby the man and the woman collaborate with the power of the Creator, must be the fruit and the sign of the mutual self-giving of the spouses, of their love and of their fidelity.(34) The fidelity of the spouses in the unity of marriage involves reciprocal respect of their right to become a father and a mother only through each other. The child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage: it is through the secure and recognized relationship to his own parents that the child can discover his own identity and achieve his own proper human development.

    Through IVF and ET and heterologous artificial insemination, human conception is achieved through the fusion of gametes of at least one donor other than the spouses who are united in marriage. Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.(36)

    (BTW, reference (36) is the longest in the document, including many quotes from Church’s Fathers, papal and conciliar documents.)

    It is obvious that the last quoted statement in bold holds if we replace “artificial” by “natural”. Doing that also in the instruction’s definition of heterologous artificial fertilization or procreation, we can state:

    “By the term heterologous natural fertilization or procreation, this post means a sexual act used to obtain a human conception naturally by the use of gametes coming from at least one sexual partner other than the spouses who are joined in marriage,” which in plain language is adultery or, if there was no marriage to begin with, fornication. Per the instruction, we have that procreation in that context “is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    Which proves to my satisfaction that contraception in an already-illicit sexual relation does not increase the sinfulness of the act.

  59. It seems that strong and blockquote do not work anymore. Hence I must specify that ” the last quoted statement in bold” in my previous post was:

    “Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.(36)”

  60. Thanks for the useful insights, Dr Troutman.

    I’m wondering whether the Pope was applying the ‘Law of Gradualism’, as opposed to ‘Gradualism of the Law’ – the difference Fr Fessio outlined in his defence of Cardinal Schonborn’s comments on homosexuality?

    This is quoted from it:

    “The Church attempts to lead men to their ultimate happiness, which is the vision of God in his essence. Moral norms are meant to do that; they have that as their end or purpose. The norms themselves are unchanging. However, our approach to obeying them is gradual and our efforts are a mixture of success and failure. This means that while certain moral norms are absolute, that is, they hold in all circumstances without exception, our approach to obeying them may be halting and imperfect.

    This is commonly referred to as “the law of gradualism” and is opposed to “the gradualism of the law,” as if the law itself were somehow variable.

    This is the context for the cardinal’s saying: “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships,” adding: “A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.” This does not at all mean that the cardinal was advocating or even suggesting that the Church might change her teaching that homosexuality is a disorder and homosexual activity is always a grave evil. It is always grave, but there can be gradations of gravity—or, to call it by its true name, objective depravity.”

  61. GNW, Johannes et al, our html code is not working in the combox for some reason. Sorry about that – we’re working on trying to fix it asap.

  62. Johannes and Mateo,

    The existence of _some_ pairs of mortal sins in which one is clearly more evil than another is obvious; but there are a lot of mortal sins, and any given pair may not be obviously rankable. That it is why it is a matter of speculation whether Person A in my example above is sinning worse than Person B.

    Consider another example: Person A robs a bank without telling any lies; he just walks in, points his gun and demands money. Person B does the same action with the addition of lying, and the reason he decides to lie is so that he will be less tempted to shoot some one.

    It is not obvious to me who has sinned more. Perhaps the addition of a lie simply increases the amount of sin. But perhaps the intent of the lie, for someone who is already mortally sinning, actually makes the overall plan of action less sinful. That is why measuring the sinfulness of someone who is engaging in an extended plan of action based on mortally sinful motives and mortally sinful individual actions is not easy. The sins interact with each other in weird ways.

    All that is obvious to me at the moment is that two wrongs can’t make a right. It is not obvious to me that two wrongs are never less wrong then one wrong.

    All of which is just to say: we’re on ground that good moral theologians should cover. I invite Mike L. or anyone with a good background in moral theology to explain what Church tradition and consistent moral philosophy has to say about these matters.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  63. Paul Rodde – Dr. Troutman… Hmmm I do like the sound of that.. but I’m no doctor – just an average layman. ;-)

    As for the Fr. Fessio quote, I’m not familiar with his full argument but it sounds like you might be right on associating his line of thinking with what Pope Benedict seems to have in mind.

  64. @Nathan B #54

    1. Regarding Man + Woman, as I said in my previous two posts, per the CDF document Donum Vitae it follows that contraception in an already-illicit sexual relation does not add to sinfulness. In other words, the desire to contracept is evil only in conjugal relations.

    2. Regarding Man + Man, you said:

    “but the quantities in ( ) are non additive because they are different things and the equation is not graphed as a curve but as a three dimensional surface.”

    From a purely mathematical viewpoint, the quantities ARE additive if you have an equation, even when you graph it as a three dimensional surface. It is just a case of

    z = x + y

    3. You said:

    “One of the things that I have seen out there in trying to justify the Pope’s statement, that I do not like, is the argument that it is better to use a condom because otherwise it is like giving the other person a death sentence and thus trying not to harm that person is the better course of actions. This again is a false choice. People who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage are sinning and when they do so in a way that it results in a mortal sin, they are in fact living under a death sentence regardless of whether or not they are protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. They are foolishly choosing to protect the body while killing the soul.”

    With all charity, man, this is really serious BS! How can you dispute that, all other things being equal, “trying not to harm that person is the better course of action”? What is in your view the better course of action? Assuming it is not “trying to harm that person” (!), then it can only be “don’t care whether you harm that person or not”. So all considerations about charity toward that person become suspended! This can probably be proved wrong from many sources, and the first that came to my mind was Gaudium et Spes #27:

    “Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary to living it with dignity”

    “In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception and of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, “As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40).”

    Sure enough non-spouses are not helping each other at the most important level of human life when having sex, but that does not mean they might just forget all considerations about love and respect for each other!

  65. Johannes, I don’t see the document you quoting as proving that adding contraception to fornication does not make the sin worse. It’s not that I think it’s cut and dry; as Dr. Doran stated, this stuff is tricky. Maybe I’m missing something from the quotation you provided. I did skim the document.

  66. @GNW #56

    In the situation of marriage with an infected spouse, you must also consider the reciprocal case, when it is the NON-infected partner who insists on having sex, being aware that the protection the condom affords is not 100% and being willing to take the risk. It is conceivable that the non-infected partner is not doing that out of selfishness but to express “the union between two people fully accepting and embracing each other and unselfishly loving the other” in your words. In that case, there can be no objection other than that addressed by Mike Liccione’s analysis, namely whether deposition of sperm in the vagina is necessary for the existence of a conjugal act.

    And BTW, I just realized that Mike’s case can be strengthened if we consider the case of female condoms.

  67. Also, regarding what Nathan said:

    “One of the things that I have seen out there in trying to justify the Pope’s statement, that I do not like, is the argument that it is better to use a condom because otherwise it is like giving the other person a death sentence and thus trying not to harm that person is the better course of actions”

    I think the important thing to re-iterate is that the pope never said it was a good thing. He said it *can be* a step in the right direction. In other words, you (Nathan & Johannes) might both be right depending on what you’re saying. Nathan seems to be saying “it’s still not good” and Johannes seems to be saying “but it is better.” I think you’re both right. It is better (rather, as the pope said, it *can be*) but it is still not good.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right – and one wrong doesn’t improve another wrong. Nevertheless, given one wrong which trivializes the wrongness of a second wrong, the second wrong could conceivably be a ‘step in the right direction’ at the very least (which is exactly what the pope said.) And given the first wrong, it is better to step in the right direction than to step in the wrong direction or to not step at all.

    The decision of a mercenary thug who decides to kill his victim in their sleep so as to minimize their pain might be a sign of a step in the right direction. But it’s certainly not ok. Yet given his choice to be a thug, it is certainly better to kill someone quickly than to do it by torture or brutality. The correct choice is not to be a thug (or a male prostitute) in the first place… of course.

  68. “In breaking news, we report that it has taken only 67 comments for amateur Catholic moral theologians with non-philosophical day jobs to conclude:
    (1) moral theology is hard, and
    (2) it is better not to be a thug.

    Insiders suggest that CTC contributors may decide to celebrate their achievement by starting a new website: CalledToDeThug. This website will primarily be for bringing recovering thugs back into the fold, but sometimes it will accept commentary from male prostitutes who love them.”

  69. @Tim #65

    Aren’t these statements from Donum Vitae clear enough? (capitals added)

    1. WHY MUST HUMAN PROCREATION TAKE PLACE IN MARRIAGE?

    from the moral point of view a truly responsible procreation vis-à-vis the unborn child MUST be the fruit of MARRIAGE.

    the procreation of a new person, whereby the man and the woman collaborate with the power of the Creator, MUST be the fruit and the sign of the mutual self-giving of the SPOUSES, of their love and of their fidelity.(34)

    The fidelity of the spouses in the unity of marriage involves reciprocal respect of their right to become a father and a mother only through each other. The child HAS THE RIGHT to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up WITHIN MARRIAGE:

    Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s RIGHT to be conceived and brought into the world IN MARRIAGE AND FROM MARRIAGE.(36) (the logic of changing “artificial” by “natural” is perfect.)

    (End of quotes)

    Let’s try to get additional insight from considering some hypothetical practical situations, all involving perfectly healthy people, so the possible use of condoms is only for contraceptive purposes.

    First, rape. Does the rapist really increase the sinfulness by using contraception? Is that really worse in all than thinking “Let’s give this girl a reason to remember me each and every day”?

    Second, adultery. Mr A (e.g. black) leaves next door to family B (e.g. white). When Mr B goes on a business trip for a few days, Mr A and Mrs B get into an affair. Knowing that Mrs B is on a fertile day, they decide on one of the following paths:

    1. Have sex with contraception.

    2. Have sex without contraception, with Mrs B insisting “let’s make life miserable to my husband when he sees your baby, and let it be clear to our son that he was conceived outside marriage”.

    You can have all people involved being the same race, and Mrs B just saying in case 1 “let’s deny my husband the right of having his own biological offspring, and our son the right of being conceived within marriage, even when they will not be aware of that”

    Which option makes the sin worse?

  70. It was, “Mrs B just saying in case 2″

  71. If mentioning racial aspects in my previous post risks spoiling the whole argument, feel free to make Mr A very short and Mr and Mrs B very tall, or whatever noticeable physical feature you prefer.

  72. Dr. D – Thanks for the comic relief! If moral theology wasn’t so difficult – then our conscience might be superfluous.

    Johannes – I wasn’t saying that one option isn’t better in such hypothetical situations. I’m saying that I don’t see the document you quoted showing that. Otherwise – we’d have no need for any of this speculation – we could just quote the document. But the document doesn’t say what you are saying (or I’m missing it). It says that sex should be procreative and within the context of marriage which is non-controversial to us here.

  73. From a good discussion about the related issue of L’Osservatore Romano’s mishandling of the book altogether.

    L’OR chose to highlight what is probably the single most speculative and controversial papal paragraph in over 200 pages of print, and to offer that snippet out of context and without explanation. Unbelievable….Now, instead of being able to present the pope’s interview as a positive and even vigorous affirmation of unified truth, Catholic theologians and spokesmen must respond defensively against secular attacks and distortions, resorting (for the most part) to a level of sophistication that befits a graduate seminar in moral theology, not a reader-friendly presentation of ideas.

  74. @Tim #72

    Tim, Section II of Donum Vitae (“Interventions for human procreation”) does not “say that sex should be procreative”, nor does it need to say so because it deals with the case of couples who have not been able to procreate through having sex. Basically it says: “if you cannot procreate by having sex, adopt or bear it.” My point is that the arguments that Donum Vitae raise against heterologous artificial fertilization support, THROUGH A LOGICAL INFERENCE, the position that the principles in Humanae Vitae apply only to conjugal acts.

    Sure we cannot just quote the document. But IMV the inference I make is perfectly logical and quite direct.

  75. Tim, I will try to make the inference process as explicit as I can.

    Let’s start with this paragraph from Donum Vitae:

    “Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    It is evident the statement above holds if we replace “artificial” with “natural”:

    “Heterologous natural fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    In the situations addressed specifically by Donum Vitae, this would apply e.g. to bypassing sperm donation, bank and insemination, and having the donor sleep with the wife with the consent of the husband, which we could call consented adultery. In this case, IN ADDITION TO AND APART FROM the factors mentioned by Donum Vitae, the act is illicit due to extra-marital sexual pleasure.

    Leaving now those specific situations, it is clear that the statement applies exactly to non-consented (i.e. by the other spouse) adultery. Seeking conception in such an act, IN ADDITION TO AND APART FROM the illicitness of the act due to extra-marital sexual pleasure, “is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    Considering now seeking conception by fornication, the factors of being contrary “to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents” do not apply, but that regarding the child’s right still does, so that seeking conception in fornication, IN ADDITION TO AND APART FROM the illicitness of the act due to extra-marital sexual pleasure, “is contrary … to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

  76. Johannes,

    Ok I see the inference you’re making and it seems fine so far as it goes. But it does not account for the fact that while non-contraception might be contrary to the child’s rights to be conceived in marriage (in this case), contraception is also contrary to the natural end of the body. I think there is an argument still needed to show how these two evils interact with each other. Perhaps it can be done and you’re right in the end – I don’t know. I’m inclined to lean that way – and it seems to me to be what the pope is saying. But again – this is tricky stuff and I’m no theologian.

    But I’m not convinced that all the inference we need can be derived just from this document. I think the question is still more complex than that.

  77. @Johannes #64

    Because things are not equal. In the way you are analyzing things you are being quite materialistic and not considering the soul. The greatest harm that we can do to another individual or to ourselves is an action that separates us from God and starts us along the path towards hell. We may consider it to be a good to protect another individual from diseases by using a condom, but we are only thinking of the flesh and not of the spirit. The usage of a condom in any situation involving a man and a woman degrades and is an affront to the dignity of the person and the dignity that must be accorded to their bodies.

    The only question really is, is the usage of a condom in a sodomite interaction. What is the morality of violating a human body with an object, because that is what sodomite interaction with a condom comes down to? It is an affront to the dignity of the body.

    With respect, I don’t like what you are doing in your arguments, for you are trying to legitimize immoral behavior by saying that there is affection and respect present. There may be affection present, but not charity for charity carries with it the concept of justice (especially when we are viewing it through the biblical hebrew word tzedakah) and as there is no justice in sodomite interactions, and no justice in heterosexual prostitute interactions, we cannot discuss these interactions as involving charity of one party towards another. Affections feelings etc? Sure, but not charity, not justice, not respect.

    Again, it is a false choice to say “use a condom” when faced with the dilemma of “you might get an infection by having intercourse with this prostitute”. You are finding it good not to get something that might kill you but yet are insisting on doing something that is going to kill your soul.

  78. Johannes,

    First, a disclaimer. What follows is primarily geared toward sharpening my moral-theology teeth. I am really not that worried about the implications of Mr. Aikin’s hypothesis about what the Magisterium might or might not be able to say regarding condom use outside of marriage. God guides the Magisterium, I have no fears in that regard. With that said . . . . .

    I think we are in agreement about much. Still, I am not sure you are addressing the point of concern I raised (which is probably beside the point anyhow) with regard to Mr. Aikin’s comment. So here again is what Aikin said:

    “Now, the Holy See could in the future say that the principles articulated in Humanae Vitae regarding contraception also apply to all sexual acts outside of marriage, or some of them, or none of them. At least it could, hypothetically.”

    I already agree with you that the explicit principles employed in HV were directed, within HV, at conjugal acts only. My concern, though, was not just the proximate context of HV; but rather that the LOGICAL basis upon which HV rests one of its most misunderstood arguments could be undermined.

    Specifically, the argument that child spacing for justifiable (sufficiently grave) reasons can be licitly achieved using NFP, but NOT artificial contraception. ISTM, that the logical basis for that distinction lies with the fact that artificial contraception is an intrinsically evil means for achieving the end or goal of (justifiable) child spacing; whereas NFP is NOT an intrinsically evil means of achieving that same (good) end. And the reason that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil is because it denies the truth embodied in human generative faculties as discoverable by the natural law – namely that such faculties are teleologically ordered to procreation; whereas NFP does not involve an obstruction of this evident natural-law teleology. My point is that the baseline foundation for the NFP / artificial contraception argument depends on an ontological natural-law ethical observation coupled with the principle that the end never justifies the means.

    Accordingly, I said that the threat to the principled basis for the NFP/artificial contraception distinction upheld by HV might be undermined if the Magisterium were to actually make some sort of statement to the effect that condoms could be licitly used in unmarried heterosexual intercourse for the goal of preventing disease spread (like HIV). I wrote that the problem might look as follows:

    “The Magisterium in HV says that, within marriage, condoms are an immoral way to achieve a supervening moral end (spacing of children based on grave reasons) because condoms (as opposed to NFP) militate against the natural teleology found in human generative faculties.

    Now the Magisterium comes along [sans Aikin's theory] and says that when it comes to heterosexual acts OUTSIDE of marriage, the condom (which still militates against generative teleology vis-a-vis the natural law) is okay for use to achieve the supervening moral goal of preventing the spread of HIV.”

    In the first case the end (justifiable child spacing) does NOT justify the means
    In the second case the end (disease spread prevention) DOES justify THAT VERY SAME MEANS

    So when Mr. Aikin seemed to imply that the Magisterium might, ex hypothesis, make the sort of allowance I just mentioned; that concerned me because it would imply the licitness of an ends justifies the means scenario (albeit within an already gravely sinful context), which would make the
    NFP/artificial contraception distinction in HV very hard to defend. So, all I meant to say was that I do not think the Magisterium could (or ever would) make THAT sort of argument with respect to condom use in non-married heterosexual intercourse, without undermining a crucial positive argument made in HV.

    The fact, which you are arguing, that the use of a condom does not add to the overall sinfulness of an already grave adulterous or fornicating situation would be irrelevant to the concern I am expressing as far as I can tell. The only way it might be relevant would be if there were some principled basis for stating that end-justifies-the means is an acceptable principle within the context of an already sinful act; whereas it is not acceptable where the moral species of the act has yet to be determined.

    As we have already discussed though, there might be another approach, which is to employ the argument from double-effect such that the primary intention of the non-married heterosexual couple is assigned to the prophylactic function of the condom understood as the only way to achieve HIV protection (given the choice to copulate).

    Double-effect requires:
    1.) Certainty that a grave effect will follow if a morally good or neutral action is not taken (in this case the certainty that the other partner will get HIV without the barrier provided by the condom). 2.) The action taken must be the ONLY way to prevent the undesired effect (in this case, arguing that the condom is the only way to prevent the HIV spread is weird because this is only true GIVEN the already immoral choice to copulate).
    3.) the evil effect must occur simultaneous with the good or neutral action (here the evil contraceptive effect of the condom occurs necessarily and simultaneously with the prophylactic function of the condom).
    4.) Only the good or neutral action must be intended by the agent(s) (in this case the couple must ONLY intend the use of the condom for its prophylactic, rather than contraceptive potencies).

    The trouble with this double-effect scenario concerns 2 and 4. As regards 2, the condom is not really the ONLY moral solution available. They could choose to abstain from intercourse. Does it make any moral sense to employ the law of double-effect where on of its criteria has already been negated? As regards 4, what rational basis is there for assigning the intention of the couple in using a condom, strictly to the condom’s prophylactic potencies? In practice, no one would ever know the couple’s intentions unless they felt inclined to divulge them.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  79. @Ray # 78

    I agree with you and your concerns. I don’t think, for the reasons that you stated, that the Magisterium could ever ok the usage of condoms outside of marriage for the purpose of preventing HIV. The principle of double effect doesn’t work. Outside of marriage, sexual activity is always a moral evil and the desire to protect the health of the partner does not change this. One cannot say that they really really really want to protect someone’s health and use that to legitimize engaging in a moral evil. It still is a moral evil to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage and we have not reduced the evil of the action by using a condom.

    FYI, because it is impossible for moral theologians to know the precise intent when it comes to actions, we rely upon what is demonstratable and manifestly present. For example, it is impossible for a confessor to truly know if the penitent is internally sorry for their sins, but the presence of them in the confessional and their asking for the sacrament is taken as sufficient demonstration of their sorrow for the confessor to give absolution.

    Likewise, when we are dealing with sexual activity, the degree of cognitive intent of the partners to allow for pregnancy is not so much a factor in that the act in it of itself itself demonstratively intents to allow for pregnancy. Thus the internal cognition of the individual does not effect what is demonstrated by the action but rather only acts in union with it or against it. The sin of course comes in when the cognitive intent acts against the demonstratable intent of the action. That is why the usage of condoms is always sinful, and as the Pope said never a moral choice, because the usage of a condom is an action that is against the demonstrative intent of sexual activity to allow for pregnancy that exists strictly from the action of the action.

  80. Let me suggest two cases:

    Case 1: sodomite fornication w/out “protection”
    Case 2: sodomite fornication w/ “protection”

    Does the second case show a greater regard for the preservation of human life than the first case?

    If so, then is it at least conceivable that the value of preserving human life could outweigh the indignity of the foreign object’s presence (or any other objection to the presence of the “protection” in this example)?

    If so, then let me provide two further cases:

    Case 1: marital relations between a woman (at her insistence, with the intention of avoiding adultery) and her infected husband without “protection”
    Case 2: marital relations between a woman (at her insistence, with the intention of avoiding adultery) and her infected husband with “protection”

    Does the second case show a greater regard for the preservation of human life than the first case?

    If so, then is it at least conceivable that the value of preserving human life could outweigh the contraceptive effect (and any other negatives)?

    -TurretinFan

  81. @TurretinFan #80

    No. Each case involves damage to the souls of the individual involved. Using a condom doesn’t change the damage done to the soul, it only possibly reduces damage to the body (or does it as using a condom adds an affront to the body to the equation). Safeguarding the body never outweighs safeguarding the soul. Thus it is impossible to find the usage of a condom to be a moral activity.

  82. @Ray #78

    Ray, you seem to be missing the main point in #58-59, 69-71 and 74-75. I will just re-state the bottom line in relation to your post.

    “My concern, though, was not just the proximate context of HV; but rather that the LOGICAL basis upon which HV rests one of its most misunderstood arguments could be undermined.”

    That is a fair concern, and IMV that logical basis is not undermined by my position.

    “Specifically, the argument that child spacing for justifiable (sufficiently grave) reasons can be licitly achieved using NFP, but NOT artificial contraception. ISTM, that the logical basis for that distinction lies with the fact that artificial contraception is an intrinsically evil means for achieving the end or goal of (justifiable) child spacing;”

    I add “in the context of conjugal relations”

    “And the reason that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil is because it denies the truth embodied in human generative faculties as discoverable by the natural law – namely that such faculties are teleologically ordered to procreation;”

    I add “within marriage”. So, based on the passages of CDF’s document Donum Vitae I quoted in my previous posts and those of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae I quote below, I hereby nail to CtC’s door this thesis: “human generative faculties are teleologically ordered to procreation WITHIN MARRIAGE”. Marriage is intrinsic to human nature. We are not just animals whose generative faculties are ordered to procreation without any further consideration.

    “My point is that the baseline foundation for the NFP / artificial contraception argument depends on an ontological natural-law ethical observation coupled with the principle that the end never justifies the means.”

    I definitely and wholeheartedly agree that the end never justifies the means. My point is that the “ontological natural-law ethical observation” in question is that “human generative faculties are teleologically ordered to procreation WITHIN MARRIAGE”. So any action specifically intended to thwart the procreative potential of a CONJUGAL act is intrinsically evil.

    I finish quoting from HV (capitals added):

    The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every MARITAL act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. (12)

    Union and Procreation

    12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the MARRIAGE act.

    The reason is that the fundamental nature of the MARRIAGE act, while uniting HUSBAND AND WIFE in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of MARRIAGE fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called.

  83. Nathan,

    Right. I agree that the exterior act is the only objective point of reference for the intention. However, in the case where one couple in a heterosexual relationship has HIV; the act of condom use can quite reasonably be said to reveal intent with regard to two distinct potencies of the condom – one prophylactic, the other contraceptive. There is no objective basis upon which to determine which of these two intents (or both) are present in the mind. Though that internal intention cannot be know objectively, it remains possible that only the prophylactic intent obtains in the mind of the couple. Hence, it is possible, given my double-effect scenario above, that the problem of intent is not necessarily a problem at all.

    What remains problematic, as you point out, is 2 – the notion that the law of double-effect could possibly apply where the alternate moral means of abstinence (which could prevent the grave consequence of HIV spread even better than a condom) has already been culpably rejected. That grave rejection is the very thing that sets up the false dilemma regarding the condom’s prophylactic and contraceptive potencies. Hence, I think we are agreed that double-effect simply will not work.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  84. Nathan:

    I’m not sure your reasoning works. Harming another’s body is a species of violation of the command, “thou shalt not kill,” and consequently harms one’s own soul. So the balancing is between two harms to soul, not between harm to body and harm to soul.

    -TurretinFan

  85. TurretinFan,

    I agree with you that the issue might be somewhat less clear than it is made out to be – and those are good considerations you bring up. However, I concur with Nathan that the answer is no to the “if so” parts of the questions. But I think the first part is or *can be* correct which is what I think the Pope was getting at. i.e. Case 2 (especially in the first examples) shows a greater regard for preserving human life even though the act is still wrong. But this greater regard for preserving human life cannot justify the act (certainly not of the fornication or sodomy but not even of the condom itself). That is why the pope did not say the condom use was justified or good, but that it *can be* a step in the right direction.

    As you know, an act takes its species from its end. So then we say – the end of condom use (in case 2) is the preservation of life so it’s ok right? But first, as Nathan and Ray have both stated, the ends cannot justify the means (particularly when the means are intrinsically disordered). Second, the entire act is joined and subject to an immoral act. We can never say any such act could be “justified” – we should never join “justified” into this scenario because it would imply that the act is wholesome. And even if the act could conceivably be considered wholesome on its own – it cannot be the same act that it is on its own. It *must* be joined to the immoral act for us to be having this conversation. Good cannot inhere in evil, though something less evil could be done (in most cases) given evil choice X.

  86. @ Ray.

    Exactly. You cannot use the principle of double effect when a morally superior option is easily and readily available.

    In the situation where a condom is used with a heterosexual relationship 1.) it may represent an internal intent to prevent infection 2.) it always represents an external intent to contracept, even when the internal cognition is not fully present 3.) it always represents an external intent to introduce an activity and an object that is foreign and repugnant to sexual activity, even when the internal cognition to do that is not fully present.

    The problem that I see in this and other discussions on morality is that there is a tendency to be nomanlists and to reject that actions, events, and things, have no meaning in them of themselves and simply only have meaning, including moral meaning, based on the cognitive value we (arbitrally) assign to them.

    The usage of a condom in sexual activity is immoral precisely because it is a condom not because of the intent we assign to its usage.

  87. @TurretinFan

    The biblical command is “thou shall not murder” not “thou shall not kill”.

    Harm against the body is not necessarily something that harms the soul. The classical example of this is mortification, which St. Paul recommends. In mortification, harm comes to the body so that the soul might be strengthened and healed and that good might come to it.

    When a condom is being used, we have a physical harm that is coming upon the body. Let us not forget that that when a condom is used in sexual activity between two married healthy individuals, the usage of the condom harms the the physical body. JPII speaks of this in his book Love and Responsibility. The usage of a condom also is spiritually harmful as it disrupts the spiritual meaning of sexual activity thus harming the soul even when the couple is married and healthy. In no way shape or form does the the desire to protect the bodily health of the individual impact the objective harm that caused by the usage of the condom.

    It is laudable to protect the health of individuals but it is not laudable to do so by engaging in an activity that harms their souls as well as their physical bodies.

  88. @Nathan #77

    Nathan, in #64 I am neither “trying to legitimize immoral behavior” nor “insisting on doing something that is going to kill your soul.” I really cannot see how you read that in #64, and would be grateful if other people can give their own opinions about it.

    Just to clear any doubt, I hereby will make a little specific profession of faith: “I hold with the Catholic Church that ANY sexual act outside marriage is objectively a grave sin, be it adultery or fornication, hetero or homo, with or without condom.”

    That adultery is worse than fornication and homo worse than hetero is clear from the Bible and Church doctrine. The new concept here is that, in the case of an already illicit sexual act, doing it with condom does not add to the gravity of sin with respect to doing it without condom, and could actually be “a step in the positive direction”, though NEVER changing the fact that the extra-marital sexual act is a grave sin.

    The case for when the condom is used for prophylactic purposes is in #47 and Mike’s article.
    The case for when the condom is used for contraceptive purposes in in #58-59, 69-71, 74-75 and 82.

    I acknowledge that in #64 the statement “So all considerations about charity toward that person become suspended!” should be rephrased to “So all considerations about LOVE toward that person become suspended!” for the sake of clarity, because the commission of a grave sin entails the loss of sanctifying grace and of charity, understanding by the latter the theological virtue infused in our souls by the Holy Spirit that makes us capable of loving God and our neighbor out of love of God.

    But it is clear that someone who is not in a state of grace can have love, compassion and respect for their neighbor, even when those attitudes are not animated by supernatural love of God. Not only “can”, but “must” if he or she does not want to add futher sins.

    Let’s finally remember your statement in #54 that I was responding to:

    “One of the things that I have seen out there in trying to justify the Pope’s statement, that I do not like, is the argument that it is better to use a condom because otherwise it is like giving the other person a death sentence and thus trying not to harm that person is the better course of actions. This again is a false choice. People who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage are sinning and when they do so in a way that it results in a mortal sin, they are in fact living under a death sentence regardless of whether or not they are protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. They are foolishly choosing to protect the body while killing the soul.”

    Maybe you did not mean it, but a straightforward reading of your paragraph above is that you were disputing that “trying not to harm that person is the better course of actions”, which is outrageous. Of course the BEST course of action is always to love God and love neighbor out of love of God, meaning to procure the spiritual and physical good of that neighbor. But GIVEN that a person is having a sexual relation outside marriage, what is THEN the better course of action with regard to his or her partner? Assuming in that straightforward reading that you did not think that it was “trying to harm that person”, then the only remaining option was that it was “not caring at all whether that person is harmed or not”. So, given that those people were committing mutual spiritual suicide, there was no point in one of them helping the other if he or she suffers e.g. a heart attack. Maybe you did not mean it, but that was the interpretation to which I commented in #64.

    Summarizing my position:

    – the BEST course of action is always to love God and love neighbor out of love of God, meaning to procure the spiritual and physical good of that neighbor.

    – GIVEN that a person is having a sexual relation outside marriage, THEN the better course of action with regard to his or her partner is to still procure his good as far as possible. Which neither will change the fact that said relation is a grave sin, nor constitute perfect charity. But failure to do so will constitute additional sin.

  89. @ Ray Stamper:
    I mean how can something that “can be a first step towards moralization” be evil strictly speaking? If something is a step TOWARDS moralization, it seems to follow that it would be a “good” thing to take that step. ——

    To make a step away from a greater evil to a lesser evil is a step in the right direction. Choosing to commit the lesser evil isn’t good – it is still a choice to commit an act that is evil.

    The title to this thread is “Did the Pope Condone Condoms in Certain Cases?
    One definition of the word “condone” is “to give tacit approval to”; i.e. to give a positive approval of a practice. The answer to the question posed by the title to this thread is “NO” – the Pope did not give a tacit approval (a positive approval) of the practice of using condoms by male prostitutes to prevent the spreading of STDs. The Pope merely made an observation that to choose a lesser evil over a greater evil is a step in the right direction, which is just common sense. For example, if an arsonist decides to get a thrill by burning down a school building, would it be a lesser evil if he lit the building on fire when the children weren’t in the building? If the pope said that it would be a lesser evil if the arsonist burned down the building when the children weren’t at school, the Pope isn’t condoning the practice of burning down school buildings, he is just making a common sense observation that any sane human would make.

    @ Ray Stamper:
    Accordingly, I said that the threat to the principled basis for the NFP/artificial contraception distinction upheld by HV might be undermined if the Magisterium were to actually make some sort of statement to the effect that condoms could be *licitly* used in unmarried heterosexual intercourse for the goal of preventing disease spread (like HIV). —-

    The Magisterium is never going to teach that sex outside of marriage is *licit* under any circumstances.

    @Ray Stamper:
    Now the Magisterium comes along [sans Aikin's theory] and says that when it comes to heterosexual acts OUTSIDE of marriage, the condom (which still militates against generative teleology vis-a-vis the natural law) is *okay* for use to achieve the supervening moral goal of preventing the spread of HIV.” —–

    “Okay” implies a positive approval, a *condoning* of the practice. The Magisterium will always teach that all heterosexual acts outside of marriage are NOT okay.

    @Nathan B:
    Outside of marriage, sexual activity is always a moral evil and the desire to protect the health of the partner does not change this. One cannot say that they really really really want to protect someone’s health and use that to *legitimize* engaging in a moral evil. It still is a moral evil to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage and we have not reduced the evil of the action by using a condom. —–

    Exactly. Sex outside of marriage is not *legitimized* because one is using a condom to prevent disease – that sexual act is still illicit.

    @K Doran:
    Johannes and Mateo, The existence of _some_ pairs of mortal sins in which one is clearly more evil than another is obvious; but there are a lot of mortal sins, and any given pair may not be obviously rankable. That it is why it is a matter of speculation whether Person A in my example above is sinning worse than Person B. ——

    I agree with this, (and all of your post # 25). Does God see the sin of unrepentant homosexual activity as being a worse sin than the sin of unrepentant greed? Who knows? If I search the scriptures of the NT I see that sins involving the vice of greed are spoken about more often than sins involving homosexual activity. But that doesn’t prove greed is worse that homosexual activity, it only proves that greed is a problem that many of us need to deal with, and we ought to be concerned about any blindness on our part in regards to that sin. In the end, the Church teaches that both greed and homosexual activity are sins that can lead to eternal damnation, and that is all that is needed to be known by the members of the Church as far as our salvation is concerned.

    @K Doran:
    All that is obvious to me at the moment is that two wrongs can’t make a right. It is not obvious to me that two wrongs are never less wrong then one wrong. All of which is just to say: we’re on ground that good moral theologians should cover. ——

    I agree. To even say that a male prostitute using a condom to prevent the spreading of disease is a step in the right direction is tricky. What if the male prostitute thinks that without the condom he might give himself a death sentence, and because he fears death by HIV, he quits being a prostitute? Perhaps if the prostitute thought that using a condom made him invincible to death by HIV, he would commit even more acts of evil because of his access to condoms. One thing is certain, the Catholic Church has no business in promoting the use condoms, or teaching that using condoms is a solution to any problem.

    @ NathanB:
    With your voting scenario you are talking about two candidates that have the same position on abortion. Thus your choice on who to vote for is not based on a lesser evil scenario on abortion.——

    You are quite right that my scenario is not based on a “lesser evil on abortion”, since both candidates have the same position on abortion. My scenario is based on the lesser evil of candidate A because of presence of the virtue of liberality in candidate A vs. the greater evil of candidate B because of the absence of the virtue of liberality in candidate B.

    Voting for candidate A is not a *condoning* of candidate A’s stand on abortion. Voting for candidate A is merely a choice between the lesser of two evils. The analogy with Pope Benidict XVI’s statement is that the Pope is NOT condoning the practice of using condoms by male prostitutes to limit the spread HIV. The Pope is not condoning sex outside of marriage under any circumstances. The Pope is simply making a statement that to make a movement towards the lesser of two evils is a step in the right direction, and that is analogous to voting for candidate A over candidate B – it is a step in the right direction, and not a condoning of candidate A’s abortion politics.

  90. Tim: I think that what the pope was getting at was that it’s bad enough to engage in fornication, and its even worse to infect the other person while doing it. I think what makes it controversial is that people see his comments as potentially opening the door to something he hasn’t approved. Frankly, if he had said “Yes, there’s a valid use for these devices: you can blow them up and make balloon animals from them,” there are some people who would be freaking out over the first part of the sentence.

    Nathan: It’s “non occides” in the official Vulgate text – if you think that’s better rendered in English as “murder” than as “kill,” I see no point in debating it. Harming someone else’s body harms ones own soul (unless one has justification, excuse, or the like). You are welcome to correct me, but I don’t think the harms that JP2 identifies are applicable to sodomites (acting as such). I don’t see how a male prostitute (to use what is alleged to be the pope’s example) wearing protection harms his male client’s soul any more than the male prostitute failing to wearing protection would. But again, perhaps you know something I don’t.

  91. Gentlemen,

    Fr. Fessio’s “Did the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances?” is helpful.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  92. Johannes – I never understood you to be saying that condoms were ok. That’s why I said I was inclined to lean “this way” (meaning the way for which I took you to be arguing). As for what Nathan and maybe Ray have been saying in response to you – I thought maybe there was something that I missed. But I think maybe they misunderstood what you were saying.

  93. TurretinFan – I agree. But the real tragedy with the way the media is handling the case isn’t that some eccentric people will take it the wrong way but that the average Catholic Joe is quite ready to be misled and the enemies of the Catholic Church (e.g. media and liberal Catholics) are milking this opportunity to try and spread dissent and confusion.

  94. @Johannes #88

    Respectfully, I disagree. The point that I am trying to make is that condom usage is not a neutral act: Condom usage may include a positive internal moral intent to safeguard the heal of the partner but it always adds an external immoral harm to the body (introduction of an object that is foreign to the nature of the sexual act) and an external immoral harm to the soul (attempted prevention of the opportunity for pregnancy, prevention of true union, etc.) in the case of male+female.

    This is why I said that even in the case where two individuals are committing mutual spiritual suicide, as you put it, that the usage of a condom is not a moral or neutral choice because the choice is more than an internal intent to protect the body from infection. To put it bluntly, I reject the notion that the choice for a condom helps out the individuals involved in a net positive way.

    If you are engaging in a sinful an immoral action (sex outside of marriage) it is not moral to add an additional immoral action on top of it (usage of a condom).

    Yes it is laudable and a step in the right direction to consider that one should be protecting the health of the body, but the condom is a false solution to that consideration. It is false because it is ignoring the grave spiritual damage that it does and is ignoring the physical damage it does.

    When we start saying “but condom usage is the lesser of two evils” we are being tricked into choosing an actual evil. But they might get an infection and suffer and die!!! Yes they might but what type of monsters would we be by saying that they could safeguard themselves in an incomplete way by choosing an option (condoms) that will spiritually and physically damage themselves in other ways?

    It is better to allow for the death of the body than it is to provide a solution that saves the body but harms the soul and harms the body in a different way.

  95. @Mateo 89

    I disagree. As I have been arguing all along (and am now backed by Fr. Fessio’s article linked above) the intent to protect the health of the individual is the step in the right direction, not the usage of the condom, which is a false and immoral choice and not the lesser of two evils.

    Again, so that what I am saying is crystal clear: In the situation between “don’t use a condom” and “use a condom” the choice to use a condom IS NOT the lesser of two evils. Even if condom usage was objectively a “lesser evil” (I am arguing that it is not) we still could not offer it as an option because to quote Fr. Fressio “Note: the concept of the “lesser evil” is inapplicable here. One may tolerate a lesser evil; one cannot do something which is a lesser evil.”

  96. Dear Catholic Folks,

    Get the REAL STORY and not the spin from the media and some virulent protestant epologists, here are some good catholic links:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/253679/deflating-nyt-condom-scoop-george-weigel

    The Holy Pope could just have CITED those acts of the male prostitutes in using condoms, but he actually does NOT approve or adhere to that. He just CITED the thinking and intentions of those male prostitutes, but the Pope does NOT actually laud and praise those acts by the prostitutes because in the first place their sinful acts are abominable in the eyes of God.

    Peace and Grace

  97. @Tim # 92

    Because Johannes is trying to legitimize the usage of condoms by focusing on a material concern (heath of the body) and a false principle of “choose the lesser evil”, while not paying enough attention to spiritual concerns, to quote him

    in his 58 “Which proves to my satisfaction that contraception in an already-illicit sexual relation does not increase the sinfulness of the act.”

    and in his 88
    “The new concept here is that, in the case of an already illicit sexual act, doing it with condom does not add to the gravity of sin with respect to doing it without condom, and could actually be “a step in the positive direction”

    Let me back up what I have been saying (that condom usage is not licit and is not a step in the right direction and is not something that doesn’t add sin to an already illicit sexual act) by quoting at length the Fr. Fressio article

    The Pope responded: “She [the Church] 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”.

    In the first place a solution which is not “moral” cannot be “justified”. That is a contradiction and would mean that something in itself morally evil could be “justified” to achieve a good end. Note: the concept of the “lesser evil” is inapplicable here. One may tolerate a lesser evil; one cannot do something which is a lesser evil.

    But the crucial distinction here is between the “intention” of the male prostitute, viz. avoiding infecting his client, and the act itself, viz. using a condom. Since this distinction has been missed in almost every report I’ve read, it calls for some elaboration.

    This distinction, in moral philosophy, is between the object of an act and the intent of an act. If a man steals in order to fornicate, the intent is to fornicate but the object is the act of theft. There is no necessary connection between stealing and fornicating.

    In the case of the Pope’s remark, the intent is preventing infection and the object is use of a condom.

    Here’s an example of this distinction that parallels what the Pope said.

    Muggers are using steel pipes to attack people and the injuries are severe. Some muggers use padded pipes to reduce the injuries, while still disabling the victim enough for the mugging.

    The Pope says that the intention of reducing injury (in the act of mugging) could be a first step toward greater moral responsibility. This would not justify the following headlines: “Pope Approves Padded Pipes for Mugging” “Pope Says Use of Padded Pipes Justified in Some Circumstances”, Pope Permits Use of Padded Pipes in Some Cases”.

    Of course, one may morally use padded pipes in some circumstances, e.g., as insulated pipes so that hot water flowing through them doesn’t cool as fast. And one may use condoms morally in some cases, e.g. as water balloons. But that also would not justify the headline “Pope Approves Condom Use”, though in this case it could be true. But it would be intentionally misleading.

    In sum, the Pope did not “justify” condom use in any circumstances. And Church teaching remains the same as it has always been—both before and after the Pope’s statements.

  98. @Nathan B #94

    Nathan, I think we may have reached a situation kind of thomism/molinism, i.e. both positions are legitimate until the Magisterium pronounces itself officially on the topic, if it ever does. (BTW, I think that both thomism and molinism were wrong and that the right approach is that from Fr. W. Most.) So I will just state my position below with respect to your last statements, with no intent to win any argument.

    ” The point that I am trying to make is that condom usage is not a neutral act:”

    My position: it is definitely evil when used within marriage for contraceptive purposes.

    “Condom usage may include a positive internal moral intent to safeguard the heal of the partner but it always adds an external immoral harm to the body (introduction of an object that is foreign to the nature of the sexual act)”

    My position: We may be able to see the issue more clearly if we consider female condoms (which BTW are safer than male condoms, which is not relevant for the purposes of this discussion). Is the woman “adding an external immoral harm to the body” when she inserts it? First, “immoral harm” presuposes “harm”, and there is clearly no harm in it. Maybe you meant “an external degrading device”? From my viewpoint, that device would be no more degrading than a tampon, i.e. no degrading at all. So, the point about “introduction of an object” is not relevant, the relevant issue is the purpose of the introduction of such object.

    “and an external immoral harm to the soul (attempted prevention of the opportunity for pregnancy, prevention of true union, etc.) in the case of male+female.”

    My position: from the text of Humanae Vitae and the logical inference I made from the text of Donum Vitae, the “prevention of the opportunity for pregnancy” is a sin ONLY in the case of conjugal relations. And the “prevention of true union” is clearly a sin only in the case of conjugal relations, since in extra-marital relations there should be no union in the first place.

    ” To put it bluntly, I reject the notion that the choice for a condom helps out the individuals involved in a net positive way.

    If you are engaging in a sinful an immoral action (sex outside of marriage) it is not moral to add an additional immoral action on top of it (usage of a condom).”

    My position: the usage of condom is immoral only when used within marriage for contraceptive purposes.

    So our positions are clear and I stand by mine, which you correctly reflected in your #97, except for your statement that “Johannes is trying to legitimize the usage of condoms”. A sexual relation outside marriage is illegitimate and remains so no matter whether a condom is used or not. I am not trying to legitimize the usage of condoms any more than trying to legitimize the use of fake guns in bank robberies. I’m saying that, GIVEN that a gang is going to do a bank robbery, THEN their use of fake guns does not add to the sinfulness of the act.

  99. @ Nathan B:
    I disagree. As I have been arguing all along (and am now backed by Fr. Fessio’s article linked above) the intent to protect the health of the individual is the step in the right direction, not the usage of the condom, which is a false and immoral choice and not the lesser of two evils.

    I agree with this: the intent to do less evil by a male prostitute may be a step in the right direction towards his living a perfect moral life . But that intent by the male prostitute does not ever justify his use of a condom.

    @ Nathan B:
    Again, so that what I am saying is crystal clear: In the situation between “don’t use a condom” and “use a condom” the choice to use a condom IS NOT the lesser of two evils. Even if condom usage was objectively a “lesser evil” (I am arguing that it is not) we still could not offer it as an option

    Again, my point is that merely having the intent of committing a lesser evil does not ever justify committing the lesser evil. That is why the church cannot “offer it [the lesser evil] as an option”.

    Fr. Fessio’s article is homing in on the point that I have been trying to make when he writes:

    “Did the Pope “justify” condom use in some circumstances? No. And there was absolutely no change in Church teaching either. Not only because an interview by the Pope does not constitute Church teaching, but because nothing that he said differs from previous Church teaching.

    Then why all the headlines saying that he “approves” or “permits” or “justifies” condom use in certain cases?”

    Father Fessio is rightly making an issue over the media’s inappropriate usage of the words “approves”, “permits” and “justifies” in relation to the pope’s actual statement in his interview. To these inappropriate words we can add both “condone” and “offer as an option”.

    @ Nathan B:
    Even if condom usage was objectively a “lesser evil” …

    The intent of the heart is what is germane to Fr. Fessio’s article. Fr. Fessio illustrates what he believes the Pope is saying by making an analogy of muggers that use either unpadded steel pipes or padded steel pipes in their mugging:

    ”Here’s an example of this distinction that parallels what the Pope said. Muggers are using steel pipes to attack people and the injuries are severe. Some muggers use padded pipes to reduce the injuries, while still disabling the victim enough for the mugging. The Pope says that the intention of reducing injury (in the act of mugging) could be a first step toward greater moral responsibility. This would not justify the following headlines: “Pope Approves Padded Pipes for Mugging” “Pope Says Use of Padded Pipes Justified in Some Circumstances”, Pope Permits Use of Padded Pipes in Some Cases”.

    My analogy of a arsonist burning down either occupied school buildings or unoccupied school buildings was intended to make exactly the same point, i.e. a point about sinners making a choice between a lesser evil or a greater evil.

    My point is that if the Pope uses his common sense and affirms that there may be an intent to bring about a lesser evil by acting in a particular way, the Pope’s mere recognition of an intent of the heart that is a step towards living a perfect moral life, can in no way can be construed as the Pope giving an “approval”, a “justification”, “permitting”, a “condoning” or an “offering of an option”, of the acts of mugging people with padded pipes; burning down unoccupied school buildings; or using condoms by a male prostitutes to prevent the spreading of disease.

  100. I don’t think we have quite the right analogy. Because wrapping a steel pipe in padding is a morally neutral act it doesn’t necessarily compare to condoms if Mateo and Nathan are correct in agreeing with me that condom use is intrinsically evil – unless you blow them up and make balloons out of them.

    I suggest something along these lines. Use of nuclear weapons on cities is wrong. Unjust war is wrong. However, an evil despot might through his intent be making a step in the right direction if he use a nuclear weapon on a city in order to bring an unjust war to a quick end with the intention of saving lives.

    In such a case, pursuing an unjust war is wrong. Use of the nuclear weapon on civilians is wrong. Even with the intent of saving lives by ending the war the use of nuclear weapons on civilians is still adding to the wrong. BUT the intent to end the war quickly and reduce the loss of life is a “step in right direction.”

    Of course the only moral solution is to make terms for peace and end the war. Similarly the only moral solution to sexual sin is to not do it.

  101. Hi there, Tim.
    Thanks for your reply. I’ve been at a funeral the past couple of days.
    The Fessio article on Schonborn (which now compliments the one he’s produced in the past couple of days on the issue), is quoted here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3a4xn6l

    – and the full thing is here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3yymwau

    Blessings,
    Paul

  102. Gentlemen,

    Steven Long of Ave Maria University has a helpful article on this subject titled “Remarks of Benedict XVI Regarding Condoms.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  103. Response to #48: Abortion is clearly more wrong than contraception

    It has been a while but I remember reading the early Church fathers who saw contraception, abortion and infanticide as sins against the commandment “thou shalt not murder.”

    My impression of HV is that Paul VI was merely upholding a very old moral tradition within the Church at a time when that tradition needed to be upheld against the culture of that (and this) time.

    I’ll leave the other portions of this argument to my peers who are examining and addressing clearly.

  104. Thanks Bryan for the link.

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

    Pope Benidict XIV: 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 towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

    Steven Long’s commentary on the above: This is often portrayed as though the Pope is saying that the disordered sexual act of sodomy is morally bad, but condom use, as something incipiently responsible and moral, is nonetheless good. That is precisely what the Pope is not saying. That is why he says the Church does not regard it as a moral solution.

    Note that interviewer is asking the Pope to clarify if it now the teaching that the Catholic Church is “not opposed in principle to the use of condoms.” This is a question about the status of an objective act of behavior – i.e. if a male prostitute uses a condom to prevent the spreading of disease (an objective act), does the Catholic Church now teach that this objective behavior can be considered to be morally righteous behavior in the eyes of God? The Catholic Church is only opposed to behavior that isn’t moral, and the Pope’s answer to the interviewer’s question contains a qualified observation that there is the possibility that a male prostitute that uses a condom to prevent infection may be taking a first step “in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.” That qualified observation has been conflated by the press and the blogosphere from a statement by the pope where he speculates that a specific objective behavior “can be” a step in the right direction, into a statement of that this objective behavior actually constitutes moral behavior.

    The Pope is only saying that perhaps the male prostitute is taking a step in the right direction, and God alone would know if this is true. Whether or not this is actually true requires a subjective judgement that the pope is not making. The Catholic Church has always made a distinction between subjective judgment and objective judgment, and that is what is germane here. The scriptures make that same distinction between subjective judgement and objective judgement:

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” 1 Cor 5:9-11

    Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Matthew 7:1-2

    Paul is rebuking the Christians at Corinth, because they knew that there were objective standards of moral behavior that were taught by Christ’s Church. These Corinthian Christians were required to judge the objective behavior of the Christians within their community, and they were required to excommunicate anyone that did not meet those objective standards of behavior. When Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” he expected an affirmative answer. Yes, we must judge the objective behavior of the Christians within the community against the objective standards of moral behavior that are taught by Christ’s Church.

    When Christ commands to “Judge not, that you be not judged”, he is not teaching a doctrine that contradicts Paul when Paul asserts that Christians are required to judge the fellow Christians within their local community. After all, Paul is simply reminding the Corinthian Christians what Christ taught about excommunicating a Christian that “refuses to listen even to the church.” (Matt 18:17)

    Christ is teaching (in Matthew 7:1-2) that I am not to engage in the subjective judgement of anyone, Christian or non-Christian. That kind of subjective judgment is forbidden to me, because I can’t know how God judges the state of grace of another person’s soul. God makes that judgement subjectively, not objectively, and God takes into account factors that make one not culpable for not meeting the objective standards of Christian behavior as taught by Christ’s church – things such as invincible ignorance, coercion, mental illness, demonic oppression, etc. A person that I might think is damned because of their objective behavior, may not, in fact, be damned because I am not taking into the account the subjective factors that God alone can judge. The opposite is true too, I might think that an adult is holy and heaven bound, but I might be completely mistaken – God would know that the person I think is holy is actually one of the damned that that had me deceived. People can die as white sepulchres that “outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matt 23:7).

    Not understanding the Catholic Church’s distinction between subjective judgement and objective judgement can be a source of confusion for the uninformed. The press and blogosphere has conflated Pope Benedict XIV’s observation that there “can be” a step in the right direction (a statement that can only be known to be true by a subjective judgement by God), into a statement that the Pope is teaching this particular objective behavior constitutes moral behavior. The press and the blogosphere know that the Catholic Church claims that the Pope has the authority to define the objective standards of moral behavior that all Christians are bound to accept, and this is why some would like to twist the Pope’s statement into news about an incipient about-face in the Catholic Church’s official teaching. If the Pope is saying that the objective behavior of using a condom by a male prostitute to prevent the spreading of disease is a step in the right direction, then the Pope is teaching something about an objective standard of behavior. But the Pope isn’t doing that. This what Pope Benedict XIV is saying about the objective behavior regarding condom usage by male prostitutes to prevent the spreading of disease: “She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution.” Which is Steven Long’s point – the Pope is not teaching some new objective standard of behavior that is now judged to be morally acceptable by Christ’s Church – i.e. that it is now a Church teaching that it constitutes moral behavior when a male prostitutes uses a condom to prevent infecting his partner with disease.

    That is precisely what the Pope is not saying. That is why he says the Church does not regard it as a moral solution.

  105. A new post regarding the remarks recently offered by Fr. Martin Rhonheimer–

    With all the best–

    S. Long

  106. Just to inform you all that an article compiling my comments #58-59, 69-71, 74-75 and 82 has just been published by Sandro Magister.

    Main article on the subject, pointing to several articles including mine:

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1345990?eng=y

    My own article:

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1345988?eng=y

    Obviously it is just my opinion and I definitely intend to submit to the judgment of the Magisterium of the Church whenever it pronounces officially on the subject. In the meantime, I don’t see much risk of heterodoxy in basing an opinion on a CDF instruction.

  107. @Johannes

    I have been away for a while from CC. Obviously a lot has been written and I will address it when I have time as necessary.

    Just read your article at Sandro Magister’s site.

    I don’t think you are following your argument through to its (false) conclusion.

    Notice what you said (bolding is done by me)

    2. In the case of relations outside marriage, the conditional moral statement could be stated as: “Given that a couple not married to each other has decided to have a sexual relation, and that they know that the woman may be on a fertile day,then not using contraception, if it is available to them, increases the total sinfulness of the act.” In other words, in the case of sexual relations outside marriage, contraception has a negative marginal contribution to sinfulness, meaning that it makes the act marginally less sinful, though it always remains a grave sin.

    You say this because you are predicated it upon

    to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    Notice that you are saying that it is more sinful for a child to be born than not to be born.

    Yes a child has a right to be conceived to two married parents. But in no way does that mean that it is “less sinful” for his parents to attempt to contracept him if they are not married!

    Your argument is completely wrong because it is making a lesser good and a lesser right triump over greater goods and rights. These are some of the rights that you are overlooking.

    1. The right of God to bring forth life when a man and a woman engage in intercourse.
    2. The right of a child to come into being.
    3. The right of the the individual to bond without separation with his sexual partner and to give himself/herself totally to the other, and the right of the other to totally receive that which is given.

    As we can see, the usage of condoms, whether by a married couple or an unmarried couple violates the rights of 1.) God 2.) the potential individual 3.) The individuals involved.

    Thus you can hardly say that the usage of a condom is marginally less sinful when it in fact increases sin three fold.

    I think you should have your published article edited at the least.

  108. @Johannes #98

    My position: the usage of condom is immoral only when used within marriage for contraceptive purposes.

    That is not Church teaching.

    First of all, condoms are intrinsically contraceptive, so no matter for what intent they are used during intercourse they provide a contraceptive function. So you are really only arguing that the usage of a condom in marriage is immoral while the usage of a condom outside of marriage is “not immoral”. Secondly, the usage of condoms falls into the category of contraception, and contraception has been declared to be “intrinsically immoral” and not because it is done within marriage but because it is against the nature of the act.

    Let me pull some things together.

    CASTI CONNUBII 1930, starts off with addressing why contraception (which includes condoms) is immoral

    54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

    From here CASTI CONNUBII moves to address why contraception is still immoral within marriage and why it disorders the numptial / marriage act as well. (not the language switch from conjugal act (all sexual relations between man and woman) to marriage act (the licit and holy act between husband and wife)).

    55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.”[45]

    56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

    From Allocution to Midwives 1951 we can note how contraception is declared to be “intrinsically immoral”. Things are intrinsically immoral by their nature, not by their situatuon and happenstance, and thus by changing situation and happenstance cannot become moral. Shifiting contraception from a the situation and happenstance of married couple to a unmarried couple doesn’t affect the “intrinsically immoral” aspect of the act, for the act itself is “intrinsically immoral”

    Our Predecessor, Pius XI, of happy memory, in his Encyclical , of December 31, 1930, once again solemnly proclaimed the fundamental law of the conjugal act and conjugal relations: that every attempt of either husband or wife in the performance of the conjugal act or in the development of its natural consequences which aims at depriving it of its inherent force and hinders the procreation of new life is immoral; and that no “indication” or need can convert an act which is intrinsically immoral into a moral and lawful one.

    It is important to note that what is being addressed in the above quotes is the question of wheither or not contraception can become licite within marriage. The answer is no. But it is taken for granted that contraception is not licit and is in face gravely sinful outside of marriage to start with.

    If we go back to the time of the Church fathers we can see that they too condemned contraception as being immoral when used outside of marriage.

    “[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, [so] they use drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered.” Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9:12 (A.D. 225).

    “Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well…Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws?…Yet such turpitude…the matter still seems indifferent to many men—even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks.” John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 24 (A.D. 391).

    “You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion].” Jerome, Letters 22:13 (A.D. 396).

    “Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a woman does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman.” Caesarius of Arles, Sermons 1:12 (A.D. 522).

  109. @Nathan #106

    “Notice that you are saying that it is more sinful for a child to be born than not to be born.”

    “Conceived”, not “born”!!! If a child is conceived, he or she must be welcome and nourished (and obviously born) no matter whether he or she was conceived in a marital or extra-marital relation.

    “Your argument is completely wrong because it is making a lesser good and a lesser right triump over greater goods and rights. These are some of the rights that you are overlooking.

    1. The right of God to bring forth life when a man and a woman engage in intercourse.
    2. The right of a child to come into being.
    3. The right of the the individual to bond without separation with his sexual partner and to give himself/herself totally to the other, and the right of the other to totally receive that which is given.

    As we can see, the usage of condoms, whether by a married couple or an unmarried couple violates the rights of 1.) God 2.) the potential individual 3.) The individuals involved.”

    1. Is not in Pius XI’s Casti Connubi, Pius XII’s alocution to Midwives or Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. The Popes always speak of “conjugal” relations. And here is the catch: “conjugal” means “between spouses”! See:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjugal

    This is straightforward for a Spanish speaker like me, because the formal word for “spouse” in Spanish is “cónyugue”.

    2. directly does not apply. He or she who does not exist does not have any right at all. The Church never says that contraception violates the right of a non-existent child to exist.

    3. applies only to spouses. Non-spouses have no right “to bond without separation”, since they have no right to have sex in the first place!

  110. My previous comment obviously refers to Nathan’s #107.

  111. My quick answer to “right 2″ two comments above, that “He or she who does not exist does not have any right at all” could be seen to conflict with Donum Vitae’s statement that “The child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage”. The conflict would be specifically with “conceived”, since the other actions presuppose that the child already exists.

    Therefore I should have been more clear and stated: “He or she who does not exist does not have any right at all to be called into existence.” (Which is obvious as there’s no queue of pre-existing souls waiting to be infused into newly conceived embryos.) Thus there is no conflict because DV’s statement that “the child has the right to be conceived within marriage” applies only on the presupposition that the child is going to exist (be conceived) in the first place.

  112. In my #109, the Spanish word is “cónyuge” (soft g). I got wrong that word in childhood, and it sticks.

  113. @Johannes #109-11

    If you go back and look at the question that Casti Connubi, Alocution to Midwives and Humanae Vitae are trying to address it is “Can contraception be allowed for married couples?” The question is already taking for granted that contraception is not allowed outside of marriage, but that argument that is being made is that marriage is special and has special circumstances that allow for the usage of contraception and it should not be considered a sin within marriage. The argument that contraception should be allows for all individuals, including outside of marriage is argued after the public battle was won for allowing contraception within Christian marriage.

    If you go back and look at the Church Fathers, I gave some quotes of some, you can readily see that the Unamious Teaching Authority of the Fathers is that contraception for those outside of marriage and for those in Christian marriage is a severe sin because it murders the child not yet born. The Church teaches that the right to brining life into existance belongs to God alone, and to frustrate that is a “sin against nature and to commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious” (because it is frustrating God and murdering a child not yet born) (Casti connubii 54)

    For some reason, and I do not know why, you think that marriage causes restrictions in how we use our sexual activity. No, it gives the spouses freedoms. Being married doesn’t cause it to suddenly be more sinful to use a condom. If it is sinful in marriage it is sinful outside of marriage. If condoms cause there to be sin in marriage, they cause there to be sin outside of marriage.

    Need to find proof that the Church teaches that the usage of condoms outside of marriage is sinful and increases the degree of sin?

    Research the Magisterial Documents surrounding why condoms cannot be used to prevent AIDS.

    For example: in

    Family Values Versus Safe Sex

    the top two reasons why condom usage by all individuals married and unmarried is rejected by the Catholic Bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland

    1.)The use of condoms goes against human dignity.
    2.) Condoms change the beautiful act of love into a selfish search for pleasure – while rejecting responsibility.

  114. @Johannes #111

    A child that God intends to call into existance has a right to be called into existance.

    God calls children into existance all the time between non-married couples.

    THUS contraception / condoms infringe upon God’s right to call a child into existance and the right of that child to be called into existance.

    The right of a child to be called into existance is a greater right than the child to be called into existance between two married persons.

    You are saying that the child’s right to have two married parents is greater than the child’s right to be called into existance. That is not correct reasoning.

  115. Sexual union between a man and a woman is the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human, body and soul, that will exist from eternity from the moment of that conception. The two go hand in hand, sexual union between a man and a woman where there is a deliberate attempt to artificially contracept is devoid of it’s actual purpose.

    On a biological level, sexual organs are meant to do only one thing, that is to procreate. That goes for the entire animal kingdom. So on a strictly biological level, using those sexual organs for anything but for what they are intended (procreation) is to use them in opposition to the Natural Order. If it goes against nature, it is disordered.

    Because we believe that from God comes science, Natural Law, order, cosmos, and reason, it follows that opposing any of those things is to oppose God… and if one opposes God they are committing a sin.

    So, 1) artificial contraception is a sin because it is opposed to nature (using the sexual organs for something other than what they were naturally intended for) and is, thus, opposed to God’s will; 2) artificial contraception is a sin because it is a “no” to the union of God with the man and the woman that takes place in a special way when the man and woman enter into the creative capabilities of God in the sexual act.

    In other words, 2) is a “no” to God’s offering of love during one of the most beautiful moments we can participate with.

    I don’t know if I articulated that well enough.

  116. New Release from the CDF on this issue – as reported by John Allen

    Full text of the release cribbed from NCR:

    Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
    On the trivilization of sexuality
    Regarding certain interpretations of “Light of the World”

    Following the publication of the interview-book Light of the World by Benedict XVI, a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality. The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words – a meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human sexuality is treated. The intention of the Holy Father is clear: to rediscover the beauty of the divine gift of human sexuality and, in this way, to avoid the cheapening of sexuality which is common today.

    Some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive change and lamented by others as a cause of concern – as if his statements represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the Church’s stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope – which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) – do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.

    As is clear from an attentive reading of the pages in question, the Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception. This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarized succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, when he wrote that “also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.” The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought. On this issue the Pope proposes instead – and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively (cf. Light of the World, p. 147) – humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation.

    On the pages in question, the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behaviour which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral (cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2355). The response of the entire Christian tradition – and indeed not only of the Christian tradition – to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: “Flee from fornication” (1 Cor 6:18). The practice of prostitution should be shunned, and it is the duty of the agencies of the Church, of civil society and of the State to do all they can to liberate those involved from this practice.

    In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute “the real or moral solution” to the problem of AIDS and also that “the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality” in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom “with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.” This affirmation is clearly compatible with the Holy Father’s previous statement that this is “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.”

    Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the “lesser evil”. This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, n. 75-77). An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed. The Holy Father did not say – as some people have claimed – that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.

    In conclusion, in the battle against AIDS, the Catholic faithful and the agencies of the Catholic Church should be close to those affected, should care for the sick and should encourage all people to live abstinence before and fidelity within marriage. In this regard it is also important to condemn any behaviour which cheapens sexuality because, as the Pope says, such behaviour is the reason why so many people no longer see in sexuality an expression of their love: “This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being” (Light of the World, p. 119).

  117. @Johannes

    Thought of some examples to help you see where you are going wrong in your logic.

    A schismatic priest ministers to a person and they engage in an illicit confession.
    1.) If the priest fudges the words of absolution, thus “contraception” the reception of sanctifying grace, does this make the action more sinful or less sinful?
    2.) Even though the action is illicit, does the individual have a right to have the illicit act of confession done correctly according to its nature? (for example, does the penitent give up his right to have absolution done correctly and to have the confession be private and “sealed” just because the act is illicit?)

    A schismatic priest ministers to his congregation and they engage in an illicit Eucharist.
    1.) If the priest coats each host in latex paint before the people communicate, the “contraception” the host and preventing reception of Christ, does this make the action more sinful or less sinful?
    2.) Even though the Eucharist is illicit, do the individuals have a right to have the Eucharist celebrated correctly according to its nature? (for example, do the people give up the right to having the schismatic priest use the words of the Church, does he give up the right to prevent unworthy reception of the Eucharist, etc., just because the act is illicit?)

    A man ministers to his girlfriend and they engage in illicit sexual activity.
    1.) If the man uses a condom, thus “contracepting” the act, does this make the action more sinful or less sinful?
    2.) Even though the act of sexual activity is illicit, doe the individuals have a right to have the sexual activity celebrated correctly according to its nature?

    BTW the proof that sexual activity outside of marriage is illicit but not invalid is that God does bring forth new life from sexual activity outside of marriage. If something is invalid, it does not do anything, as sexual activity outside of marriage does “produce” at least one of its ends (the creation of life) the activity is illicit not invalid. Illicit activities maintain all the rights and responsibilities of licit activities and their transgression in an illicit situation increases sin just as it would in when they are transgressed in the licit situation.

  118. @ Joe Palmer #115

    I liked what you had to say. Spot on. Man and women enter into co-operation with God’s creative act when they engage in sexual activity. It doesn’t matter if they are engaging in the activity within or without marriage — they are entering into co-opration with God and, as you said, it is a sin against nature and a sin against God. Well said, well said.

  119. Hey guys, I came across this in Aquinas today and God forgive me – I had to laugh:

    Now error does not excuse from sin unless it refer to a circumstance the presence or absence of which makes an action lawful or unlawful. For if a man were to strike his father with an iron rod thinking it to be of wood, he is not excused from sin wholly, although perhaps in part…

    Andrew Preslar pointed out, with some humor involved, the connection to the current issue what with the pope and the condom statement. I mean ya know… the choice or a wooden rod over an iron rod might be ‘a step in the direction of moralization…’

  120. @Joe Palmer #115

    You definitely articulated it well enough. Now, to your statement:

    On a biological level, sexual organs are meant to do only one thing, that is to procreate. That goes for the entire animal kingdom. So on a strictly biological level, using those sexual organs for anything but for what they are intended (procreation) is to use them in opposition to the Natural Order.

    I reply with what I already said in #82:

    “Human generative faculties are teleologically ordered to procreation WITHIN MARRIAGE”. Marriage is intrinsic to human nature. We are not just animals whose generative faculties are ordered to procreation without any further consideration.

    Animal nature is just biological. Human nature is not, so that the natural order for humans is not confined to the biological level, and conclusions on the morality of human actions cannot be drawn by looking only at the biological level.

  121. Johannes,

    Marriage for humans is not what is in question and really does not have anything to do with what the sexual organs are for and how they work. For that reason, I don’t think your comment in 82 is completely relevant. Biology is the same for all animals, it doesn’t change because one creature is rational and another isn’t. I’m not quite understanding your position. How does being a rational give someone the right to abrogate the natural order (from a Christian perspective, something that comes from the Creator)? Are you saying that because human beings are rational, frustrating the procreative aspect of sexual intercourse using artificial contraception is somehow not opposed to the natural order?

  122. @Joe Palmer #121

    Biology is indeed the same for animals and humans. But whereas the natural order for animals is just biological, for humans it is not. Your view that my position is justifying the abrogation of natural order is based on your assumption that you can derive the natural order for humans by looking just at the biological level.

    Natural = according to the nature.
    Nature of an animal = purely biological.
    Nature of a human being = spiritual + biological.

    What you find in Casti Connubi, Alocution to Midwives and Humanae Vitae is that the divine design is that all conjugal ( = marital = between spouses) relations must be open to life. No official pronouncement has been issued on extra-marital relations. Meanwhile, it is perfectly legitimate for you to think with Nathan B. #113 that those documents are “already taking for granted that contraception is not allowed outside of marriage” (actually it is sexual relations which are not allowed outside marriage, so I take Nathan’s position as meaning that the total sinfulness of the already gravely sinful act increases with contraception), and it is perfectly legitimate for me to hold the position I inferred from Donum Vitae.

    Of course, I am fully willing to adhere to the official pronouncement of the Magisterium (i.e. Pope or CDF), whatever it defines and whenever it comes about.

  123. @Nathan B. #114

    A child that God intends to call into existance has a right to be called into existance.

    God calls children into existance all the time between non-married couples.

    THUS contraception / condoms infringe upon God’s right to call a child into existance and the right of that child to be called into existance.

    This can be easily shown to be in conflict with the teachinbg from Donum Vitae. I will start by addressing Joe Palmer #115:

    Sexual union between a man and a woman is the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human.

    Sexual union is clearly NOT “the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human”, as placing a spermatozoon and an ovum in contact in vitro produces the same result. Therefore Nathan’s reasoning should apply to this method just as it applies to extra-marital sexual relations, since it is undisputable that “God calls children into existence all the time between sperm cells and egg cells meeting in vitro (and coming from either married or unmarried donors).” So we have this doctor who in his left hand has a tube with a sperm cell, and in his right hand another tube with an ovum. Since a new child will be created if they are placed in contact, we infer that God intends to call that child into existence. Therefore the doctor must place them in contact.

    Now this conclusion is in direct conflict with the teachings of Donum Vitae, since from those teachings it is clear that, if at the time that the doctor was holding the two tubes in his hands the spouses suddenly converted to the Lord and decided to put his will in practice, they should immediately tell the doctor to not proceed with the fertilization and to kill the extracted reproductive cells (i.e. BEFORE the reproductive cells were placed in contact, so no abortion involved.)

    Now, if “God calls children into existence all the time by way of artificial fertilization”, how can the course of action taught by Donum Vitae not “infringe upon God’s right to call a child into existance and the right of that child to be called into existance”? The answer is that the will of God is that children be conceived in sexual relations within marriage, which has nothing to do with the fact that they can be conceived – and frequently are – by way of both artificial fertilization and extra-marital sexual relations. And if thwarting the reproductive potential of an artificial fertilization procedure IS the right course of action per Donum Vitae, how could thwarting the reproductive potential of an extra-marital sexual relation increase the total sinfulness of the act?

  124. Johannes,

    I appreciate your line of argument, but I’m not arguing for the implications of the rational being and marriage. I’m making that point that sexual organs are intended for one thing only across the entire animal kingdom. I’m still confused as to what you are trying to say here. Are you arguing that sexual organs can be used for something else than what they are intended to be used for and, at the same time, not be used in a way that opposes what they are intended to be used for?

    Tell me what point you are trying to prove so I can better understand why you keep mingling marriage and rational beings with the solid concept that sexual organs, in nature, are to serve one purpose.

    Are you arguing for or against contraception? Because I can’t tell why you would disagree with such a basic concept.

  125. “Sexual union is clearly NOT “the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human”, as placing a spermatozoon and an ovum in contact in vitro produces the same result.”

    That is the natural consequence of fertilizing an egg, yes. But fertilizing an egg in such a way is also unnatural because it removes the joining of the man and the woman in sexual union as its cause. The sexual union of the man and the woman (married, if it helps you understand my point) is joined with the union of God in a particular way to create another human being. That is what sex was naturally designed for. Because God has willed the existence of a test tube baby does not necessitate that the manner it which the child is conceived is natural or acceptable.

    I didn’t read the entire thread. Are you advocating in-vitro, artificial insemination, and contraception? I think I’ve missed where you’re coming from.

  126. @Johannes:

    “Sexual union is clearly NOT “the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human”, as placing a spermatozoon and an ovum in contact in vitro produces the same result.”

    Perfectly correct – which seems to me to argue against the rightness of using condoms whether in marriage or not.

    Acquiring a car is right and proper if done by paying for it. Could one argue that, since theft is wrong, acquiring a car is all right since it is not done in the context of a moral relationship?

    jj

  127. @Joe Palmer #124

    Are you arguing that sexual organs can be used for something else than what they are intended to be used for and, at the same time, not be used in a way that opposes what they are intended to be used for?

    No. To phrase my point in your terms, I am arguing that, in humans, sexual organs are intended to be used for union and procreation WITHIN MARRIAGE.

    Tell me what point you are trying to prove so I can better understand why you keep mingling marriage and rational beings with the solid concept that sexual organs, in nature, are to serve one purpose.

    Because marriage is an essential part of human nature! You cannot deal properly with human nature by looking at just the biological level!

    If #120, #122 and this post are not enough to convey this point, I give up.

  128. @Johannes:

    Because marriage is an essential part of human nature! You cannot deal properly with human nature by looking at just the biological level!

    Quite true. But how would this mean that condom use would be all right outside of marriage?

    jj

  129. @Joe Palmer #125

    Because God has willed the existence of a test tube baby does not necessitate that the manner it which the child is conceived is natural or acceptable.

    Bingo! Change “test tube baby” to “baby conceived outside marriage” and you get my point.

    Are you advocating in-vitro, artificial insemination, and contraception?

    No, exactly the other way round! I will recap for the last time:

    1. I fully hold with Donum Vitae that homologous artificial fertilization is evil.

    2. I fully hold with Donum Vitae that heterologous artificial fertilization is evil, for two groups of reasons:
    2.a. the same reasons that make homologous artificial fertilization evil, plus
    2.b. additional reasons “unique” to heterologous artificial fertilization that make it evil in and of itself.

    3. I infer from Donum Vitae that intentionally seeking conception in a sexual relation outside marriage is evil in and of itself, for exactly all (in the case of adultery), or part of (in the case of fornication), the same “unique” reasons that make heterologous artificial fertilization evil in and of itself, that is independently of the search for extra-marital sexual pleasure.

    BTW, in my previous comment it was “If #120, #122 and this comment…”

  130. “To phrase my point in your terms, I am arguing that, in humans, sexual organs are intended to be used for union and procreation WITHIN MARRIAGE.”

    OK. I agree with this. The point I was making is that contraception (and use of the sexual organs for anything other than procreation) is disordered, and therefore immoral, even from a purely natural level. Whether an animal is rational or not, deliberately using the sexual organs for anything other than for what they are intended is disordered and unnatural.

    Basically, one doesn’t even need to bring marriage into the equation to demonstrate how contraception is opposed to God’s will. That is why I maintain that marriage is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

  131. @Johannes:

    3. I infer from Donum Vitae that intentionally seeking conception in a sexual relation outside marriage is evil in and of itself, for exactly all (in the case of adultery), or part of (in the case of fornication), the same “unique” reasons that make heterologous artificial fertilization evil in and of itself, that is independently of the search for extra-marital sexual pleasure.

    Ah. OK, then no disagreement on my part. Whether persons using contraception in or out of marriage are guilty is quite another question, depending on knowledge and intent. I thought you were somehow arguing that there was nothing wrong with contraception outside of marriage.

    jj

  132. @John Thayer Jensen #128

    how would this mean that condom use would be all right outside of marriage?

    Just to make it clear: “all right” in the same way that using blank cartridges would be “all right” in a bank robbery, i.e. in the sense that this particular aspect of the course of action does not make the overall act more sinful.

    The answer is in the article published by Sandro Magister (#106), or more succintly in #75 + #129, to which you could add the additional explanation of #123.

  133. To All;

    I am hoping to contribute in a positive way here, rather than further muddy the waters.

    I’ve followed the whole thread from the beginning, and particularly Nathan’s and Johannes’ posts. I’m hoping to clarify the respective positions by summarizing and the participants can correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

    I think the point direction that the discussion is currently on started back in comments #45-60 or so. As I understand the real point we are trying to clarify is whether there is any licitness to the use of condoms at all or whether the use of condoms in any actual or even simulated sex act (eg. sodomy) is an additional evil in and of itself. To my understanding all in the discussion agree that sex is sinful outside of marriage and the deliberate contraception is sinful within marriage.

    The questions being kicked around include:
    1) Does a condom make extramarital sex MORE sinful, less sinful, or is the use of condom during adultery or fornication irrelevant?
    2) Same question as above but for simulated sex acts that are inherently against nature and incapable of being procreative.
    3) Within marriage could condoms be used as disease prevention (prophylactic) if contraception is an unintended effect under the principle of double effect?
    4) Does cond0m use in non-marital heterosexual sex violate the right of the yet to be conceived child to be conceived or does it protect against violating the right of a child to be conceived within a family?

    THE ULTIMATE QUESTION overriding all seems to be “Is the use of a condom an inherently morally evil act under all circumstances? OR are there some circumstances where condom use could be morally neutral or even morally good?”

    These are my understanding of the issues raised, so far I don’ think there has been any effort to address them systematically. Just what I’ve seen as the actual issues.

    Not to pick on anyone but just scanning for a few statement to show how the cases are being made. To my mind Nathan is arguing for the “inherent moral evil of condom use in any kind of sex act anywhere” while Johannes seems to be looking at the possibility that under some specific circumstances “Condoms are either morally neutral or morally good.”

    Consider now an act of adultery or fornication, which is a grave sin in itself. In my view, such an act does not become substantially more sinful if a condom is used. Johannes #34

    I mean how can something that “can be a first step towards moralization” be evil strictly speaking? If something is a step TOWARDS moralization, it seems to follow that it would be a “good” thing to take that step. I am just pointing out that there does seem to be some sense in which the pope is floating the idea that such an action / step is ok/permissable – GIVEN THE SPECIFIC CONTEXT AND DETAILS (and only this kind of context/detail). Ray Stamper #45

    In the popes comments, the first step towards moralization is not the usage of the condom but rather the reflection that not all things are good to do which prompts the false decision to use a condom. The thought process of “this might not be a good idea as I could get infected and I have responsibility to the health of my own body” is the basis and first step not the subsequent decision to “use a condom as a solution”. I would argue that the subsequent decision to use a condom is actually a set backwards but not a full step, as the impulse to health is undercut, but not fully, by the desire for gratification or mostlikly $$ because we are talking about prostitutes and not their customers. That is what I would argue for the Pontiff is quite clear in the text that the usage of a condom is not a moral solution to the problem of “I don’t want to get infected” and thus I am reading between the lines a bit to say that the Pope is meaning that the impulse to protect ones health is the first step and not the actual usage of the condom. Nathan #46 (my emphasis)

    Now, let’s analyze the case GIVEN the sexual act. Within marriage, the licitness of the act using condom, with the ONLY goal of preventing STD transmission, depends on the act still being a conjugal act, and thus on the correctness of Mike’s analysis (which IMV is correct). The two positions could be summarized as:
    Mike: with condom: licit (IF only goal is profilaxis!); without condom: illicit (against charity)
    Hardliners: with condom: illicit (not conjugal act); without condom: illicit (against charity)
    Now, if using a condom with a protective goal in a conjugal act does not make it illicit, then using a condom with a protective goal in an already-illicit sexual act does not make it futher illicit. (Johannes #48)

    When we are discussing condom usage by prostitutes, we are not discussing a lesser of two evils, but rather the addition of a different evil. Sexual activity outside of marriage is an immoral activity. The usage of a condom during intercourse is an immoral activity but for a completely different reason than sexual activity outside of marriage. Does condom usage reduce the immorality of intercourse outside of marriage? No. Thus the choice of using a condom does not reduce the net immorality of the sexual activity outside of marriage. (Nathan #54)

    I think that helps (me at least) keep track of what is really being debated.

  134. My own comment #56 which quoted at length from Humane Vitae, Guadium Et Spes and JPII’s Theology of the Body addresses was an attempt to get onto solid ground with the official teaching of the Church in these area and move away from speculating. Unfortunately the statements that I Bolded and my blockquotes didn’t get formatted due to page problems and it is difficult to see my point. I am willing to re-format and post if asked.

    The Point was that Sex is about more than just the biology and that and essential element that I have found continuing to be neglected in this discussion is that of mutual self-giving (the uniitive aspect in the fullest sense). Condoms are not just a evil against the procreative aspect, they are also an evil against the unitive aspect. The fullness of accepting the gift of the other person and making a gift of oneself is deliberately thwarted by the condom whether the use is intended to be prophylactic or contraceptive.

    Even in the case of simulated sex acts, I think the use of a condom is still a moral evil even though it may be considered minor in compared to the act itself. The condom continues to be a moral evil in such cases because it’s use makes a further mockery of the purpose of sex by thwarting also the self-giving. It essentially makes the act even more selfish because it contributes to objectification and use for one’s own purposes of the ‘partner.’ Which is why I think BXVI chose for example a male prostitute- a case where the limits of selfishness and objectification have pretty much been reached. Then I agree with Nathan that the intention to protect one’s partner from disease is a “step in the right direction” even though the condom use itself is still a further evil.

    In my understanding of Humanae Vitae and Gaudium et Spes, the use of a condom in a non-marital heterosexual sex act is a further evil. The condom in such cases drives home the point of what is immoral about such acts: they are not true acts of self-giving and accepting the gift of the partner. Any shred of dignity such an act might have is removed by the condom with explicitly makes the point that “I do not accept your gift of self and I do not give myself to you” but rather “I am using you as a object for my personal gratification.”

    Initially I was thinking more along the lines of the condom is of no great significance in the perspective compared with the real sin of Adultery or fornication or sodomy, and I still think the act itself is the primary sin, but I have come to agree completely with Nathan that there is no case for saying that condoms are a moral solution.

  135. @Johannes

    No official pronouncement has been issued on extra-marital relations. Meanwhile, it is perfectly legitimate for you to think with Nathan B. #113 that those documents are “already taking for granted that contraception is not allowed outside of marriage” (actually it is sexual relations which are not allowed outside marriage, so I take Nathan’s position as meaning that the total sinfulness of the already gravely sinful act increases with contraception), and it is perfectly legitimate for me to hold the position I inferred from Donum Vitae.

    No it is not perfectly legitimate for you to hold your position. Your argument is akin to saying it was perfectly ok to disbelieve in the Immaculate Conception prior to Ineffabilis Deus in 8 December 1854.

    Contraception is rejected as a severely sinful action by the Catholic Church Again let me suggest that you go back and reconstruct the arguments that Casti Connubi, Alocution to Midwives and Humanae Vitae are reacting against. The argument is that marriage is special and thus can allow for contraception while contraception outside of marriage remains sinful.

    Sexual union is clearly NOT “the only time that human beings can participate in God’s creative ability in the unique way of actually creating another human”, as placing a spermatozoon and an ovum in contact in vitro produces the same result. Therefore Nathan’s reasoning should apply to this method just as it applies to extra-marital sexual relations…

    No that is not correct. IVF does not involve man participating in God’s creative activity. If you read John Paul II’s writing on the subject (for example in LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY) you will find that it is only the woman that is said to be the true participant in God’s creative mystery and that man rather enables her creative fecundity. Thus IVF does not involve man’s participation in God’s creative activity because it occurs outside of the the woman’s womb.

    And if thwarting the reproductive potential of an artificial fertilization procedure IS the right course of action per Donum Vitae, how could thwarting the reproductive potential of an extra-marital sexual relation increase the total sinfulness of the act?

    It increases the total sinfulness of the act because sexual activity outside of marriage is an act in accordance with nature but illicit act. By thwarting the unitive end of the natural act and by thwarting the procreative end of the natural act you increase its illicitness and thus increase its sinfulness.

  136. @Joe Palmer

    Johannes, as per linked article, is trying to argue that condom usage outside of marriage decreases the sinfulness of the act as it prevents a child from being conceived because that child has a right to be born to two married parents.

    I am saying that wrong. It is clearly not in accordance with the teaching of the Church Fathers who teach unanimously on the subject that contraception is wrong in all cases because it “kills the man not yet born”, as they put it.

  137. @Johannes

    Again, let me point out to you that condoms are rejected as a means to prevent AIDS by the Church.

    The Church cleary thinks that a childs right to be concieved outweighs the violence done to him by being born infected with AIDS and the loss of his right to be concieved by two unmarried individuals.

    Take AIDS out of the equation and you will see that the Church thinks that a child’s right to be concieved outweighs the the loss of his right to be concieved to two unmarried individuals.

  138. @Nathan #135

    I agree with your position, but am not sure that the fecundity aspect is the primary argument. I think overall this thread is focusing too much on the biology and the reproductive aspect and not on the Unitive as you mentioned at the end of #133

  139. @ GNW_Paul #138

    Thanks. I am focusing in on the fecundity aspect because XXXXXXX really wants to deny fecundity to sexual activity outside of marriage because it is in the best interest of the child not to be conceived outside of marriage. But you are right about the unitive aspect — JPIIs various writings on the matter really sees the use of condoms as an offense against the body and causes the partners, especially the woman, to be reduced to an object that is used. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about sexual activity in or out of marriage …to reduce the partner to an object of utility is a shameful and vicious thing to do. People are not objects and condoms always reduce people to objects.

  140. @ GNW_Paul

    Thanks. I am focusing in on the fecundity aspect because Johannes really wants to deny fecundity to sexual activity outside of marriage because it is in the best interest of the child not to be conceived outside of marriage. But you are right about the unitive aspect — JPIIs various writings on the matter really sees the use of condoms as an offense against the body and causes the partners, especially the woman, to be reduced to an object that is used. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about sexual activity in or out of marriage …to reduce the partner to an object of utility is a shameful and vicious thing to do. People are not objects and condoms always reduce people to objects.

  141. @ GNW_Paul #133-134

    I think you have summarized the arguments succinctly in a way that allows those who enter the thread now to pick up and fully understand the arguments without needing to read the whole thread.

    I also enjoy the reasoning and argument that you put forth in #134 so much so that I want to underscore part of it

    Condoms are not just a evil against the procreative aspect, they are also an evil against the unitive aspect. The fullness of accepting the gift of the other person and making a gift of oneself is deliberately thwarted by the condom whether the use is intended to be prophylactic or contraceptive…..The condom in such cases drives home the point of what is immoral about such acts: they are not true acts of self-giving and accepting the gift of the partner. Any shred of dignity such an act might have is removed by the condom with explicitly makes the point that “I do not accept your gift of self and I do not give myself to you” but rather “I am using you as a object for my personal gratification.”

    Really very good and thank you for bringing to the table stresses and points that were not being covered or covered adequately.

  142. You replied to Joe in #127 above

    “To phrase my point in your terms, I am arguing that, in humans, sexual
    organs are intended to be used for union and procreation WITHIN
    MARRIAGE.”

    But what you did NOT make clear is that you are reasoning that since the only proper use of the sexual organs is inside of marriage, that using a condom to prevent conception OUTSIDE of marriage is not only not sinful in and of itself in addition to the act of fornication/adultery, but that it is actually a moral good in that is protecting the rights of a potential person from being conceived outside of a marital act.

    (from your 98)My position: from the text of Humanae Vitae and the logical inference
    I made from the text of Donum Vitae, the “prevention of the opportunity for pregnancy” is a sin ONLY in the case of conjugal relations. And the “prevention of true union” is clearly a sin only in the case of
    conjugal relations, since in extra-marital r….

    My position: the usage of condom is immoral only when used within marriage for contraceptive purposes.

    In this you are in grave error. I will do my best to demonstrate where your reasoning is fallacious.

    (From #106) Obviously it is just my opinion and I definitely intend to submit to the judgment of the Magisterium of the Church whenever it pronounces officially on the subject. In the meantime, I don’t see much risk of heterodoxy in basing an opinion on a CDF instruction.

    Before I start it I’d like to point out that even here your reasoning is seriously flawed. The CDF instruction you are EXTRAPOLATING (not basing) a completely hypothetical opinion out of has nothing to say at all directly about the use of contraception in non-marital acts! There is no basis in the cited document for your conclusions. You should feel no more sense of security than if you were ‘basing your opinion’ on your personal interpretation of Genesis Chapters 1 & 2. The CDF Donum Vitae is a document primarily concerned with reproductive technology, says nothing about contraception (in or out of marriage) which makes a statement about the immortality of a purposefully and deliberately conceiving a child outside of marriage by artificial means and you attempt to hijack the logic of that statement to prove the contraposition statement that it is therefor a moral imperative to prevent conception during natural non-marital acts. I’d call that Audacious.

    (from your article on Chelsea Summarizing your selected quotes from Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae) Considering now seeking conception by fornication, the factors of being contrary “to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents” do not apply, but that regarding the child’s right still does, so that seeking conception in fornication, in addition to and apart from the illicitness of the act due to extra-marital sexual pleasure, “is contrary… to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    And your two part conclusion:

    1. The intentional prevention of conception, whether through the use of
    condoms or oral contraceptives, is a sin only in the case of conjugal
    relations.

    2. In the case of relations outside marriage, the conditional moral statement could be stated as: “Given that a couple not married to each other has decided to have a sexual relation, and that they know that the woman may be on a fertile day, then not using contraception, if it is available to them, increases the
    total sinfulness of the act.” In other words, in the case of sexual relations outside marriage, contraception has a negative marginal contribution to sinfulness, meaning that it makes the act marginally less sinful, though it always remains a grave sin.

    I see several errors here. First, you conclude erroneously that because Humanae vitae speaks primarily about the dignity of marital acts that all “non-marital” acts are somehow fully excluded. You fail to remember that the marital act is the same act regardless of whether or not there is a marriage and that the people involved still are persons deserving of dignity and mutual respect even if they aren’t married. I know you are not claiming that intercourse outside of marriage is moral, but you are in error in concluding that the lack of a valid marriage makes every statement in Humanae vitae irrelevant and non-applicable.

    This is your logical construction for summarily dismissing the applicability Humane Vitae to extra-marital sex acts:

    First I will quote from HV to show that it refers only to marital acts:

    “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.

    Union and Procreation
    12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

    The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called.”

    As I have already pointed out, there is the straightforward error of assuming that “marital act” is applicable only to acts within marriage and that all such acts outside of marriage are therefor not included in the description. Certainly the focus of Humane Vitae is on Marriage and marital acts within marriage, but that is because of the specific question that was being addressed. It is illogical to entirely dismiss all of the conclusions of Humanae Vitae on the basis that it primarily addresses marriage and marital acts.

    You are trying to turn “Sex acts within marriage are God given, demanding mutual respect of the human persons” into “Only Sex acts within marriage are exercises of a God given natural gift, demanding mutual respect of persons and the gift AND all other sex acts occurring outside of marriage are not excercises of God’s gift and respect for human person or the gift is irrelevant.” The sylogism is this: Given: {a} and {b} are subsets of {sex acts} and the intersection of {a} and {b} is NULL IF {a} requires respect for persons and God then {b} does not require respect for persons since the intersection with {a} is NULL. Which is a non sequitur.

    Thus your first conclusion:

    1. The intentional prevention of conception, whether through the use of
    condoms or oral contraceptives, is a sin only in the case of conjugal
    relations.

    Is not logical.

    Your reasoning from Donum Vitae is also erroneous. It also is a ultimately a non sequitur. Your reasoning is that since seeking to deliberately conceive a child out of wedlock in immoral, then using contraception to prevent conception of such a child in an extra-marital act is morally good and even a moral imperative! This is obviously fallacious because there is a lack of symmetry in the two cases. The logic of the CDF is based on the right of the child being conceived to be born to loving married parents is focused on the case where the intended purpose of the illicit reproductive action (artificial action in the original) is to conceive said child. You try to reverse the logic, but now we are talking about acts where the hypothetical conception is NOT the intention of the participants, just a possibility. In the case of INTENDING to conceive the couple is intentionally violating the rights of the person being conceived. In the case where you are advocating the imperative of contraception, the violation of the the possible conceived person’s rights is unintentional. You are seriously distorting the purpose of the CDF statement. Here is you logic:

    “Heterologous artificial fertilization is contrary to the unity of marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to parents, and to the child’s right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.”

    It is evident the statement above holds if we replace “artificial” with “natural”:

    “Heterologous natural fertilization is contrary to the unity of
    marriage, to the dignity of the spouses, to the vocation proper to
    parents, and to the child’s RIGHT to be conceived and brought into the
    world in marriage and from marriage.”

    This part holds, but… it is only making a statement about the INTENTION of conceiving children. Also the change from artificial to natural is not entirely inconsequential. In the artificial case there are no persons involved in an actual sex act, when you switch to natural you now necessarily have two actual persons actually performing an act of intimacy. Donum Vitae is not saying anything about contraception under any circumstances. At this point you are already extrapolating quite a bit from anything like what the CDF was writing to address. You are not “basing your opinion on a CDF” directive.

    You then develop a contraposition statement which is invalid and ultimately makes your argument non sequitur:

    2. In the case of relations outside marriage, the conditional moral statement could be stated as: “Given that a couple not married to each other has decided to have a sexual relation, and that they know that the woman may be on a fertile day, then not using contraception, if it is available to them, increases the total sinfulness of the act.” In other words, in the case of sexual relations outside marriage, contraception has a negative marginal contribution to sinfulness, meaning that it makes the act marginally less sinful, though it always remains a grave sin.

    So after deconstructing the contraposition and restating your syllogism we can see your logical error: a) Intentionally conceiving out of marriage is immoral. b) Sex outside of marriage may result in an unintended conception outside of marriage. Therefore, when having an extramarital illicit sexual encounter contraception is a moral imperative. That is a non sequitur.

    Thus Part 2 of your conclusion

    2. In the case of relations outside marriage, the conditional moral statement could be stated as: “Given that a couple not married to each other has decided to have a sexual relation, and that they know that the woman may be on a fertile day, thennot using contraception, if it is available to them, increases the total sinfulness of the act.” In other words, in the case of sexual relations outside marriage, contraception has a negative marginal contribution to sinfulness, meaning that it makes the act marginally
    less sinful, though it always remains a grave sin.

    Is also illogical.

    Beyond that failed logic I think you have an even bigger problem. The big error which Nathan as already alluded to, particularly in #135 where he suggests you go back to Casti Canubi. You summarily dismissed Humane Vitae, and then presumed that was sufficient for the whole of the Church’s teaching and explanation of what is wrong with contraception and why, where and when. So you conveniently ignore anything to do with the dignity of the primary participants involved in sexual acts or simulated sexual acts. Within that you specifically write off any consideration of the unitive aspect of the marital act under your blanket dismissal that “extra-marital acts” an entirely separate category than “marital acts.” Thus the false logic that since extra-marital acts are illicit and that the participants are not spouses that all ecclesial guidance is irrelevant to this case. And thus you ignore anything to anything regarding the dignity and mutual respect of the persons involved.

    The really tremendous problem is that you have forgotten that the specific teaching of Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae are applications of broader principles to specific cases. Rather than go back to the underlying truths and seek to examine which conclusions are applicable and it what manner to different circumstances, you believe you can either dismiss the specific conclusion in the case of HV or distort them and extrapolate them at will in the case of DV. You can’t. Even if you had constructed a valid syllogism, your conclusions would not necessarily be true because your methodology is wrong.

    It is necessary to look under the hood, at the biology and natural law, and the gift of sex in general outside of the specific Catholic and Christian context of Holy Matrimony. It is also necessary to look at the nature of man, and of man and woman, and the respect of person. And of course consider God’s design and gift of human sexuality. Yes Holy Matrimony is the perfection of God’s plan and is the only valid context for the sexual act for Catholics and of course for all ultimately, but at the same time we live in a fallen world. We can’t ignore that several Billion people are NOT CATHOLIC or even Christian so it is impossible for them to contract a sacramental marriage under any case, regardless of the culture and their belief in any form of marriage or monogamy. Then we can look at how do these things apply to other situations. Like a) Catholics in irregular (illicit) marriages, b) poorly catechized Catholic young adults co-habitating in committed relationships, c) secular,non-religious people co-habitating in a committed relationship common-law marriages, d) amorous and impulsive teenagers and young adults, e) married men and women having affairs at the office, f) prostitution, g) homosexual sex, h) masturbation, i) the “hook up” culture.

    The correct approach is to absolutely proclaim and celebrate the great gift of Sacramental Marriage and Holy Matrimony. Then the relative degree of immorality and morality of every act / sexual relationship outside of that may be roughly (very roughly) measured by how close it comes to that Truth and Reality. In this model the way to evaluate the “marginal immorality” of using a condom is “does it move the relationship/act closer to the Truth or further away.” And the answer to that question is always, in every case, further away because it always contributes to an even great objectification and abuse of the persons involved no matter how degraded the starting point.

    Thanks for your contribution. This is a fruitful and helpful discussion.

    Peace

    GNW_Paul

  143. @GNW Paul #142

    I doubted about whether to reply or not. I eventually saw that not replying could legitimately be perceived as admitting that my position was as utterly wrong as you state it is, in which case it would have been a moral imperative for me to retract it. Thus the following is intended just to show that I do not see that your critique weakens or undermines my position, which I still honestly see as correct. But is not intended to make you or anyone who shares your position change their views.

    You fail to remember that the marital act is the same act regardless of whether or not there is a marriage

    First, note that “marital” = “conjugal” = “between spouses”. (Very easy for Spanish speakers since “marido” = “husband” & “cónyuge” = “spouse”.) Therefore, using the correct words what you mean is that:

    the sexual act is the same act regardless of whether or not there is a marriage

    Which is true only at the physical level, just as the shooting of a gun by a policeman at a criminal or by a criminal at a policeman are physically the same act. In both cases, the physically similar acts are intrinsically different from each other at the moral level (i.e. when considering the wholeness of human nature, which is obviously not just physical).

    there is the straightforward error of assuming that “marital act” is applicable only to acts within marriage and that all such acts outside of marriage are therefor not included in the description

    It is not a straightforward error, just the proper use of words.

    You are trying to turn “Sex acts within marriage are God given, demanding mutual respect of the human persons” into “Only Sex acts within marriage are exercises of a God given natural gift, demanding mutual respect of persons and the gift

    First, you pose that my interpreting HV’s teaching in a restricted way (i.e. applying only to conjugal relations) is a non-sequitur. But you neither demonstrate it nor show that interpreting HV’s teaching in an open way (i.e. applying to all heterosexual relations) is a sequitur.

    Second, I definitely do NOT say that people engaging in sexual acts outside marriage should not respect each other. I say that, in that context, prevention of true union is not lack of respect for each other, since they should have never engaged in a sexual relation in the first place. Which also addresses your point that:

    Within that you specifically write off any consideration of the unitive aspect of the marital act under your blanket dismissal that “extra-marital acts” an entirely separate category than “marital acts.”

    Indeed, “extra-marital acts” are definitely an entirely separate category from “marital acts.”

    You try to reverse the logic, but now we are talking about acts where the hypothetical conception is NOT the intention of the participants, just a possibility. In the case of INTENDING to conceive the couple is intentionally violating the rights of the person being conceived. In the case where you are advocating the imperative of contraception, the violation of the the possible conceived person’s rights is unintentional.

    If the partners know that the woman may be on a fertile day, and if they have the means to prevent conception available, and if their minds are still cool so that they are in control of their actions (i.e. they have not yet been carried away by the movement of passion), then their choosing not to use contraception amounts to an intention to conceive, either explicit or at least in the same way as crossing a road with heavy traffic with a red light at full speed amounts to an intention to kill.

    The really tremendous problem is that you have forgotten that the specific teaching of Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae are applications of broader principles to specific cases.

    From my viewpoint, the problem is that you have incorrectly perceived that “the specific teaching of Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae are applications of broader principles to specific cases”, and then have further incorrectly constructed those “broader principles”.

    It is necessary to look under the hood, at the biology and natural law, and the gift of sex in general outside of the specific Catholic and Christian context of Holy Matrimony. It is also necessary to look at the nature of man, and of man and woman, and the respect of person. And of course consider God’s design and gift of human sexuality. Yes Holy Matrimony is the perfection of God’s plan and is the only valid context for the sexual act for Catholics and of course for all ultimately, but at the same time we live in a fallen world. We can’t ignore that several Billion people are NOT CATHOLIC or even Christian so it is impossible for them to contract a sacramental marriage under any case, regardless of the culture and their belief in any form of marriage or monogamy.

    You are mixing “Holy Matrimony” (the Christian sacrament) with “marriage” (the institution intrinsic to human nature). The fact that marriage has been elevated to the form of Holy Matrimony in Christians does not imply either that non-Christians do not have true marriage or that the marriage of non-Christians is intrinsically different at the fundamental level from the marriage of Christians. Holy Matrimony assumes the institution of marriage that is “engraved” in human nature and takes it to a higher level. But the teachings of Humanae Vitae apply to marriage in general, not just to Holy Matrimony. And it is this marriage which is “the only valid context for the sexual act” for ALL people on Earth. Of course, Christians cannot have true marriage that is not at the same time Holy Matrimony.

  144. Johannes,

    thanks for the response. I agree with some of your points, but of course not your conclusion.

    I certainly agree we need to use the definitions consistently and I am not sure what words are best to use so as to make clear the distinctions consistently and not make various sorts of category errors. I chose mainly to use extra-marital acts and marital acts, because at least in English that makes clear to me that we are talking about primarily the same ‘acts’ and keeping clear the context. Although it has the disadvantage of probably being non-standard and non-technical. But I am a just an amateur.

    Now it is clear that at least for heterosexual relationships extra-marital acts and marital acts are the same physical act. You propose above:

    Which is true only at the physical level, just as the shooting of a gun by a policeman at a criminal or by a criminal at a policeman are physically the same act. In both cases, the physically similar acts are intrinsically different from each other at the moral level (i.e. when considering the wholeness of human nature, which is obviously not just physical).

    Which is true enough for the act of shooting a gun, but is a false analogy for our circumstances for two reasons. The simple reason is that the purposes of the marital act are generally the same both within marriage and outside of marriage. Pleasure, reproduction, and unity. What makes extra-marital acts wrong is not (generally) that there is a evil INTENTION, but rather that the the fullness of all 3 purposes of sex are are not being expressed or embraced. This is not analogous to your example. The deeper reason that your analogy fails is that shooting a gun is a simple human activity with no divinely ordered component and there are a whole variety of ways that shooting a gun may be morally positive or morally neutral depending on circumstances and intentions etc. On the other hand sex acts, whether marital or extra-marital are the exercise of a divine gift from God. Also, sexuality is an integral and vital aspect of the human existence both physically and spiritually, thus sex acts are ontologically different from simple actions.

    So in the end I must disagree. Extra-marital acts are NOT intrinsically different that marital acts. First, not all marital acts are rightly ordered, depending on intentions and circumstances etc.. Secondly, all extra-marital acts are not disordered to the same degree.

    I continue to assert that your assumption that any reference to “marital acts” or “conjugal acts” limits the discussion and application to ONLY marital acts is a straightforward error. You are claiming that the use of our God Given sexuality outside of the bounds of marriage becomes an entirely new action. You are wrong. It is still the exercise of the sexual gift, and although abused and disordered, it not unrecognizable and does not cease to be what it inherently is ordained by God to be. Although the unitive and procreative purposes may be deliberately thwarted, or abused, they are still present. Indeed, in a great many extra-marital acts the couple may be attempting to express the fullness of the act in all ways, just doing so ineffectively and wrongly out of invincible ignorance.

    Moving on to the next point in your response:

    First, you pose that my interpreting HV’s teaching in a restricted way (i.e. applying only to conjugal relations) is a non-sequitur. But you neither demonstrate it nor show that interpreting HV’s teaching in an open way (i.e. applying to all heterosexual relations) is a sequitur.

    You are correct, I haven’t proven that. Of course, short of an Encyclical on the subject or the very least a CDF directive I doubt there is an argument that I could make convincing. However, my intention is merely to demonstrate that your argument is not sufficient for dismissing Humane Vitae. The larger issue is that you seem to think you can use a casual dismissal of Humane Vitae as a surrogate for the Church’s entire history of teaching on this subject. That is false. The Church’s teaching on sex and contraception goes back to the roots, and you need to build a case that actually attempts to address that entire body, not just dismiss one recent document and ignore at will. Fact: not one patristic, Papal or concilliar source approves of contraception in any case what-so-ever.

    I say that, in that context, prevention of true union is not lack of respect for each other, since they should have never engaged in a sexual relation in the first place.

    And that is precisely the point where we need to go back to what the Church actually teaches and apply it. That fact that a particular expression of sex is disordered and illicit does not necessarily imply that God’s gift of sexuality can not be further abused. The use of a condom is offensive and inherently disordered in and of itself in particular because it demonstratively and physically disrespects both persons engaged in the sexual act.

    I will address you last paragraph in a separate comment, because I think we can be less adversarial and look for more common ground in that area.

  145. @GNW_Paul

    Yesterday I casually came across Benedict XVI’s 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2005/december/documents/hf_ben_xvi_spe_20051222_roman-curia_en.html

    and found the Pope’s reflection on the two hermeneutics of Vatican II as applicable to this discussion.

    The hermeneutic of discontinuity incorrectly perceived (invented) that the texts of the Council were just initial steps in a new way forward, and then incorrectly constructed (invented) that new way forward, “the true spirit of the Concil”.

    Thus the hermeneutic of discontinuity proposed a “forward-wise” extrapolation from the texts of the Council. As the Pope said: “Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague”.

    Similarly, you incorrectly perceive that the texts of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (CC), Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives (AtM), Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (HV) are just applications of broader principles to specific cases, and then incorrectly construct those broader principles, “the underlying truths”.

    Thus you propose, in what could be termed a “broad hermeneutic”, a “broad-wise” extrapolation from the texts of those documents. Paraphrasing Benedict XVI: precisely because the texts would only partially reflect “the underlying truths”, due to the fact that the Popes and the Council were specifically addressing the case of married couples in those documents, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for those underlying truths in which the Popes’ and the Council’s deepest teaching would be expressed, even if it was not explicitely stated.

    In my view, such a “broad hermeneutic” of CC, AtM, GS & HV that proposes that those documents, even when they speak ONLY about “conjugal” and “marital” relations (= between spouses), actually state a doctrine that holds for all sexual relations, is just your personal opinion, which in principle could be just as legitimate as my “narrow hermeneutic” of those documents that holds strictly to their text, thereby making no inference from them about extra-marital relations. Personally, I see your “broad hermeneutic” as unwarranted.

    Fact: not one patristic, Papal or conciliar source approves of contraception in any case what-so-ever.

    Key fact: not one patristic, Papal or conciliar source DEALS with contraception outside marriage what-so-ever. Therefore we are in principle on our own on this subject, which in an ideal world should be of no concern because everybody should abstain from sexual relations outside marriage. But in the real word it happens, and I just formulated an opinion on it based on an inference from a CDF document. Which I still see as posing no conflict whatsoever with Church doctrine.

  146. @GNW_Paul

    Not that this is the only statement in your posts with which I disagree, but it was just too gross to be left uncommented:

    Extra-marital acts are NOT intrinsically different that marital acts.

    From CDF’s Persona Humana (capitals added):

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19751229_persona-humana_en.html

    the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations ESSENTIALLY contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes “the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.”

    From John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor (capitals added):

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor_en.html

    Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “INTRINSICALLY evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances.

    In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: “Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

    If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain “irremediably” evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person. “As for acts which are themselves sins (cum iam opera ipsa peccata sunt), Saint Augustine writes, like theft, fornication, blasphemy, who would dare affirm that, by doing them for good motives (causis bonis), they would no longer be sins, or, what is even more absurd, that they would be sins that are justified?”.134

    134: Contra Mendacium, VII, 18: PL 40, 528; cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones Quodlibetales, IX, q. 7, a. 2; Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1753-1755.

  147. @Johannes #145

    Key fact: not one patristic, Papal or conciliar source DEALS with contraception outside marriage what-so-ever. Therefore we are in principle on our own on this subject

    Not true at all. Multiple patristic sources deal with contraception outside of marriage and I have in fact cited a few, and yet you are ignoring them. You are formulating opinion rather that presenting theology that is in accord with the teaching of the Church Fathers.

    Futher, as a professional theologian, I find your twisting of what the “hermeneutic of discontinuity ” is all about to be quite foul and pure sophistry as you are in fact the one that is presenting a opinion that is in stark contrast with the constant teaching of the Catholic Church concerning contraception and its immorality both inside and outside of marriage.

    You are causing a rupture in the Catholic faith.

    It is not hard at all to do a google search and come up quickly with various ecclesial documents that contraception is immoral in and outside of marriage

    A Letter to Engaged Couples from the Bishops of Pennsylvania
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/LVNGTGTH.HTM
    Reason 5: “The Church is just outdated and out of touch with its thinking in this matter. Birth control made those old rules obsolete.”

    That’s just not true. In the early days of the Church, living together outside of marriage was common among the non-Christians in the Roman Empire — as was the use of artificial contraception. But these practices were devastating for individuals, families, and society. Women were treated as disposable objects, mere toys for sexual pleasure, to be discarded when passions waned. The Christian vision of marriage and family led to happiness and fulfillment for individuals and families — and a great renewal of culture and society. Far from being outmoded, then as now, the Church’s teaching is revolutionary — and it works!

    QUESTION

    are you Kasirpatiesiba from this posting http://forums.catholic.com/member.php?u=214277

    Sounds a lot like you and that individual was shot down rather forcefully over there as well.

  148. @Johannes, @Nathan, @Ray @everyone

    Merry Christmas and Peace ON Earth

    @Nathan – thanks for the attaboy

    Just back from Midnight Mass – back on 12/26

  149. @Nathan B #146

    You are formulating opinion

    That’s exactly what I said at the end of #145: “I just formulated an opinion”, and I add a purely speculative opinion at that. But I did so in my honest understanding that there is no official doctrine stated by the Church’s Magisterium in this regard, and with the firm intent of adhering to the pronouncement of the Magisterium (Pope or CDF, as I doubt an Ecumenical Council is going to be convened soon, much less to deal with this topic) whenever it comes about and whatever it defines.

    Regarding the Patristic quotes in you #108, many of them are based on the assumption that contraception is murder, which we now know it is not. And in the first quote from Hippolytus the situation of “Christian women with male concubines” very probably refers actually to marriages from a fundamental viewpoint, see below.

    From the letter of Bishops of Pennsylvania:

    In the early days of the Church, living together outside of marriage was common among the non-Christians in the Roman Empire — as was the use of artificial contraception. But these practices were devastating for individuals, families, and society. Women were treated as disposable objects, mere toys for sexual pleasure, to be discarded when passions waned.

    Sure enough:

    – living together outside of marriage is devastating, with or without artificial contraception, and

    – artificial contraconception within marriage is devastating.

    Now, in “the early days of the Church” in the Roman Empire, “living together outside of marriage” encompassed a wide range of very different situations, as can be learned from the article “The Status of Concubinage in Imperial and Ecclesial Law” by J. Patout Burns, Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School available at
    http://people.vanderbilt.edu/~james.p.burns/chroma/marriage/burnsmar.html

    Clearly some of those situations, which from a legal viewpoint were concubinage, from a fundamental viewpoint were marriage, as entering into legal concubinage was the only way to overcome some arbitrary legal prohibitions. Quoting from Professor Burns’ article:

    In a law of 336, Constantine extended the restrictions which had applied to senators and forbade men enjoying provincial or even local dignities from marrying freed women. Anyone who attempted such a union was to be exiled and his property confiscated by the state. This might have been expected to lead to an increase in the use of concubinage and subsequent legislation indicates that many of the decurial class avoided legitimate marriage.

    Church practice was ambivalent about concubinage. The conflict between Callixtus and Hippolytus indicates that some bishops were more interested in long-term relationships than in the legality of the marriage. The church could not have required that all Christian marriages conform to Roman legal standards, since slaves and some other persons were incapable of legal marriage. The Council of Toledo in 397 affirmed that a Christian man could have a concubine or a wife but not both.

    Specifically for the First Council of Toledo (397-400) involving 19 Hispanic bishops, quoting its XVII canon from
    http://www.benedictus.mgh.de/quellen/chga/chga_043t.htm

    Si quis habens uxorem fidelis, si concubinam habeat, non communicet. Ceterum is qui non habet uxorem, et pro uxore concubinam habet, a communione non repellatur. Tantum ut unius mulieris aut uxoris aut concubinę ut ei placuerit, sit coniunctione coniunctus. Alias vero vivens abiciatur, donec desinat, et ad paenitentiam revertatur.
    Rough translation:
    If a faifhful who has spouse, if has concubine, be excluded from communion. Different is who does not have spouse, and in place of spouse has concubine, not be excluded from communion. Only as to one woman either spouse or concubine as he pleases, be he united. But he who lives otherwise be cast, till may cease, and let him return unto penitence.

    And no, I am not Kasirpatiesiba. And to save you the trouble to shot me down, my next post will be the very last one I ever make in this site.

  150. @Nathan B #146

    You are formulating opinion

    That’s exactly what I said at the end of #145: “I just formulated an opinion”, and I add a purely speculative opinion at that. But I did so in my honest understanding that there is no official doctrine stated by the Church’s Magisterium in this regard, and with the firm intent of adhering to the pronouncement of the Magisterium (Pope or CDF, as I doubt an Ecumenical Council is going to be convened soon, much less to deal with this topic) whenever it comes about and whatever it defines.

    Regarding the Patristic quotes in you #108, many of them are based on the assumption that contraception is murder, which we now know it is not. And in the first quote from Hippolytus the situation of “Christian women with male concubines” very probably refers actually to marriages from a fundamental viewpoint, see below.

    From the letter of Bishops of Pennsylvania:

    In the early days of the Church, living together outside of marriage was common among the non-Christians in the Roman Empire — as was the use of artificial contraception. But these practices were devastating for individuals, families, and society. Women were treated as disposable objects, mere toys for sexual pleasure, to be discarded when passions waned.

    Sure enough:

    – living together outside of marriage is devastating, with or without artificial contraception, and

    – artificial contraconception within marriage is devastating.

    Now, in “the early days of the Church” in the Roman Empire, “living together outside of marriage” encompassed a wide range of very different situations, as can be learned from the article “The Status of Concubinage in Imperial and Ecclesial Law” by J. Patout Burns, Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School available at
    http://people.vanderbilt.edu/~james.p.burns/chroma/marriage/burnsmar.html

    Clearly some of those situations, which from a legal viewpoint were concubinage, from a fundamental viewpoint were marriage, as entering into legal concubinage was the only way to overcome some arbitrary legal prohibitions. Quoting from Professor Burns’ article:

    In a law of 336, Constantine extended the restrictions which had applied to senators and forbade men enjoying provincial or even local dignities from marrying freed women. Anyone who attempted such a union was to be exiled and his property confiscated by the state. This might have been expected to lead to an increase in the use of concubinage and subsequent legislation indicates that many of the decurial class avoided legitimate marriage.

    Church practice was ambivalent about concubinage. The conflict between Callixtus and Hippolytus indicates that some bishops were more interested in long-term relationships than in the legality of the marriage. The church could not have required that all Christian marriages conform to Roman legal standards, since slaves and some other persons were incapable of legal marriage. The Council of Toledo in 397 affirmed that a Christian man could have a concubine or a wife but not both.

    Specifically for the First Council of Toledo (397-400) involving 19 Hispanic bishops, quoting its XVII canon from
    http://www.benedictus.mgh.de/quellen/chga/chga_043t.htm

    Si quis habens uxorem fidelis, si concubinam habeat, non communicet. Ceterum is qui non habet uxorem, et pro uxore concubinam habet, a communione non repellatur. Tantum ut unius mulieris aut uxoris aut concubinę ut ei placuerit, sit coniunctione coniunctus. Alias vero vivens abiciatur, donec desinat, et ad paenitentiam revertatur.
    Rough translation:
    If a faifhful who has spouse, if has concubine, be excluded from communion. Different is who does not have spouse, and in place of spouse has concubine, not be excluded from communion. Only as to one woman either spouse or concubine as he pleases, be he united. But he who lives otherwise be cast, till may cease, and let him return unto penitence.

    And no, I am not Kasirpatiesiba. And to save you the trouble to shot me down “as well”, my next post will be the very last one I ever make in this site.

  151. Sorry for my previous duplicate comment.

    This, my last comment, has nothing to do with my purely speculative opinion that contraception in relations outside marriage may not add to the total sinfulness of the act and may well marginally decrease it. That could be wholly wrong.

    What I just want to point out is my clear and sincere perception that GNW Paul’s position that “extra-marital acts are NOT intrinsically different that marital acts” is in direct and grave conflict with official doctrine of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as per the texts of CDF’s “Persona Humana” and John Paul II’s “Veritatis Splendor” that I quoted in the comment that is still awaiting moderation.

    That conflict is one of the reasons why I see the “broad hermeneutic” of CC, AtM, GS & HV as unwarranted, as I stated in #145. The other reason is that the straight reading of the documents themselves does not support the view that the Popes/Concil implicitely state that their teachings apply to all sexual relations.

    And it is precisely on the base of the essential, intrinsic difference between marital and extra-marital acts that I hold my “narrow hermeneutic” of those documents whereby I make no inference from their teachings – which always refer to conjugal relations – to the case of extra-marital relations. Which has absolutely nothing to do with my purely speculative position mentioned above. That position could be wholly wrong for many other reasons, but I still hold that a “narrow hermeneutic” of CC, AtM, GS & HV which holds strictly to their text is the correct interpretation of those documents.

    Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

  152. @Nathan B #108

    I found it necessary to make this only exception to my commitment to disappear from this site because I see that a further comment on the Patristic quotes in #108 is needed about the the “drugs of sterility”, “medicines of sterility”, “sterility drinks” and “potions” mentioned by the Fathers.

    According to the Greek physician of the 1st/2nd century Soranus of Ephesus, the most popular and effective herb used for that potions was silphium. It was so popular that Cyrene had an economy based almost entirely on its production and export, and for centuries the city’s coins carried the image of the plant, which was its distinctive symbol. Actually it was so popular that by the fourth century had become extinct. From Soranus’ prescription that women should drink the juice of silphium once a month, and moreover his explicite statement that the juice “not only prevents conception but also destroys any already existing” (1), clearly the drink was an abortifacient, inhibiting implantation. As one source puts it: “if taken as ancient writers claimed, silphium might have worked as a monthly morning-after pill.” (2) This is supported by modern studies of herbs of the same genus Ferula, which were found to inhibit implantation, as were other plants mentioned by Soranus. (1)

    Therefore it is clear that the “drugs of sterility” condemned by the Fathers were not only contraceptives but downright abortives, and moreover that the fact was widely known at that time.

    (1) John M. Riddle 1999 – Eve’s herbs: a history of contraception and abortion in the West

    (2) http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2676/did-the-ancient-romans-use-a-natural-herb-for-birth-control

  153. I must offer a retraction and sincere apology to GNW Paul for some statements I made in #145:

    Similarly, you incorrectly perceive that the texts of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (CC), Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives (AtM), Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (HV) are just applications of broader principles to specific cases, and then incorrectly construct those broader principles, “the underlying truths”.

    Thus you propose, in what could be termed a “broad hermeneutic”, a “broad-wise” extrapolation from the texts of those documents. Paraphrasing Benedict XVI: precisely because the texts would only partially reflect “the underlying truths”, due to the fact that the Popes and the Council were specifically addressing the case of married couples in those documents, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for those underlying truths in which the Popes’ and the Council’s deepest teaching would be expressed, even if it was not explicitely stated.

    In my view, such a “broad hermeneutic” of CC, AtM, GS & HV that proposes that those documents, even when they speak ONLY about “conjugal” and “marital” relations (= between spouses), actually state a doctrine that holds for all sexual relations, is just your personal opinion, which in principle could be just as legitimate as my “narrow hermeneutic” of those documents that holds strictly to their text, thereby making no inference from them about extra-marital relations. Personally, I see your “broad hermeneutic” as unwarranted.

    Specifically:

    – That “the texts of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (CC), Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives (AtM), Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (HV) are just applications of broader principles to specific cases” is definitely NOT Paul’s perception, but a direct and necessary consequence of adhering to St Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine on the subject.

    – The mentioned “broader principles”, “the underlying truths”, are definitely NOT Paul’s construction, but straight St Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine on the subject, which is based on St Augustine’s and followed by most (RC) orthodox moral theologians.

    – The ““broad hermeneutic” of CC, AtM, GS & HV that proposes that those documents, even when they speak ONLY about “conjugal” and “marital” relations (= between spouses), actually state a doctrine that holds for all sexual relations”, is definitely NOT Paul’s personal opinion, but a direct and necessary consequence of adhering to St Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine on the subject. And as such, it is definitely NOT unwarranted.

    The following is the relevant St Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine (which somewhat surprisingly was not quoted before in this thread):

    Summa Theologica – II – II – Question 154
    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/SS/SS154.html
    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3154.htm

    Art. 1
    In this way, as hindering the begetting of children, there is the “vice against nature,” which attaches to every venereal act from which generation cannot follow;

    Art. 12
    On the contrary, Augustine says (De adult. conjug. [*The quotation is from Cap. Adulterii xxxii, qu. 7. Cf. Augustine, De Bono Conjugali, viii.]) that “of all these,” namely the sins belonging to lust, “that which is against nature is the worst.”

    I answer that, In every genus, worst of all is the corruption of the principle on which the rest depend. Now the principles of reason are those things that are according to nature, because reason presupposes things as determined by nature, before disposing of other things according as it is fitting. This may be observed both in speculative and in practical matters. Wherefore just as in speculative matters the most grievous and shameful error is that which is about things the knowledge of which is naturally bestowed on man, so in matters of action it is most grave and shameful to act against things as determined by nature. Therefore, since by the unnatural vices man transgresses that which has been determined by nature with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter this sin is gravest of all. After it comes incest, which, as stated above (Article [9]), is contrary to the natural respect which we owe persons related to us.

    With regard to the other species of lust they imply a transgression merely of that which is determined by right reason, on the presupposition, however, of natural principles. Now it is more against reason to make use of the venereal act not only with prejudice to the future offspring, but also so as to injure another person besides. Wherefore simple fornication, which is committed without injustice to another person, is the least grave among the species of lust. Then, it is a greater injustice to have intercourse with a woman who is subject to another’s authority as regards the act of generation, than as regards merely her guardianship. Wherefore adultery is more grievous than seduction. And both of these are aggravated by the use of violence. Hence rape of a virgin is graver than seduction, and rape of a wife than adultery.

    Reply to Objection 4: Gravity of a sin depends more on the abuse of a thing than on the omission of the right use. Wherefore among sins against nature, the lowest place belongs to the sin of uncleanness, which consists in the mere omission of copulation with another. While the most grievous is the sin of bestiality, because use of the due species is not observed. Hence a gloss on Gn. 37:2, “He accused his brethren of a most wicked crime,” says that “they copulated with cattle.” After this comes the sin of sodomy, because use of the right sex is not observed. Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the “vas” than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances.

    Thus according to St Thomas Aquinas the scale of sins according to their gravity is:

    *theft

    *lust
    simple fornication
    seduction -> rape
    adultery -> rape
    incest
    vice against nature / unnatural vice, within which there are:
    – uncleannes (masturbation)
    — contraception
    — heterosexual sodomy (in vase indebito)
    – homosexual sodomy
    – bestiality

    *murder

    Notice that contraception and heterosexual sodomy within “vice against nature” apply to both marital and extra-marital relations. Thus St Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine on this issue is that contraception with wife is a graver sin than rape without contraception and also a graver sin than incest without contraception. This concept could have a tremendous positive impact in practice if put to work for pastoral purposes. Imagine a big poster at the entrance of every church saying:

    Important notice:

    For men: using a condom is a graver sin than having non-contracepted sex with your mother or daughter.

    For women: taking the pill is a graver sin than having non-contracepted sex with your father or son.

    You have been warned.

    Finally, I apologize to all readers of CtC for presenting here personal speculative opinions that were at odds with generally accepted doctrine, as this is not the appropriate place for that. Please pray for me.

  154. @Johannes and all others

    Since Johannes accuses me of several serious errors I don’t think it is too overbearing of me to reply although he has claimed to have made his last post. I will try to limit myself to making my own case on not directly attacking Johannes’ position.

    First, I feel it necessary to point out that my main focus up to this point has been to point out the errors in Johannes’ posts. I have not up to now made any effort to build a positive proof that the Catholic Church has always and everywhere taught that contraception is wrong both within the marital covenant and in extramarital circumstances as well. Nor will I attempt to build a ‘proof’ now. What I will do is show that my position is certainly well within the bounds with what has been traditionally considered Catholic Doctrine on contraception.

    Johannes’ #146 I will respond to directly because this is probably the most central point of disagreement and he seems to be accusing me of actual heresy or at least something close to it.

    The point of contention is that Johannes claims that contraception is irrelevant or even preferable in non-conjugal or extra-marital sexual acts because

    the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations ESSENTIALLY contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes “the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Persona Humana Section X Persona Humana as quoted by Johannes in #145

    Johannes’ position is that since these acts ESSENTIALLY contradict….. that they are no longer akin to conjugal or marital acts and have become something entirely different. Thus he feels justified in claiming that the Church doesn’t and never has taught anything regarding contraception outside of marriage.

    I absolutely agree that adultery, fornication, perversion, and masturbation essentially contradict the finality of the faculty. I don’t understand how they show that my statement:

    Extra-marital acts are NOT intrinsically different that marital acts.

    is “Gross” which I take to be implying that Johannes thinks the statement heretical. I used the word “intrinsically.” Perhaps I should have used the word “inherrently”. But I would point out that “essentially contradict” is not the same thing as “intrinsically of an entirely different nature.” My point is that extra-marital acts and marital acts are still the same act and although extra-marital acts do “essentially contradict the finality of the faculty” it is still the same Faculty. It is an essentially disordered or deficient use of the faculty, but the same faculty. Johannes would have us accept his over-drawn distinction that makes extra-marital use of the sexual faculty something other than a use of the sexual faculty.

    Johannes next quote in #146 deals with “intrinsically evil acts” which happens to use the same word but in a different context. I never claimed that adultery, fornication or any other extra-marital (non-conjugal) sexual act were not intrinsically evil. The evil though is the misuse of the act, not the act itself.

    What is pretty amusing is that that is a perfect section to quote regarding Contraception which is INTRINSICALLY EVIL and that whole section applies to contraception both within and outside of marriage.

    So while I’ll admit that I’m not a professional theologian or philosopher, and I may not have used the correct terminology, I don’t think Johannes proves anything at all with these quotes.

    A defense of my position that the Church has held the INTRINSIC EVIL of Contraception

    Again, I’m not going to try to ‘prove’ absolutely that this is irreformable (although I do believe that it is) rather I intend to show definitely that to believe that it is irreformable and that contraception has been considered intrinsically evil in every case since the foundation of the Church is an extremely reasonable position. To accuse me of a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” and twisting Humanae Vitae is quite unreasonable.

    St. Thomas is quite clear in the Summa Theologica:

    I answer that As stated above (Question 153, Article 3), the sin of lust consists in seeking venereal pleasure not in accordance with right reason. This may happen in two ways. First, in respect of the matter wherein this pleasure is sought; secondly, when, whereas there is due matter, other due circumstances are not observed. And since a circumstance, as such, does not specify a moral act, whose species is derived from its object which is also its matter, it follows that the species of lust must be assigned with respect to its matter or object.

    Now this same matter may be discordant with right reason in two ways. First, because it is inconsistent with the end of the venereal act. On this way, as hindering the begetting of children, there is the “vice against nature,” which attaches to every venereal act from which generation cannot follow; and, as hindering the due upbringing and advancement of the child when born, there is “simple fornication,” which is the union of an unmarried man with an unmarried woman. Secondly, the matter wherein the venereal act is consummated may be discordant with right reason in relation to other persons; and this in two ways. First, with regard to the woman, with whom a man has connection, by reason of due honor not being paid to her; and thus there is “incest,” which consists in the misuse of a woman who is related by consanguinity or affinity. Secondly, with regard to the person under whose authority the woman is placed: and if she be under the authority of a husband, it is “adultery,” if under the authority of her father, it is “seduction,” in the absence of violence, and “rape” if violence be employed.

    These species are differentiated on the part of the woman rather than of the man, because in the venereal act the woman is passive and is by way of matter, whereas the man is by way of agent; and it has been stated above (Objection 1) that the aforesaid species are assigned with regard to a difference of matter. St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica II, II, 154 Article 1

    I won’t claim to be capable grasping every nuance that St. Thomas Aquinas articulates here, but it is very clear that this supports my position. First St. Thomas does not talk about conjugal or marital acts, he is speaking about venereal acts and he discusses the deformities and species of lust both within matrimony and without in the same terms. Clearly to St. Thomas there are not two categories – conjugal acts and other – there is only one category, venereal acts which may be properly ordered to right reason or not. Secondly, St. Thomas describe two separate ways in which the Matter of the venereal act may be discordant to right reason

    as hindering the begetting of children, there is the “vice against nature,” which attaches to every venereal act from which generation cannot follow

    and

    “as hindering the due upbringing and advancement of the child when born, there is “simple fornication,”

    so clearly St. Thomas considers contraception sinful and a “vice against nature” in and of itself, separately from “simple fornication.”

    Also helpful is a quote from Article 11 of the same section:

    As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called “the unnatural vice.” This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of “uncleanness” which some call “effeminacy.” Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called “bestiality.” Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Romans 1:27): and this is called the “vice of sodomy.” Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica II, II, 154 Article 11

    So St. Thomas classifies contraception (“not observing the natural manner of copulation”) in the same category as sodomy, homosexuality, bestiality and masturbation. Contraception is an “unnatural act” whether it occurs in matrimony or during fornication.

    Now just to prove that I am not being anachronistic in interpreting St. Thomas this way here are two quotes from actual scholars.

    This tradition teaches now, and has always taught, that union of man and woman in marriage is good, indeed holy. It teaches now, and has always taught, that the virtue of chastity is necessary for all persons, male and female, married and unmarried, so that they might fully have freedom of self-possession and not be controlled by unworthy sexual desire. It teaches now, and has always taught, that some specific sorts of sexual activity – fornication, adultery, contraception, and sodomy, for instance – are simply incompatible with the way of life appropriate for a person who has become on body with Christ through baptism, and whose body is a living tabernacle of God.Catholic Sexual Ethics, By Rev. Ronal Lawler O.F.M. Cap., Joseph Boyle Jr., and William E. May, Page 46

    And Another from the same source:

    Bestiality, sodomy, contraceptive intercourse, and other forms of “unnatural sex” were judged to be wrongful in a special way insofar as they violated the order God had called into being by making humankind a species sexually differentiated into male and female and therefore capable of giving life to new human beings through acts of sexual intercourse. These sins were judged to be unnatural in a stronger sense than other sins, including other sexual sins. All evil actions were to be unnatural insofar as they are contrary to the order of right reason, that is, to the demands of rationally ordered activity which properly respects the good of human nature. But unlike other sins, these particular sexual sins were held to be unnatural in a further sense, since they violated the most basic, God-given purpose of human sexuality. For this reason they were held to be more seriously wrong than acts of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. These latter sins too were judged to be gravely sinful because such acts as adultery and fornication contradicted both God’s divine law and the requirement of right reason. But sins of sodomy and the like were judged to be more gravely sinful because their peculiar unnaturalness violated divine and natural law in a radical way.Catholic Sexual Ethics, By Rev. Ronal Lawler O.F.M. Cap., Joseph Boyle Jr., and William E. May, Page 58

    The point being that I think I can safely say that my understanding of this subject is firmly within the traditional Catholic understanding. There certainly may be theologians that argue that this is not irreformable tradition, but I think few would argue that it isn’t in line with many, many Saints and Doctors of the Church.

    Now this a small bit of what both Nathan and I have been suggesting by going deeper than Humanae Vitae and Casti Canubi or any of the other modern documents. As Nathan suggested, one must read those documents while considering the SPECIFIC DEBATE they were responding to, which was the use of contraception in conjugal acts. Then, as I was alluding to and I am sure Nathan also meant, try to understand and apply the principles employed by HV and CC. Further, I meant it is necessary to actually read and follow the footnotes and references to the encyclicals and try to understand the Church’s whole tradition. Once one makes some effort in that direction the fallacy of drawing a categorical distinction between conjugal and non-conjugal will easily be exposed.

  155. @GNW_Paul #154

    Paul, as you can now see, I had submitted yesterday a retraction and apology after having found myself Aquinas’ question 154. I hereby ask Tim Troutman to confirm that he had delayed the appearance of that comment of mine in order to have my authorization to remove a somewhat inconvenient expression illustrating the consequence of Aquinas’ teaching.

    BTW, my use of “gross” was wrong, out of a mistaken notion of its English meaning. Please excuse me as it is not my mother tongue.

    Paul, having surveyed the coverage of the issue on several blogs, I can state that your position is currently the safest and most solid in RC moral theology. I again apologize for having presented at this forum a speculative personal opinion that is at odds with a position of that characteristics, even when I did not know that at that time, as this is not the place for discussing such opinions.

  156. Johannes is right, I had delayed some of his comments while waiting for permission to edit one line (and also because of the holiday).

    And Johannes – it is very easy to forget that you’re not a native English speaker!

  157. Paul,

    The bolded excerpt from Aquinas is what I was touching on as well when I stated that whether or not the people engaging in contracepted sex are married is irrelevant when it comes to the offense against the natural order.

    Thanks for that. I’ll say with you that it doesn’t “prove” anything, but it certainly seems to support my argument (and yours).

  158. @Johannes

    Thanks Man. I really don’t know what to say. I

    I think it was a helpful discussion. It pushed me to work harder at formulating arguments logically. It also demonstrates how much of a hack I am when it comes to precise terms. It got me to actually try to read the Summa, which I’ve concluded I want to do now. I need to figure out all these matter, species, object, faculty terms :( . Can anyone recommend a decent book that is available at a reasonable price as a guide to reading Aquinas?

    @everyone
    Thanks for a great discussion. I learned from all of you.

  159. @Johannes

    Thanks also for explaining the “gross” confusion. I didn’t even consider that you might be using the word on the technical sense and not as slang. Your english is excellent.

    God Bless

  160. Given all the trouble I have already caused, I think it would be useful to share this summary of the subject.

    Current positions on the issue of contraception OUTSIDE marriage are divided into two primary camps:

    1. Thomist: with St Thomas Aquinas, they include contraception outside marriage in “vice against nature”.

    2. Alternative: at odds with St Thomas, they do not include contraception outside marriage in “vice against nature”. (E.g. my personal speculative position).

    Clearly the names are just my own invention, in order not to refer to camps 1 and 2 and lines 1.1 and 1.2. And my calling the first camp “Thomist” does not mean in the least that the position originated with St Thomas, who just presented it clearly and systematically, as support for that position can be traced back to Church Fathers as per Nathan B.’s #108 and Aquinas’ own mention of St Augustine.

    The Thomist camp is in turn divided into two lines or sub-camps:

    1.1. Hardline Thomist: the use of condom significantly increases the total sinfulness of an extra-marital relation no matter whether it is done for prophylactic or contraceptive purposes, and no matter the risk of contagion.

    1.2. Moderate Thomist: in the case of an extra-marital relation in which there is NO risk of contagion, the use of condom significantly increases the total sinfulness of the act as it turns it from fornication/adultery into vice against nature.

    In the case of an extra-marital relation in which there IS risk of contagion, then the decision to use a condom to prevent contagion is a (totally insufficient) step in the right direction, because a homicidal/suicidal fornication/adultery is a worse sin than vice against nature. That is, the sin involved in the possible courses of actions GIVEN the decision to fornicate/commit adultery are:

    a. not use condom: grave sin against 5th commandment (murder/suicide) plus grave sin against 6th commandment (fornication/adultery);

    b. use condom: graver sin against 6th commandment (vice against nature).

    The total sinfulness of course a is greater than that of course b, since murder/suicide is a graver sin than all kinds of lust, including vice against nature.

    These are some of the common features of both lines of the Thomist camp:

    First, this camp proposes a “broad hermeneutic” (certainly not unwarranted and much less of discontinuity, the last adjective I never applied to it) of:

    – Gen 38:8-10: even when Onan practiced contraception with his wife (more exactly, his wife-in-levirate-law), he would have offended the Lord just the same if he had practiced contraception with a prostitute or someone else’s wife.

    – Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (CC), Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives (AtM), Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (HV): even when the documents speak only about “conjugal” and “marital” relations (= between spouses), they actually state a doctrine that holds for all sexual relations.

    Secondly, most (and possibly all) people in both lines of this camp disagree with original St Thomas’ teaching regarding rape, as the current view is that in the case of rape it is thouroughly legitimate for the victim to procure contraception by any non-abortive means, as rape cannot be regarded as a human sexual act. Thus, regarding this key statement of Humanae Vitae:

    Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after the conjugal act (“coniugale commercium” / “atto coniugale”), is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.

    while both lines of the Thomist camp view this teaching as applying also to voluntary extra-marital acts, they also hold that it does not apply to rape, so that a rape victim can licitly take actions inteded to prevent procreation either:

    – before the act: taking contraceptives in war scenarios in foresight of the possibility of being raped, or
    – at the moment of the act: placing a wall (condom) between her sexual organs and the attacker’s, just as she would have placed a wall between their persons if it had been possible, and alternatively getting away from the attacker during the act if she can, in which case she cannot possibly be accused of commiting coitus interruptus, or
    – after the act: if none of the above was possible, resorting to a douche.

    Thus, given the set of the three basic kinds of physical sexual acts:

    physical sexual acts = {unvoluntary (rape), voluntary extra-marital (fornication/adultery), marital}

    the Thomist camp primarily groups them into {rape} on one side and {voluntary extra-marital, marital} on the other.

    Examples of holders of the “Moderate Thomist” position (“*” = they explicitely rejected the Alternative position) and references:

    – The Pope (possibly, not surely).
    – Cardinal Godfried Danneels, at that time archbishop of Brussels.
    – Msgr. Juan Antonio Reig Pla, currently Bishop of Alcalá de Henares (Spain), president since 1999 of the Subcommision for the Family and Defense of Life, and member of the Commision for the Doctrine of Faith, of the Spanish Conference of Bishops.
    * Carlos Simon (Opus Dei priest), undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
    – Angel Rodriguez Luño (Opus Dei priest), professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

    FYI, in the Spanish Catholic blogosphere holders of the Hardline Thomist view the Moderate Thomist position as downright wrong, amounting to consequentialism, which is condemned in Veritatis Splendor. E.g. one blogger asked Carlos Simon to resign immediately after his Nov 22 statement. And when one extremely orthodox priest described the Moderate Thomist position as “not totally safe”, he was criticized as being too soft on it.

    Finally, for completeness’ sake, a description of the Alternative position, NOT to defend it:

    It proposes a “narrow hermeneutic” of:

    – Gen 38:8-10: from the fact that Onan’s practice of contraception with his wife (more exactly, his wife-in-levirate-law) offended the Lord we cannot infer that the practice of contraception with e.g. someone else’s wife also does. Would the Lord have similarly killed King David if he had practiced contraception with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11)?

    – Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (CC), Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives (AtM), Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes (GS) and Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (HV): from the documents’ teaching about “conjugal” and “marital” relations (= between spouses) we cannot infer that the teaching also applies to extra-marital relations.

    And given the set of the three basic kinds of physical sexual acts:

    physical sexual acts = {unvoluntary (rape), voluntary extra-marital (fornication/adultery), marital}

    the Alternative camp primarily groups them into {rape, voluntary extra-marital} on one side and {marital} on the other.

    Examples of holders of the Alternative position:

    – Martin Rhonheimer (Opus Dei priest), professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

    http://www.osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/7267/Pope-Benedicts-intent-with-condom-remark.aspx

    “On the other hand, I consider that a man who at least cares that his occasional female sexual partner not become pregnant acts more responsibly — or less irresponsibly — than a man who does not care about possibly destroying a girl’s entire life; I am thinking of the man who prefers to maximize his pleasure and thus insists on having sex without using condoms. To apply the Church’s teaching on contraception, which is a teaching about marital love, to such cases, in my view leads to counterintuitive conclusions.”

    – Francisco José Ramiro (Opus Dei priest), Professor of Moral Theology and Bioethics at the Instituto Superior de Teología of the Canary Islands.

    «¿Es mejor o peor que se dé lugar a la concepción de unos niños fuera del ámbito matrimonial? A mí me parece que mejor no sean concebidos. En este sentido, y en el de la no transmisión de una enfermedad es la situación en la que puede hacer menos daño utilizar un preservativo que no utilizarlo».

    My translation: «Is it better or worse to allow the conception of some children outside the environment of marriage? To me it seems better that they be not conceived. In this sense, and in that of not transmitting an illness is the situation in which it can do less damage to use a condom than not to use it.»

  161. @GNW Paul

    Can anyone recommend a decent book that is available at a reasonable price as a guide to reading Aquinas?

    These are for free:

    First from a first-class Thomist theologian, possibly the best of the XX century:

    Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. “Reality—A Synthesis Of Thomistic Thought”. Available at:

    http://www.thesumma.info/
    index at: http://www.thesumma.info/reality/index.php
    also at: http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/REALITY.HTM

    Second from a not so famous author, but still, according to some Dominicans, “the most remarkable and successful attempt to put into modern English for a lay audience the essential arguments and insights of Aquinas’ greatest work”

    Walter Farrell, O.P., “A Companion to the Summa”.

    http://www.domcentral.org/farrell/companion/default.htm

  162. GNW – you might also check out Brian Davies’ – the Thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and Sertillanges’ Foundation of Thomistic Philosophy which is available free on PDF (out of print) here. Its a great one. I haven’t read the ones Johannes mentioned though.

  163. The Church teaches against 1) use of contraception, 2) premarital sex, and 3) homosexual acts.

    Somebody told me that nothing has been taught ‘infallibly’ with regard to these 3 things, and I was surprised to hear this. Have these three teachings been taught infallibly; are they irreversible? (I am seeing online, that some or all of these are taught infallibly by ‘ordinary and universal Magisterium’- can you tell me what this is?) I’d appreciate it a bunch if you could explain why they are (or are not) infallible teachings. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  164. Mark @ 163

    For #1 read- Humanae Vitae.. Further, it was the unanimous teaching of all Christian traditions for over 1900 years. Christians understood contraception to be evil like murder was evil. No infallible teaching to “clear things up” needed until 1960 when contraception was accepted by not only pagans but now protestants.

    For #2- Ten Commandments; The Gospels (“if you look after a woman”); this teaching can be understood prima facie from scripture like murder. #3 is relevant to #2 since both represent a disordering of human sexuality.

    For #3- Natural Law- the immorality of homosexual acts is against Natural Law or the revelation of God in nature. The Church’s stance to the person struggling with homosexual attraction has been one of mercy as modern science has revealed the psychological and physiological difficulty of this particular deviance. Nonetheless, the Church has and will always proclaim the inherent disorderedness of homosexual acts. Further, the Theology of The Body by Pope John Paul II raises the dignity of human sexuality and points to the objectification of the other in all homosexual acts since it can be neither (1) unitive or (2) procreative but only a means to achieve sexual pleasure for oneself void of the gift of “self-donation”. Go here for Theology of the Body.

    Nonetheless, ALL of these teaching are in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    I hope this helps.

  165. It is an error to think that the infallible teachings are the only ones you have to pay attention to. They are the minimum but we should not strive for the minimum. What would you say to someone who wanted to get married and asked what is the minimum time he had to spend with his wife to be validly married? There is something wrong there. It is the same with Catholics who only want to accept the infallible definitions. The question should not be whether it is infallible. The question should be whether it is better than what I would come up with on my own. Once you see that the well of Catholic tradition gives you water more pure than you can find anywhere else then you want to drink your fill. Minimums don’t come into play.

    Infallibility was not defined until the 19th century for a reason. It is needed to answer some of the more modern philosophical objections. It is not needed in such a precise form for much else. People understood that things the church had always and everywhere taught firmly were never going to change. The 3 things you mentioned fall into that category. They are not minor teachings. They are not new teachings. That is what the ‘ordinary and universal Magisterium’ means. It means there is not one document we believe to be infallible that has this teaching. It is just part of the received moral wisdom of the church. If it was wrong the Holy Spirit would have corrected the church long ago.

  166. Well, the reason I ask is this: I went to a talk where there was a priest who was telling the people to think about issues like 1, 2, and 3. He was speaking of them as though they were reversible teachings of the Church. And he was trying to give reasons why the Church might be wrong in these areas.

    I actually think that the Church is right in all these areas, I was just curious as to the nature of the Church’s teaching on these matters.

    Mark

  167. So, Randy, you are saying that these 3 teachings are all infallibly taught by the Church, through, ‘Ordinary and Universal Magisterium’?

    Thanks for answering my question.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  168. I love Dr. Smith’s way of communicating morality in simple to understand terms.

    A friend asked a challenging question today that I’d love to get some Catholic perspective on…

    If your daughter found herself in an unplanned pregnancy and after weeks of talking and praying with you decided to go against your wishes and schedule an abortion, is it ever licit to advise her toward a “better” abortion clinic? Assume there are two places to procure an abortion near you — a dirty abortion clinic and a pristine hospital. Could one licitly advise their daughter toward the hospital over the dirty clinic? How about if you found out she scheduled an appointment at the dirty clinic. Could you recommend she change to the hospital?

    Would it ever be licit to drive or accompany her to the abortion clinic (or hospital)?

    I’d appreciate citing any Church documents that validate your position.

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