Vatican's Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ on What the Pope Actually Said Concerning Condoms
The pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the church
'The pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality. The pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the church. It should therefore be clear that the condom is not the solution to the problem.In this statement, the pope's reasoning certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary shift.'
Fr. Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Vatican Press Office.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Fr Father Federico Lombardi, SJ is the head of the Press Office of the Holy See. He has issued a formal statement clarifying a book to be released entitled "Light of the World." The book is an interview with Pope Benedict XVI which was conducted by Peter Seewald.
Any quotations from the book were to have been embargoed until its release on Wednesday. Unfortunately, portions of a particular hypothetical question and response concerning Aids and the use of a condom by a male prostitute, were improperly released.
The out of context quotations, in Italian, were released. They have become fodder for a steady stream of inaccurate reports throughout the day on Sunday intimating that the Church has somehow changed its teaching. This is simply not true. The Press Secretary released this statement on Sunday:
Statement of Fr Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Vatican Press Office:
"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."
"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."
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, condom use, sexuality, magisterium, Holy See, Humanae Vitae
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