Sunday, November 21, 2010


First, I was given the great privilege of recording the official audio version of the Holy Father's new book, Light of the World as published by Ignatius Press, which can be ordered on audio CD or downloaded here.

And I said two weeks ago to Jim Morlino, my co-reader for the audio book, "The Pope's comments about condoms will be the comments the press will run with." It did not take much prophetic insight to predict that.

The situation is simple: All the Holy Father is saying is that if a man who is steeped in sin to begin with and is having sex for reasons contrary to God's will and the Natural Law, then if this particular man begins to have a pang of conscience that says, "Perhaps getting physical pleasure is not what this is all about. Perhaps I should be concerned about my partner here. Maybe I should use a condom so as to protect my partner from the ravages of disease," this is clearly (as charity and common sense will tell you) a movement in the right direction.

Is the Pope saying the use of artificial birth control is virtuous? No.

Is the Pope saying that if you use a condom you are allowed to have promiscuous sex? No.

Is the Pope saying that it's better to be sexually active and use condoms than it is to abstain? No.

All the Pope is saying is that in this particular case, condom use, subjectively speaking, is a movement in the right direction for THIS PARTICULAR MAN. It is still a sinful act, objectively speaking, but it may indicate the work of God's grace in the heart of the sinner.

Likewise, if a prostitue begins to fall in love with her john, she is still a sinful prostitute, but if feelings of tenderness start to enter the equation, it is a movement in the right direction, and may lead her to repentance.

If a thief decides to steal less frequently from here on out, he is still sinning when stealing, but if he is trying to lessen the harm he is causing, he is moving in the right direction.

It's obvious. It's simple. But no one will get it. The noise will drown out the common sense. The book will be discussed by those who will never read it. The quote will be dissected by those who have never heard it. Judgment will be rendered by the right wingers who hate the Pope for being "liberal" and by the left wingers who hate the Pope for being "traditional". The circus will continue.

And what is lost in all of this is the concern for souls expressed by a shepherd of souls.


The Unknown Poet said...

John C. Hathaway, OCDS comments on Facebook regarding this:

"We must be careful about confusing four closely related issues: the objective sinfulness of a particular act (while mortal and venial are the most important distinction, there are still many degrees in each category); the concept of intrinsic evil; the culpability of a particular person for a particular act which is objectively sinful; and the spiritual or moral development of a particular soul."

The Unknown Poet said...

He continues: "Participation in an intrinsically evil act may not be mortally sinful for a particular person. For example: *if* the War in Iraq is unjust, then to participate in that war is to participate in an act of evil. Yet a person who sincerely believes the war to be just does not commit mortal sin, and may actually be performing an act of virtue."

Dr. Eric said...

On one hand, I wish the Holy Father would stop with the theological nuances as practically no one gets the fact that he speaks of very explicit circumstances in the quotes taken put of context. On the other hand I know it is his job to teach us. On the third hand, no matter what the Holy Father says, the heterodox on the left and the right will take his quote out of context and try to use it against him.

The Unknown Poet said...

But there is nothing nuanced about saying what the Holy Father said. It's hardly even theology. It's a statement of common sense.