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.