Jimmy Akin promised to follow up his analysis yesterday on what the Pope actually said on the subject of condoms and he has done so in an excellent follow up post “Understanding the Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms“.
I expect the media to get what the Pope has said wrong and they never disappoint. Though while it seems that almost all Catholic bloggers understood the nuance of the Pope’s comment this can not be said for all commenters who seemed to be annoyed that the Pope has made some concession. This idea starts from an idea about a “ban on condoms” as if condoms in and of themselves are gravely evil. If I were to take a condom and make a balloon animal out of it I would incur no sin other than perhaps bad taste. In fact as I have joked before I could pretty much wear a condom anytime I want except for during sex with my wife. So if you want to wear a condom – go ahead, except during the marital act. What makes the use of a condom gravely sinful is when it is used as a device to prevent conception and frustrates the marital act. The example the Pope gave of a homosexual prostitute was in a situation where conception was not possible and the condom could not be contraceptive.
One thing I have come to love about the Church is that it is never just arbitrary, that her moral theology is not only understandable – but that it’s principles can be applied consistently. The Church condemns IVF because it removes the unitive aspect of sex from procreation in the marital act. The Church condemns contraception because it removes the procreative aspect from the marital act. Since the Church understands marriage it is able to see the two-fold nature of the marital act and to apply that understanding in her moral theology. It is only the Church that is consistent and everybody else inconsistent. There are no “Gotchas” to find in her moral theology. In comparison everywhere else you look in the world you see inconsistency galore.
One aspect about this story that is getting no coverage is that we are getting a book like this in the first place. A sitting Pope sitting down with a journalist and not limiting any questions asked. Sure he is comfortable in his long relationship with Peter Seewald, but Seewald is willing to ask the questions other people would be interested in having asked. The Pope being the brilliant theologian that he is does not give pat answers. The Pope is not concerned with public relations and acting as a spin doctors on his answers to reduce any possible misinterpretations. The Pope thinks deeply on subjects and then gives us his answer where he would trust us with the truth. The Pope could have easily answered the questions on condoms by outlining the Church’s teaching on contraception, but instead spoke honestly in addressing possible situations. Some might call this a PR disaster and certainly it is annoying when the press distorts what the Pope says, but they would find something to distort regardless.
It is also rather odd that those who disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception are willing to jump to an interview with the Pope to defend themselves. This just totally shows how disingenuous they that they will ignore every magisterial document on the subject. The last I knew interviews were not mentioned in the levels of Church teaching in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium.