The hole in the dyke?

Some of you may have seen my note on the Pope’s remark about condoms on the Catholic Herald Blog page, and the rather untidy discussion which follows. But I thought it would be valuable to post a few questions here this week, as I am sure you will have some constructive things to say,

The crux of the matter seems to me whether or not this apparent change of emphasis will lead any further. Is this the hole in the dyke? Could the acceptance of the condom as a prophylactic (i.e. defining the morality of an act by its intention rather than its structure alone) extend itself beyond the rather extreme example of a male prostitute (or perhaps a female prostitute. I understand that Italian has the same word for both – and the Pope says it doesn’t matter which) and apply to serodiscordant marriages? And then. simply through a process of corrosion, render Humanae Vitae a dead letter?

I think that this could happen but I believe it to be unlikely.

First, as I have noted before, the Magisterium has not given a teaching on the morality of condoms outside marriage. All the relevant official documents argue that artificial contraception is incompatible with the total self-giving of married love. This scarcely applies to the Pope’s example. I suspect that this was deliberately chosen to focus on non marital situations. So there seems to be no revision of doctrine.

Second, the jump between using condoms as a prophylactic outside marriage and using them inside is a chasm. The moment one allows that intention can define the act in marriage, the whole house of cards is liable to come down. While this would start with the prophylactic excuse, it would soon move to the “it’s dangerous for my wife to conceive etc.” argument. Or, if you like, the same serious reasons which justify the use of the safe period.

The phrase in HV that “The Church…teaches, as absolutely required, that any use whatever of marriage must retain its natural potential to procreate human life.” would require fundamental revision.

I am given to understand, incidentally, that in pastoral practice the wind is often tempered to the shorn lamb already. And this of course is another difficulty. Even the Pope’s quite orthodox remarks are likely to lead to a widespread extension of pastoral practice – going presumably well beyond the Magisterium’s wishes. We know already that only a small minority of the laity practise orthodox teaching as it is, and that, by the best evidence available, secular priests in this country either disagree with, or are uncertain about, the teaching.

This is inevitably unsatisfactory. While, as a general principle, I approve of compassionate pastoral practice, I think it is very dangerous for the Church to accept and expect that, on a general basis, a serious teaching will be ignored. There is loss of credibility, loss of authority, and pain for the scrupulous conscience. For outsiders, and many insiders too, it looks like hypocrisy. It is perhaps the worst of both worlds.

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71 Responses to The hole in the dyke?

  1. st.joseph says:

    If a women went to a male prostitute,she would obviousley be taking the oral contraceptive.

    A female prostitute would also -obviousley be taking the pill.

    Homosexuals would not be using it as a contraceptive. Same as a bi-sexual visiting a prostitute.

    Maybe the Holy Father is testing our ‘intellect’
    No more too discuss as far as I can see-except as I have always proclaimed that if a married couple, one with HIV, then if it was not possible to abstain (and I am not saying that this is what the Holy Father is saying-I have e.mailed him on this) last week,then using the safe period would not be a contraceptive only a medical reason. Also read (Casti Connubii (56)

  2. gerry says:

    The Church’s teaching about artificial contraception has been and still is a catastrophe for the Church, and for the world, and especially for the very poor. The suffering it has caused and is causing is immense. The whole of Catholic teaching on the subject needs a major revison.The only consolation is that few Catholics outside Africa and half-a-dozen Catholic countries such as the Philippines, East Timor, Guatemala and Haiti take any notice of it.
    The change should have happened in 1968.Every year that passes prolongs the suffering and makes it more difficult to say we are sorry. At the very least, we should stop blocking international efforts to provide family planning to developing countries. Gerry

  3. st.joseph says:

    Yes,more teachers of fertilty awareness.
    Like Mother Teresa .
    Also more teachers of the likes of the late Dr Anna Flynn, John Kelly. the National Association of Natural Family Planning Teachers, who are doing wonderful work abroad. People like Dr Janet Smith.
    If people were not to be so ignorant of the fact of what the church is doing abroad for these poor countries, and not letting them be exploited by the thinkers of artificial contraception-which on the whole is a money spinner.

    Some of the media are saying the Catholic Church is guilty of killing people,saying condoms are against the teaching of the church.
    Catholics ‘wake’ up.

  4. claret says:

    ‘Hole in the dyke?’ More apt would be ‘Coach and Horses’ because that is what we have now. A certainty ( no matter how flawed in some eyes,) has been replaced by uncertainty, doubt, compromise, hypocrisy and plain old fashioned confusion.
    Again one wonders who advises the Pope on these types of utterances. Admitedly this was just one small part of a publication but anyone with an ounce of ‘savvy’ should have realised that this was the part to attract the most attention and comment and that all the rest of the book would now be of little consequence. To make matters even more confusing are the examples quoted as to when condoms might be permitted and then to make the situation even worse we are told that it is when the circumstances make it ‘the lesser of two evils.’ Since when is the ‘lesser of two evils’ been a yardstick for measuring sin in Church teaching? What two sins are being compared here that make one of them greater , or lesser, that the other.
    My sympathies are with those faithful catholics who firmly stuck to what they were told, and to which they believed, were unalterable Church teachings despite the difficulties and dilemmas they caused. There is a word for how they have been let down. I hesitate to use it when referring to our Pope who seems to have buckled to pressure to make the Church more user friendly in the eyes of the secular world.

  5. st.joseph says:

    Claret, I dont believe, that the Holy Father has suggested that condoms are to be made available freely,and that he is doing a U Turn.
    He can ‘not’ teach that. I dont think that he has buckled to pressure to make the Church more friendly in the eyes of the secular world.
    I think he was re-iterating and making clear the position of what he said to reporters on the plane when interviewed, and that was the only way Aids would be rid of, if people led a diffirent lifestyle.
    I think of all the comments, especially the ones I have read on the blog that Quentin mentioned, and it goes without saying-the way they spoke- about the Holy Father,they are in no position to be called catholics , and ought to be ashamed.
    I was pointing out in my first comment, that the pope was way above our thinking- when he said what he said, and it only shows the inability of the media to really understand what he was saying
    I have read other comments on the web, and can only say that he needs our prayers, as instead of
    criticising him we ought to be proud that he does stand up for morality.Mysympathies are not with those faithful catholics who firmly stuck to what they were told and to which they believed,were unalterable teachings of the Truth,they are the ones who will see the Lord Face to Face. My sympathies go to those who are in grave danger of losing their souls-and only God knows who they are.

  6. claret says:

    St.Joseph. Your loyalty to the Pope is to be commended but this is such a big issue that for the Pope to take what appears to be a piecemeal approach to it is asking for trouble. It is sowing discord and gives rise to inummerable questions of the, ‘what if’ variety. To use the lifestyles of prostitutes as examples of when condoms might be permitted is bizarre. To talk of ‘lesser evils’ opens up a can of worms.
    The non-use of condoms is irrevecably bound up in Church teaching on the sanctity of life. It throws open the whole debate on a whole range of life issues. For example if condom use is OK to prevent an HIV victim passing on the disease to a partner , wife, husband , then it is a short step to the ‘allowing’ of an abortion of a child in the womb who has contracted HIV through its parents not using a condom.
    The Pope has moved the Church into dangerous waters.
    By all means let the Church , as a teaching body, look at the whole question of birth control again and perhaps a different conclusion might be forthcoming. ( Although I don’t see how it can be as it has already authoritavely pronounced on this issue.) Are we now to have two definitive teachings that contradict each other, or just a watered down (home made !)version of the first one?

  7. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Claret for your reply.
    It is not only my loyalty to the Holy Father that makes me say what a say. I would ask you to think a little bit more deeply to what I said in my first comment.
    God has given us an intellect to understand, and if it is so difficult for those who dont want to listen and open their ears- as our Lord said, no wonder there will be confusion. I cant spell it out any ‘clearer’.

  8. st.joseph says:

    A typographical error, Casti connubii not (56) but (59)In my first comment.Just to put the record straight!
    There was a mention on one of the blogs I read that God does not turn evil into good.
    I heard a good homily from a very holy distinguished priest on the evil of the Crucifixion,and the shedding of the Blood of Jesus,and the good that resulted from that Sacrifice. Leading to our resurrection. Of course it went into more detail
    A condom or sheath which is a better word is no more by its self, than the person who uses it for the wrong reasons.
    I was involved with helping the elderly a few years back, and I dont want to be explicit, but I am sure we are all adults.
    I was asked to attend to an elderly blind gentleman who was unable to walk, wheel chair bound. His wife was very elderly, so unable to see to him at night. Consequently he needed the assistance of a sheath(condom) attached to a bag so that he could urinate through it.
    So I had to fit this to him every night,and take it off in the morning.
    I know one will say ‘Ah but, that is not used in intercourse, but I say it is good use for something that is used for evil.
    I used to have a little joke with him, and say ‘I am not used to this-I’m a catholic-which made him smile!And I was always able to bring NFP into a conversation with other carers.He has died since.R.I.P.
    Just a little thought!

  9. Fariam says:

    It seems to be that a lot of people – Catholics included – are blowing this statement of Pope Benedict out of all proportion. I have often wondered about this kind of scenario with regard to condoms and AIDS sufferers and about the whole concept of chosing the lesser evil. I don´t know why it is so difficult to grasp. Many Catholics accept the just war theory; many eat meat frequently; many accept the death penalty – all of which they would justify as being the lesser of two evils., ie. better than having a tyrant take power; starvation; heinous crime. Is the use of condoms when life is threatend so different?

  10. Fariam says:

    Forgot to add this excellent article from “Thinking Faith”
    “The Pope on Condoms: Change or no change?”
    by Anthony Egan, sj

  11. James H. says:

    The Pope has not changed anything. He was asked a question about lesser evils, and it’s been relayed by the media’s ADHD as a change in teaching. We should save our bad feeling for the lamestream media in general and Peter Seewald in particular, not direct it to an 83-year old Pope, who was frankly manipulated. I’m afraid it was only a matter of time.

    As to how it should be received by the people, that’s our responsibility, folks. Get the word out, and keep saying it. People who take this as an OK for condoms are unlikely to be the ones who take church teaching seriously in the first place.

  12. John Nolan says:

    Could not HV been less legalistic and instead of focusing on every act of sexual congress within marriage look at marriage as a whole? If a couple have children and bring them up dutifully in the Faith, even if they have had recourse to artificial contraception at some time in the marriage they have surely fulfilled their obligations to the Church and to each other.
    Extra-marital sex is per se sinful and sodomy more gravely so, but both are outside the remit of HV.
    The example of a male prostitute (the German is gender-specific) used by the Pope I interpret as meaning that adding another sin (tranmitting HIV, which in English law constitutes GBH if done knowingly) must be avoided.
    Barrier methods of contraception are not 100% effective, so there is a case for arguing that if someone uses a condom within marriage for prophylactic purposes he is not necessarily ruling out conception.
    Finally, may I be permitted to assume my historian’s hat? The furore over HV overshadowed the last ten years of Paul VI’s papacy. When he died he was excoriated by liberals (largely because of HV) and conservatives (in the main because he presided over what Benedict XVI has described as the “disintegration of the liturgy”).
    Had he succeeded to the papacy in 1958 (he was the obvious candidate but Pius XII refused him a red hat and shunted him off to Milan) he could have been a great reforming pope in the “hermeneutic of continuity”. There would have been no Council, but there would have been “aggiornamento”, ecumenical outreach, a moderate reform of the liturgy and the present crisis, which will take 100 years to sort out, might have been averted. He was an able and holy man who inherited a near-impossible task.

  13. st.joseph says:

    Fariam, thank you for giving the www, Thinking Faith.
    Again I am disillusioned that there has been no mention of the infertile time in a womans cycle.
    As I said in an earler comment, that I had e.mailed the Holy Father.Not that I expect him to receive it.To ask why?
    It worries me that no one is prepared to take this into account when speaking about contraception. It would make things a lot clearer to non-catholics-how -and what Holy Mother Church teaches on family planning (but not to be used indiscrimenately).Have theologians got a complete blockage about this wonderful Gift from God.
    All the interviews ,I have not heard one mention or it even discussed. Its like it doesn’t exist.
    Forgetting condoms- they seem not to be aware that the pill is a abortifacent.To my mind it is a bigger sin, and needs discussing as much as condoms.
    It is a great pity that more catholics don’t enter into discussing that, as that actually can destroy a life-to me more serious than preventing,for health reasons!
    Condoms used in the infertile time will not be a contraception( or at least if God doesn’t over-ride it) Which I doubt ,as He made us like that, and it is 99.9% effective.
    I look at the situation, that as I said in my first comment-I can see all women in activities
    who are not living a life in Christ-will be on the pill. If a man doesn’t use a condom-she no doubt will have an early abortion, or otherwise if the baby inplants, she will resort having an abortion surgically.

  14. pnyikos says:

    James H. is right on target. When the Pope’s comments are read in context it is clear that he was referring to a lesser of two evils when a good course (abstinence) is preferable to both. The context can be found here:

    The most relevant excerpts are:
    “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.”

    The interviewer then asked:
    “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?”

    To which Pope Benedict replied:
    “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 toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”

    A more emphatic reply might have staved off the media feeding frenzy, but when the furor has died down I think the message will be seen for what it is.

  15. claret says:

    ‘Curioser and curioser.’ To pick as an example a prostitute, who is presumably a Catholic but living a life contrary to catholic teaching and whose sexual lifestyle is inevitably and completely at odds with morality, and who it would now seem is somehow on his ( or her,) road to a new morality and as part of the journey, and before he/she arrives at this new destination, makes use of a condom so as to prevent infection is bizarre in the extreme. A complete nonsense in fact.
    I recall a TV documentary programme on this kind of topic which featured an African married couple in which one had become infected with Aids through a contaminated blood transfusion. The couple insisted that they were living a celibate lifestyle together because they believed as catholics that they must adhere to its teaching on artificial birth control. They seemed proud to do so.
    Now they may be the only couple in the world that were prepared to do so but what of them now? To be blunt would they not have a better sex life if one of them became a prostitute ?!
    As for ‘lesser evils’ this has never been a tenant of Church teaching that i am aware of. It might be used as some kind of practical answer to a dilemma but it is so difficult to quantify that it is best left well alone as any kind of justification for sin.

  16. st.joseph says:

    Claret, I think I understand what you say but please correct me if I am wrong.
    I was always of the belief that the Holy Father when he spoke was speaking on behalf of God, to every one, not only to catholics,as His representative on earth.
    I agree with you a catholic life style would be a perfect example of holiness, but I am afraid to say,after being in the Licensed Trade for over 20 years and being involved with a lot of ‘practicing’catholic so say-who did by the way go to church on Sundays-their life style would not always be in touch with catholic teaching.Sexual Intercourse against the way we ought to live, the way the Holy Father is speaking, I believe does not mean only for money, it can mean all sorts of reasons,like drugs,or maybe some sort of insecurity of their home life-who men would take advantage of in dire situations. I would give him more credit than that.And that is the life style that does spread Aids to innocent people who are not living that lifestyle.
    The suggestion that I made where a situation arose ,and a couple were sadly infected with Aids through a contaminated blood transfusion-why would a couple have to abstain from sexual intercourse during the infertile period of her cycle,when using a sheath would protect them from being infected by Aids or any other disease
    They would not be using a contraceptive.Only carrying out the marriage vows that God intended for married couples.To be infected by Aids,not through their own fault-and then having to abstain unecessarily- when no egg is present-I feel is extreme, and I dont believe that to be a sin.Otherwise sexual intercourse during the infertile period would also be a sin. More reason for education on Fertility Awareness.I am surprised that the couple who you mention did not know this. And I must say I do feel the Church is responsible for this lack of teaching.
    I don’t for one minute think that the Holy Father is naive in what he says.
    To pick on a prostitute,is maybe not as curious as you think- he would be giving catholics the benefit of the doubt, that they would all be living in the state of Grace and being obedient to church teachings, and all using NFP.Hence the reason why the confessional is not so full any more.
    Blessed Mother Teresa taught uneducated women in Calcutta the method of fertility awareness with coloured chalk on pavements,quite successfully.
    One does not need a degree to know when they are fertile or not. Apparently they were using it in the Bush 200years ago How true that is I cant vouch for it.

  17. st.joseph says:

    Just out of interest, we were asked many a time by men including catholics, why there was no condom machine in the Gents or Ladies toilets.
    But they were always very pleased to support the church financaly, when raising funds for a new parish, and always helped in Fetes.

  18. Superview says:

    Not for the first time Claret speaks with insight. We may have things that we don’t agree on, but I hope I am always able to acknowledge integrity. A big part of the problem is the legalistic way the Church approaches matters of morals and personal behaviour. It ends up with detailed specifications and rules for the sexual life of couples and families, and, given the phobia about human sexuality of the authors of these rules, we end up with bizarre scenarios to describe exceptions. How on earth has the Church ended up in this absurd situation? Can anyone relate this to anything that Christ would have done?

  19. Ion Zone says:

    Quinten, you might want to rethink that title! XD
    In any case, Humanae Vitae was a big reason people left the Church, if I remember.

  20. st.joseph says:

    Forgive my ignorance,what is XD???
    I dont think people left the Church because HV!
    They just carried on using the pill!
    So do you expect an ‘exodus’ from the Church now, after the Holy Fathers comments!

  21. claret says:

    Si Joseph; To attempt an answer at your question at para. 16 it is correct to say that the Pope in speaking to a journalist about something in the Pope’s book is not speaking in any kind of ‘binding way’ but just giving his interpretation/ explanation on a point raised. However this does nothing to dispel the confusion arising from what he has said and written.
    We do have an authoritave proclamation on the use of artificial birth control (which by definition includes condoms, ) and it comes in
    Humanae Vitae. This is binding on married Catholics and re-affirmed earlier Church teachings. ( Incidentally Quentin continues to insist that no ruling was made in relation to artificial birth control on Catholics who were not married but sexually active. It is a nonsense arguement because they are committing a prolonged sin by living such a lifestyle therefore the use of condoms would not detract from ,or add to the sin. They should not be living in that way and therefore the use or not of a condom is totally immaterial.)
    Historically HV came at a time when there was evidently a ‘committee’ ( I forget the correct decription,) made up of various experts including lay representatives, and brought together by the Vatican that were looking at the whole issue of birth control. Again one has to be careful in briefly describing what it was all about but before the group could submit their proposals they had the metaphorical rug pulled from under them by the proclomations contained in HV. The ‘committee’ were effectively made redundant and all their discussions came to nought. It may have been the case that they would have recommended something similar to HV but popular opinion ( myth perhaps,) is that they would have come down in favour of supporting artificial birth control for married couples. Rumour ( or conspiracy theory ?) has it that this was known to the Church hierarchy and that is why HV was rushed through. The Church could not be seen to have been ‘in error.’
    My personal opnion is that if this Pope had used as his example for a ‘legitimate’ use of condoms the African couple I wrote of above then it still have attracted widespread publicity but would have , at least, painted a more compassionate and understanding mindset than the example of a male prostitute who has an attack of conscience. This attack does not seem to extend too far into a real conversion experience leading to an alteration of lifestyle but as a ‘concession’ will now use a condom whereas before he felt he could not do so because it was contrary to his Catholic faith !! As I say, completely bizarre.

  22. Just a couple of points for Claret. He would appear to be saying that there is no moral difference between a fornicator declining a condom because he does not care whether his partner gets AIDs or pregnant and one who, though sinning in his fornication, protects his partner from these outcomes. This would seem a strange interpretation of Christian law being founded on love.

    My account of an interview with Professor Marshall, who was present throughout the commission on contraception,was originally on the blog.

    If you search for Marshall you will come to a piece titled ‘Professor Marshall, the central arguments’. I have now inserted my review in the Comments section of this. What happened in the Commission is somewhat different to Claret’s account.

  23. st.joseph says:

    Claret thank you for your reply.
    I know we have an authorative proclamation on the use of birth control and I know it includes condoms.
    If ‘practicing catholics’ do not heed the church on artificial contraception and a immoral life style, as I told you in my comment,from my experience of being in the Licensed Trade, why would non-catholics?
    You say the use of a condoms is totally immaterial.
    Dont forget the contraceptive pill also causes deaths,and early abortions.
    The Holy Father could not use the married couple as his example for legitimate use of condoms,as he was not speaking to married couples.
    A male prostitute can have an attack of conscience.
    But you say in your opinion ,that this attack does not seem to extend too far into a real conversion experience ,leading to and alteration of lifestyle,but as a concession, will now use a condom,where as before, he felt he could not do so because it was contrary to his catholic faith.
    Why is that bizarre?.Even if he is not a catholic.
    You do not know how the Holy Spirit works-even to non- catholics.
    Maybe the Holy Father was throwing them a lifeline, to be responsible!Whilst not changing the law on contraception (as he was speaking to male,even females-which as I have already said would be taking contraceptives anyway.
    How do you know that the little Grace they receive by doing what he asks-will put them on the road to their Salvation. Maybe quicker than those catholics who are duty bound to practice their faith -but continue to live a life style unbefitting to what the church teaches on birth control,such as the pill, condon and adultry,who are in a position to know the Truth, whereby male prostitutes dont.
    If there was a chance for Father Corappi-who speaks on E.W.T.N on his conversion, also not forgetting St Agustine of Hippo and many more.
    Saints come from all walks of life.
    Do you really believe that if a condom is only 75% safe, that it is not worth using even for that much protection.
    We all know that a holy and perfect lifestyle is what the Lord wants for us, but unfortunately human nature being what it is-we havn’t all yet got the Grace to live it.

  24. claret says:

    The difficulties of commenting on a blog are that the brevity of explaining yourself leads you open to mis – understanding , just as I may be mis-understanding the example given by the Pope. However no matter how much I re-read what is kindly explained by blogger ‘pynikos’ at 14 above as being the Pope’s comments on this matter I still regard the example given, as to what might be a legitimate use of condoms, as totally bizarre.
    However as the example would appear to be a totally ficticious set of circumstances then to draw any conclusions from it would seem to be open to all kinds of interpretations.
    I discover myself at odds with St. Joseph for reasons I know not as i am ‘taken to task’ for questioning the Pope’s sudden ( apparently,) departure from one of the major tenants of Church teaching.
    I note that St. Joseph has questions of her own for the Pope on these utterances that she has E Mailed him with, and so he must be the one to answer for causing confusion.
    Quentin has given the headline to this blog of ‘The hole in the dyke?’ not me. I would have preferred ( to continue the description,) as ‘Opening the flood gates.’
    Again the scpetre of ‘lesser evil’ is raised by Quentin. This time in relation to a prostitute who uses a condom so as to commit a ‘lesser evil’ of possible prevention of a transmission of a killer disease. Quentin then , again bizarrely, is of the conviction that this sin is an act of Christian love. We are really in dangerous waters when we start to equate sin with love. We are then into the world of euthanasia as an act of kindness and one of a ‘lesser evil.’ You could even go so far as to justify any cruelty as being of a lesser evil. The church used to burn heretics at the stake so as to preserve the faith. A lesser evil in the eyes of those who perpetrated it.
    Even now , these last few years, Bishops and leaders of the Church bent over backwards with lies, untruths, cover ups, manipulation, bribery, bullying etc. to protect the Church from scandal. They did so in the belief that these were lesser evils than the child abuse that was evident to them.
    The consequences of this policy of ‘lesser evil’ is now only too apparent as the abusers were then set free to wreck havoc on the lives of countless children and the ‘lesser evil’ is now so great that it will haunt the Catholic Church forever.

  25. st.joseph says:

    Claret, just to clear up a misunderstanding. Yes I did e.mail the Holy Father to ask him why no mention of the use of the womans fertile cycle, and other thingspertaining to that.
    Not as an issue in what he said about the use of condoms!But more to do with the safe period regarding the issue with the African couple.And before you mentioned it.
    I am just interested in what the churches teaching would be.If not used as a contraceptive!
    There is so much to say about the pill and abortifaciants, which is not said.Although reading more of his interview he did mention the Natural Rhythm.
    I will be surprised that he will give an answer,and I dont believe he will get the e.mail.
    I do disagree with youthatyou believe the Holy Fathers words will end up in abortions being performed, that is such a sweeping statement.
    there is a big diffirence in killing a child ,and wearing a condom on a male prostitute!Where there is no chance of pregnancy taking place.
    Even if and I am saying ‘if’the answer for a married couple who used a condom-when one had Aids,and was risking the life of the other,and had intercourse in the safe period, as I said no ovum present-they would not be risking a child born with Aids. And even if it is not allowed I feel it would be up to their conscience, and I believe they must-as Pope John Paul said live by that first. You can correct me if I have got that wrong.Faith is a wonderful Gift from God, but without Love-we all,know the answer to that.
    This may sound peculiar to you,but we can say all sorts of thing about ‘sheaths’but it is in the end what it is used for, just like a syringe, I take 4 injections a day, plus taking bloodsamplesfor diabetes, but that does not make a syringe evil- only when used for drugs, I take 9 tablets a day, that does not make pills evil, only when used as a contraceptive.
    Maybe not a good analogy-but it works for me!And keeps me alive Thank God.

  26. gerry says:

    Quentin’s interview with Prof. John Marshall – see above – is the best brief survey of the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth, 1964-1966 available. The best book I have read on the Commission is The Encyclical That Never Was by Robert Blair Kaiser, published by Sheed and Ward 1985, published in USA under the title The Politics of Sex and Religion. It has a foreword by John Marshall who is a most careful and conscientious man. Dr Marshall was on the commission from the start. I used to go to his lectures in the 1950’s when he was the great expert on the Temperature Method. I trust the book estimation of the voting and this can be found at my website at 2005 March Bishops Voting on Contraception.
    Pope Paul VI – at least before he became Pope – thought that population problems were extremely important and that they have a vital bearing on world. It was a tragedy that he was persuaded to block the most effective means of controlling population growth. Except for this mistake he was the best Pope in my lifetime. I believe he worried about the decision for the rest of his life Gerry

  27. st.joseph says:

    I would like to have read Quentins article, butI tried and could not find it, help would be grateful. Many thank

  28. st.joseph, try this link. Scroll down to the last item.

  29. claret says:

    St. Joseph,
    Can I resectfully request that you refer back to the top of this blog at ‘para6’ where I make the ‘link’ between use of condoms and abortion. I would hope that on your re-reading of it you will see that I am pointing out, not that abortions WILL be performed because of the Pope’s comments but how the same ‘permissions’ for the use of condoms could, just as easily, be applied to abortion. The example I give is of the unborn child already being an Aids sufferer.(Incidentally this is yet another example of what is a ‘lesser evil’ that has suddenly become almost an accepted ‘dogma’to be uttered by some in positions of Church authority. Viz; What is the greater evil , the abortion of a child with Aids or to allow it to be born into a life of possible misery and where in the fulness of time it could infect others?)
    I would just repeat that the Church teaching on artificial birth control is not an isolated dogma but is irrevocably bound up in the Church’s teachings on Life issues. We are now possibly moving to encouraging a separation of something that should not be separated.

  30. st.joseph says:

    Claret, I am sorry but I am unable to see how the link between condoms for a Male prostitute or female prostitute will allow the Church to change its teachings on abortion for children with Aids Or for their use of married couples with Aids. I dont believe that the Holy Father will even say it is OK for the use of condoms in the safe period,when one of the couples have Aids.
    There are lots of reasons that couples will say the us of the contraceptive pill ought to be used in cases of death if one becomes pregnant. but does Holy Mother Church allow those for the same reason you say for not using a condom.And there are plenty of excuses for that.
    Abortions are carried out each day for no reason at all, use of the mornibg after pill for instance, does the Church say that is a good reason when 11 year olds become pregnant,because they didn’t take the pill
    I do believe that you are making more of a point about condoms, than the contraceptive pill.
    You have no need to repeat to me the churchs- teachings on artificial birth control,and bound up in Life issues!
    I am well aware of the consequences of how many abortions take place through the use of contraception ‘already’.
    I will say one thing, I am very pleased that you have so much vigour for pro-life issues and express your opinion on this subject.
    As a Holy priest, your parish will be very fortunate to be perhaps the only parish that will be 100% NFP users!

  31. claret says:

    St. Joseph,
    I regret that I have not explained myself well. What I am trying to say (rather ineffectually !) is, to quote Quentin here, a ‘hole in the dyke.’
    It is a question of hypocrisy. If we say that the use of condoms is now permissible in certain circumstances then we create a ‘hole in the dyke’ and we know not what the final consequences will be. There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy if we are to say it is OK for a Catholic prostitute to use a condom so as to prevent AIDS ( or indeed, by implication, any STD) but not Ok for a married couple to have an abortion where the unborn child is already infected with a potentially fatal disease.
    What may look like tinkering around the hedges can, in the fullness of time, lead to something far more drastic than was ever intended.
    I have to say that I am surprised that on this Catholic Blog there is so much support for something the Pope said which was ill advised and a significant departure from Church teaching and belief.

  32. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Claret.
    First of all I will say that I dont know what’ A Hole in the Dyke’ means.
    I honestly can’t see a significant departure from Church teaching and belief.
    I still stand by my last comment.And dont think that it is hypocritical to allow the usage of a ‘sheath’ for protection of the spreading of Aids in prostitutes, who I would not compare with a married couple.That is going from one extreme to the other.
    Did the Holy Father say a Catholic prostitute?
    Women have many a reason to have an abortion-they dont need to get Aids, as I said,there are some very sad seriousley handicapped babies which are diagnised in the womb, and yet the Church has not relented to say OK to abortion-it never will.
    Aids is just another disease, and babies with Aids in the womb are just as much in the eyes of the Lord to be protected, and I give Holy Mother Church and the Holy Spirit the power to protect the Church, not to succumbe to aborting any child of God.(They would have to get passed Our Lady first)
    I would like there to be enough discussion about the contraceptive pill,which is ‘aborting’ babies,and the morning after pill,which is ‘aborting’ babies .More teaching on NFP, as that is the reason why I spent most of my lfe defending the unborn!Not just for the contraceptive mentality.I didn’t use it myself, but that is up to others and their conscience I would never spend my life defending contraception!
    I somehow think, and maybe wrong,that the Holy Father is not very ‘popular’at the moment, nor is the Church of ‘ROME’, and the opportunity to discredit in anyway-they will
    It shows in the disrespectful way some people use his ‘name’
    I am sure you are very sincere in what you say,and you are thinking the best for the Church.

  33. claret says:

    St. Joseph.
    Thank you for your response. The expression ‘hole in the dyke’ refers ( at least in my mind,) to the metaphor of how a small hole in a large dyke slowly widens over time as water pressure comes to bear on it. Eventually the weight of this pressure casues the dyke ( dam , ) to burst and the whole edifice is swept away.
    The same is at risk here. By reducing Church teaching on one aspect of artificial birth control ( viz. use of a condom to prevent sexual diseases being transmitted,) then it lays bare the whole teaching. Why restrict the sheath to just its medical value would then be the obvious question. Why not use it for birth control purposes alone ?
    I mention the user as being Catholic because Canon Law is only binding on Catholics. It has no restrictions on non- catholics.In practice the same applies to artificial birth control. Would a non catholic feel themselves bound by Catholic teaching? I rather doubt it and that is why I think the Pope has been unfairly accused of being responsible for the deaths of thousands because of Church teaching on condoms as though he were personally responsible for it. But apart from that it seems to me that few, if any, non-catholics feel themselves bound by Church teaching.
    That is why , at the risk of repeating myself ‘ad nauseum,’ I consider the example of a prostitute is flawed at source. It would have to be a prostitute who does not use a condom because the church forbids it while in every other aspect of his life he ignores Church teaching on the immorality of his actions of his sinful lifestyle. Hardly a credible scenario.
    One of the consequences then of the dyke being holed is for it to eventually come crashing down and with it he whole of the church teaching on life matters.
    You do not see the same anguish over abortion in the C of E and this is because they effectively removed love from procreation when they altered their teaching on birth control that was at one time what we teach now. The same could happen to us.
    Lastly I do not beleive that the reporting of these comments by the Pope is any kind of attack on him. After all they were not forced from him by some kind of trickery. He was asked the questions and gave his answer. He would know that these would go into the public domain. There has been no criticism of his remarks in the wider world where I would contend they have been widely welcomed and so I feel as though I am an exception !! I make no apology for beinbg so.
    Having raised the issue the Pope should now reassemble a commission to again look at every aspect of Church teaching on birth control.
    This would be a logical step rather than a kind of ‘policy made on the hoof,’ that is at odds with what the Church teaches as being the will of God and for the good of humanity.

  34. Michael Mahoney says:

    According to a report in the last issue of the Catholic Herald, “Pope Benedict repeated that the Church supported the “natural method of conception” because it was “not just a method but a way of life” and presupposes that couples take time for each other.
    Therefore, he said, natural methods of regulation are “something fundamentally different from when I take the pill without binding myself interiorly to another person, so that I can jump into bed with a random acquaintance”.”
    I don’t know whether Pope Benedict would agree with the way in which he has been reported, but I imagine that many who endorse Humanae Vitae would concur with the argument of that report.
    The implication of the argument is, it seems to me, that the mutual respect and faithfulness of a married couple may be judged on the basis of the methods they chose to regulate conception. If they follow the prescription of the Church, they are judged to lead a moral marital life, if not, they are objectively in a state of mortal sin, do not really care for each other and may “jump into bed with any passing acquaintance”.
    Of course, the same would have applied a few centuries ago when the unnatural method might more usually been coitus interruptus. No matter if the wife was in poor health and the couple were unable to cope with or feed an already large family, they were objectively still in a state of mortal sin and, presumably, didn’t love each other properly.
    What a tragedy that the Church Juridical found its way into the marriage bed. It is certainly sheep and goats, but a world apart from the simple, but terrifying, universal litmus test of Matthew 25 When I was hungry….

  35. Horace says:

    I am thoroughly confused.

    As I understand it the Pope said:-
    “. . were a prostitute to use a condom to prevent infection, that should be seen as a step toward greater moral responsibility.”
    [ I am afraid I do not have access to the original German.]
    unless the statement above is grossly incorrect or misleading then I fail to see what all the fuss is about – there is no implied change in the Church’s teaching, the Pope is not declaring the use of condoms to be legitimate.

    A “hole in the dyke” ? – no – although some people will try to dig a hole anyway!

    I am reminded of the moment in the film “Rocky” when he is asked about investing in Condominiums and replies “Well I never use them myself!”

    Many other comments above have made a similar point – I cannot see that there is any reason to go into the obscure theology of “lesser evil” or “double effect”.

    Once again to restate – as I understand it the Pope did NOT say that the use of a condom was “permissible” – he said that it was an INDICATION of “a step toward greater moral responsibility”.

  36. gerry says:

    May I most heartily agree with Michael Mahoney’s last paragraph. We all know the old joke about logic “a method of reasoning that allows us to be wrong with confidence”
    When we have a moral theology which puts Dives in heaven and Lazarus in hell we need to think carefully about what we are doing. Gerry

  37. st.joseph says:

    When I mentioned , in my comment above, ‘that I didn’t use it myself,’ I was speaking about artificial contraception-not NFP.
    I did say on another discussion earlier, that I did use the contraceptive pill in the late 60s for medical reasons after having so many miscarriages,to sort out my hormones 6 months down the line I got thrombosis and nearly died. A great help that was to me.
    NFP is not only a Way of Life-it is also common sense. It is knowledge for women to understand the way their body works- also to be aware of future ailments, and fertility. Not Just for having or not having babies.
    It does not only mean ,that it is the way the Church teaches,(although it is) it does not only mean that all marriages using it ,will have no arguments or problems etc.
    As for jumping in and out of bed with a random aquaintence ,as Michael Mahoney comments in the CH . I say it wont won’t stop that-it will only let someone know when to jump in and out of bed.
    I am surprised the Holy Father spoke that kind of language.
    I taught more non-catholics than catholics-who did not worry about the teachings of the church, just those who were perhaps a bit more enlightened than catholics, on health issues.
    When two people bestow the Sacrament of Matrimony and become one flesh with each other, and with the blessing of a priest as their witness.
    They are united in the Blessed Trinity.
    Michael Mahoney says ‘it is a pity that the Church Juridical found its way into the marriage bed.Well you can not escape God, even in bed!
    Are we not the lucky ones that the Church did eventually find its proper place in the marriage bed.
    A few comments have been made on the blog, that maybe the church ought to rethink Birth Control.
    I dont know how they can do better than the way God made us.
    How bizarre is wearing a condom for two thirds of a month!, how bizarre, is coitus interuptus! How bizarre filling one up with artificial hormone-steroids ,patches, rubber rings, coils, sheaths, how unatural is that!
    The real meaning of Matthew 25, When I was hungry.
    Would be better for Governments to live by. I believe the Church does more than its share looking after the poor.Including the lay workers.
    Maybe more than those selfish catholics who think that the Church owes them a living by giving them a freedom of conscience to live their life how they wish.
    Tongue in cheek. I dont mean to upset Claret.
    Maybe the Holy Father is complying to health and safety rules.After all one cant go into a building site without a helmet!Or even play Conkers now without goggles.!!

  38. st.joseph says:

    My grandmother taught me a little prayer when I was a small child,and I ofen wondered what it meant. As I got older I understood it.
    Perhaps older catholics will remember it too ,it goes-
    There are four corners on my bed, there are four Angels there to spread.
    There are four more at my bedside,my Guardian Angel will be my guide.
    St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, St John,Bless the bed that I lay on,and if any evil shall come to me,I shall get up and pray to Thee.Amen.
    Probably meant the sin of thought,word and ‘deed’.
    I wonder how many said that prayer.
    Also with a lot of other little prayers.

  39. claret says:

    No longer a ‘hole in the dyke’ rather ‘When in a hole stop digging ! ‘ because if Michael Mahoney and Horace are quoting the Pope accurately ( and Horace admits to confusion,and my sparse intellect leaves me baffled on M M’s analysis,) then when did committing a sin ‘INDICATE a step towards greater moral responsibility’ ?

  40. st.joseph says:

    Claret, Many years ago we had a discussion in my last parish. One of the subjects was.
    If a mother was starving, and her children too,she also had no money to feed them.
    She resorted to going into a Supermarket,and stealing food to prevent them from being hungry.
    Would that be committing a sin, a step towards a greater moral responsibility.? At the time I could not answer it!

  41. st.joseph says:

    This situation strikes me th same as- when I started to learn NFP-and then go on to teach.
    I had many many many catholics who said that I was committing a sin.It will encourage promiscurity in the young,also couples will be using it as a birth control.
    Even when the Popes and Cardinal Gagnon, speaking for the Family approved it and asked that doctors, Scientists, NFP teachers Bishops Priests did their utmost to promote and to make it more available-and also to research more thoroughly.So I was often accused with the Church of doing something ‘evil’ for a moral good.Especially if it is taught to teenagers in schools!
    They would take advantage of what the Church said and use it as an excuse to have sexual intercourse
    outside marriage.
    Consequently-it is called ‘Fertility Awareness’
    I know that their were couples who with difficulty
    had abstained in their marriage, and had said to me, it isnt fair (a bit like the prodigal son’s brother)that we have been obedient to the church all these years, and look now, the church is changing its mind on contraception,
    Sometimes one can’t do right for doing wrong even if it is for the moral good.I was misinterpreted, so is the Holy Father!
    And yet-it will become clearer and clearer as time goes on, when people get a deeper understanding of contraception.
    And it is not putting a sheath on a prostitute.
    In the same way that NFP is not a contraceptive.
    In neither case it must it be used indiscrimately!

  42. Horace says:

    Claret asks:- “when did committing a sin ‘INDICATE a step towards greater moral responsibility’ ?”

    Obviously prostitution is a seriously wrongful act (a ‘sin’ [an offence against religious or moral law; a transgression of the law of God {Webster}] – although the individual concerned might not even be aware of the concept of sin).
    Nevertheless to use a condom to prevent infection (of a partner – male or female) does indicate care for (or at least a desire not unnecessarily to hurt) another person and as such is surely an INDICATION of “a step toward greater moral responsibility”.

  43. tim says:

    Claret, I sympathise with you, though not completely. When the Pope says something controversial, for example anything about condoms, he is bound to be misinterpreted on all sides (even in a few cases deliberately or maliciously). I don’t think this means that he must always remain silent – he has a duty to teach, to which the duty not to be misunderstood must be subsidiary. But he is not protected from imprudence in public relations.

    I don’t think Claret takes sufficiently into account degrees of sin. Some bad acts are worse than others – from which it follows that some (while still being bad) must be better (less worse) than others. Nobody can reasonably think that the Pope was giving general approval for the use of condoms – or even that use of a condom, in the specific situation he referred to, was the proper choice. What he was saying – surely? – that that choice, in that specific situation, might be better than some others, not that it was the best possible, or free from reproach. I don’t think Claret’s approach, which seems to be to count the number of sins rather than weigh them, can be right.

    In any case, he was talking about a very specific situation – that of a male prostitute, implying homosexual sex (I think a Vatican spokesman has said that the sex of the prostitute was not important. This is clearly not right – but in any case we are talking about what the Pope has said, not glosses on it by other people). All homosexual sex is unnatural: the superaddition of condom use has no contraceptive intention or effect. It can hardly be seen as making the sin worse, unless you believe that such articles are sinful in themselves, rather than in the use to which they are normally put.

  44. Iona says:

    Horace – at 35 and at 42 – and Tim – at 43 – You have expressed my feelings exactly, and saved me the trouble of putting them into words myself. As I understand it, Pope Benedict merely said that the use of a condom by a particular individual in a particular situation could indicate that that individual was taking a step in the direction of assuming a degree of responsibility. He didn’t say anything about what was more sinful, or less sinful, or two sins instead of one… Did he? Or have I missed something?

  45. gerry says:

    This has all been very interesting, but I wonder what the poor think of these arguments and our extremely restrictive theology of sex, coupled with our extremely relaxed, almost non-existent, theology of wealth. It must puzzle a few theologians when, on reading the gospels, they find that the teaching there is rather relaxed about sex and frighteningly fierce about wealth.
    I hope that when we discuss these matters again, we will keep our eyes not on those with our own high life style, but on those with the life style of couples living with their children in a small room, in an unsanitary crowded slum, in an overcrowded city such as Lagos – population 178,000 in 1948, population 15,000,000 today, and increasing very rapidly.

  46. st.joseph says:

    Very presumptious Gerry, I hope you are speaking for your self-when you you ask ‘what the poor think of these arguments and our extremely restrictive theology of sex, coupled with our extremely relaxed, almost non-existent, theology of wealth’
    I dont believe the subject is about ‘sex’ or ‘wealth’ Did Jesus not say, when Mary Magdalene was rubbing His feet with expensive ointment,that there will always be ‘poor’ in the world!
    Your understatement in regards to all those faithful who have given consistently to the poor through CAFOD Aid to the Church in Need,APF and
    any many more. Morality doesn’t only reflect itself in feeding the hungry. There is a Spiritul hunger that needs to be fed, and Jesus came to proclaim that too.And to save us from our sins, and that goes all across the board!
    What do you do for the poor!!

  47. gerry says:

    Thanks St Joseph. The answer to your last seven word question is “Not much”. But a surgeon and his wife, after 26 years in Malawi, wrote that if any Catholic wanted to help the poor they could do nothing better than try to change the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception. I’ve been doing my best for many decades, though not, as you can see from the correspondence, with any success.
    I liked your grandmother’s prayer a lot. First heard it around the 1950’s, but had forgotten it.

  48. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Gerry, yes it is a lovely prayer.I learned it in the middle 1940s.
    Just out of interest-what have you been doing to try to change the Churches teachings on artificial contraception?.

  49. Superview says:

    In my comment at 18. I asked if anyone was able to relate this absurd situation where people are debating various scenarios concerning the laws of the RC Church as they relate to the use of condoms, not to mention contraception, to anything that Christ would have done. No takers so far from the HV camp. Is there a parable I have missed? Or maybe something from St.Paul?
    It is truly bizarre, to coin a phrase, that it is seen as a topic of evangelical zeal – and st.joseph I beg you to leave space for others to comment – when there are multitudes of more serious issues in the world which Christians are addressing with equal apostolic fervour.

  50. st.joseph says:

    Superview, I dont think the pill would have been invented or the condoms, or injections, or patches,or coils etc. in Jesus’s time.(Coitus Interuptis).It has been mentioned about spilling ones seed.Our Lady called Herself the Immaculate Conception(Feast day tomorrow) So that knocks the pill in its head as Jesus was in His human nature from the moment of conception. Do you have a problem with that!!!!
    I didn’t think I was limited to space, or I had to book in advance -my comment. I like to answer comments that needs a reply to mine.If others wish to make a comment-you included-I cant see how I stop them, everyone is entitled to say what they believe.Or do you feel inhibited. I make no apologises.
    There are 50 comments, mine are 19, so not all mine!!!!Go ahead, say you piece!!

  51. Iona says:

    Jesus wouldn’t have made much sense to his hearers if he had condemned sins that depend on the use of technology that didn’t exist at the time of his earthly ministry. Condoms and weapons of mass destruction, for example.

  52. Iona says:

    Ah – St Joseph has already made the same point, while I was meditating my reply.

  53. Vincent says:

    OK, Superview – this may be somewhat oblique to your comment but I hope it’s in the same spirit. The typical Catholic moral approach is to work out first what is a sin and what is not.You are either in or out. Historically I imagine that this came from the instruction books for hearing confessions, which preceded the moral manuals.
    When the Pope talks about the prostitute taking a step towards moral responsibility, he has moved to an approach which looks for whatever good may be found in a sinner’s disposition. He is not looking for perfection but progress.Is this like Jesus? I claim that it is. Did he not say of the woman of ill repute:”Much is forgiven her because she has loved much.” When that hypothetical prostitute is being judged his intention to limit the possible damage of his actions will be a strong advocate in his cause.

  54. gerry says:

    Thanks again St Joseph, and thanks for your query.
    Until the 1970’s I did not campaign about population because “everyone” campaigned about it. See “Demography for Catholics “ at my website

    In the 1970’s and 1980’s I tried to wean Catholic organizations off their benign Marxism. See early pages of my website. I was unsuccessful. Since then I’ve concentrated on population growth.
    Dozens of letters have gone to the press and media. Some of the letters are on my website. Letters have gone out to many commentators on world affairs. I hand out a card at any opportunity.

    I have written frequently to a large number of aid agencies, and Catholic organizations such as Justice and Peace (I was treasurer of a J&P commission for nine years in the 1980’s and 1990’s), CIIR, now Progressio, CAFOD, Vocation for Justice, and many other Catholic and non-Catholic organizations interested in alleviating extreme poverty. None of them are interested in the great demographic drama we are living through.

    I’ve also written to all the archbishops of England and Wales, both Catholic and Anglican, and to the Church of Ireland Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin. (Catholic archbishops in Ireland are overstressed at present so I’ve written to only one) I must say that the responses from the Anglican archbishops in the British Isles have been very heartening and supportive, and the replies from the Catholic archbishops have been kind.

    Lots of other activities. My first letter in an African magazine was published this month. But my website is my main effort. Because I am of a religious disposition my favourite page on my site is “A Religious Tract” at September 2002. No one reads it!

  55. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Gerry,In a way I admire the courage of your convictions.
    I have read some of your web site, forgive me for not reading it all.I too have campaigned the bishops.
    Both of us ,although honest, in our campaign,are really on the opposite side of the fence.
    I have to have the courage of my convictions-when I listen and read the web sites of the http://www.populationresearchinstitute. The http://www.humanlife international. The http://www.familylifeinternationaluk. So therefore we must agree to disagree!
    I believe that Holy Mother Church issues a challenge to Governments, and the Medical Profession that contraception does not solve the problem.
    60% of abortions are because contraception have failed.Apart from the abortions from the Pill.
    We need proper distribution of food resources to feed the hungry!Also-
    The Church teaches -Chastity, abstinance before marriage.
    This culture of death,by the way of the sex slavery trade,child pornography, prostitution,etc,will only be a culture of life, if and when we listen to the Holy Father (and HV)
    I believe that overpopulation is a myth.
    Holy Mother Church can ‘not’ change its teachings to comply with ‘governments’ lack of insight.
    I can’t see any future for the world without the Church keeping to the Truth. That is the only vision that will set us free.

  56. gerry says:

    Thanks, St Joseph, I clicked on all the websites you showed and none of them could be found.
    Yes,I agree, our generation will have to accept disagreement on this one.

  57. st.joseph says:

    Gerry, you may have to type them in google.

  58. Superview says:

    The reason why it is not possible to relate this question to what Christ would have done is that it seems we cannot find any roots in the New Testament that would leads us to approach questions about fertility, conception and contraception in the way the Church has done. It seems we had to wait 1,000 years for Aquinas to devise a reasoning that contraception was sinful, and another 1,000 years for the means to enable the majority of Catholics and other Christians to shake off the consequences. Vincent gets close to my point. The Church seems happy to invent new sins, as if we didn’t have enough. Incidentally, it is not clear what the price tag is for using artificial contraception – is it a venial sin or a mortal sin? Is it an ordinary mortal sin or a serious mortal sin? Is it, as Aquinas thought, as evil as rape? The truth of the matter is, of course, that to so label it has served to devalue the currency of sin. It must be obvious to everyone that there is a lot more that has happened within the Church that unhappily better fits the description.
    From what I can see HV has achieved nothing except the creation of an army of misguided zealots who are quick to label the majority of their fellow Catholics as sinners as an act of loyalty to Paul VI. I rather fancy, however, that, given the chance, St.Paul, just as he took no nonsense from Peter over Gentile circumcision (‘Don’t put unnecessary burdens on people’) would prove a very awkward customer with Peter’s successor over this one.
    Actually we do have a clue how Christ might have approached it (might be approaching it) in that he gave love as the governing principle. If this is what Benedict XVI is saying then I agree with him.

  59. st.joseph says:

    Superview, You did not say if you had a problem with the ‘Immaculate Conception’or not!.
    You seem to be under the impression that the Church forbids Family Planning!
    Jesus spoke a lot about Marriage, The Marriage Feast- to be ‘dressed properly’.Also the Marriage Feast of The Lamb.Which applys to the perfection that awaits us in Heaven.Be Perfect like our Heavenly Father is Perfect.
    I think you are really ‘confused’
    If you are quereing the Churches teaching on sex and sin, you do not understand Chastity and Holiness within Marriage.Or the Holy Family.
    It took 1850 years or so, for the Church to make the Immaculate Conception a Dogma-you wont find that in the Bible.It is taking time for the Good News of Family Planning to be preached.That is ‘not’ a burden ,how little you ‘understand’.
    I believe Our Lord has sent Our Blessed Mother-
    to us to show us the way to Holiness.
    One of Her Messages at Fatima is ‘Many souls go to Hell with the sins of the flesh’
    Of course that is Catholic Truths,and if you are not into that kind of Catholic understanding, and how we should follow the example of the Holy Family, not like the protestants during the reformation- it would be diffiult for you to reason it out.
    By the way I waited for someone to reply to you-they didn’t so the space was empty so I obliged.

  60. Horace says:

    Re: st.joseph 50
    The Hippocratic oath (late 5th Century BC) contains the following :-
    I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asks for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. I will not give to a woman a pessary or an abortive remedy.

  61. st.joseph says:

    Horace, do doctors say the same now, or when and why did it change?

  62. tim says:

    Gerry, many thanks for posting Michael Frayn’s piece on your website ( ) which I remember from when it came out – it is extremely funny, and at the same time challenging (but not a breach of copyright, I hope?). I don’t feel Frayn’s analogy takes into account the absolute value of ‘accidents’ (in the view of monolithics) or even the fear that economic life will come to an end if we don’t have enough accidents to keep motor manufacturers and repairers in business (and compare China where the lack of accidents means that many cars on the road are increasing old and may soon be unable to contribute to economic life).

    To speak more plainly, Gerry, it is not accepted that population is the problem. The problem is the creation and distribution of wealth. When prosperity goes up, birthrates come down (in much of the West, well below replacement level). We should concentrate on making the Third World richer, not preventing it breeding. I worry about green philosophy, because greens seem to think ‘sustainability’ means just the opposite.

  63. Horace says:

    Apropos the Hippocratic oath:-
    I went to a “Catholic” University in Ireland and, unsurprisingly, we were not asked to take a formal ‘Pagan’ oath – but the substance of what we were taught was the same. I do not know if things have changed!
    My point was really about St Joseph’s comment “I don’t think the pill would have been invented or the condoms, or injections, or patches,or coils etc. in Jesus’s time.” Alas these, or similar, things have been with us for a long long time! Many centuries before Christ.
    Coitus interruptus, incidentally, was indeed a primitive form of contraception but is mentioned in the Bible only, as far as I know, in the context of failing to obey the Jewish custom that, where there were brothers and one died leaving no children, the survivor must marry his widow and ‘raise up seed to his brother’ – presumably in order that there might be children to support the widow. (Genesis 38; 8-10 – this custom is mentioned in Mark 12; 19 et seq – “Moses nobis scripsit . . accipiat frater eius uxorem ipsius et resuscitet semen fratri suo”).

  64. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Horace.
    That explains why St Paul spoke to all the Churches on how to live their lives.
    Also explains(to me) why Our Lady would be conceived by Her parents from Original sin!
    To put everything into context for the ‘RC ‘church , to which Superview has such a problem accepting it teachings. Perhaps he ought to challenge St Paul!!

  65. gerry says:

    Tim, I am so very delighted that you found my website and the Michael Frayn page. My elder daughter tells me to make my pages funny but I find this difficult. I must contact Michael Frayn about the copyright.

    Yes, in most of Europe the fertility rate is below replacement level, but this will go up as immigration brings in folk with higher fertility rates. (When we had our four, the UK fertility rate was 1.7 and falling. It is now over 1.8 and slowly rising.)

    The belief that the birth rate will fall when prosperity comes has been for many decades the principle reason given by Catholics for their lack of interest in providing family planning to the poor. Some things appear to contradict this Catholic idea:
    (1)It is the widespread use of family planning that causes the birth rate to fall in prosperous countries. If prosperous Europe had no, or little, family planning our populations would be doubling regularly as in Africa, prosperity would go,and we would be fighting each other for scarce resources.
    (2) Fifty years ago many countries of the Far East were as poor as African countries (eg GDP per head in 1960: Zambia $222 per head, Brazil $208, South Korea $155. China $92.) Most countries in the Far East are controlling their populations by family planning, while most of the countries of Africa and the Middle East provide little family planning. We will be able to observe over the next few decades which region becomes prosperous and which remains poverty stricken. It is fairly obvious already.
    (3) Nigeria has had an enormous income from oil for decades, but Nigeria’s population growth remains very rapid, so extreme poverty continues.

    I know only too well that these arguments do not influence Catholics, or believers in liberation theology, or the politically correct. These groups are influential, especially the last, so it seems that population control in Africa and elsewhere is going to be managed by disease, famine, conflict and emigration,rather than by family planning.

    As a side issue, for those alive in 2050, it is going to be interesting to see how the stable population of 600-700 million rather elderly, mostly prosperous Europeans interact with the rapidly increasing 2000-3000 million mostly young, mostly very poor folk in Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan.

  66. st.joseph says:

    Gerry I have just read Michaels Fryan’s piece on your web site. I too found it very funny.
    I would just like to point out the last sentence, where he writes about natural methods not being effective. As that was written in 1964-it wouldn’t be.We are now not looking ‘back’ but looking to the future, where it is effective 99.9% ,more than any other contraceptive, and could be used to plan a family much more effectively ,in all of a females fertility year.
    All it needs is an ‘understanding’ husband.

  67. st.joseph says:

    It meant to read 99’99%. Which won’t end up in an abortion!

  68. Gerry says:

    The Hole in the Dyke has turned up in last week’s British Medical Journal, under the headline, “If the pope can change his mind on condoms, why not on emergency contraceptives? The researcher who posed this question was soon put right by commentators stating that the Pope had not changed his mind: the general opinion being that the headline writer who wrote ‘Pope drags Church into the 19th century’ was jumping the gun.

    But the researcher did give some important information; namely that the World Health Authority had changed its information on the “morning after pill”. The WHO now believes that levonorgestrel is not an abortifacient but acts by preventing ovulation. If the science is right, then those Catholcs, who do not like abortion, but who believe there is nothing wrong with artificial contraception, will be able to take the “morning after pill” with a good conscience.

  69. Quentin says:

    That’s interesting. Googling: World Health Authority levonorgestrel, will bring up more details.

  70. Gerry says:

    Quentin, the WHO gives the following at
    Mode of action
    Levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) have been shown to prevent ovulation and they did not have any detectable effect on the endometrium (uterine lining) or progesterone levels when given after ovulation. ECPs are not effective once the process of implantation has begun, and will not cause abortion.

  71. st.joseph says:

    Is there any more info on this I am getting in touch with a Dr friend of mine and waiting for a reply.
    It may not work if implantation has taken place, but an abortion will still take place at a later date if the women is pregnant .
    It seems very obscure to me, if ovulation has taken place after 48 hrs no pregnancy will have taken place any way- seems an unecessary use of the pill. I think a lot more knowledge is needed before we can say it prevents ovulation.How many days will be needed before ovulation is prevented.
    Thank you for the news anyway.I would appreciate any more news if you have it. As I will -if I do.

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