Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cardinal Burke on the Pope's remarks

Raymond Cardinal  Burke on the Popes remarks on condoms:

I don’t see any change in the Church’s teaching. What [Pope Benedict] is commenting on — in fact, he makes the statement very clearly that the Church does not regard the use of condoms as a real or a moral solution — but what he’s talking about in the point he makes about the male prostitute is about a certain conversion process taking place in an individual’s life. He’s simply making the comment that if a person who is given to prostitution at least considers using a condom to prevent giving the disease to another person — even though the effectiveness of this is very questionable — this could be a sign of someone who is having a certain moral awakening. But in no way does it mean that prostitution is morally acceptable, nor does it mean that the use of condoms is morally acceptable.
The point the Pope is making is about a certain growth in freedom, an overcoming of an enslavement to a sexual activity that is morally repugnant [unacceptable] so that this concern to use a condom in order not to infect a sexual partner could at least be a sign of some moral awakening in the individual, which one hopes would lead the individual to understand that his activity is a trivialization of human sexuality and needs to be changed …
The text itself makes it very clear that he says the Church does not regard it as a real or moral solution. And when he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing.


santoeusebio said...

Well it seems to me that Cardinal Burke is at odds with Lombardi SJ.

Time to suppress the Js once again?

Nicolas Bellord

JARay said...

You have put the crux of the matter very well Father. If someone is sinning anyway, then any diminution of that sin, is a step in the right direction. That is the proposition. Sinning less is better than sinning more! It is still sin. That aspect does not go away.
Cardinal Burke's sermon on martyrdom, given on the 22nd, was simply superb. He instanced Saint Cecelia and her continued virginity despite being married and then he went on to instance St John Fisher and Henry VIII's joke that if the Pope was sending John Fisher a Cardinal's hat then he, Henry, would send the Pope, John Fisher's head to put it on.

Left-footer said...

I always thought, and not just I, that that was what he said and meant.

berenike said...

Yes, that's what I thought it meant.

pattif said...

At last - a theologian says something that makes me feel I am not some lone madwoman muttering away in my attic.

Of course, the Holy Father wasn't saying that condom use can be 'justified' in certain circumstances; of course, he wasn't saying that condoms can be effective in stopping the spread of disease (he is already on record as having said that they can make the problem they are supposed to cure worse, and he got it in the neck for that, too). Neither did he give any grounds for the ridiculous claim that there can/should be a read-across from the prostitute/client situation to that of a married couple where one of the spouses is infected.

What he is talking about is the case of someone leading an objectively sinful life, which, as every Catholic knows from childhood, is the situation of turning away from God and putting one's own prideful desires before obedience to God and the teaching of his Church. If a person in that situation seeks to mitigate the evil that flows from his objectively sinful way of life, that could be interpreted as the first stirrings of thinking of someone else before himself.

He might not be turning from an objectively evil act to an objectively good act; his choice of action might not even be a very effective way of doing good to the other person. Nevertheless, it is a start. Once he begins to think of the good of another person, he has started, by baby steps, to turn back towards God. And, as we know from the parable of the Prodigal Son, that is all God is waiting for.

At least, that is what I think the Holy Father was saying, and I don't think it is anything different from what he and the Church have always taught. I admit it was a novel illustration of the point, though.

wheat4paradise said...

Nicolas Bellord,

There is no contradiction. The Holy Father's moral reasoning applies in both cases.

santoeusebio said...

wheat4paradise: You say there is no contradiction. I am not entirely sure to what you are referring.

The Pope said that the intention not to spread HIV could be a sign of a moral awakening as of itself it is a good intention. The problem arises as to how you put that intention into effect. In the case of a male prostitute indulging in homosexual activity there is no contraceptive effect so the use of a condom is morally neutral. Not a good way to behave but perhaps a sign of moral awakening.

However in his second statement Fr Lombardi says the Pope's illustration applied equally to female prostitutes and transsexuals. In the case of a female prostitute there is a contraceptive effect and therefore the use of a condom is not licit.

Fr Lombardi says that the Pope was speaking of prostitutes both male and female. If that is the case then Lombardi's first statement poses a problem viz:

In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered practice of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection can be 'a first act of responsibility', 'a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality', rather than not using it and exposing the other person to a mortal risk..

I have emboldened the last part as that goes beyond anything the Pope said.

Thus Fr Lombardi is implying that the Pope said that the use of a condom was a first step and better than not using one in the case of a female prostitute. By analogy this could be extended to any heterosexual couple. There lies the danger.

However I believe that Lombardi has seriously misrepresented the Pope at that point. The Pope was saying that the intention could be good but he never says that a condom is the way to implement that intention.

Cardinal Burke supports the view that the Pope was merely talking about the intention and never approved the use of condoms. That is where the contradiction lies between Fr Lombardi and Cardinal Burke.

It is a very serious one.

Nicolas Bellord

Michael Petek said...

I suspect that the Holy Father's reasoning is that the use of a condom in relation to an act inherently infertile can have no significance as a contraceptive.

The only use of a condom in that case is, then, to make the homosexual act less lethal, save that it can also induce risk compensation.

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

Intention Intention Intention.

We are spending far to much time considering means which, rather than intended ends which is where people make decisions for good or for bad.

It is not sinful to buy a c*****, it is not sinful to use it to wrap round a pipe that is leaking, it is (probably) not sinful to fill it with half a gallon of water and throw it at a friend, it is sinful to use it for the intention of undertaking the reproductive act for the intended purpose of frustrating the ends of that act.

All the holy Father seems to have done is point out an example of a "hard case" where it is a very fine line between right and wrong.

A similar question exists with stealing. Stealing is objectively sinful. Stealing food when your children are starving, there is no legitimate way of obtaining food and the person you are stealing from is not going to starve as a result of the loss is not sinful, for subjective reasons.

Jacobi said...

Cardinal Burke puts it very well.

End of story - or rather of an esoteric, albeit self-evident, observation.

Now, where were we?

fidelisjoff said...

Cardinal Burke, as usual, speaks with a direct clarity many prelates could learn from. Thank you for publishing his words, Father.

georgem said...

Kudos to Cardinal Burke for saying what so many of us took for the Pope's meaning, what so many Catholic bloggers misunderstood and who are now tying themselves in knots trying to justify (yep, that word) their kneejerk response.
Like your new parish website, btw.

Ma Tucker said...

Thank you Cardinal Burke.
Have to say though is it just me or does anyone else think that the language used in this book supposedly attributable to the Pope seems completely out of kilter with his usual delivery. I think the adjectives and adverbs jar and are not recognizably Pope Benedict XVI in style.

On the side of the angels said...

Nicolas - yet again you're right - Lombardi even went so far as to say 'relationship' as if to imply marital use too!

He lied about what the Pope said on the plane - and should have been sacked then - he must go - otherwise people will die as a consequence of his recklessness...have you seen what's happened in the Philippines already ?

Had Lombardi come out absolutely clear and categorical on the issue?
This might never have happened!

Edward P. Walton said...

It is hard to belive that this is a picture of Cardinal Burke.

He really lost weight and looks twenty years younger.

Sadie Vacantist said...

If a female prostitute is already contracepting and then uses a condom for health reasons then perhaps she is rendering herself in the same situation as the male prostitute.

I once heard a male pornographer claim there was no morals in pornography other than when it came to health. He used the very word 'moral'. In other words, there was some semblance of a moral code even in hedonistic environments.

I am not convinced that the interview format is the correct means by which the Pope should be expressing these sorts of complex arguments. He has limited control over the release of the contents. It also seems odd that he is extrapolating complex moral theological conclusions from unusual scenarios.

Faithful, Liverpool said...

Paul, you are justifying stealing??? If you are starving, will the Lord not provide?

This is the pitfall of sin from a Catholic point of view, there is no grey area in when it comes to sin.

Stealing is surely one of the worst sins, most other sins point back to this, if you lie are you not taking away (stealing) their right to the truth? If you murder someone are you not stealing their right to a life? ...I could go on!

In relation to the contraception in question...would it not me right to look at it as preventing the spread of disease rather from the viewpoint of preventing a 'gift from God'? In countries where the spread is so dire, should the initial thought be how do we stop the spread? This along with education!

Surely it is worse that every day Children are born HIV positive without the choice of protecting themselves, this is the real sin, as educated people we are the real sinners. The Holy Father and the Bishops of the world really do need a plan of action, there can be no mincing of words, no grey areas. We all look to the Holy Father for guidance, the people of the third world need help, and we are failing them, our prayers alone are not enough, we need to listen to how God wants us to proceed.

santoeusebio said...

It is interesting to read what Archbishop Fisichella (not noted for orthodoxy in the past) had to say at the launch of the Book on Tuesday:

"Nonetheless", the archbishop added, "reducing the entire interview to one phrase removed from its context and from the entirety of Benedict XVI's thought would be an offence to the Pope's intelligence and a gratuitous manipulation of his words. What emerges from these pages overall is, in fact, the vision of a Church called to be 'Light of the world', a sign of unity for the whole human race".

That strikes me as a fair comment on Press reaction. But apparently Alexander Des Forges, Archbishop Nichols' press spokesman, thinks the Press Commentary has been fair.

Nicolas Bellord

David Joyce said...

John Vennari writes very well on this issue:

Especially when he sums up:

The lesser of two evils is a Protestant concept, not Catholic. It has no place in the history of Catholic moral teaching. We cannot choose the lesser of two evils because the lesser evil is still evil, and evil can never be the direct object of our will.

Cardinal Burke is defending the indefensible. The effect of the Pope's words are truly grave, even though they are being taken further than he intended, this is an obvious consequence. For example, the politicians in the Philippines, are using this to boast their case in introduce their anti-Catholic "Reproductive Health Bill". This is what Rorate Caeli reports concerning a Rosary Crusade to stop this:

The Prayer Crusade is all the more necessary now that the Pope's words -- and the even worse interventions of Fr. Lombardi -- are causing immense damage to the pro-life movement in the Philippines. The media and members of Congress and the Presidential Palace itself are using the Pope's statement to aggressively push for condom use and artificial contraception, with little attention being paid to the pro-lifers' attempts at clarifying matters.

The Lord's command to St. Peter was to "confirm thy brethren". Unfortunately, Pope Benedict is not doing this with such publications.

pelerin said...

I have just read that Archbishop Nicholls' press spokesman has said that secular reporting of the Holy Father's new book 'was fair' and see that santoeusibio has also mentioned this.

Which newspapers has the spokesman been reading I wonder? Yesterday's Daily Mail had the headline 'Pope says anyone can now use a condom if it saves life.' The journalists have made it so difficult for the ordinary person to explain what the Pope really meant.

It is a pity Cardinal Burke is not English!

Anthony Bidgood said...

Re: Pattif, the Holy Father did not use the word 'justified' in German. He introduced the example of a male prostitute by, 'Ich wuerde sagen,', which means literally 'I would say' but is a subjunctive phrase carrying with it the idea of a cautious assessment or observation, something a very long way from 'justified'.

Anthony Bidgood

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

Faithfull, Liverpool.

I can't spare the hours to look it up, but I'm absolutely sure that Catholic teaching and doctrine is that stealing is most certainly not sinful in the exceptional circumstances I outlined.

So, yes, in the case of a starving mother with no legitimate way of obtaining food for her children, yes I am justifying stealing from those with plenty (as opposed to stealing another hungry families last loaf of bread) as right, proper, just and ethical.

You mention murder, even murder has grey areas, for example if you murder someone to stop them plunging the large knife they are armed with into you, then that it not sinful, it is legitimate self defence.

Sorry but while sin is objectively black and white, subjectively every conceivable shade of grey comes into play.

Left-footer said...

Paul, Bedfordshire:

You are right. Allowing the blameless (including oneself) to starve while others have more than they need would be both stupid and wicked.

Did Jesus, probably not starving, pay for the ears of corn He ate on the Sabbath?

pattif said...

Yes, thank you for that, Anthony Bidgood; I ought to have made it clearer that the word 'justified' was a mistranslation. Your correct translation of the German makes it even more evident, I think, that the Holy Father was speaking of a hypothetical situation, rather than advocating a course of action for real people engaging in male prostitution. I don't even think he was talking specifically about sexual activity; I think he was giving an example of how the evil that flows from objectively sinful behaviour can begin to be mitigated by the first stirrings of thought for another. He wasn't saying that thinking of using a condom was objectively good, or even that such use would be effective, merely that such a thought might be the beginning of a change to behaviour that is less than wholly selfish.

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