Bishop: Read the Pope's Condom Comments

Urges Faithful to Go to the Source, Not to Trust the Media

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FARGO, North Dakota, NOV. 22, 2010 ( The bishop of Fargo is encouraging the faithful to not trust the media to interpret the words of Benedict XVI for them, and to read for themselves what the Pope has to say about condoms.

Bishop Samuel Aquila made these statements today in response to the flurry of reports over the weekend that suggested the Holy Father approved the use of condoms in some cases.

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, spurred the media activity Saturday when it published several excerpts from the book-interview with Benedict XVI titled “Light of the World,” which is scheduled to be released Tuesday by Ignatius Press.

At the end of the tenth chapter of the book, the writer, German journalist Peter Seewald, asked the Pontiff two questions on the fight against AIDS and the use of condoms. Seewald referenced the Holy Father’s comments on this topic while aboard the papal plane on the way to Cameroon and Angola in March, 2009.

To the charge that it’s “madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms,” Benedict XVI replied: “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.”

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

The Holy Father 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.”

Bishop Aquila noted that the Church “has always celebrated the truth and beauty of human sexuality,” and that an “unchanging part of that celebration throughout history is the Church’s teaching that sexual expression must be open to life [… and] that sexual union within a marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Despite recent news articles which falsely construe the words of Benedict XVI to suggest otherwise,” he added, “that teaching has not changed in any way.”

No shift

“At issue here are the words of Pope Benedict XVI regarding condom use,” the bishop continued. “The news stories and some of the comments solicited from the public would interpret his words as proclaiming a shift in the Catholic Church’s teaching on condom use, and contraception in general. […]

“This conclusion is incorrect as can be easily seen by examining the actual text from the book. The Holy Father is not condoning the use of condoms, but making an observation regarding the awakening of a sense of responsibility in the people who are caught up in the habitual sin of prostitution.  

“He does not offer a new moral evaluation of the use of condoms, neither in principle nor practically in this circumstance, but is merely describing a psychological development as one, even in the grip of sin, can begin to acknowledge the safety and human dignity of another.”

Bishop Aquila then urged the faithful and “all people of good will to read the entire book.”

“Do not depend on the media for your understanding of what Benedict XVI states,” he said, “rather go to the source in order to find truth and not someone’s misunderstanding and false interpretation of what was actually stated.”

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