US Bishop: Pope Didn't Change Condom Teaching

Says Pontiff Spoke of Hope for Sinners

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, DEC. 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Youngstown is clarifying that Benedict XVI has not changed Church teaching on contraception and condoms.

In a column published by the Youngstown Diocese, Bishop George Murry addressed the confusion arising from media coverage of the recently published book-interview with the Pontiff, “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times” (Ignatius Press).

The prelate noted that “international media reports have created a great deal of confusion around Pope
Benedict’s recently published remarks with regard to condoms.”

He stated that “a careful reading of his remarks reveals” that the Holy Father “neither proposed any change to the teaching of the Church on the immorality of the use of contraceptives, nor does he justify condom use, or characterize their use as a lesser evil.”

“He is, in fact, very clear in the interview that condoms are not either a real or moral solution to the AIDS crisis,” the bishop observed.

He explained that the confusion arose because “some news reports have taken one sentence from Chapter 11 of the Pope’s book-length interview and given it a broader interpretation than the Pope intended.”

The Pontiff’s sentence from the book that was largely misunderstood is: “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.”

Bishop Murry clarified: “Pope Benedict was not justifying condom use for male prostitutes or for anyone else. Rather he was reflecting on the dawning light of human conscience in a person who lives a sinful lifestyle.”

He added, “In the Pope’s example, even someone whose life is so darkened by sin still has a hope for conversion by reflecting on his actions according to the true inner voice of conscience.”

“Specifically,” the prelate continued, “a prostitute’s use of a condom is not in any way a lesser evil, but rather it is his (or her) desire to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS that may signal a first step in recognizing the human dignity of a sexual partner.”

He affirmed, “In a prostitute’s realization that a deadly disease would not be good for a sexual partner, there is hope that one day he or she will come to see the immorality of that lifestyle and begin to seek the true freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.”

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