VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican spokesman is clarifying that Benedict XVI is not justifying condom use, though the Pope said it could in some cases be a first step toward moral behavior.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this in a statement today regarding the words of Benedict XVI as recorded in a book, “Light of the World” (Ignatius Press), scheduled for release on Tuesday.
On Saturday, L’Osservatore Romano published some quotes from this book, which drew public interest and media misunderstandings.
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.
Father Lombardi noted that Benedict XVI answered Seewald by insisting “on the fact that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to banalizing sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a ‘drug.'”
The spokesman affirmed that “fighting against banalization of sexuality is ‘part of the great effort to help sexuality be valued positively and have a positive effect on man in his totality.'”
He added, “In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the contemporary discussion of it, the Pope reaffirms that ‘naturally the Church does not consider condoms as the authentic and moral solution’ to the problem of AIDS.”
“In this the Pope does not reform or change the Church’s teaching, but reaffirms it,” the priest stated.
“At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat for the life of another,” the spokesman explained.
The Ignatius Press blog, Ignatius Insight, published these excerpts of the book today, noting the Pontiff’s words: “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.”
When Seewald asked the Holy Father to clarify the Church’s position on the use of condoms, Benedict XVI responded: “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.”
Father Lombardi explained, “In that case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection may be ‘a first act of responsibility,'” as opposed to “not using it and exposing the other to risking his life.”
“In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change,” he said.
“With courage Benedict XVI thus offers us an important contribution of clarification and reflection on a question that has long been debated,” the priest affirmed.
He continued, “It is an original contribution, because on one hand it maintains fidelity to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in refuting an illusory path like that of the ‘confidence is condoms.'”
On the other hand, Father Lombardi said, “it manifests a comprehensive and far-seeing vision, attentive to uncovering the small steps — even if only initial and still confused — of an often spiritually and culturally impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.”
He pointed out that in this book, “the Pope again clearly stresses” that when he spoke to journalists aboard the papal plane “he had not intended to take a position on the problem of condoms in general.”
Rather, the spokesman noted, the Pontiff “wanted to affirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, counsel, being with people both to keep them from getting sick and in the case that they do get sick.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Father Lombardi’s statement: http://zenit.org/article-31024?l=english
On the Net:
“Light of the World:” www.LightOfTheWorldBook.com
Ignatius Insight: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/