Nov 23 2010

Pope: condoms not just for gay prostitutes

When the Pope recently decided that condom use was okay when preventing the spread of AIDS, many people were suspicious of the example he used – gay prostitutes. Did that mean it was only okay when there was already zero possibility of pregnancy? Was this the Catholic Church snubbing women yet again?

The Vatican has released a clarification today that condoms can be used to prevent AIDS by all genders and sexual orientations:

The pope’s comments in the book implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception. Questions arose immediately about the pope’s intent, though, because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

Lombardi told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended to refer only to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me ‘no.’ The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

[...]In the book, the pope was not justifying or condoning gay sex, condoms as a means of artificial contraception or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. He reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the pope is saying that condom use is a lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner even when pregnancy is possible.

“We’re not just talking about an encounter between two men, which has little to do with procreation. We’re now introducing relationships that could lead to childbirth,” Martin said.

The Catholic Church hasn’t quite joined us in the 21st century, but making it to the 20th century is a good first step. This decision will save countless of lives, even if it is just a publicity ploy to distract people from their child molestation scandal.

Sooooo, can someone explain to me how the concepts of the “infallibility of the Church” and “papal infallibility” meshes with “changing your mind”?


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  1. 1
    Michael Hoffman

    Papal infallibility only applies to a very limited set of pronouncements made in a special way. Compare with this xkcd.

  2. 2

    the same way the flub off gods major change in attitude in the bible tween the old and new testaments.

  3. 3
    John Small Berries

    While they’re explaining those things to you, maybe they can also explain to me why it is that someone can commit all sorts of other acts which the Catholic church regards as sinful, then go to confession and remain in good standing in the church, no matter how persistently they keep committing the same acts over and over again… but gays aren’t deserving of that same forgiveness.

  4. 4

    People need to stop getting so excited about this. All the pope has said is that condom use by prostitutes to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS might indicate the first glimmerings of moral sense in those people.He did not say that condom use was fine for people to prevent STIs. Lots of people in the church are acting as though he did, all the way up to some Cardinals, but there are people who maintain that the pope meant what he said – that condoms are an evil, but that prostitutes trying to prevent the spread of STIs using them is a positive sign that they might not be irredeemably wicked.Kind of backhanded, and not as happy-puppy as people are claiming.Mind, given so much of the church is choosing to interpret it as “condoms are okay to prevent STIs,” he might end up getting dragged along by his own statements no matter how he meant them.

  5. 5

    RE: Papal infallibility…I grew up Catholic and promptly left when I moved out of the house, but my uncle once said that concept only pertains to certain topics, like the virginity of Mary, etc. Wikipedia provides some insight, but it’s mostly bullshit, as is all Catholic dogma.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P

  6. 6
    Cap'n Refsmmat

    The pope has to declare a statement to be infallible to invoke papal infallibility. He’s allowed to change his mind on all other issues.

  7. 7

    Actually, you can find reams and reams of stuff on what the papal infallibility is all about, and it’s all strictly hedged about it applying only to specific types of pronouncements except when it’s not, so they have all that covered. But I thought the best “shorter Pope” was this: “The Pope says both male & female prostitutes can use condoms. So, in theory, everyone can use them so long as money is exchanged.” (http://tinyurl.com/2betpd5)

  8. 8
    Charlie Kilian

    As an ex-Catholic myself, I can tell you that they only claim papal infallibility in very, very narrow circumstances. It’s kind of their ace in the hole — if they decide to change their minds, well, it wasn’t *really* infallible! Of course, that doesn’t stop them from implying strongly that the pope is perfect whenever it particularly suits their needs.Of particular fun are the cases where something was clearly by-their-own-rules infallibly declared, and they changed their minds anyway. Which is where you get Hal & Mel Gibson style “Traditional Catholics”, — the form of the Mass was never supposed to have been changed from Latin according to an “infallible decree” at some point. So the Pope is, by their own rules, automatically excommunicated, and blah blah blah who cares. Like CycleNinja said, it is all Catholic dogma, so all we’re doing is arguing about varying degrees of bullshit.

  9. 9

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…According to the teaching of the First Vatican Council and Catholic tradition, the conditions required for ex cathedra teaching are as follows:1. “the Roman Pontiff”2. “speaks ex cathedra” (“that is, when in the discharge of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, and by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority….”)3. “he defines”4. “that a doctrine concerning faith or morals”5. “must be held by the whole Church” (Pastor Aeternus, chap. 4)

  10. 10

    Just a couple of quick clarifications. Infallibility has a very narrow scope. It can only be used on matters of faith/dogma and a statement is only infallible if it is declared infallible at the time it is made. So infallibility has only been invoked I think 7 times in the history of the church. Therefore, the church can’t change its mind about something it has declared to be infallible, but can about anything else (and it has on numerous other things – like accepting evolution rather than creationism).On the comment on confession – part of the process is a promise to “sin no more” or something like that. You can’t go to confession with the intention of continuing the same behavior and be forgiven, but the concept is that you can be forgiven for anything for which you are truly remorseful if you are actually trying to change your behavior.Not trying to argue right/wrong here, but just clarifying definitions. Hope that helps.

  11. 11

    people, we’re all missing the real point here, aren’t we? ask yourself not questions about papal infallibility nor of if the church is getting with the program vis a vis condoms. ask yourself, if, as they are now claiming the pope was “really” talking about prostitutes and the spread of AIDS, why the first thing that came to his mind was… *male* prostitutes. and anyway, prostitutes???tells me a lot about Emperor Palpatine, er, i mean Pope Nazi.

  12. 12

    Obviously God changed his mind, not the Pope, and really what’s the point in being an omnipotent all-powerful super being if you can’t change your mind once in a while?

  13. 13

    Oh, man, you guys are going to love this one.From another forum I frequent:”Pope’s leniency on condoms to stem DNA child rape results?”

  14. 14

    Loosely right, Cap…but Jen always has trouble understanding Catholicism. Forget about any sort of theology. Condom use is still wrong for everybody. It’s a lessor wrong to use condoms, than passing on a certain death sentence of course. As for making it into the 20th century…we are ahead of everybody. The Church is the future. Enjoy this life, transients. It’s all you have~ …death and judgment isn’t that far away.

  15. 15

    They’re supposed to feel really bad about it and stuff.

  16. 16
    Nick Andrew

    They still have a few hundred years to go before they get to the 20th Century.

  17. 17

    Well, funny, you would think that sinners like prostitutes and those who have sex with them would receive a little more censure. This seems like a total oxymoron – prostitutes should prevent spreading AIDS because human life is at risk, so condoms are ok. But sex and prostitutes are NOT ok. Obviously this is just the first chip in the church’s armor and realism is on its way into the church’s thought. But it’s funny how it starts out as blatant hypocrisy.

  18. 18

    “Questions arose immediately about the pope’s intent, though, because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.Lombardi told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended to refer only to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.”-Quote from the article Jen linked to. A case of “lost in translation” …?Perhaps I’m a bit slow today, but I’m not sure what exactly you want to express with the cursive prostitutes. (Honestly! No irony)

  19. 19

    This whole contradiction reminds me of my beef with the Unification Church, which I had grown up in. Long story short, their cult believes that Rev. Moon is the second coming of christ. And yet, the church has gone through many changes. People try and convince me to come back to the church on the basis that the church is changing to be more modern and tolerant, but all these changes do is just show me that the church’s doctrine can’t be the “word of god” if it has to constantly be revised like that. So, keeping a religion in the dark ages makes them look bad, changing a religion to not look like a bunch of prehistoric idiots highlights that they’re just making it up as they go along. Just can’t win.

  20. 20

    It makes sense because you dreamed about Daniel Radcliffe in drag, and being a monkey.

  21. 21

    Nasty Christian is correct. Pope’s private opinions are not infallible, they’ve never been and never will. He said the use of condom is not moral (i.e. not justified, not accepted, not approved) even to prevent AIDS. Go an read the complete answers. You are smart enough.Come on guys! I understand that catholics get confused and start believing condoms are OK now; but you guys are skeptic, you read between lines. The official teaching is the same… 100% the same. Gay sex, fornication, premarital relations, using a condom as a contraceptive are still sins.His example was just to explain that the condom per se is no evil. What’s wrong is sex outside of marriage. Condoms are ok if you want to use them as ballons =D

  22. 22

    “…death and judgment isn’t that far away. “Tell that to the Christians from 2000 years ago (or those 2000 years from now.. makes no difference, really)”Enjoy this life, transients. It’s all you have~”I do and I will.You, of course, please continue living this life like you will get a better one if this one is filled with enough self-loathing and self-righteousness. :)P.S. If you’re a Poe> ;)

  23. 23

    Elalejo, the significance of this for ‘us’ is that finally the Pope, i.e. someone high up in the Catholic hierarchy, is admitting that condoms in and of themselves are not evil. “His example was just to explain that the condom per se is no evil.”Exactly. That’s what’s different. Before this, church officials condemned the use of condoms *even* when an uninfected partner could contract your illness and die.

  24. 24

    Oneric, I just don’t want you to get so excited so soon. Condom, as Pope said, is not evil per se, but he also said is not a moral solution for AIDS issue. I know even for catholics it is difficult to understand this because most of us like black and white statements like “Condoms are evil no matter what you use them for”.So even in the case you mention the condom is still not a moral solution. Pope said: “She [the Church] of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution…”

  25. 25

    I’m not excited. The people who’re excited are the strawmanny ‘us’ that you’ve lumped me with.And btw, I was brought up Catholic, so I know the context a little better than you give me credit for.I don’t care a hoot what the catholic church considers moral or not when it doesn’t affect other innocent people. The fact is that by saying it’s more moral, or rather, less immoral to have sex with a condom, if you have AIDs or other STDs, than it is to have sex without a condom, one less voice scaring people off condoms is heard. And that will save lives. I don’t understand why that’s so hard to get.I am (qualifiably) happy, though, that this supports the secular argument for condom use in areas where AIDs is rearing it’s ugly head.To repeat something I said to a still-Cath friend:I’m just gonna call BS on the rhetoric and the reasons and just be happy that we might have a few less people running around in Africa spreading propaganda that condoms spread (I kid you not) HIV(1) or better yet, kill you(2).(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/09/aids(2) http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/09/hivaids_crankery_from_a_cathol.phpP.S. However, as I understand it, you’re counselling taking this news with a pinch of salt. In which case, I’m mostly in agreement.

  26. 26

    > Loosely right, Cap…but Jen always has trouble understanding Catholicism. > Forget about any sort of theology.why should anyone waste their time trying to understand such nonsense? > Condom use is still wrong for everybody.Condom use is not wrong for anyone. Just because your silly religion has an irrational ban on birth control doesn’t mean anyone else should worry about it.> It’s a lessor wrong to use condoms, than passing on a certain death sentence of course.No, condom use is specifically _right_ in that situation.> As for making it into the 20th century…we are ahead of everybody. The Church is the future. Well, considering the fact that we’re actually in the _21st_ century right now, if the 20th is what you’re aspiring to, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no only are you woefully behind the curve, but you won’t be catching up any time soon enough be ‘the future’ unless the apocalypse actually happens.> Enjoy this life, transients. It’s all you have~You won’t get any arguments here on that point> …death and judgment isn’t that far away. Death? yes. Judgment? I judge you as deluded, so you’re already halfway there.

  27. 27

    ok, that makes sense. i read about this elsewhere and didn’t actually click Jen’s link./self in corner/

  28. 28

    Effectively what the Pope said doesnt matter, if people think he said condoms are ok now then the lives of many (who care about his opinion) might be saved despite his anti-human intention!I’d call that a win.

  29. 29
    Alexander Van Houten

    The pope is selling out to big Latex.

  30. 30

    “This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual.”Oh, lovely. We’re not men or women, apparently, but some kind of “third gender”. :-/

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