Vatican clarifies pope's comments re: condoms

From an AP article:

Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, an expert on the Vatican's bioethics advisory board, said the pope was articulating the theological idea that there are degrees of evil.

"Contraception is not the worst evil. The church does not see it as good, but the church does not see it as the worst," he told the AP. "Abortion is far worse. Passing on HIV is criminal. That is absolute irresponsibility."

He said the pope broached the topic because questions about condoms and AIDS persisted, and the church's teaching hadn't been clear. There is no official Vatican policy about condoms and HIV, and Vatican officials in the past have insisted that condoms not only don't help fight HIV transmission but make it worse because it gives users a false sense of security.

"This pope gave this interview. He was not foolish. It was intentional," Suaudeau said. "He thought that this was a way of bringing up many questions. Why? Because it's true that the church sometimes has not been too clear."

Lombardi said the pope didn't use the technical terminology "lesser evil" in his comments because he wanted his words to be understood by the general public. Vatican officials, however, said that was what he meant.

"The contribution the pope wanted to give is not a technical discussion with scientific language on moral problems," Lombardi said. "This is not the job of a book of this type."


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

In other words, condom use by HIV infected individuals shows an attitude that is potentially less evil than knowingly infecting sexual partners with a deadly disease, but condom use is still evil and prohibited by Christian doctrine. I wish the original comments of the pope had made this more clear. Of course it's possible the pope did make such a clarifying statement to the interviewer who wrote the book, but somehow it didn't make it into the book

Robert said...

Hmmm ... "degrees of evil."

I guess "Dr. Evil" would be a "33rd degree" member of the Evil Club?

Pastor Hemmer said...

Here's where a Lutheran understanding of two kinds of righteousness comes in handy and would have added precision to the pope's comments.

Coram Deo, there are no degrees of evil. There is only evil or righteous. Being angry at your neighbor is just as bad as murdering him. Coram mundo, however, there are certainly degrees of evil and degrees of righteousness. Your neighbor is more adversely affected if you murder him than if you are simply angry at him in your heart.

So also abortion and contraception, or condom use and spreading AIDS: one harms your neighbor more than the other, even if both are sinful before God.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Excellent point, Pr. Hemmer. Thank you!