Reader takes issue with article about Papal interview, condoms, scandal

See the original article: It is a scandal for the Vicar of Christ to discuss casually with a layman, for publication to the world, such matters as condoms and male prostitutes.

Paul D. writes:

I do understand that the Pope’s comments have caused alarm and disquiet amongst the faithful and this is something that more wise council may have delivered in a more robust statement. Yet it is of little wonder because many papal comments can cause distress and query.

We remember, though I was a child at the time, Paul VI and Humane Vitae. His holiness did not issue the encyclical to show how he regarded the recent Council of the Church nor did he state it to inflict his own will above that of many within his opening Church. He did it as a response to the world of the 1960’s wherein sexual morality was collapsing in the public forum. Nevertheless, it did and does today resonate with what many within the Church regarded as unnecessary conviction towards the moral question surrounding the sexual experience.

Benedict today faces a world with many more complications caused by the spread especially in Africa of the AIDS virus. He clearly and theologically does not agree that the use of plastic condoms can solve this problem or defeat it. However, he is aware from his clergy in that continent that the problem needs to be faced head-on. This may also cause effect around the globe. As leader of the Worlds largest Organization his is the seemingly impossible task of showing Concordia to such diverse views and claims on his authority and direction. If ever a leader required help and prayer it was surely the sitter of the seat of St Peter?

His views expressed are important of course but they are not dogma. They show the direction the church may choose and it is the response of the Catholic World to try and be faithful to that direction. This does not mean blind obedience but it does mean that we may have to step back and see what his dialogue or expression means. Like Christ we have to see the Spirit not just the law as it is written. Tricky!

Misguided or Misunderstood . . .the charges remain. Surely some may claim that such a person as The Pope should be more aware of his political influence. His words may be unclear and we all like clarity. If not him then his advisors should be shot for allowing this holy personage to be dragged down to the media gutter by devious and corrupted secular writers.

On the other hand, it is not surprising that the pontiff’s words should be used in ways that inflate contrary belief systems. That is part of human nature and hardly unique. If many jump on the verbal band wagon to direct it in their own direction and in ways that were clearly never intended then we should not be surprised.

It is absurd to suggest the Pope was advancing safe sex by the use of the condom. If many think this then it is true many think Jesus meant self harm when he suggested cutting ones hand off rather then sinning. Catholics that have been given intelligence no matter how small should correct the issue but do it with charity and not in some intellectual storm of sour regret. To suggest the Pontiff is in error because he failed to appreciate that his words may be misconstrued is rather disgusting.

Yet as children often write What Would Jesus Do? Benedict is not politically astute but nor is he a fool. He tries and tried to express in modern setting when it may be more charitable to choose a lesser evil. He faces a hostile world and a very hostile western media often governed by liberal atheism. It is shocking therefore that Catholic media should also lay the proverbial boot in! Under such outrage it is hardly any wonder that many of the faithful are left even more bewildered and confused.

So my response to your blog was of dismay not from what the Pope had said but from the editorial that does indeed sneer at this 83 year old with little appreciation that he simply cannot be allowed to interfere with secular press. The (writer’s) argument (appears) to boil down to who is (responsible): the Pontiff … OR …“certain members of his own Vatican apparatus, who have demonstrated abundantly that they are unreliable or incompetent at best and outright traitors at worst.“

Such language is very inflammatory and more so coming from a catholic editorial. But there is worse: In summary that “Something else must be noted in all candour: It is a scandal for the very Vicar of Christ to discuss casually with a layman, for publication to the world, such matters as condoms and male prostitutes. It is inconceivable that any Pope before Vatican II, or even John XXIII or Paul VI, for that matter, would have descended to such details. The utter degradation of discourse that characterizes the “modern world” now touches even the Roman Pontiff, despite his own evident piety, modesty and sobriety. Like all the other novelties spawned by the Council, the “opening to the world” and “dialogue with the world” are a monumental failure, as this affair demonstrates. The more the Pope deigns to treat with the world in worldly terms and in worldly forums, the more his authority erodes and the wider his flock scatters. The more he tries to “explain his thinking,” as Lawler puts it, the less the world accepts his explanations

Such a view is irresolute in its sneer not just of papal desire but of the Catholic Faith towards papal authority. It would if it were from a Catholic cleric be sinful. It is worse still as it is historically inaccurate and echoes of the heretic Lefebvre. The Second Vatican Council has its loony retractors. There are those that hearken back to days of some golden past when popes were rulers in their palaces and were only expected to engage with the world at Christmas or Easter.

Yet John XXIII was inspired by Christ to open dialogue and engage with the world. Paul VI famous retort to his heretical critics was that the spirit of the council is The Holy Spirit. John Paul II again and again acknowledged and restated the desires of the council and led the Church to advance into the world, openly and freely. So it is not a surprise that Benedict also wishes to continue such dialogue. What is so annoying is that some Catholic press members albeit arch-conservatives still resolutely refuse to bow before the will of the Council or its spirit.

I must confess, that I do not agree with all papal comments nor do I understand why I am expected to understand what may sometimes seem bizarre or absurd from the Church in this modern western world. I fall short however from nailing such disagreements to the door of my cathedral. My own inclination is all too often to do what I want and put these matters to one side. After all Holy Scripture is full of contradictions so why not challenge it and ignore it? Fortunately, perhaps by God’s loving grace I reflect that whilst I do not appreciate or fully understand my faith I nevertheless believe in the will of God etc. That the Catholic Church may be surrounded by wolves or lions sensing blood but that Christ remains the eternal Good Shepherd. He whom is almighty watches over us and our life as the life of his bride, the Church.

The claims that the Church has gone or is about to go down the moral gutter are premature. The pope’s authority does not lessen by his engaging with the world nor does his flock scatter. Christ speaks to us through his representatives and our pope. Because an author has interviewed and received copy of a papal book it should not terrify us. It would have been better and more in keeping with the will of Jesus if the editor of the editorial instead of knocking Benedict’s furtive attempts to address the wider world had tried to explain to the faithful why the pontiff is leading the church along this route. It would surely have been a clearer act of faith.

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