Some Of My Favorite Things

Monday, November 22, 2010

Answering Questions

Comment:
When it came to "is he endorsing this" it was in regards to "is the Pope endorsing using condoms"

The answer is clearly no.
Reply
Ok, so he's not endorsing the idea that anyone take "a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility"?
Ok, wow, I don't know how I missed that.

I thought the Pope was in the business of endorsing that people move towards "moralization and a first assumption of responsibility," but you say he doesn't endorse that AT ALL, so there you go.
Mea culpa.
I'll have to pull all these posts and apologize.
If you can just confirm for me one more time that the Pope DOES NOT endorse "moralization and a first assumption of responsibility," I'll go ahead and do all those things.

Comment:
The Pope clearly states that it is limited to preventing the spread of infection. It is that intention which is that "first step", not the condom use.

Reply:
Of course, of course.
That's why he said the USE of the condom by the male prostitute is a step towards moralization and a first assumption of responsibility.

Because, clearly, a male prostitute who uses a condom is NOT using it because he's worried about infection.
He's obviously worried about getting his partner pregnant - that's the primary thing he's worried about and intending to avoid by the use of the condom, right?

Comment:
When a drug addict says "hey, maybe I should stop doing smack because I'll lose my job", the most we can say is "well, it's a start!" You shouldn't be doing drugs anyway, but at least they are beginning to realize there are consequences to their actions.

Reply:
Yes, that's right.
He is beginning to realize that there are consequences to the actions.
Now, what would be analogous to condom use here?
Clean needle exchange?
So, would you think the Pope would say that the intent to avoid the transmission of infection by seeking out clean needles is a first step towards moralization and assumption of responsibility?
And would the Pope say that the intent is good and humanizing, but the actual seeking out of and use of clean needles instead of any damned thing the kid picks up off the street is not something that he could endorse?

Because there's only three possibilities here: (1) stop use entirely, (2) seek out and use clean needles, or (3) use any old thing.

You see, in both of these cases, the intention is bound up with the use.

Condoms are generally agreed to DECREASE the pleasure in the experience, so the only reason anyone would use a condom is to avoid infection or pregnancy, and with the pregnancy issue pretty much dead, that means the intent behind using the condom and the actual use of the condom are virtually indistinguishable. Same goes with the needles - the trouble and possible ID associated with clean needles makes them more likely for you to get caught by cops and forced off your habit, which addicts don't want. So the act of looking for and using clean needles entails the necessary intent. By endorsing the intent, you necessarily endorse the use.

That is, the use of condoms as contraceptives may be intrinsically evil (evil regardless of intent), but the use of condoms as disease prophylactics is NOT intrinsically evil - it's bound up deeply with the intent.

Someone who has spent their life thinking of condoms as intrinsically evil is not going to make that distinction, as many of the Catholic commentators have not.

You can distinguish the intent and the use with pregnancy and condoms ("I intend to make love to my wife, so I'll use a condom" is a wrong answer, because no matter what your stated intent, the very act has a meaning which cries out against conception)

But, you CANNOT make that distinction when condoms are used to prevent disease transmission by male prostitutes (assumably involved in a homosexual liason).

By endorsing the intent to avoid disease transmission, the Pope necessarily recognizes the use of condoms as acceptable for avoiding disease transmission because, in the instance of a male prostitute, that's the only meaning they are likely to have.

Let's try a different thought experiment.
Let's say the Pope had been asked about taking drugs that reduce the transmission of AIDS.
Would the Pope say, "The intent to take such drugs is good, but we cannot endorse the taking of such drugs."
Of course not - the drugs are morally neutral and they provide good to the human person.

Now, if asked, "what about people who take the drugs with the intent of engaging in fornication or sodomy, so as to reduce disease transmission."
Obviously, the Pope would say, "Well, the intent to engage in fornication and sodomy is bad. We can't endorse that. But the intention to reduce disease transmission is a good."
But would the Pope say, "We don't endorse the taking of AIDS reducing drugs by sodomites?"
Obviously not.
Yet that's exactly what all the Catholic commentators seem to want to have him say.

By the very fact that he says, "the intention to reduce disease transmission is a good" THAT IS AN ENDORSEMENT of the use of the drug per se because this drug and all drugs like it do exactly what the Church says is good, and I cannot sin by doing what the Church says is good.

Let's put it another way.
Just as an action can have multiple consequences, so I can have multiple intentions when I carry out an action.

According to the Pope, when I use the condom, I may sin through the intent to commit sodomy or fornication, but I do NOT sin by intending to reduce disease transmission.
Insofar as I use the condom only for that purpose, I do not sin.

Indeed, according to the Pope, insofar as I use the condom for that purpose, I take the first actions towards moral good, the humanizing of the sexual act.

It's counter-intuitive, but that's what he himself says in the first part of his answer.

Now, when it comes to sodomy, there is NO difference between the use of a drug that reduces the probability AIDS will be transmitted and the use of a condom.

So, it is absolutely the case that the Pope is endorsing the use of a condom to prevent disease transmission per se because when I use it FOR THAT INTENTION, I am moving towards the good, which the Church endorses.

Indeed, everyone assumes he deliberately tried to qualify his statement to exactly that case of homosexual liason and precisely that intention.

This is part of what makes his reply so bad.
The most difficult aspect of his reply is that he failed to do what everyone assumes he meant to do.
He never limits the male prostitute's actions to homosexual actions, which leaves the whole blessed answer too open-ended.
Unfortunately, due to the extraordinary badness of his reply, you can read that reply to mean that male prostitutes can use condoms in heterosexual encounters as well because the Pope doesn't discuss that aspect at all. You'd be reading it out of consonance with the Magisterium, of course, but I think it's safe to say that the reply will commonly be read that way.

Comment:
Now if he says "well maybe I should start drinking more to help", the sentiment is still right (recognizing there are consequences to his actions), but the medicine in this case is no effective cure.

Sure, the prostitute wants to avoid infection, so he uses a condom. Wanting to avoid infecting someone with a terminal illness is a good thing. Yet that's not sufficient. Using a condom is still wrong.

Reply:
But the Pope doesn't say using a condom is wrong.
Show me the passage where he does.
He says it is a step towards the good if used with this intention.


Comment
Instead, the solution is a "humanization of sexuality." That is why the Church says that condoms cannot be a real or moral solution to the issue at hand.

I'm not trying to treat the Pope as infallible here. Part of it is simply trying to give the man the benefit of the doubt. Another part is reading the context, and taking the entire matter into account. In the end, it was an imprudent statement. Yet the Pope wasn't saying "condoms are good for this"

Reply
Yes, he was.

Comment
Steve, you're the only commentator I've seen who brings out the fact that it needs to be clarified that the pope is not speaking of contraception, as he is only referring to a male prostitute. This urgently needs to be clarified by the Holy See, assuming that is in fact what the Pope meant.
Reply
That's why the Vatican "clarification" to date is an epic fail.
It doesn't address that aspect at all.
Look at this mess of a reply:

The head of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has issued a statement clarifying passages of the book Light of the World, in which Pope Benedict discusses AIDS and condom use.

The statement says Pope Benedict states that AIDs cannot be solved only by the distribution of condoms, and, in fact, concentrating on condoms just trivializes sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love and becomes like a drug.

At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”, rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others.

Father Lombardi’s statement clarifies Pope Benedict XVI has not reformed or changed the Church’s teaching, but by putting it in perspective reaffirms the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.


What the heck is THAT?

"Disordered sexuality" - Father Lombardi, I hate to have to point this out, but fornication is disordered, contracepted sex is disordered, homosexuality is disordered, so are you saying a man and wife can use a condom after all?
That fornicating heterosexual couples should use a condom?
This clarification is worse than the original statement.

The Vatican is trying to play cute with the answer and draw all these nice distinctions in order to accommodate venereal disease (which is all AIDS is), and it CANNOT WORK.

We've had VD since sex was invented, and condoms have always been thrown out of bounds, so what makes AIDS any different?

Syphilis kills you just as dead, and arguably more horribly (take a look at the description of tertiary syphilis sometime), but that never swayed the Church before.
They're trying to finesse this thing and they are creating an epic fail.

1 comment:

Tony said...

We've had VD since sex was invented, and condoms have always been thrown out of bounds, so what makes AIDS any different?

AIDS is not different. Male prostitutes should not be having homosexual sex with customers for money.

Condoms are sinful not because the act of putting a piece of rubber over your penis is sinful, but because it interferes with God's design for the marital act.

Homosexual prostitutes are not performing the marital act. There is absolutely no potential for life from such an act. Therefore, from whence does the sinfulness of a homosexual using a condom come?

Homosexual acts are sinful. Using a condom is simply a side issue in this case.

I think the pope was mistaken in saying this because the press does not do nuance well (and they are not his friend).