But this priest goes much farther than that, and his conclusions are quite disturbing.
There are several sections which attempt to summarize this thought, but here's as close to a money quote as the article's diffuse, poorly articulated reasoning presents:
Granted that immoral sexual behavior should be avoided altogether, in my view the point rightly made by the Holy Father is that when someone who is already performing immoral acts uses a condom, he or she does not properly choose a lesser evil, but simply tries to prevent an evil — the evil of infection. From the sinner’s point of view this obviously means to choose some good: health. Yet, provided we consider the immoral activities (for example, prostitution) to be intrinsically evil, using a condom to prevent infection means to reduce the evilness and moral disorder of this activity.Alright, let's accept the man's argument. Prior to this, I have NEVER heard anyone say that the object of the will can change the evil of an intrinsically disordered act. By it's very nature, an "intrinsically disordered act" is evil - the object of the will is not going to change that. The act itself carries meaning, and that "act-ual" meaning, as it were, is wrong, regardless of the intent.
But here, we hear that the object of the will, the reason for doing the act, CAN mitigate the evil and be a step towards the good.
But then he says this:
A condom is designed to be a means for impeding male fluids from penetrating into the woman’s womb. Its normal use is for contraception. In the case the pope speaks of, however, the reason for their use is not the impeding of conception, but preventing infection. We should not confuse human acts, which may be intrinsically good or intrinsically evil, with “things.” It’s not the condom as such, but its use, which presents the moral problem. Therefore, what the pope says does not even refer to the question of contraceptionWhat he means by "use" appears to be not "use" but "intent." For the use of the condom in the two acts - whether it be contraception or disease prophylaxis - is the same. In both cases, the condom is " a means for impeding male fluids from penetrating into the woman’s womb."
Thus, if it's the "use which presents the moral problem" then the moral problem is present in a heterosexual encounter regardless of intent.
The male fluids contain both semen and virii.
The means for preventing entry to the one is identically the same action that prevents the entry to the other.
The "use" is not just similar actions, it is THE SELF-SAME ACTION.
Even the intent is the same - to keep the seminal fluids out.
Now, the ultimate reason you want to keep the seminal fluids out is different, but what you are using (the condom) and your proximate desire/outcome (the penetration of male fluids into the woman) is built on the self-same action and the self-same intent.
So, in order to make his point, the good priest has to change the meaning of the word "use" from "use" to "intent." But even that is not good enough to accomplish what he wants - he has to narrow the meaning of "intent" so as to completely ignore proximate intent and focus only on ultimate intent. It's the only way he can come to his conclusion "what the pope says does not even refer to the question of contraception."
In other words, he is making EXACTLY THE SAME EQUIVOCATION THE HOLY FATHER MADE in the original statement.
If you'll recall, just hours after Pope's statement came out, I pointed out that the Holy Father initially said the "use" of the condom lessened the evil, then only later in the interview qualified the remark by saying it was the intent.
Everyone kept focusing (and indeed, still focuses) on intent, and pretended (or still pretends) the "use" statement never happened.
But it did happen, and the Opus Dei priest is doubling down on it.
Let's be clear here - "use" is different than "intent."
That's why we have two words, after all.
The man even admits this:
If we don’t know what the purpose is in using the “thing” — the condom — in a sexual act of prostitution, we cannot know what kind of moral act is performed here...Here he clearly differentiates between "use" and "intent." But he's also clearly made a stupid statement - we already know what kind of moral act is being performed here - it's prostitution, which is evil. What he means is, we can't know if the person is trying to avoid one of the evil consequences of his evil action (transmitting disease) or if he's trying to avoid a good consequence of his evil action (the procreation of a child).
Is Condomized Sex a Marital Act?
The good priest recognizes the slippery slope he has created, and attempts to defuse it through raw assertion:
Therefore it is not a question of simply shifting intentions (the further intention) with which we are doing this or that. In this way nearly any action could be justified. One can always find a good intention for justifying the doing of evil things.But, of course, that's exactly what he's doing. All he's doing is shifting the intention from the proximate to the remote or ultimate. When he sees that his teaching could lead to really lousy moral conclusions, he hastily adds:
These kinds of special questions are outside the scope of what the pope wanted to say and we should not try to extend his remarks to very different cases which are the subject of many expert books. And in so far as these questions refer to sexual acts within marriage, the problems are again of a different order.That is, his reasoning is so lousy that he doesn't want it to be generalized to establish a precedent.
But notice, he refers to condom use as "sexual acts within marriage." He says this even though, earlier in the same article, he has admitted that these sexual acts are not properly acts within marriage at all (exactly what I warned Jimmy Akin about, which is why Jimmy refused to continue the conversation):
Relying on an old tradition in moral theology that is also reflected in canon law, it was argued that sexual intercourse with a condom by impeding insemination would not meet the physical requirements of a marital act. Because insemination was interrupted, according to this understanding, the act of intercourse was therefore not an act of a generative kind but instead something intrinsically perverted, more like an act of masturbation, sodomy or even bestiality than conjugal love. Although there would be no act chosen explicitly for the purpose of rendering infertile a conjugal act, the use of the condom to prevent the transmission of HIV would be intrinsically evil, annulling the properly marital meaning of sexual intercourse.
There was some scholarly exchange about this, mainly in the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly. To this day, I am not sure whether this argument is really compelling...
Alright. So a moral argument based in canon law and the ancient traditions of the Church is not "really compelling..." Lovely.
Is Procreation Of A New Human Life, A Person, A Good?
Knowing this, should we be at all surprised to see this gem drop from our good priest's lips?
On the other hand, I consider that a man who at least cares that his occasional female sexual partner not become pregnant acts more responsibly — or less irresponsibly — than a man who does not care about possibly destroying a girl’s entire life; I am thinking of the man who prefers to maximize his pleasure and thus insists on having sex without using condoms. [emphasis added]Now we discover that a man who uses a condom in order to prevent pregnancy is actually acting in a morally responsible way! After all, the conception of an immortal being, the procreation of a new human life, is an unalloyed good, and we wouldn't want to "destroy a girl's entire life" (not a "woman's life," because "woman" sounds too Scriptural and adult, so we'll just talk about a "girl's life") by allowing the possibility of an unalloyed immortal good, a person in the image and likeness of God, to become part of existence, now would we?
As I've pointed out before, this is theological syphilis - blind, absurd and incoherent. So it is no surprise to see his reasoning descend into that same syphilitic incoherence.
He simultaneously holds that condoms should not be used during fertile periods:
In practice it is hard for an intention to prevent infection not to fuse with other, morally disordered intentions, such as the properly contraceptive intent of preventing the conception of an infected baby. For this reason, spouses should in any case abstain from intercourse, at least in knowingly fertile periods (this doesn’t apply to sterile spouses, of course).and that condoms can be used at any time by a married couple in which one partner has HIV:
I wrote in 2004 in a letter to The Tablet that “Personally I would never encourage a couple to use a condom, but to abstain. If they disagree, I would not think their intercourse to be an intrinsically sinful act or even a sin ‘against nature’ equal to sodomy, as some moral theologians say.”And why would it be? Just because the couple is now engaging in extra-marital sex (for that is what a barrier contraceptive is for married couples, even if it is with each other), why would that be a sin?
But why the hesitancy in the first opinion? After all, if using a condom isn't an intrinsically sinful act, then why shouldn't a married couple use condoms regardless of the fertile period? If the ultimate intent is prevention of disease transmission, and they don't want to ruin their entire lives by procreating, then what's wrong with using a condom?
Sure, the point of marriage is procreation, indeed, the biological point of sex itself is procreation, but if we can frustrate the very biology via the use of a condom by a fornicating couple, then what difference does it make if we frustrate that biology inside or outside the marriage? All we're doing in marriage is violating sacred vows to procreate, but in condomized fornication, we're violating our very own sacred natures, so what difference does a little vow-breaking make?
What matters is no one get the sniffles.
Whereas using a condom to prevent death by syphilis was always seen as a problem, our new enlightened age with our new enlightened version of syphilis (HIV) has changed our thinking. Obviously HIV is entirely different than any other STD because.... well, just because.
If this is where the Pope intended to take us, the Pope - in his capacity as private theologian - is wrong. What the "private theologian" said in the interview will never be written into a Magisterial document because the conclusions announced by this priest, his avid supporter, are erroneous.
Personally, I see no point in reading the speculations of a private theologian, even if he is the Pope. Spend time with the Magisterium - the saints, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the official documents of the Church. Benedict's private speculations are not part of Church teaching in any formal way. Insofar as what he says matches the Magisterium, it is already present in other documents. Insofar as what he says does not match the Magisterium, it is not worth any good Catholic's time.