A Statement from the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and a statement from Bishop Anthony Fisher
POPE’S COMMENTS DO NOT CHANGE TEACHING ON CONDOM USE
HIV –AIDS is wreaking havoc in Africa, where the Catholic Church is heavily involved in the care of those infected and their surviving family members.
In his recent interview, Pope Benedict insisted on speaking on the basic Christian and Catholic teaching on sexual activity: that such sexual activity is to be confined to the love making between husband and wife. He urges abstinence from premarital and extra-marital sex and fidelity within marriage.
He also mentioned the possibility of a male prostitute using a condom against transmitting infection as a first step “in the direction of moralization”.
This is a delicate and difficult area, sometimes producing tragic consequences. I have not seen the German original of what the Pope said, but hard and exceptional cases can encourage bad law making.
Much work needs to be done to bring consistent, Catholic light into this grey and vexed area, while ensuring that the Catholic moral framework on sexuality remains intact.
I also endorse the brief statement of Bishop Anthony Fisher OP as faithfully representing Catholic thinking.
Statement by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP
BISHOP OF PARRAMATTA
In his forthcoming book-length interview Pope Benedict XVI re-emphasises Catholic teaching that fidelity within marriage and abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the only morally permissible approach to chaste living. It is also the only practicable solution to the HIV-AIDs epidemic.
The Holy Father calls on the faithful to “fight against the banalisation of sexuality” which treats sex as a mere recreational drug, and to seek instead “the humanisation of sexuality” as the expression of marital love.
Despite some misinterpretation in the international media, the Pope has not deviated from or altered in any way Catholic teaching on the intrinsic wrongness of contraception or on reserving sexual intercourse (‘the marital act’) to marriage, that is of a man and a woman.
Pastors have long recognised that in cases such as homosexual intercourse, conception and marital acts are not at issue. Using a condom in this situation is clearly not contraception. It is clear that even here the goal must be to move the individual to living a truly ‘humane’, that is a chaste and loving, sexual life.
The Pope suggests that sometimes “as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom” to protect his client from disease, this might be a sign of an awakening moral responsibility. But using condoms, the Pope insists, is still not “a real or moral solution”.