An Australian Take on the Pope's Comments in Africa

The Society of Jesus in Australia runs a free online magazine like America called Eureka Street, which covers affairs both local to Australia and international.  Fr. Andrew Hamilton, SJ, is their consulting editor and a theologian teaching at the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne.  

In a recent piece on the Pope’s trip to Australia, Hamilton suggests that we should see the Pope’s comments on condoms in Africa as reflecting not only his own bias, but an aspect of the African experience of AIDS.  

There a value-free Western strategy has been inadequate because it does not deal with important cultural factors. These call for educational programs that touch the human values within sexuality. When the Pope says that condoms may make things worse, he could argue that to provide condoms without a moral framework will encourage complacency, will not guarantee their use, and will leave untouched the conditions that leave women and children infected.

"The African context," he argues, 

"suggests that it may be better to leave the concerns of the West behind for a while, and to enter imaginatively the life of the African women and children and men infected by AIDS. Reflection from that perspective may suggest a way through ethical complexities and generate words that ring both true and compassionate."

The most recent issue also offers some very interesting pieces on a parish in Brisbane in deep conflict with church officials over its style of liturgy and teaching, and on the problems caused by blanket demonizations, condemnations and suppressions of dialogue within the church. On the second issue, Frank Brennan, S.J., writes: 

The recent PR disasters out of Rome, with the reception of the holocaust denying bishop and with the public’s genuinely misinterpreted reading of the Pope’s prescription for solving the AIDS crisis in Africa, highlight that hierarchical and secretive management of debate and dissent is no longer a prudent option for a Church committed to proclaiming the gospel as good news for all....Why can’t we provide such spaces in the Church which, as John Paul II said in Veritatis Splendor, ’puts herself always and only at the service of conscience’?

Some pieces well worth noting...

 

8 years 1 month ago
They dissented from Jesus' teachings and walked away from Him. Why would things be different for Jesus' Vicar on earth?
8 years 1 month ago
Fr. Hamilton SJ would do well to read Fr. Czerny SJ [THINKING FAITH] on the subject of condoms and AIDS in Africa. Fr. Czerny is on the scene.
8 years 1 month ago
So also is Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa on the scene ... http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5032190 And this noted theologian had this to say about the role of conscience in one's moral decision making: "For Newman, conscience represents the inner complement and limit of the church principle. Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is in the last resort beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle of opposition to increasing totalitarianism. Genuine ecclesiastical obedience is distinguished from any totalitarian claim which cannot accept any ultimate obligation of this kind beyond the reach of its dominating will." Joseph Ratzinger on article 16 of Gaudem et Spes, in Volume 5 of the "Commentary on Documents of Vatican II", edited by Vorgrimler (New York/London 1969).

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Affordable Care Act has changed our expectations for health care. It shifted the way we live, which may be shifting what we believe.
Michael RozierMay 25, 2017
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speak to the media about President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The U.S. bishops have raised some serious concerns about what this proposal says about our national values.
The EditorsMay 25, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, following after a Republican policy luncheon. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Congress is asking the nation to make “immoral choices,” said Sister Keehan, the president of the Catholic Health Association.
Kevin ClarkeMay 25, 2017
Philippine government soldiers walk past a mosque before their May 25 assault on Maute insurgents, who have taken over large parts of the town of Marawi. Residents started to evacuate Marawi after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law across the entire Muslim-majority region of Mindanao. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)
Gunmen claiming to have links with the Islamic State group threatened to kill hostages, including a Catholic priest, who were taken from the southern Philippine city of Marawi on May 23.