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.  

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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...

 

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9 years 8 months ago
They dissented from Jesus' teachings and walked away from Him. Why would things be different for Jesus' Vicar on earth?
9 years 8 months 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.
9 years 8 months 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).

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