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Austen IvereighNovember 21, 2010

Just released by the Vatican:

Caritas Internationalis works in the prevention of HIV infection and in the treatment and care of those living with HIV and AIDS.

Caritas Internationalis  Secretary General, Lesley-Anne Knight, said:  

"The Pope's reported comments in this book illustrate the importance of compassion and sensitivity in dealing with the complexities of HIV/ AIDS prevention. Caritas delivers its HIV/AIDS programmes in line with Church Teaching and we will consider, in close consultation with the Holy See, whether there are implications for our work in these reported comments of Pope Benedict."

Caritas Internationalis is the confederation of 165 national Catholic aid agencies. Its members provide HIV programming in more than 100 countries.

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David Nickol
12 years ago
The pope said (to simplify somewhat) that a male prostitute, though still morally wrong, could be making a small step in the right direction by using condoms. How—or perhaps if—this can be translated into policy for those dealing in AIDS prevention and treatment is a very interesting question. Surely the conclusion will not be that it is acceptable to say to a male prostitute, ''If you are going to continue doing what you are doing, at least use a condom.'' That is what the Church has opposed all along as sending ''mixed signals.''

The example of a male prostitute using condoms, presumably with male customers, raises no important moral questions about condom use, since homosexual sex is no more open to the transmission of life without a condom than with a condom. 

Unless we see some real changes in the way Caritas Internationalis does their work—and I certainly don't expect any—the pope's remarks seem to be an answer to a question nobody was asking about and will affect only those male prostitutes who have been awaiting permission from Rome to use condoms - a group mathematicians would call a null (or empty) set.
david power
12 years ago
David ,

It has just been reported that the term used was the Italian "prostituta" which is of course the female noun .The conversation was in German and I am not fluent in that language ,so we have two possibilities .Either it was a mistake by the Roman Observer or else by the international media.
It does not change the fact that the person using the condom is far from catholic practise.Etc Etc.
Without wanting in any way to side with those who are hoping to manipulate the Pope's words I cant help but thinking that Jesus was being a little more ambitious in HIS thinking.
The Pope said that "Friendship with Jesus" was the key .We all have moral failings and there has never been a Saint without one.
I would prefer a male prostitute with a conscious longing for the message of Jesus than a stoic who felt he was closer than others to the Lord.     
Tom Heneghan
12 years ago
David, I've written about this problem of the prostitute's gender on the Reuters religion  blog FaithWorld - Grammar experts needed for pope comment on condoms. Probably only Pope Benedict himself can say exactly what he meant.
David Cruz-Uribe
12 years ago
Perhaps this is a topic for another blog posting (Fr. Martin?) but today Sandro Magister in his Chiesa blog at L'Espresso in Rome, published the following quotation from the Pope's book which I think is directly related to the question of condoms, and cuts more deeply to the heart of the matter:

The perspectives of "Humanae Vitae" remain valid, but it is another thing to find humanly accessible paths. I believe that there will always be minorities that are deeply persuaded of the correctness of those perspectives and that, in living them, will be so fully rewarded that they will become for others a fascinating model to follow. We are sinners. But we should not take this fact as evidence against the truth, when that high moral standard is not met. We should seek to do all the good possible, and sustain and support one another. To express all of this from the pastoral, theological, and conceptual point of view as well in the context of current sexology and anthropological research is a great task to which we must be more and better dedicated.

This is so nuanced that I cannot make sense of it.  It is possible to read this as a gentle step in backing away from Humanae Vitae, but the constructions are so convoluted that I would not go to the wall for that reading.  The very tenor of the first sentence is not what I would expect a pope to use to describe an infallible teaching document, however. 


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