Condom Remarks Offer Teachable Moment

The public debate on church teaching about condoms triggered by Pope Benedict XVI’s comments in a new book provides an ideal opportunity for parish priests to clarify that teaching for the faithful from the pulpit, said the president of Caritas Internationalis. Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said that many Catholics do not know what the church teaches in this regard. “This could be a good opportunity for us in the parishes to clarify and to teach.” Cardinal Rodríguez dismissed claims that the pope had changed the church’s teaching on the use of condoms. “It has been the doctrine of the church all the time that when there are emergency cases the principle of double effect” applies. The book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, is based on interviews Pope Benedict granted the German journalist Peter Seewald. In the book, the pope said that the use of condoms—for instance, to prevent the spread of H.I.V.—“can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

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