Sunday, 10 February 2008

How To Start Your Day In A Foul Temper...

I woke up early today, before my alarm went off. Well, ok, it would be late if it were a school day, but I was able to revel in the fact that I get a little lie-in on Sundays. Automatically, and still half-asleep, I switched on my radio...

Being Sunday, Radio 4's "Sunday" programme was on. I became aware that it was the voice of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor burbling gently.

He was speaking about the use of condoms. He actually stated that, in areas of high condom use ("flooded with condoms" was the exact expression), the spread of HIV was higher, according to bishops in such areas.

I smiled quietly at this point. Nice to hear Catholic doctrine being upheld and defended so firmly, and on the BBC too. Maybe I had been overly harsh in my criticisms. I would resolve to be more charitable in future...

...And then the Cardinal put his foot firmly in his mouth...

"...there is a particular situation, where, within a marriage, as you say, a woman may want to protect herself from the fear of this disease, that wouldn't necessarily be wrong..."

"She might be right to do so?" queried the interviewer.

"Well, I think it would be up to her to decide there and that, I think, is a situation which might arise..."

WHAT? In one breath he admits that condoms are of no earthly use in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and in the next he's telling women that they have to decide for themselves. Quite apart from the fact that the Church's position on the use of contraception is that it is wrong, even between married couples, he has just made the most incredibly stupid statement.

There is no such thing as "Safe Sex" where HIV/AIDS is concerned. If a husband with HIV really loved his wife, he wouldn't want to risk passing on the virus... not even a small risk is acceptable... and so he would abstain from sex.

"Darling, I love you... now, I want you to play Russian Roulette. Don't worry, there's only a small risk of getting shot provided you hold the gun the right way up..."

When does the Cardinal retire? Please, please... PLEASE! Can we have a more intelligent (and more obedient) Cardinal next time around!


antonia said...

Actually, he is technically correct.

In the situation of NON-CONSENSUAL MARITAL sexual relationships, the Church hasn't ruled out the use of condoms.

He is not talking about CONSENSUAL MARITAL relations, or NON-CONSENSUAL NON-MARITAL relations.

Only those sexual relations IN MARRIAGE where one partners has HIV and is forcing himself upon his wife against her will.

The use of condoms as a form of self-defence has not been ruled out by the Church. In the same way that a wife could punch her husband in the face if he tried to rape her, as a form of self defence, many many (good orthodox) Catholic theologians say that a condom would have a similar self-defence role.

I know a great deal of Orthodox Catholic doctors who agree with this also.

Also, no offence, but I dont think you should be critisising the Archbishop so much, so publicly.
I think it is uncharitable and you could be leading many with a weaker faith than yours, down a path of critisising our clergy in general. At a time when we need people to have more love and respect for Priets, please be careful what you say.

God Bless

Mulier Fortis said...

Antonia, he didn't specify this, and in the interview this was not the scenario presented.

If the Archbishop fails to defend the teaching of the Church, then he deserves criticism.

Mulier Fortis said...

...and thinking about it, non-consensual sex is rape, in or out of marriage... and a rapist is highly unlikely to stop to put on a condom.

If the man loves his wife, he'll leave sex alone.

antonia said...


Yes, I agree with you, the Cardinal didn't specifically explain this scenario but rather made a general statement. Given the huge amount of confusion & disobedience in society about the Church's teaching in this area, it was probably not a wise move to say something like that so publicly as it can be very easily misinterpreted.

You are right that a loving husband would of course never rape his wife, but sadly not every husband is loving.
The specifics of the scenario are unlikely to occur in the Western World where the woman could escape to a place of safety, but it is not impossible to concieve of a situation in a poorer country where a woman might have no choice but to remain with her HIV positive husband, despite the sexual abuse. It is in this case where moral theologians say that the husband may wear a condom, or indeed that the woman may ask him to wear one.

But I still maintain what I said regarding your remarks about the Cardinal. I truthfully don't mean them in any aggressive or critical way, I just think we should be very very careful with our choice of words when speaking about our hierarchy, ESPECIALLY on a public forum.

You say:

"If the Archbishop fails to defend the teaching of the Church, then he deserves criticism."

which is fair enough, but I believe 'criticism' specifically directed at overt and incorrect statements he makes is one thing, and then there insulting of his character globally by calling him ignorant and disobedient (as you do in your last sentence) is very different.

The former is justified, but I feel the latter is not at all in keeping with our duty to respect those in Persona Christi, such as our Cardinal. I also think it is a bad example to others, and I don't think it brings Jesus any pleasure to hear such comments about his Priests, no matter whether or not we think they are true or justified.

I obviously don't want to start any argument with you as I like you very much as my sister in Christ!
It just upsets me to hear any Priests, but especially our Cardinal, criticised constantly...especially as he wasn't totally incorrect in this instance!


God Bless

Mulier Fortis said...

Antonia, I didn't call him ignorant... I said he made an incredibly stupid statement (he did - as I pointed out, in one breath he admitted condoms do NOT protect against HIV, and in the next said a woman had to choose) and I asked if his successor could be more intelligent... ie. not pave the way for the media to misrepresent his comments as a "change" in church teaching...

And making a statement in direct contravention of Church teaching is disobedient, and as a member of the lay faithful, I have every right to expect the hierarchy to defend the teachings of the Church.

I don't criticise him constantly, and was mentally preparing to write a positive comment on the interview...until he messed it up.

And while I don't want to start an argument, the scenario given was most definitely NOT one of an abusive relationship, and was phrased in such a way as to support the use of condoms between married couples: after all, what is the difference between using a condom to prevent infection and death from HIV and using a condom to protect against a pregnancy which could result in the death of a woman because of her medical history? A husband who has so little regard for his wife as to have sex knowing he could pass on the infection is hardly likely to be too concerned about putting on a condom anyway.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the cardinal shouldn't make a statement about a matter which can only be decided on a case by case basis; the faithful are confused enough already by theologians and bishops contradicting one another re the scriptures and Church teaching but you might wish to have a look at the VADEMECUM FOR CONFESSORS CONCERNING SOME ASPECTS OF THE MORALITY OF CONJUGAL LIFE signed off by Cardinal Lopez Trujilio Vatican City, February 12, 1997 Possibly this is the document the cardinal was referencing.

13. Special difficulties are presented by cases of cooperation in the sin of a spouse who voluntarily renders the unitive act infecund. In the first place, it is necessary to distinguish cooperation in the proper sense, from violence or unjust imposition on the part of one of the spouses, which the other spouse in fact cannot resist.46, 561).] This cooperation can be licit when the three following conditions are jointly met:

when the action of the cooperating spouse is not already illicit in itself;47
when proportionally grave reasons exist for cooperating in the sin of the other spouse;
when one is seeking to help the other spouse to desist from such conduct (patiently, with prayer, charity and dialogue; although not necessarily in that moment, nor on every single occasion).

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Parish Priest & I were looking at the Cafod site..which says pretty much the same thing...idiots!

Kate said...

I think that the hiv/aids status of a spouse as a justification to apply the "lesser of two evils" principle is a red herring.Until the 1st half of the 20th century, all Christian churches and denominations were united in their opposition to the use of any form of contraceptive.The church of England brought it in for the use of spouses who already had a large family, and where futher childbearing was seen to be detrimental to the mother's health.A whole new industry was born, plenty of helpful propaganda to persuade people why they might need contraception was produced,so successfully that most people believe contraception is a right, and necessary to sustain relationships/family life/budget.Except for the Catholic Church, where its teaching on contraception is the one thing that others outside the Church have some idea of.
I cannot see how the Catholic Church could permit a lesser of two evils since we are called to be other Christs, i.e. we are called to unity with Christ the Perfect Man. The attempt to bring in contraception for hard cases will only make the Church's position on a range of life issues impossible.Those who wish to bring it in have not learned the lesson of the Church of England

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Priests deserve our "love and respect" insofar as they are faithful to their calling.

Simple as that. A traitor deserves nothing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...