Thanks Benedict, that’s about as clear as mud
For one of the world’s most powerful men Pope Benedict has a big problem with clear communication.
Health experts around the world have rejoiced at a hint from the Pope that it kinda, sorta, maybe could be better for a male prostitute with AIDS to use a condom when having sex.
The Vatican has been quick to clear up that it’s not official teaching so headlines such as “Vatican makes first concession on condom use”, in one paper this morning seem a little hasty.
In a classic piece of understatement the discussion within the Church about HIV/AIDS and its prevention has been described as “nuanced”.
But perhaps the phrase “dangerously timid” is more appropriate.
For the millions of people around the world at risk of infection thanks to their adherence to Catholic doctrine, nuance isn’t going to help them one bit.
Here’s what the Pope said in an interview for the book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times:
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility on the way towards recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.
Sorry, but there’s not a lot of Light shedding in that statement, and it’s hardly a Sign of the Times.
As the editor-in-chief of the book’s publishing house said: “It would be wrong to say ‘Pope approves condoms’. He’s saying it’s immoral but, in an individual case, the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he’s got to be more conscious of his actions.”
The Pope’s statement could also be read by someone who’s been taught to take his every utterance as gospel, that if you use a condom you’re a prostitute. In the battle against a devastating epidemic in Africa, that’s not very helpful.
While the acknowledgment that using a condom might be a “lesser evil” than knowingly giving someone AIDS might be a welcome admission from the Pope, it’s not good enough to warrant any praise.
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