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December 1, 2003 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Another Worlds AIDS Day, another statement from the Vatican saying you should never use a condom. [via rc3]
posted by mathowie (83 comments total)

 
The church MUST be correct. Someone told me that they speak for God because he's busy or something.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, said relying on condoms to stop AIDS was like "betting on your own death."

Why lie? Why can't they just state their position and try to support it instead of pretending to know better about the physical questions than the experts?
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:07 PM on December 1, 2003


A Pharisee by any other name smells just as rotten.
posted by will at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2003


Betting on your own death seems like a pretty sure thing to me.
posted by nickmark at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2003


To be fair to the Catholic Church, they are entirely correct to say that if everyone had sex only with his or her spouse (and, of course, did not divorce and remarry), condoms would be unnecessary and AIDS would disappear within a generation.

It may not be a pragmatic recommendation, but it is factual.
posted by 4easypayments at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2003


the phenomenon of AIDS is a pathology of the spirit

Fuck the pope, bareback. Worthless piece of shit. Please, someone explain to me, what is the major malfunction of your brain that still lets you believe anything that comes out of the Vatican?

4easypayments: And to the married couples where one person is HIV- and one HIV+? Or the widows and widowers? Just let them die lonely deaths as long as they don't die of AIDS?

If all the Catholics stopped fucking each other, they would disappear within a generation.

It may not be a pragmatic recommendation, but it is factual.
posted by archimago at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2003


To be even fairer to the Catholic Church, I am in the middle of making a programme about the next Pope's agend(a for BBC Radio 4) and no one I have spoken to has even attempted to defend its position on condoms. These people include the editor of an important Catholic weekly, a former master general of the Dominicans, a very senior European nun, an important American nun who works as a nurse/midwife .. There is an American right winger and a cardinal still to come, so one of them will say something in favour. But most of the educated Catholics know their church's position is a shameful lie, which may not long survive the current pope.
posted by alloneword at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2003


I once asked a friend who had attended a Jesuit university (University of Dallas) and visited the Vatican, how the Catholic Church could continue with its tired dogma in the face of the modern age, and at what point they would give in and evolve with the rest of us. He said that their general attitude toward modernity, at the top of the ladder, mind you, is:

"What's going on today... this is all nonsense. And it will pass."
posted by scarabic at 12:33 PM on December 1, 2003


most of the educated Catholics know their church's position is a shameful lie

I hear that statement from a lot of catholic friends about almost any issue that the church has a strong position on (condoms, sex ed, abortions, creationism, etc). I've heard my mom say "I'm a catholic but I don't agree with the church on just about anything" so many times I couldn't count it.

Since my catholicism lasted all of a handful of visits to a church I'm kind of in the dark about them. Does the vatican discount the role and opinion of its own followers? If so many don't agree with statements made at the top, why do the keep issuing them (or are they just generally conservative in change and behind the times historically)? I don't think a church should be completely reactionary and cater to any prevailing whims, but we're talking about 20 years of intense scientific discovery that is being ignored while millions die.
posted by mathowie at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2003


Fuck the pope, bareback. Worthless piece of shit. Please, someone explain to me, what is the major malfunction of your brain that still lets you believe anything that comes out of the Vatican?

Thanks loads for that wonderful contribution. That'll spark a sane reasonable dialogue.

There's gotta be some middle ground between, no condoms/only with your spouse/once a year/missionary position/don't enjoy it too much and I reserve the right to screw/fellate/poop on/whip/beat any man/woman/child/beast at any time in any way and say that it's wonderful and demand that you think the same?

Mind you, I'm not talking about legalities here, just my perceptions of things. There's got to be some semblance of moral sanity somewhere.

"What's going on today... this is all nonsense. And it will pass."

I hope some of it does. If you look at a lot of sexually related material today, a lot of it is nauseating, not to mention misogynist, racist, homophobic and mean-spirited. Thre is a perversion of the sexual act going on a lot of the time, and a lack of the tenderness and playfulness that is a real part of sex and the best sexually explicit material.

Like I said, I wouldn't outlaw any consenting adults doing what they want with their own bodies, but don't expect me to think it's all wonderful.
posted by jonmc at 12:45 PM on December 1, 2003


Religious puritans are always quick to jump up and say that AIDs is God's punishment for not following his rules, but if that's true, I guess God has something about travel to other countries, taking care of sick people, and being bitten by mosquitos, because you could catch all manner of horrible diseases doing any of those things.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2003


Something I've wondered about - so the Pope says that condoms should never be used, and instead abstinence and monogamy are the way to go. Maybe this will sound ignorant, but why does everybody believe that Catholics follow the first instruction (no condoms) and not the second (abstinence and monogamy)? If they're not going to follow the second, do they still not use condoms? Why pick and choose which instructions to follow, especially in this case where one goes with the other?
posted by spacehug at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2003


I'm tired of being the voice of sanity and reason. I'm tired of turning the other cheek and being the bigger person. I'm angry. More people should be angry. More Catholics should be angry. People need to divest themselves of the religious bureaucracy and find God in their own way. I have no patience for people who disagree with some of the pope's proclamations yet still contribute to the collection plate on Sunday. You're feeding the beast, and this is the same beast that ushered pedophile priests around like the underground railroad instead of turning them over to the law. Either you accept your religion completely or you dissassociate yourself from it and talk to God like I do, on my own time with my own voice with no one telling me what to say.

jonmc, I make no apologies for my loathing of an organized entity that has spent my lifetime telling me that I am dirty and NOT accepting me as the creation of God that I know I am. I spit on the pope.
posted by archimago at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2003


There's got to be some semblance of moral sanity somewhere.

Absolutely true -- and that moral sanity doesn't involve encouraging people to do things that will cause them to spread hideous diseases that can't be cured.

Promiscuity = greater risk.
Not using condoms = greater risk.
Encouraging people to do either one of the above = reprehensible, possibly evil.
posted by aramaic at 1:01 PM on December 1, 2003


Does the vatican discount the role and opinion of its own followers? If so many don't agree with statements made at the top, why do the keep issuing them (or are they just generally conservative in change and behind the times historically)?

The Catholic church is completely opposed to creationism. There was an encyclical accepting Darwin in 1950 or thereabouts and JP2 has gone further. So that's not a problem. In general, the Catholic church is interested in science and philosopy. A suprising number of distinguished atheist scientists get invited to meet the Pope.

But on the one issue of contraception, the Vatican (and this Pope) do utterly discount the opinions of their own followers. The justification for this seems to be two-fold.
first, they really don't understand the role that sex plays in normal relationships (that's the present Pope's problem). Secondly, they think that the authority of the Pope is divinely ordained, and changing his mind, especially under pressure, sends the wrong message to the world.

There was a committee set up in the late Sixties to look at the teaching. It recommended changing the line on contraception, after two years' debate, in which the majority of members changed their minds after listening to the evidence from real married Cathoic. But Pope Paul VI over-ruled them; and almost the only bishop who thought he had done right was Karol Wojtyla, who is now the Pope himself. Remember that he grew up under Communism and Fascism, and so is inclined by experience to believe that the Church may be right even though all the world around believes it wrong.

20 years is not a large fraction of 2,000 years, in which the Church has been wrong for longer about all sorts of things for which JP2 has apologised (anti-semitism, hostility to democracy ...)
posted by alloneword at 1:02 PM on December 1, 2003


Either you accept your religion completely or you dissassociate yourself from it and talk to God like I do, on my own time with my own voice with no one telling me what to say.

Isn't that just more "you're either with us or against us" "part of the problem or part of the solution" type thinking? Never in the history of mankind has that ever solved anything. Polarizing rhetoric, no matter how justified it might feel from a personal perspective (and trust me I've been there myself) dosen't do much to actually help the situation.

Ultimately, a church's main function is community and that's very important to a lot of people and has often done a lot of good in the world. I agree the Catholic Church needs to change and change is often painful, but "spiiting on the pope" will change nothing.
posted by jonmc at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2003


Archimago: Fuck the pope, bareback.

The Pope is the leader of one billion people, many of whom believe that he is closer to god than any other living person. I haven't the foggiest whether these people are right or wrong, but the efficiency with which you've managed to insult them is quite remarkable.
posted by trharlan at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2003


Sex is not the only way AIDS spreads.

The 'factuality' of AIDS dying out within one generation by way of humans finding themselves suddenly utterly chaste is tempered severely by the instances of shared needle drug use and blood donors who are not detected and are possibly unaware of their HIV+ status when donating.

I suppose it's a good thing pints of blood expire eventually, but claiming that simple abstinence will cure the AIDS epidemic outright is ... well, disingenuous.
posted by wells at 1:09 PM on December 1, 2003


many of whom believe that he is closer to god than any other living person.

True. I give him six months. But seriously folks..
posted by The God Complex at 1:12 PM on December 1, 2003


I hear that statement from a lot of catholic friends about almost any issue that the church has a strong position on (condoms, sex ed, abortions, creationism, etc). I've heard my mom say "I'm a catholic but I don't agree with the church on just about anything" so many times I couldn't count it.

I hear that a lot from my girlfriend who is basically a non-practicing Catholic (she doesn't really go to any church unless visiting family that takes her to Mass). One of the questions that I've always had for Catholics in this position is, why not leave the Catholic church for something else?

In most mainstream Protestantism, going from a Methodist to a Lutheran church to a non-denominational church is a quite common practice. Many devotees will try out a variety of churches in varying denominations when they move to a new city or if there has been a major shift in their personal church. If you are going to disavow yourself from the basic tenets of Catholicism, then why not leave the church as a whole?

A wedding that the same girlfriend I spoke of above and I attended at an Anglican church really impressed my girlfriend. The ceremony was strikingly similar to a Catholic wedding, complete with a full communion, and had all of the pomp and ceremony that she likes about Catholic services. I think if she had the desire to find a new church on her own, she'd probably explore that option. If enough people in a major area (like, say, the U.S.) did the same, then maybe the Catholic Church as an entity would be forced to look at what's going on.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2003


but the efficiency with which you've managed to insult them is quite remarkable.

I take that as a compliment. In the face of all the insult I've endured from the followers of the pope, and the pope himself, countless times, I could care less whom I have insulted. I'll say it again: I'm tired of being the bigger person and trying to reason with religious moralists by showing how human I am or using logical argument and sane thought. They couch their hate in religion, and I for one am tired of listening to it and I get angrier every day. If the Catholic church said even a fraction of what it says about gay people about black people, others would be shouting racism and calling for the pope's head. But it's okay to hate the gays because God tells you it's okay.

Johnmc, I'm not polarizing rhetoric, or at least I am not meaning to. What I mean is that saying that you disagree with the pope on some issues but then putting your money in the collection plate on Sunday is the same as saying you agree with all that he says because that money is going to fund the one billion people whom trharlan says follow the pope as their leader.
posted by archimago at 1:25 PM on December 1, 2003


Either you accept your religion completely or you dissassociate yourself from it and talk to God like I do, on my own time with my own voice with no one telling me what to say.

Or you try to change it from within.

I'm Catholic, but I'm not insulted by archimago, because I also am angry that homosexuals are effectively shunned, women are excluded from the priesthood, priests aren't allowed to marry, and contraception is outlawed. I stay because there is still a prevelant culture of ministering to the poor and marginalized in a way that no other religion possesses. While the Anglican ceremony is nearly identical, the aforementioned aspect as not as ingrained.

I think that the telling moment will be when JPII dies and a new pope ascends. If he is cut from the same conservative cloth as the present pope, then I think you will see a lot of Catholics in western, developed countries leave (including myself). There is presently a schism between the church in developing nations (where most of the growth is taking place, and where a much more conservative flavor of Catholicism is practiced) and the (typically) western church. Unfortunately, the former is prevaling.
posted by Avogadro at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2003


Well, if the pope reads this website, it's reasons like this that made me renouce my faith in the Catholic Church.

Catholics are only 1 billion strong...the world is full of 6+ billion people...even if catholics listen to the message, that's still 5/6 of the population that gets screwed over.
posted by Stynxno at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2003


4easypayments, what you are saying isn't logical or factual.

A) It doesn't address people who get AIDS by non-sexual means of transmission, from shared needles (by both IV drug users and hospital patients in under-resourced third-world hospitals, where needles are used on successions of patients) to blood transfusions, to being born with AIDS because of maternal infection.

B) Even if the first generation of worldwide monogamy and chastity were to be 100% adhered to, all the people who had married those who had acquired those who acquired AIDS before that time, or who acquired AIDS by the non-sexual routes specified above (and others, like eating bush meat!) would continue to contract AIDS, as would their children.

C) Then, in generation 3, those who inherited AIDS from their generation 2 parents would be potential vectors of infection, as would those who acquired AIDS through non-sexual routes.

So, even if there were to be a sudden worldwide chastity movement, it would still fail to eliminate AIDS in a generation, or even in several generations.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2003


B) should read: "all the people who had married those who had acquired AIDS before that time..."

Clause-o-rrhea strikes again.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2003


I'm tired of being the voice of sanity and reason. I'm tired of turning the other cheek and being the bigger person.

archimago, believe it or not, the world used to be quite different, where this kind of discourse that makes you so tired and angry wasn't even possible ... it was all utterly denied or punished with abandon. A great many ordinary people came out of the closet during the height of the crisis to help give you the freedom to express your exhaustion here today, and many of them are dead now, too. Don't belittle that fact, or those people. You're not alone, and you know that.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2003


If so many don't agree with statements made at the top, why do the keep issuing them (or are they just generally conservative in change and behind the times historically)?

it's interesting to point out that the Church does not really operate like that -- the Church sees itself as the leader of all Catholics, not as a follower of new social trends. fact is, Pope Paul VI had the chance in 1968 to speak out for contraception, but he decided against it (with great uncertainty, until the last weeks, and knowing very well he would damage the Church's chance of keeping up with the times). His Humanae Vitae encyclical is a key document. unfortunately Paul VI had a terribly difficult task to complete, he had to finish what John XXIII had begun -- that massive revolution after almost 2,000 years of Catholicism, the Second Vatican Council. He effectively brought the dreaded (by the Vatican nomenklatura) Modernity to the Catholic Church (if you guys don't like the Church, read up on how it was in the Fifites). He knew the Church couldn't have taken another revolution -- ie endorsing the Pill
(but please remember that, as a liberal, Paul at least kept mum about homosexuality, avoiding to kick gays -- one hopes John Paul II had done the same)
the problem is Paul's successor, ie the present Pope John Paul II (the very liberal John Paul I didn't have the time to do anything in very few weeks) decided to stop the Church's perestrojika, and turned back the clock again with a very strict, some say intolerant, stance on everything secular.


now please resume the tasteless

posted by matteo at 1:57 PM on December 1, 2003



the tasteless Catholic-bashing rants

posted by matteo at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2003


Does the vatican discount the role and opinion of its own followers?

As a former evangelical Catholic, I can attest that deep down, the Vatican practically despises its own followers. Its entire premise is that human beings are utterly worthless, that only God (and, by extension, the Church itself) has any value in the universe. If, in the opinion of the Church, God's Will dictated the incineration of babies and the raping of puppies, that's what it would teach. The thoughts, opinions and the science of humans are not only unworthy of the Church's attention--they are, by definition, byproducts of our sinful nature. It is, IMO, this self-loathing that is the genesis of most of the evil that the Church has done for the last two millenia and, as this FPP attests, continues to do to this day.
posted by jpoulos at 2:10 PM on December 1, 2003


Its entire premise is that human beings are utterly worthless

The thoughts, opinions and the science of humans are not only unworthy of the Church's attention--they are, by definition, byproducts of our sinful nature.


so much for reasoned arguments

faulty premises, historical mistakes, misrepresentations, plain ignorance of the history and doctrine Catholicism

if you really, really have to bash the Vatican, at least try not to embarrass this community with ill-informed crap like this

bah

goodnight everybody
posted by matteo at 2:18 PM on December 1, 2003


Does the vatican discount the role and opinion of its own followers?

They absolutely do. Christ's faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show Christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church. (Canon Law, 212 § 1)
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:18 PM on December 1, 2003


If the Vatican accurately serves God, then that God deserves nothing less than our damnation.

In other words, fuck whoever came up with this policy. If it goes all the way up to God, then fuck God.

He doesn't deserve us.
posted by yesster at 2:19 PM on December 1, 2003


archimago: "I make no apologies for my loathing of an organized entity that has spent my lifetime telling me that I am dirty and NOT accepting me as the creation of God that I know I am. I spit on the pope."

Sinead O'Connor offered similar sentiments years ago, and humanity rejected her for it. Two thousand years ago the pharisees and sagisees taught the masses to shun lepers. Jesus walked their paths, hung out with them, and did whatever he could to ease their suffering. I do not mean to compare AIDS infected individuals to lepers in the literal sense, but metaphorically the situation is similar. The fact the church today shuns what it defines as "the unclean" is not a new development. It's millenia old. It will not change.

The Roman Catholic Church is an alternative to Jewish leadership, but it is still a hierarchal structure subject to very similar strengths and weaknesses.

Aramaic touched on the real issue. It's impossible for the Vatican to do something here that the public can accept. If they take the path they are presently on, they're being too conservative and archaic and people are needlessly dying. However, if they do not promote monogamy, abstinence, or if they do encourage condom usage, they're being hypocrites. Either way, those who seek to undermine the church win the argument. Either way, the RCC looks out of step or otherwise bad.

The Church will continue on their own conservative crusade. They must. Otherwise they will be threatened with schism, just as the Episcopalians are facing now.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:27 PM on December 1, 2003


if you really, really have to bash the Vatican, at least try not to embarrass this community with ill-informed crap like this

matteo, while I may not be a scholar of church history, I grew up in the church. I live with and among catholics of many stripes--from the Word on Fire evangelicals to the christmas-and-easter part-timers--and that's how I see the modern American church.

Failing to get in line behind the Church's teachings--however nonsensical or even horrifyingly dangerous like the anti-condom stance--is seen as mere human weakness and faithlessness, emblematic of a sinful nature which dates back to Eden.

If I'm so far off, I wish you'd enlighten me, rather than dismiss me with a "bah".
posted by jpoulos at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2003


My mother (may God bless her soul, if He's not too busy) left the Catholic church shortly after my brother's baptism, c. 1965. Our priest told her she could not use birth control, she could not accept having more children, she was a healthy human being and… she could not accept being a second rate Catholic. (She came from northern Maine, French-Canadian roots; her Uncle, a Monseigneur in the church paid her tuition at a Catholic high school.)

Since then, birth control in the form of the condom has evolved to become one of many lines of defense against the spread of the plague of our age, yet the Catholic church sees its position as so precious to remain inflexible.

A conversation over Thanksgiving with a friend who adopted Catholicism as an adult revealed that she sees no problem with (her admission) of a casual and random adherence to the Church's dogma.

Her brother is HIV positive. /wipe tear from eye and chant mantra to bring blood pressure down
posted by Dick Paris at 2:45 PM on December 1, 2003


...uhrm. What I mean to say: The establishment will continue to shun, as it has for millenia. It it up to the individual to walk the path of righteousness - y'know do the right thing. J.C. had it down. Help is the abstraction of love made concrete. John Paul's got more in common with Pilate than he does J.C. Don't blame Jesus for the Vatican. J.C. just said to go forth and spread the good news. He said nothing about making Vatican City or creating an establishment that was exclusive or greedy.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:45 PM on December 1, 2003


The Cathlolic Church is stuck between a rock and a hard place, because the position the Pope holds as god's "spokesman" on earth. If the church keeps switching between allowing and disallowing contraception, it will be interpreted in one of two ways:

1) The Pope isn't really reflecting the will of god, he is displaying human indecision, progress and regress. Hence, the Pope isn't really serving god, and the church is exposed as a fraud - not good for the church.
2) God is indecisive, and changes his opinion on things. As a non-christian, I don't find this hard to believe - in fact, my understanding of god depends on him/her being intelligent, progressive and changeable. However, one of the fundamental principals of christianity is that god isn't changeable - the laws he gave in Deuteronomy still stand today. Hence, bad move for the church.

So what can they do? It makes me think that even after PJPII heads to the great confessional in the sky, the church will be very slow to repeal their opposition to contraception and other matters.
posted by Jimbob at 3:14 PM on December 1, 2003


Barragan, who is Mexican, invited "each and every one to step up prevention according to the doctrine of the Church, to practice the virtue of chastity in a pan-sexualist society."

Pan-sexualist?
posted by UKnowForKids at 4:20 PM on December 1, 2003


Sinead O'Connor offered similar sentiments years ago, and humanity rejected her for it.

pop culture != humanity

he knows because his TV told him so.
posted by quonsar at 4:57 PM on December 1, 2003


Pan-sexualist?

Take it from me: I love you!
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:50 PM on December 1, 2003


The Catholic Church teaches the truth about human sexuality, and has the courage to continue teaching that truth even though many do not wish to hear it.

Someone earlier in this thread predicted that the Catholic Church will eventually change its teaching on contraception. That will not happen, and it is mere wishful thinking to imagine that it will. Pagan Rome was also a place where contraception, abortion, infanticide and other perversions were allowed and even encouraged. The Church did not go along to get along then, and She won't do it now.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:59 PM on December 1, 2003


The Catholic Church teaches the truth about human sexuality.

What exactly is the "truth" about sexuality? That making love makes babies? That contraception can prevent the making of unwanted babies, and prevent the spread of diseases? That people are going to want to shag no matter what the church says? After that, I doubt "truth" comes into the debate. It's down to faith, opinion, belief, something the Catholic church does not have a monopoly on.
posted by Jimbob at 7:26 PM on December 1, 2003


The truth about human sexuality is that priests have a tendency to molest little boys, and the Catholic church thinks this is okay.

Go you, PJP!
posted by Hildegarde at 8:03 PM on December 1, 2003


can somebody tell me how a man who is telling people not to have sex can possibly be spreading aids ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:08 PM on December 1, 2003


Jimbob and Hildegarde, the truth about human sexuality is that the relationship of husband to wife images Christ's relationship to His Church. Marriage is the only natural institution elevated to the level of a sacrament. Every other sacrament (baptism, confirmation, penance, eucharist, holy orders and annointing of the sick) takes some natural material (such as water or oil, or bread and wine) and uses it in a special, symbolic way. There is no such thing as natural baptism or natural holy orders. There is, however, such a thing as natural marriage. The sacrament of marriage elevates the natural institution of marriage to a supernatural plane.

There is no way the Church is going to modify the theology of marriage to satisfy the requirements of decadent post-Christian societies (which happen to be identical to the requirements of the decadent pre-Christian societies in which the Church first started). Those who suggest otherwise do not understand that the Church's teaching on human sexuality is intimately linked to the central doctrines of the Faith.

I don't have a problem with those who understand what the Church teaches and why She teaches it, but reject it honestly. Those who fancy that the Church will change these teachings, however, delude themselves and do positive harm to others.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:23 PM on December 1, 2003


good troll number one.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:28 PM on December 1, 2003


Positive harm? You mean, like the positive harm created by shuttling abusers from one parish to another?

...or do you mean positive harm, as in the harm I create by failing to tell someone about a really great deal on honey-roasted peanuts I got at the store down the block?
posted by aramaic at 8:32 PM on December 1, 2003


I am not Catholic. On the other hand, I have been monogamous for 14 years now and I think I'm a pretty moral guy on other fronts as well. On the other, other, hand, my wife and use a condom every time we have sex, because (a) we don't want to have any children, or (b) my wife has a medical condition that precludes her from getting pregnant, at great risk to her own health.

Am I still a sinner only under (a)? What about under (b)? In the final analysis, what difference does it make?
posted by yhbc at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2003


scarabic: What's going on today... this is all nonsense. And it will pass.

I think your friend must have been talking about the RCC.

For all except hard-core believers, what organized religions teach is irrelevant at best. People who are into dogma and sheep-herding are not reliable sources of practical advice. We can do far better by staying informed and acting on evidence from reliable sources.

As for chastity, remember the Shakers? Follow that advice, wind up where they did.
posted by Twang at 8:37 PM on December 1, 2003


BARTLEBY: Here's what I don't get about you: you know for a fact that there is a God. You've been in His presence, He's talked to you personally. And yet I just heard you claim to be an atheist.
LOKI: I just like to fuck with the clergy.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2003


[peeping_Thomist:] There is, however, such a thing as natural marriage.

[peeping_Thomist:] There is no way the Church is going to modify the theology of marriage to satisfy the requirements of decadent post-Christian societies (which happen to be identical to the requirements of the decadent pre-Christian societies in which the Church first started).

Wait...marriage as the Catholic Church defines it is "natural", yet it wasn't prevalent in "decadent pre-Christian societies" before the Church started peddling it?

If the Church's version of marriage were "natural", would the Church really need to encourage anyone to practice it?

"Natural" is a descriptive term. It means "whatever people happen to do". If lots of people deviate from the Church's prescription for sexual behavior, then clearly this deviation is quite "natural" for humans, wouldn't you say?
posted by boredomjockey at 9:07 PM on December 1, 2003


Excuse me, if the Catholic church believes that marriage is so wonderful, why did it spend most of it's history calling it a trash heap that just barely keeps men away from mortal sin? It's that thing that sinners do because they're not righteous enough to cut off their own balls and stay virgins for life?

Oh right...this NICE view of marriage is a SHIFT in the Catholic church's opinion after the Reformation. Changing social views to go along with what society believes, that thing that never ever happens.

Got it.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:56 PM on December 1, 2003


You know what? I think it says it all that nearly one billion people accept, as the final (Earthly) authority on human sexuality, an 83-year-old man who has taken a vow of celibacy.

Now, to respond to a couple of comments...

If you look at a lot of sexually related material today, a lot of it is nauseating, not to mention misogynist, racist, homophobic and mean-spirited. Thre is a perversion of the sexual act going on a lot of the time, and a lack of the tenderness and playfulness that is a real part of sex and the best sexually explicit material.

No kidding. So much of pornography has been fetishized and air-brushed that it no longer reflects real women or real sexuality. There's very little erotic about it.

Take it from me: I love you!

Pit Pat!
posted by nath at 1:41 AM on December 2, 2003


The pope has chosen cardinals that share his conservative views, meaning change is highly unlikely.

peeping_Thomist is probably correct in saying "Those who fancy that the Church will change these teachings, however, delude themselves..." Which is really too bad - this pope's maneuvering will result in the Vatican continuing to sabotage the fight against AIDS - unconscionable in the face of suffering by millions.
posted by letitrain at 2:14 AM on December 2, 2003


Change is not nearly as unlikely as people think. Even conservative cardinals are sick of being treated like children, or altar boys. The absolute power of the papacy means that change can come very suddenly with a change of Pope, and that it can be hugely popular, because the dissent under the previous one was so well concealed.
posted by alloneword at 4:08 AM on December 2, 2003


Wow - a lot of people are going to be stunned when the next Pope continues to teach what the Church has always taught - that intercourse is for marriage, and is for both pleasure AND procreation (note: that word is not an OR - it's an AND). Any artificial technology that is used to separate this natural duality in a sacred union is, de facto, immoral. And since the Church is in the business of teaching faith and morals, it will continue to proclaim that the usage of condoms is sinful.

Come on folks, this isn't rocket science.
posted by timbley at 8:03 AM on December 2, 2003


Change is not nearly as unlikely as people think.

I'm sure citizens of pagan Rome thought the same thing, seeing as how most of them engaged in the same perverted practices you're hoping the Church will now affirm. It didn't happen then, and it ain't going to happen now.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:24 AM on December 2, 2003


"perverted" is the right word--to describe people who would rather see other humans get infected with a deadly disease when they could be protected with just a piece of latex.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 AM on December 2, 2003


I personally don't care what the Pope decides to affirm. I wish he'd just keep his mouth shut about this and not become part of the problem. It's not like keeping his mouth shut is unknown to him. He keeps his mouth shut about all those priests molesting children, doesn't he. Where's the enclyclical condemning that? He allows his church to hide abuse and fight against "Her" innocent victims, which I'm sure would make Jesus very, very proud. If he can't figure out how to keep his mouth on this AIDS thing, he could have a look back at his predesessor, who managed to say absolutely nothing while the Nazis were killing all those Jews.

But perhaps 'thou shalt not kill' just isn't one of the important commandments.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:26 AM on December 2, 2003


I personally don't care what the Pope decides to affirm. I wish he'd just keep his mouth shut about this and not become part of the problem.

If you don't care what the pope says, then why do you care what the pope says?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2003


peeping_Thomist, I'm not sure I can be held responsible for your inability to read. I never said I don't care what the pope says.

Is your next post going to be "I know you are but what am I?"
posted by Hildegarde at 9:49 AM on December 2, 2003


peeping_Thomist, go push your morality on someone who wants it.

Oh, and from an earlier comment, there is no such thing as a "natural institution" (i.e., marriage). All institutions are fabrications of man's social order.
posted by archimago at 9:52 AM on December 2, 2003


archimago, I haven't been pushing my morality on anyone. I've been explaining why it's unreasonable to hope that the Church is going to change traditional teachings on sexual morality. The point I've been hitting again and again is that the Church had plenty of opportunity to embrace contraception, abortion, and infanticide earlier in Her history, because the Church came of age during a period when all of those practices were widespread and assumed to be civilized. The mere fact that these pagan practices are back in fashion again doesn't give the Church any more reason to embrace them than She had before.

I've explained that the Church's teaching on sexual morality is directly tied to central theological doctrines. Wishing for the Church to change these teachings is therefore a fool's game. Feel free to despise the Church (pagans throughout the ages have always done so), but don't expect Her to change to suit you.

All institutions are fabrications of man's social order.

Says you. The Church has always taught otherwise, and at least some pagans (e.g. Aristotle) were clear-headed enough to see that the family was conceptually prior to any form of political community.

Hildegarde, if I understand correctly, you say you don't care what the pope "decides to affirm", but that you do care what he says. If you look up the word "affirm" in any dictionary, you'll see that affirming is intimately linked with saying. To affirm something without somehow saying it borders on incoherence. So apparently I haven't understood what you meant to say. Could you say again what you don't care about the pope doing? (I'm pretty clear, I think, that you do care about the pope speaking publicly on this matter.) Sorry for the confusion on my part.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:18 PM on December 2, 2003


Peeping,

I keep reading this over and over:
...the Church had plenty of opportunity to embrace contraception, abortion, and infanticide earlier in Her history, because the Church came of age during a period when all of those practices were widespread and assumed to be civilized. The mere fact that these pagan practices are back in fashion again doesn't give the Church any more reason to embrace them than She had before.
...and must say I am completely baffled.

Fess up now. You're from another planet, right? :)

How does the discussion move from expressing one's concern that a very influential institution is not doing all that it can to stem the suffering of God's children to asking the Church to embrace infanticide? I know that dogma is important but is dogmatism?

Love that Lincoln quote on the dogma definition. How apropos.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:24 PM on December 2, 2003


How does the discussion move from expressing one's concern that a very influential institution is not doing all that it can to stem the suffering of God's children to asking the Church to embrace infanticide?

The Church has been clear in teaching that contraception is linked to abortion and that abortion is linked to infanticide. Many people who support contraception do not themselves support abortion or infanticide, and many people who support contraception and abortion do not themselves support infanticide. However, there is an internal logic to such matters, and the Church clearly teaches that these three perversions are linked. Read in light of actual historical developments, Paul VI's Humanae Vitae stands out as a prophetic document.

The supreme court of the United States has explicitly acknowledged that the widespread use of contraception helps ground the supposed "right" to abortion, and the move to infanticide is not far off. (See, for example, the Australian philosopher Michael Tooley's influential essay "Abortion and Infanticide," in which he argues that infanticide up to the age of 2 is morally acceptable.) Planned Parenthood and NOW cannot even bring themselves to oppose late-term abortions of viable fetuses that are clearly forms of infanticide.

So, if you know your history, you know that contraception, abortion and infanticide were common practices in pagan Rome. The Church claims that these practices are linked, and recent history bears out this claim. What about all this seems unreasonable to you?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 1:52 PM on December 2, 2003


what's unreasonable is any god who actually condones what your pope proclaims

such a god doesn't deserve to be one


your pope supports disease and misery, he supports pedophilia and pederasty, he supports dictators and despots

if this is how he serves his master, you should wonder what master he serves
posted by yesster at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2003


your pope supports disease and misery, he supports pedophilia and pederasty, he supports dictators and despots

REALLY?! Wow! Here all this time I've been defending him. How embarrassing for me!

So tell me, how does it feel to defame someone? Is it cathartic? Does it make you feel important? Do you do it often or only on special occasions?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2003


So, if you know your history, you know that contraception, abortion and infanticide were common practices in pagan Rome. The Church claims that these practices are linked, and recent history bears out this claim. What about all this seems unreasonable to you?

It's unreasonable because in practice it is literally killing people. The Catholic church's teaching on contraception, abortion or infanticide all boil down to a belief in the sanctity of life, correct?

How then can the pope in good conscience give advice that results in death and suffering?
posted by letitrain at 3:14 PM on December 2, 2003


How then can the pope in good conscience give advice that results in death and suffering?

He can do it in good conscience because it is impossible to defend the sanctity of human life using means that deny the sanctity of human life. This rule (sometimes popularly characterized as "the ends don't justify the means") is a fundamental principle in Catholic moral theology. Contraception, abortion and infanticide are evil in themselves, and hence cannot ever be licit means to any other end, however noble.

Heck, in Maccabees you've got people dying because they won't eat pork, and eating pork isn't even evil in itself. There's a long tradition of religious believers insisting on not doing something wrong in order to obtain a desirable result.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 3:22 PM on December 2, 2003


Hildegarde, if I understand correctly, you say you don't care what the pope "decides to affirm", but that you do care what he says. If you look up the word "affirm" in any dictionary, you'll see that affirming is intimately linked with saying. To affirm something without somehow saying it borders on incoherence. So apparently I haven't understood what you meant to say. Could you say again what you don't care about the pope doing?

I'll say it in small words. I don't care what the Pope believes. I do care if he starts using his position as a platform to spout off about people or causes I care about.

Is that clear enough for you?
posted by Hildegarde at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2003


Contraception, abortion and infanticide are evil in themselves, and hence cannot ever be licit means to any other end, however noble.
peeping, the use of condoms to prevent transmission of disease (whether aids or any other disease--some of which cause infertility, let alone death) is not any of those evil things you mention. It's in fact a life-saving act, whether you're talking about the participants, or any children either of them may have in the future.
posted by amberglow at 4:58 PM on December 2, 2003


I don't care what the Pope believes. I do care if he starts using his position as a platform to spout off about people or causes I care about.

Is that clear enough for you?


Actually, no. This thread is ostensibly about a document issued by a prominent cardinal at the Vatican. You can bet its content is the same as it would have been had someone other than Karol Wojtyla been elevated to the papacy.

So, apparently what you have in mind is that Catholics should fall silent (i.e., not "spout off") when their views disagree with yours. But that view is so repugnant I don't dare to attribute it to you. So I'm left wondering what you are trying to say.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:00 PM on December 2, 2003


the use of condoms to prevent transmission of disease (whether aids or any other disease--some of which cause infertility, let alone death) is not any of those evil things you mention.

You mistakenly (though no doubt innocently) suppose that we can completely control the nature of our actions by "intending" them in a certain ways rather than others. What you're doing when you use a condom to prevent the transmission of a disease is fairly simple: you're attempting to prevent the transmission of a disease by contracepting. And that means you're doing something evil (contracepting) in order to attain a good result (prevention of transmission of a disease).

Who among us hasn't at one time or another talked ourselves into doing something evil in order to achieve a good result? It's probably the oldest bit of self-deception there is.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:11 PM on December 2, 2003


And that means you're doing something evil (contracepting) in order to attain a good result (prevention of transmission of a disease).
Actually, it doesn't mean that...Besides the personal fact that I'm gay, and never ever have procreative sex, preventing the creation of life is not the only reason people use condoms, nor is it their only intended purpose. Sexually transmitted diseases have been around as long as people have, and many sources, including this site declare that disease prevention is the actual reason condoms were invented in the first place, not to prevent pregnancy.
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on December 2, 2003


preventing the creation of life is not the only reason people use condoms, nor is it their only intended purpose.

amberglow, what you say here is true yet irrelevant. You are confusing the reason people do a thing, or what they intend in doing a thing, with what they do in doing that thing. The Church's teaching on this general point is unwavering. The Church's teaching on human sexuality in particular makes clear that the acts in question have a specific human meaning independent of the reasons people have for undertaking them or the intentions they have in doing them. As a gay person it presumably will not thrill you (nor, surely, can it surprise you) to hear that the Church teaches that every sexual act every human being performs is naturally directed toward procreation as an end, and that for a man to perform those acts with another man rather than with a woman is wrong.


People's intentions typically do not enter into the question of whether or not a particular sexual act is contracepted. In any case, most of us know from first-hand experience that we all mean well, and we mean well especially when we're doing gravely evil acts. If meaning well were all that were required for our actions to be good, we'd all be in great shape. But it's not.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2003


In any case, most of us know from first-hand experience that we all mean well, and we mean well especially when we're doing gravely evil acts.

Well, there is certainly no arguing with that. /hopeful sarcasm

No doubt, no minds will be changed here but I do have one more question for Peeping: how does the church (or you can field this one) explain same-sex "play" among herd animals?

Not loaded a loaded question, I'm just curious.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:01 PM on December 2, 2003


how does the church (or you can field this one) explain same-sex "play" among herd animals?

I'm not as well-informed on the topic as I'd need to be to offer anything like an explanation, and I don't know of any official Church teaching on the matter. I do know, from some reading in the sociology of science, that claims about same-sex play among some species have been very controversial. Where some scientists look and see aberrant behavior produced by stressful lab settings, others see a whole new panorama of previously unknown behavior (and hence new research horizons) opening up before them. What to one group looks irrelevant looks to the other group like crucial new data. So there's always the question of exactly what kind of behavior we're talking about, and whether it's produced via stressful lab conditions or happens in nature.

That said, I'm not sure much turns on this issue. To jump to the topic I expect you have in mind, it may well be that some people are born with a kind of condition that makes them ill-suited for normal sexual relations. One of my daughters has Down Syndrome, and there are some kinds of adult activities she will never be able to engage in. She will not, for example, be a research scientist. She could put on a white coat and pretend to be a scientist, but she won't ever be one, really. That limitation does not make her a bad person. Having a homosexual orientation likewise does not make anyone a bad person. It does make a person ill-suited for marriage, but then so do a lot of other biological conditions. In fact, in all but a few cases of exceptionally high-functioning folk, Down Syndrome also makes people ill-suited for marriage. But I don't sneer at my daughter because she will (likely) never be married, any more than I sneer at any person who is ill-suited for marriage for reasons beyond their control.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2003


peeping, how would you define the meaning of life?
posted by amberglow at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2003


PT - defend your master all you want, but such a master is no god

"ye shall know them by their fruit" -- by his fruit, your master is the embodiment of evil
posted by yesster at 5:45 AM on December 3, 2003


amberglow, Lumen Gentium (from the second Vatican council) teaches that human beings are the only visible creatures that God wills for their own sake. We have dignity rather than a price, and any account of the meaning of life must take that fact into account. My guess is that different people experience the meaning of their lives quite differently, and that this is appropriate for beings who are self-determining rather than robots.

There might be some things that all the answers to the question "what is the meaning of my life?" have in common, but it doesn't follow that what is shared is adequate to be the meaning of any one person's life. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

The traditional catechism answer is still correct (God made us to know, love, and serve Him in this life, and to be happy with him forever in heaven), but the details of how that gets worked out are so various (and the answer itself is so sketchy) that I hesitate to say anything more.

What sort of answer did you have in mind?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:12 AM on December 3, 2003


So, apparently what you have in mind is that Catholics should fall silent (i.e., not "spout off") when their views disagree with yours. But that view is so repugnant I don't dare to attribute it to you. So I'm left wondering what you are trying to say.

The Catholic church as a hierarchical body is visibly hypocritical. While we're having this lovely conversation about how contraception is wrong, the Catholic church approves of the rhythm method. A form of contraception. So basically it's okay to try not to create children as it's a stupid way and not a reliable way. "I don't want to have kids but I want to have sex anyway" is fine by the Catholic church as long as it doesn't involve latex. Spare me.

The church has fallen silent about all kinds of important moral issues (all of which I notice, peeping_Thomist, you're totally sidestepping, don't think we don't see that), it chooses only to "spout off" about things that may or may not have any serious grounding in scripture. Where, pray tell, are all the encyclicals about the sin of Onanism? I don't see anyone going on and on about that. And I certainly hope that you, are a representative Catholic here at metafilter, are not indulging in such a grievous sin. Remember that parable about casting the first stone! And goshdarn it, aren't the stones a'flyin!

How about the practice charging interest? Jesus was pretty darn explicit about that, and so was the medieval church. That's New Testament, for God's sake! Why isn't the church upholding its traditional and scriptural teachings and bearing down on the national banks to stop the sin of charging interest? Oh, did it become unpopular? I thought the Church was all about fighting for God's will, not popularity.

The Church chooses to voice its opinions on some things and allows all kinds of atrocities (often at its own hand) and activities strictly against their own belief systems to persist without comment. This says to me that the hierarchy chose their battles on the basis of something other than scripture or even their own tradition. The Pope apparently represents God and tradition to one billion people, and therefore what he says and what he affirms carries great weight. If he and his people are going to being human hypocrites, I will suggest that they need to shut the fuck up.

So yes. I want the Catholic hierarchy to stop "spouting off" about about condom use because people are dying and this is something that might help. And if you have issues with me expressing this belief, perhaps you should revisit what you mean by "freedom of expression".
posted by Hildegarde at 9:40 AM on December 3, 2003


Hildegarde, your comments are a bit scattered, but I'll try to respond to some of them.

Masturbation is intrinsically and gravely disordered, and the Church consistently teaches that it is. One doesn't often hear public officials promoting masturbation, but you can be sure that when that does happen, the Vatican says something. The statement we're here discussing is in response to a senseless rush by public officials to embrace condoms as the solution to a problem of the spirit.

As for Natural Family Planning, it is in fact reliable and it is not, as you mistakenly claim, a form of contraception. Refraining from performing an act that has unwanted consequences is morally different from performing that act and taking steps to stop it from achieving its natural end. That latter kind of behavior is where the prefix "contra" in "contraception" comes from. People who use NFP do not act "against" anything.

The history of usury is interesting. There's a helpful article here. You may not agree, but I think John Paul II has been courageous in calling wealthy countries in the Northern Hemisphere to treat their brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere more equitably, including large-scale debt forgiveness.

You claim that the Church is hypocritical because she does not comment on all behavior She doesn't condone. I think that's misguided. The Church teaches what She teaches, and then She comments on issues as they arise in the public realm. In the case of masturbation, I'd be very surprised if Catholic authorities did not comment when Joclyn Elder raved about the benefits of teaching children how to masturbate. As for contraception, the Church has been consistent in responding when public officials adopt bad policies. In economic matters, the Church has taken pains to educate the powerful of this world about their duties to the weaker among us. So, basically, I'm not "getting" what your point is. Where's the hypocrisy?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:10 AM on December 3, 2003


Protecting child molesters?
posted by Hildegarde at 11:16 AM on December 3, 2003


Hildegarde, the American bishops have much to be ashamed of. In addition to that, however, they also handled the media abominably during the past two years. There's an interesting article here describing some of the ways in which the American bishops botched their media image. It's really disgraceful.

As for what any of that has to do with the Pope's moral authority to address the issues of the day, I still don't get it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 12:44 PM on December 3, 2003


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