British priests on the condom question

British priests on the condom question

In a survey of British priests, most say condoms are morally acceptable. Well, then, most British priests are wrong, since indeed the morality of something is not determined by a poll but by God’s law.

In a survey of clergy conducted by The Sunday Telegraph, 65 per cent of those questioned said that they thought it morally defensible to use condoms in order to curb the spread of HIV. A further 43 per cent said that it was time for the Catholic Church to “rethink” its stance on contraception.

Of course, it was an anonymous poll and we know nothing of the methodology used nor the questions asked, so the results must be taken with a grain of salt.

It’s not like this is news either. Back just before Humanae Vitae was released everyone, including most priests, believed that the Church’s teaching on contraception was going to change. Even a theological commission pulled together by the Pope had recommended it. So when Paul VI released his encyclical it was a massive surprise. Meanwhile, the quotations from the surveyed priests can be taken at face value.

There was some good news for the Catholic Church, however. Asked to rate Pope Benedict’s first year in office on a scale of one to 10, the vast majority of clergy questioned gave a glowing response with an average score of 8.9.

“We are such creeps,” said one clergyman before giving the Pope a nine. “We’re all thinking of our careers.”

Ah yes, such courage and bravery. They are the spiritual heirs of St.  John Fisher and St. Thomas More. When asked to comment in an anonymous ranking of the Pope’s work, the priest demurs and gives a nine to avoid bringing down retribution from the Church. Since when has public disagreement with the Pope hurt a priest’s career? (Never mind the quality of a priest who thinks of his vocation as a career.) In this case, I’ll agree with Father on the first part of his comment.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
8 comments
  • One major difference is that the nuns were being raped, while presumably the AIDS sufferers are engaging in voluntary sexual intercourse. For the nuns, there was no question of abstinence.

  • You see?  People can’t understand the tricky ins and outs of Catholic moral analysis.  They’ll just hear “condoms are okay” or “condoms are not okay.” 

    Another reason for the Church to be slow with any such notice of approval…

    Who remembers today that usury is a sin?  Guess what?  It still IS!  But the exceptions have swallowed up the rule.

  • ungennant: You forget the example of Joseph and Mary. They had a completely valid marriage because never having sex. If the pastoral response were as simple as you claim, it would have happened already.

  • That’s only for validly receiving the sacrament. If one of the spouses contracts AIDS after the marriage is consummated, then it remains valid even if they do not have sex. Otherwise, the Church would require married couples to have sex on a regular basis and it does not. The sacrament, once consummated and ratified, is valid from that point on.

    If one of the couple has AIDS before trying to marry, then a dispensation would be required.

    In neither case is the Church required to allow a dispensation for the use of condoms for the marriage to be valid.

  • I don’t believe that about the nuns in the Congo, not for one minute.

  • Sometimes, I think that if the only objection is a practical one, the Vatican will eventually have to allow the “ban” to be “lifted.”

    We have to cope with divorce becoming common because of annulments.  Part of the reason annulments are so common is loose practice on tribunals, but PART of the reason is that an awful lot of people—even Catholics—have lost a sense of what marriage IS.  And we have to grant annulments where they are warranted, even though it has a deleterious effect on marriage.

    Usury is still a sin, but as soon as exceptions were made, though they were valid, people tended simply to hear that taking interest was always okay. 

    As soon as people heard that laboring on Sunday was OKAY if it was done for relaxation, the ban on labor tended to soften and disappear.

    And of course since its okay to wage war and kill sometime, for many people, its pretty much always okay to wage any war, any time, in any way.

    We have to wrestle with these sins and we still do, to one extent or another.  And the Church’s teaching on openness to the transmission of life in every individual marital act will remain, even if someone up there decides that there are unusual cases where, say, double effect might apply.  Even if many people take that to mean that they can freely use condoms, we won’t take it that way, will we?

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