How can we miss you when you won’t go away?

How can we miss you when you won’t go away?

Cardinal Carlo Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan who’s supposed to be doing Scripture study in Rome, is making international waves again, this time by saying that married couples could use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. Just to be clear, Martini has long been the darling of progressives in the Church and was long their great hope as successor to John Paul. There were even claims that he came in second in balloting in last year’s conclave, although since the cardinals and all involved take the most solemn oath of silence, I don’t know how anyone can know that.

Anyway, Martini told the Italian periodical L’Espresso that condoms could be okay, and then said that life does not begin at conception, but shortly after. Both of these statements are in contradiction to the Church’s teachings.

Vatican officials are being typically cautious. While certain progressives are happy to fight doctrinal battles through the media, the more responsible bishops prefer to deal with these problems one on one. Of course, unless the dissenter recants to the press, the rest of us are left hanging with no formal response from the Vatican.

In any case, Martini may think he’s daring or breaking new ground, but it’s the same, old tired schtick. No one is shocked by it anymore. Martini was addressing the problems of AIDS-ravaged Africa, but African Catholics—who are living in the situation—know better. By and large, the vast majority know that condoms do nothing but encourage promiscuity.

In an article in the upcoming issue of Catholic World Report, Cardinal Emmanuele Wamala of Kampala, Uganda, had something to say of efforts to increase condom distribution in his country:

Cardinal Wamala likened the distribution of condoms to giving poor people bicycles without brakes, and encouraging them to ride downhill in the rain. “No matter how good you are at riding,” he said, “there are few chances of escaping an accident.” According to the cardinal, the funds invested in procuring condoms from Western countries, if they were channeled into projects aimed at improving the plight of the rural poor, would make a dramatic difference in the lives of needy families.

I think Wamala is much more familiar with the challenges of AIDS than Martini. I think Martini should return to his retirement and his books and quietly fade away.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli