From Red Cardigan:
The pope is making history as he visits Africa for the first time in his papacy. Naturally, all the news media can think about is sex and condoms:
PARIS (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI’s denunciation of condom use to prevent the spread of HIV sparked an international outcry on Wednesday as he toured Africa, the continent hardest hit by the disease.
The pope told reporters on his plane as he headed to Cameroon on Tuesday that AIDS “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.” […]
Michel Kazatchkine, the head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, demanded that the pope retract the statement, saying “these remarks are unacceptable.”
“It’s a denial of the epidemic. And to make these remarks on a continent that unfortunately is a continent where 70 percent of the people who have AIDS die, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” he told France Inter radio. […]
The New York Times wrote in an editorial that the pope was “grievously wrong.”
“Health authorities consider condoms a valuable component of any well-rounded programme to prevent the spread of AIDS. It seems irresponsible to blame condoms for making the epidemic worse,” it said.
Of course, the New York Times is shrinking by the minute, losing subscriptions left and write, and only slightly better off than other forms of dinosaur print journalism, while the Catholic Church in Africa is large, growing and vibrant. But let’s not forget the media template for covering stories involving the pope; in fact, if I may steal blatantly from CMR, there’s an easy way to write headlines during this particular papal visit story, which is: combine words from column A randomly with words from columns B and C, below:
Pope Visits Africa, Causes
Pope’s Africa Visit Creates
Pope’s Words In Africa Lead to
Over Condoms and HIV
Over Condoms, HIV and AIDS Prevention
Over Church Teaching on Condoms, Gays
Over Birth Control, Abortion, Condoms and Gays
Over Church’s Refusal to Allow Condoms for Gay Sex, HIV, AIDS, or Journalists
Of course, what the pope actually said, as usual, is far more nuanced than the reporting makes it seem:
Lest it be taken out of context, here is the exchange that took place on the pope’s plane. The question’s premise was “The Catholic Church’s position on the way to fight against AIDS is often considered unrealistic and ineffective,” and the pope responded:
“I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant’Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS … and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.
“I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money — which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn’t help.
“One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.
“The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.
“Therefore I would say this is our double strength — to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one’s own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. … I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this.”
What the news media seems not to realize (ever) is that people who are engaging in risky sexual behavior outside of wedlock are already committing (objectively) intrinsically evil acts. All sex outside of marriage is morally wrong, and the kind of sexual behaviors which are most responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS are forbidden, and have been for a couple thousand years of Christian moral teaching. So clearly the Church isn’t going to start saying, “Well, if you’re already committing grave sins that will most likely put you in Hell for all eternity, what’s another sin on top of that? Go ahead, use condoms–you’re already doomed by your sinful behavior, so you might as well minimize the collateral damage.” It’s absurd, isn’t it?
Yet the media still writes “Shock and Awe” headlines which, boiled down to their essential elements, read, “Pope Refuses to Allow Sin; Church Won’t Make Sin Easier, More Pleasant, or Less Risky for Catholics.” It makes me wonder if any of the MSM journalists out there know the meaning of that quaint expression, “Duuuhhhh….”
The saddest thing about these mush-minded minions of the MSM is that they really don’t get the philosophical depth and beauty of what the pope is trying to say. We can’t solve HIV/AIDS by looking at them as only health problems, any more than we can “solve” the problem of out-of-wedlock pregnancy with Depo-Provera and easy quickie abortions. In point of fact, trying to minimize the health consequences of promiscuity only lulls people into a false sense of safety, and creates the illusion that it’s perfectly fine to use other people sexually, to enter into what ought to be the most profound sort of physical relationship not only without any serious commitment, but with no thought whatsoever, as if the other person were an object against which we may pleasure ourselves for a moment, or a few days, or even a few years–which is animalistic, grotesque, selfish, vain, and truly ugly in every way.
For the secular materialist, however, there are no eternal consequences to our actions because there is no eternity, and there is no way of relating to other people except to use them, because we don’t know for sure that they even exist, and might as well get what we can from them while we can get it. To the materialist “love” is glandular, marriage is probably temporary, children are a choice–but sex is a necessity; anyone who seriously proposes that the best way to fight AIDS is to renew a sense of the beauty and significance of sex inside marriage, to remind people of the lack of this beauty and significance outside of it, and to fight the spiritual poverty that sees people as objects to be used for our pleasure is going to be speaking in angelic tongues as far as the materialist is concerned. It’s just not realistic to tell people they can be more than animals, or that they shouldn’t let themselves be objects; people are animals and objects, and must fight AIDS and other sexual evils with latex barriers, because allowing them to create barriers against evil within their souls and to think of themselves as children of God with eternal destinies might cut into the pleasure of those who are happy (or think they are) being animals, and acting like animals especially when it comes to sex.
So the pope speaks, and the materialists in the press shout “Condoms!” Because they’ve put condoms over their souls, which prevent the grace of God from reaching them, and keep them “protected” against anything of hope or beauty or eternity which might otherwise come their way.