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April 23, 2006

Comments

seamole

If this is indeed the Pope's intent, then that is a shame, because I don't believe the Holy Spirit will allow such a thing to happen.

ATP

I'm trying to understand the reasoning here in a succinct and correct manner.

So, here goes.

Contraception is wrong because it frustrates the procreative dimension of the marital act.

However, in a situation where one spouse has contracted HIV, the unitive dimension has *already* been somewhat frustrated by the presence of HIV, because of the possibility of transmitting a life-threatening disease.

So, the principle of double effect comes into play. The condom, in that situation, is there not to prevent pregnancy but to protect against the disease, but has the side effect of preventing pregnancy. Is that how it would break down, double-effect wise?

I know that was sloppy but I wanted to post before heading off to Mass...

I'm not sure what I think about all of this. I do agree with Kevin Miller's statement over at American Papist that it was pastorally irresponsible to start talking about this before any official statement from Benedict himself.

I also don't see how this could possibly be stated as just applying in the case of HIV infection. It seems like this will open up a Pandora's box of "how serious do the symptoms of an STD have to be in order for condoms to be licit?" But, perhaps, as long as it is clarified that *pregnancy* is not to be treated as an STD, a consistent ethic that allows condom usage might be possible.

Jeff

ATP:

Yes, I made this argument myself and then was convinced by other commenters (and Dr. William May) that the problem with condoms is not only contraceptive, but that they change the nature of the act. Use of the condom is an unnatural act and makes the sex act akin to masturbation--like anal or oral sex. This seems to be the reasoning of most orthodox theologians who have studied the matter.

But...if the Vatican says double effect applies, then I guess I change back again! Oh, well...

Juli Loesch Wiley

Disturbing. In a marriage where one spouse is HIV-positive, would the Church --- in the interests of preserving some kind of marital sexuality --- approve of mutual masturbation?

And this would be different --- how?

McCarthy

Double-effect no more applies here than in any other case of deliberate ejaculatory sexual activity of a non-procreative type. Such acts are incapable of being marital acts. There is no way the Vatican can approve of such acts without at the same time undermining the whole basis for the Church's general teaching on sexual ethics (and Canon Law teaching concerning what is required of a sexual act in order to consummate a marriage). An ejaculatory act intrinscally incapable of consumating a marriage is necessarily a non-marital sexual act and is thus grave matter. This is a constant in Church teaching.
On top of this I know for a fact that there is oppostion in the CDF to any compromise of the type suggested by Barriagan, and that (the then) Cardinal Ratzinger's Letter on AIDS at least implies an opposition to the Barragan position.

I urge all readers of Amy's to speak out against those who would seek to undermine (often unwittinly) the consistency of the Church's traditional teaching in these areas.

AmericanPapist

McCarthy, I agree that we probably don't need to be worried about the news story on Barrigan:

http://www.americanpapist.com/2006/04/vatican-drafting-document-to-permit.html

Granted, we'll have to watch La Repubblica for the interview

anon for now

I have to admit I was kind of shaken by reading this... I've been a little shaky in my faith lately, anyway, and a sudden approval of rubbing genitals together through rubber for pleasure and emotional support for AIDS victims only, after all that's been said and expected to be repeated to those who ask about contraception in "hard cases"... this is difficult to take. To the point that I simply have to hold on to the idea that this story must be mistaken.

MG

Why isn't abstinence an option in such cases? Are we married people so pathetically weak that we can't handle it? I'm not buying.

James

I would like to offer a small portion of a post I wrote yesterday concerning this issue. If you want to see more of it, please visit my blog.

"I find it very disconcerting that some Church officials seem to view sexual intercourse as the raison d'etre of the married couple. I guess these men have not understood the Church's teaching properly on the subject of marriage. I cannot find any such document that would tell me that for a holy marriage, one must have sexual intercourse constantly throughout a marriage or otherwise the marriage is not holy. Sexual intercourse is but a very small fragment of the married life. Indeed, at times, it has a very diminished role in the life of any good marriage. Marriage is much more about sharing the love of Christ with your spouse. And that takes the form of many different things. Being kind and caring about your spouse, helping out with the household, rearing children together, being prayer-filled and holy for the good of your spouse and family, and the list goes on and on."

ambrosius

MG, don't you know? Humans are just animals and can't control themselves. Especially those colored ones in Africa and South America -- I mean, they really can't control themselves, now, can they?

James

Ambrosius,

I have to say, you are wrong in respect to animals. Atleast animals follow their instincts. When human persons debase themselves by following their passions and not using their reason and will in accordance with God's grace, these human persons become less than even the animals.

James

I had to post one more quote from my blog.

"No married couple with one spouse having HIV should ever have to choose evil. The right thing, the sacrifice, is to forgo sexual intercourse and take up a life of continence, for God. The couple should realize their place in the path to holiness and find new avenues of sharing their lives with each other. Giving up the conjugal act is not the end of marriage, but may be the new beginning of marriage for this couple. I mean, not to wander far off from what I want to say, but how did this spouse get infected in the first place? Was it through immoral activity? If so, then perpetuating more evil to occur within a marriage would be disasterous. Repentance, the sacraments, and prayer are needed more than anything. The conjugal act should be the last thing on this spouse's mind. Or did the infection occur through a blood transfusion or some other means not the fault of the individual? If so, what an unfortunate thing to have occurred. Many accidents occur to good people in life but that does not excuse them from the difficulties of the road to holiness. We all have our crosses and it is through God's grace that we can take them up and follow Christ in each day of our lives. "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" is not some ideal but can and should happen in our lives. It is not absolute perfection in this life but a perfection that shows our growth in charity towards that final day in which we will behold the face of God himself."

Katherine

As I understood it, the theology of the body taught that artificial contraception interfered with the unitive purpose of sex because a partner was deliberately holding back something about himself or herself: the possibility of making a child together.

In this case, what one spouse is holding back is a virus that will result in the painful death of the other spouse. Isn't that relevant?

I really fail to see how trying to keep your wife from contracting AIDS interferes with the unitive aspect of sex, or how this question is morally distinguishable from the question of whether a woman can have a hysterectomy to treat cancer & continue to have sex afterwards.

ambrosius

James,

Sarcasm was my weapon, sir.

Will Barrett

I agree with James. In discussions of married people, condoms, and HIV, we always assume that it is morally legitimate for a spouse with HIV to engage in sex with an uninfected spouse. But how can a spouse who uses a condom ever justify even the very slight risk that might exist that he or she might transmit that disease to his or her spouse? AIDS, even in this day and age when many people have been able to control it with drugs (e.g. Magic Johnson or Andrew Sullivan), is still a deadly disease. Shouldn't the Church's blanket rule not be, if you have sex you can't use a condom but rather, if you have HIV, you shouldn't be having sex with your spouse?

Of course if you are going to go sleeping with your spouse regardless of the risk you pose to her, well, perhaps you should put a condom on but it seems you've already missed the meaning of marriage by wanting to put your spouse at risk.

Anon at this point

Ah, so easy for those who aren't in this situation to give moral advice. I'd like to hear from a couple, one of whom contracted HIV through blood transfusions, who is actually dealing with this situation. Are you calmly accepting a celibate life from this point on as your unfortunate cross or are you rejoicing that perhaps condoms could be used to protect the uninfected partner? Not everyone has the capacity to forgo all expressions of marital affection for 20 or 30 years and especially not when the procreative aspects of the marriage i.e. the woman is past menopause or has had a hysterectomy has ended.

James

I think one would be cruel and heartless not to feel compassion for people who through no fault of their own contracts such a deadly virus. Would taking on continence be easy for a marriage? Of course, no sacrifice is easy. Otherwise it wouldn't be a sacrifice. But to change the nature of the marital act from one of self-gift (the nature of the conjugal act) to a marital act which denies the self-gift (with the usage of a condom in a conjugal act) has serious consequences for the holiness of the couple. In the end, the conjugal act is not a necessary component to live. It is a gift given to us by God as we partake as co-creators in this world. And sometimes this gift must be renounced for God. Yes, it would be a major sacrifice to someone who may enjoy this gift within marriage.

But everybody has crosses to bear in this life. We must ask God for his grace to help us each step of the way with whatever crosses we bear, no matter how difficulty and ow unfortunate they may be....these crosses are for our salvation.

James

Ambrosius,

I was aware of your sarcasm.

I felt the need to defend the animals and their dignity.

Jimmy Huck

"I really fail to see how trying to keep your wife from contracting AIDS interferes with the unitive aspect of sex, or how this question is morally distinguishable from the question of whether a woman can have a hysterectomy to treat cancer & continue to have sex afterwards."

I really think Katherine has an important point here that shouldn't get buried. It strikes me as extremely relevant.

Ian

Amy:

Wow, just wow.

If this is true, then I'm going to be seriously heartbroken. "anon for now" seems to sum up much of my feeling on the matter.

The "AIDS argument" - if accepted - can be used to destroy all of Humanae Vitae through about six logical steps. This means:

(a) The Holy See can promulgate contradictory teaching

(b) Therefore, the encyclicals, etc. of the Holy See are not infallible

(c) Therefore, the dogmatic declarations of the Ecumenical Councils are not necessarily true (cf Vatican I)

(d) Therefore, all of the teachings of the Church are collectively up for grabs

(e) Therefore, Jesus Christ has left us with nothing.

So Catholics have a few choices:

(1) Become a sedevacantist, Orthodox, Nestorian, etc. and hold onto the non-contradictory traditions/beliefs of those Churches to stay Christian and avoid being a hypocrite (by believing Vatican I)

(2) Believe that Christianity is an "open question" and sick with the "Anglicanesque" RCs (dismissing anything before Vatican II)

(3) Become an evangelical Christian - discarding the notions of Ecumenical Councils altogether and going "sola scriptura" - psychologically avoiding the matter of where the Bible came from and how it was constructed. (The "how 'cradle Catholics' become Christians" model)

(4) Say "I've been had" and forget this silly, inconsistent, self-contradictory "Christian religion" altogether. (The "post-high-school Catholic" model)

Am I missing anything here?

AmericanPapist

Jimmy, it is relavent, but it misses an important point.

Condomized sex is against the unitive aspect of marital intercourse because it is not a full gift of self: human beings are bodily creatures, as John Paul II explained, whose physical acts must be appropriate to their dignity as human persons.

In condomized sex, the man does not actually gives his semen to the woman - it is a lie, so to speak, saying "I'm not really giving ALL myself to you." Remembering that marriage is a symbol of the Church, it would be as if Jesus did not give all of himself to his people on the Cross (if this helps one understand the situation - otherwise ignore this example).

As william may and several other ethicists say, condomized sex is little different from mutual masturbation. The condom seperates man and wife in what should be a full union.

For the case of the hysterectomy, the man and woman are still giving themselves to each other (presuming they don't use a condom), but the act is rendered contraceptive externally. The man and wife know there is no abiltiy to be procreative, so they cannot act against it. In condomized sex one knows that one is frustrating the procreative ability of the act.

Perhaps others could supplement the point I'm trying to make?

AmericanPapist

Ian - I don't think it need be quite that drastic. both sides to this question admit it is still "open", and either side wouldn't necessarily "challenge" what has been infallibly taught regarding contraception.

what it would do, however, is provoke a major rethinking by many top scholars who thought they were "thinking with the mind of the Church" when they developed the principles that ruled out the use of a condom in all cases whatsoever.

Fr Martin Fox

I think everyone should hold off on being upset until there's something to be upset about, and you know what it is.

AmericanPapist

... I should even append that: "ruled out the use of a condom in all cases whatsoever."

it IS permissable for woman about to be raped to request the man who is raping her to wear a condom - because in rape there is NO unitive dimension to the act, you can't commit a sin against what is not there. the woman is not acting freely...

the same thing goes for homosexuals and heterosexual anal sex. these acts cannot sin against "unitive" and "procreative" meanings because there is no meaning there to sin against in the first place.

there are other qualifications that can be made... I just wanted to stymie whatever misunderstandings I could before they happened.

Anon at this point

Jesus Christ left us with nothing?
That's a bit of a jump, isn't it? What about his teachings on love, compassion, unity with the Father, forgiveness, mercy and much more? Granted, such a decision would be problematic for Church teachings but that would hardly mean that Jesus Christ left us with nothing. And the Holy See has promulgated contradictory teaching. Lending at interest was soundly condemned by the Holy See at one point and now we have a Vatican bank. Is your faith in the person of Jesus or the institution of the Church? If an institution is problematic, it doesn't mean that Jesus left us with nothing. (And, yes I am Catholic.)

scriblerus

Wow! I'll be very curious to see what happens with this. Is it just a random leak or the signal of a rather momentous change. If married people with AIDS are allowed to use a condom, I'll be very curious to see the reasoning. It seems to me that allowing some sort of exception in this case would erode the distinction between authentic self-giving sex and non-self-giving sex. The exception would gradually get enlarged (psychological conditions, etc.) and the distinction would be gone.

See the abortion debate and the havoc wrought by the "health of the mother" exception.

sigmed

What if a condom were manufactured in such a way as to be mildly defective? That is, it might contain microscopic holes that, in a very small percentage of usage, would permit semen to pass through.

And what if the rate of "failure" were somehow manipulated so that it matched the failure rate of natural family planning methods? Would such a product be morally acceptable?

After all, a couple could say that, in using this "conscientious" condom, they are giving God the same chance to create life that they would be if they employed NFP alternatives -- with the added benefit of not having to abstain at certain times in the calendar.

But, maybe, the frequency of intercourse is one of the points. I don't ever recall hearing a Pope or bishop explicitly say so, but I think that fortifying the teaching on contraception is the common sense that the more sex a couple chooses to have, the more children it should expect.

Meg Q

People, chillax.

Whatever will happen if some halfway-plausible rumor escapes Italy about women being allowed to be ordained deacons? Or even priests? (Which BTW is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN in case you were wondering. Ordination, I mean, not rumors escaping.)

Hey, I wasn't born in Missouri, but I *was* conceived there . . . Show Me.

AmericanPapist

well, it does look like we're going to be getting a document from the Vatican "soon":

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L23721062.htm

Reuters has picked up on the story - but doesn't claim to know what the document actually says.

anon for now

sigmed -- natural family planning methods place no barrier during the act and always allow transmission of semen, regardless of so-called "failure rate." And it would be insane to say condoms were OK to protect the health of AIDS victims' spouses as long as they might fail sometimes.

The transmission of semen/physical barrier issue is the problem (some) people are having with this. In fact, couples with fertility problems are permitted to have sex with a perforated condom so that semen will still enter the wife's body, but some can be saved for analysis. See -- not allowed to use an ordinary condom "just that once" to get a sample (or to masturbate under medical conditions); allowed to use a partial barrier, allowed to lose some fertilization potential, as long as the marital act results with insemination.

My concern I guess is with the "expected to" business. Probably I'm moody, in need of a nap, and overreacting to a stupid headline though. I would be shocked if the mainstream media claimed the Church was "expected to" start ordaining women because the dumb statements usually merely imply that the question could be reconsidered, but true, I'd be extremely skeptical.

Ian

AmericanPapist:

Can you give some citations for your arguments, or are these your interpretations?

Here is a section of a paragraph 14 of Humanae Vitae:

"Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one."

Insofar as any contraception is deliberate (including the postulated (and patently ridiculous) case of a woman being raped requesting a condom), this nails down the argument. But we can go back to Casti Connubi for this too:

53. And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances.

54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

How do you argue against that without coming to my (aforementioned) conclusions?

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

Bravo and thank you, Fr. Martin.

Wait and see. Remember how rumors flew within the past two weeks alone.

Ken

Anon at this point may be Catholic, but s/he presents Protestant arguments.

Are you calmly accepting a celibate life from this point on as your unfortunate cross or are you rejoicing that perhaps condoms could be used to protect the uninfected partner? Not everyone has the capacity to forgo all expressions...

I am not often "calm" about the crosses that come my way, but my feelings - calmness, rejoicing, or whatever - aren't the basis of reality. Fortunately, my "capacities" are also not the limits of morality and vocation.

Actually, I'm not sure those are even Protestant arguments, although Protestants (modernist Anglicans in particular) are fond of them; they are really just narcissism. In any case, the basis of reality is the Word of God, not my taste, my feelings, or my capacities.

And yes, if an "infallible" teaching can be changed, then Jesus Christ left us with nothing. Perhaps love, mercy, unity with the Father, and so on suit anon's taste, but really, if the Church which transmitted those teachings to us can't be trusted, then why should I opt for anon's taste in morals? Why not a nice Stalinist program of starvation for my enemies, if I can pull it off? Why not mass murder for as long as I can get away with it? Yes, these are arguments ad absurdum, but once you have subordinated reality to subjective criteria, they aren't really absurd at all. History has shown that, I think.

Actually, if the Magesterial teaching of the Catholic Church cannot be trusted, what further reason is there to speak of Christianity?

Michael R

This thread just confirms for me the incoherent nature of the church's teaching against contraception. Every time defenders of the teaching attempt to justify it on the basis of some moral principle (and there seems to be widespread disagreement over what that principle is), their argument is inconsistent in some way or other with the church's actual set of positions on permissable and impermissable varieties of sex.

McCarthy says, "

An ejaculatory act intrinscally incapable of consumating a marriage is necessarily a non-marital sexual act and is thus grave matter.

But if this were the principle, the church would forbid "ejaculatory acts" between infertile married couples that are "intrinsically incapable of consumating a marriage." It doesn't.

Americanpapist says,

For the case of the hysterectomy, the man and woman are still giving themselves to each other (presuming they don't use a condom), but the act is rendered contraceptive externally. The man and wife know there is no abiltiy to be procreative, so they cannot act against it. In condomized sex one knows that one is frustrating the procreative ability of the act.

But a couple using NFP is also doing exactly this. They are deliberately timing the sexual act in an attempt to frustrate its procreative ability. They are "acting against" the procreative ability of the act. Yet the church does not forbid NFP.


AmericanPapist

I presume you are arguing against being able to use condoms in the case of rape.

This question is off-topic to the issue in question, so I'm not going to spend too much time on this.

I've read very good arguments about this. A woman can even seek to take contraceptives after being raped that would prevent the semen from fertilizing one of her ovum. The point is that the man is violating her and it is a further violation of her to conceive a child with his semen (once a child is created you of course cannot kill it). A woman cannot intentionally sin against the procreative and unitive dimensions of sexual intercourse when it is not a free act of hers to begin with - one is never punished for what one does not choose, and a woman in this situation is not choosing to contracept or inhibit the unitive aspect of sex.

I would suggest doing a google search for this issue. Peter Cataldo I believe has some good articles on this. For now I can't get into yet another argument on these issues... duties call.

AmericanPapist

Michael, please listen to Dr. Smith's "contraception: why not?" tape (just google it - there are free copies made available).

It will clear up your common misconceptions about the differences between NFP and contraception.

AmericanPapist

I'm off for the evening... hopefully the world doesn't burn down in my absence. Peace everybody.

thomas tucker

anon- who said it was easy to give this kind of moral advice? I doubt if anyone here thinks it's easy at all.
But, yes, i do think everyone has the capacity to forego genital marital affection for 20-30 years. You wouldn't think so by watching our tv shows and movies, or by reading our magazines since all of these media outlets suggest that sex is what we think about 99.9% of the time. If you truly do love someone, then you need to be ready to sacrifice what you must and do what you must. If your wife comes down with cervical cancer and has her genitalia removed or irradiated, you better be ready to continue to love her even though you are no longer able to have sexual intercourse. These things happen, we are not animals, and we are called to love and honor. I am not saying it would be easy; I am saying that we have that capacity.

Michael R

AmericanPapist,

Ian's quote from Humanae Vitae seems to clearly contradict your argument justifying the use of condoms in cases of rape. Using a condom is "deliberately contraceptive" whether the sexual act is voluntary or not. And even if using a condom does prevent a "greater evil," the teaching expressly denies that this justifies it.

Michael R

It will clear up your common misconceptions about the differences between NFP and contraception

It would be easier if you just told me what you think those "common misconceptions" are.

Liam

The issue is that rape is not a sexual act, and even highly traditional moralists have agreed about that.

Michael R

Liam,

Where does the church say that rape is not an act of "sexual intercourse?" The claim is absurd on its face. The church certainly teaches that rape is not a morally permissible form of sexual intercourse, but that's not the same thing as denying that it's sexual intercourse.

Tom Harmon

No one ought to think that the Church has issued statements that contradict each other if this document is released. Here's why:

Humanae Vitae prohibited contraceptive acts. The Church would not be saying, whoops, contraceptive acts are OK. Presumably, the Church would be saying that usign a condom in sexual intercourse in order to prevent the transmission of aids is not a contraceptive act (description of a cotnraceptive act might be: sex using a condom with the intent that procreation does not occur. Notice, the intention is different).

Yes, I am aware that this has problems. It's hard to figure out. I've been thinking about this question for a while now ina very intense way. it might get down to this: which end specifies the moral act? The proximate end, or the natural end? In other words, is the intended end (have sex w/o transmitting HIV) determinative of the act, or the natural end (as a matter of fact, semen is not transmitted to the woman's vagina). It's much more complicated than that, but that's a thumbnail.

Instead of breaking into hysterics if this is released, we ought to keep our faith: Christ's Church does not teach error, nor does She contradict herself. If it appears so to us, then we ought to change the way we think about things. If we have been wrong, Janet Smith's more naturalistic description of moral actions might end up being inadequate.

In that case, it might be important to examine an article AmericanPapist posted on his blog: scroll down to the list of Catholic bioethics Quarterly articles and look at the Rhonheimer/Guevin debate: http://www.americanpapist.com/blog.html

I think Rhonheimer has a point, although I really have some problems with it, still. And, i think that it would be a very bad idea to promulgate such a decision right now. A lot more groundwork and education would have to be done before such a decision would be likely to be accepted. Nevertheless, Rhonheimer's argument might show us a responsible Thomistic way to understand such a decision.

If it happens, people should remember that orthodoxy means dying to self. There's never any cause to doubt the Church's holy teaching; only our ability or readiness to hear what She has to say. Often that can include an intellectual blindspot in us. Perhaps that intellectual blindspot is an overphysicalism in describing moral actions. (Perhaps. I'm still not convinced that it is. Essentially, right now I'm agnostic about Rhonheimer's views.)

thomas tucker

Not to butt in, but rape is an act of violence, not sexual love. Second, think of it this way- you are not allowed to go yank out someone's tooth becuase you hate them and want to hurt them; you are allowed to do that if you are a dentist. The point is- in different contexts, the same act may be moral or it may be immoral.

Tom Harmon

thomas tucker: exactly. The natural end is the same in both cases: the tooth gets yanked out. The proximate end, however, is different. Proximate end 1: to remove a diseased tooth. Proximate end 2: to cause pain to someone I dislike. They look the same physically, but are radically different kidns of moral act.

Kevin Miller

The idea that rape is the same kind of act as marital intercourse DEFINITELY represents overphysicalism.

When one speaks, in a philosophical or theological context, of a human act, one is not simply speaking of a physical behavior pattern. One is speaking of a chosen act.

The choice to rape is a fundamentally different sort of choice from the choice to engage in marital intercourse. (And, of course, the woman being raped has no choice at all.)

As far as NFP is concerned, no, it doesn't act against the procreative function of intercourse. It leaves every act of intercourse in which the couple engage as procreative as that act can be. It doesn't engage in intercourse and then try to take away some or all of the procreative function of the act engaged in. So, it is a fundamentally different sort of thing than contraception of any sort.

Michael R

thomas tucker,

I know that rape is not an act of sexual love. Where does the church say that rape is not an act of sexual intercourse?

The point is- in different contexts, the same act may be moral or it may be immoral.

But the church teaches that contraception is intrinsically immoral.

Tom harmon,

The Church would not be saying, whoops, contraceptive acts are OK. Presumably, the Church would be saying that usign a condom in sexual intercourse in order to prevent the transmission of aids is not a contraceptive act (description of a cotnraceptive act might be: sex using a condom with the intent that procreation does not occur. Notice, the intention is different).

But, again, if it's the presence of a contraceptive intent that makes the act immoral, then NFP would also be immoral. If an act of sexual intercourse is immoral in virtue of the intent of the sexual partners to engage in that act while preventing (or, at least, greatly minimizing) the possibility of pregnancy, then condomized sex and NFP sex are both immoral.

amy

I am not an expert on this. But I'm just going to guess here. IF there is any kind of guidance/document, might it take this shape? The assurance to a woman/girl that if she is in a situation in which she is "forced" to consent to sexual intercourse, she is not morally culpable for insisting that a condom be used? Again, this is sketchy, but I'm just thinking aloud here...

Dealing in situations far from ideal in which life/health is at stake?

Chris

Michael R. -

You said:
It will clear up your common misconceptions about the differences between NFP and contraception

It would be easier if you just told me what you think those "common misconceptions" are.


Take a look at section 16 of Humanae Vitae. Paul VI describes the differences between NFP and contraception quite eloquently, particularly in the third paragraph of that section:

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the latter they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.

Patrick O'Carroll

I can hardly believe that the Catholic Church would reverse course and allow something that it has strictly condemned for years...possibbly for centuries, just to accomodate a modern evil of the present day.

I have compassion for people who contracted AIDS from blood transfusions, or from needles but not from a sexual lifestyle/habit/compulsion. No Pope (any Pope)should acquiece to the use of something which is immoral to prevent a greater evil just because it is seen as a means to control a rampant sexual crisis reflecting the times we live in. To do so would be to justify sin in the first place, which I can't see happening.

If the Pope does allow for this, He would be leading the Church down the road to moral ruin in the same manner that Mianline Protestant Churches in the USA (especially the Episcopal Church) has done witih their faithful by a lack of moral leadership in the face of that which is sinful before God.

If Pope Benedict XVI allows for this, he may please those who have enbraced the immorality of the times, but I am sure milions in the Church will be shocked and dismayed. And I am sure that it would cause many to question this mans' right to indeed be given the title "Holy Father".

Michael R

As far as NFP is concerned, no, it doesn't act against the procreative function of intercourse. It leaves every act of intercourse in which the couple engage as procreative as that act can be. It doesn't engage in intercourse and then try to take away some or all of the procreative function of the act engaged in.

If NFP reduces procreation without reducing intercourse, then it obviously acts against the procreative function of intercourse. It it didn't, the procreative consequences of intercourse using NFP would be as great as those of intercourse not using NFP.

Tom Harmon

"But, again, if it's the presence of a contraceptive intent that makes the act immoral, then NFP would also be immoral. If an act of sexual intercourse is immoral in virtue of the intent of the sexual partners to engage in that act while preventing (or, at least, greatly minimizing) the possibility of pregnancy, then condomized sex and NFP sex are both immoral."

Not true. There is never any contraceptive intent. The intent of the couple licitly practicing NFP must never be "I am using this method with the active intent to prevent the procreation of a child." Instead, the intent must be to perform a conjugal that is procreative in its type, but because of an additional circumstance (there does not happen to be an ovum ready in the woman to receive the sperm), procreation cannot happen. The important difference is between the intended end (to perform a conjugal act) and a foreseen circumstance extraneous to the act itself (no ovum at this time).

Almost every single act of condomized intercourse is done with the proximate intent of preventing conception (although there may be further ends irrelevant to the goodness of the act involved, like, e.g.: I want to keep peace at home, or I want to responsibly space my children).

thomas tucker

Actually, I don't think the Church teaches that contraception is intrinsically immoral. That is why NFP is allowed for serious reasons of spacing births, and that is contraception loosely defined, although it is not artificial contraception. What is defined as intrinsically immoral is severing the unitive and procreative aspects of the "marital" act.

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