Print More

David Gibson has a fine wrap-up of the Great Condom Freak-out in today’s NYT Week in Review. His key point is that by justifying the use of condoms in certain cases as the lesser of evils, Pope Benedict has embraced the traditional Catholic approach to moral reasoning (casuistry) that he used to oppose.

No wonder Catholic conservatives are so distressed. This sends a signal that the pope does not endorse the kind of moral absolutism that not only has condemned condoms in all cases but also has barred pro-choice Catholic politicians from the Eucharist and opposed the new health care law. It gives heart to Catholic progressives everywhere.

  • Esther C.L.

    Pope Benedict never said that condoms are the lesser of two evils, he never said they could be justified, he never used relativism as any part of his reasoning. What he said was:
    “She(the Church) of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”
    Please stop distorting the Pope’s words.

  • Mark Silk

    Actually, Esther, the pope’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, was explicit in reporting that Benedict was indeed using the idea of the lesser of two evils. Here’s how the AP story ( reported it:
    Lombardi said the pope didn’t use the technical terminology “lesser evil” in his comments because he wanted his words to be understood by the general public. Vatican officials, however, said that was what he meant.
    “The contribution the pope wanted to give is not a technical discussion with scientific language on moral problems,” Lombardi said. “This is not the job of a book of this type.”