With Pope Benedict’s new book being released, there has been some people that feel that a few things Pope Benedict stated are controversial, none more than his mention that in some cases the use of condoms may be a “first assumption of responsibility, on the way to recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed”. Pope Benedict stated as well, “sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexuality”. Pope Benedict also made comments about how he believes the Catholic Church lives within us all and shortly afterwards speaks of the filth within the same Church. How can a leader in a position as important as the Pope makes such bold statements, some seeming to be against what the Church teaches and others that seem to undermined the Church he leads? Let me try to explain how I interrupt his remarks.
But before I get into that, I want to share with you a paragraph from a recent USA Today article in the November 29, 2010 edition. The author, Amy Welborn writes about Pope Benedict:
There is, it seems, something for everyone in this exhaustive interview – something to annoy everyone on every side of these issues, that is as recent events clearly showed. The truth is, though, that for anyone who has been following Benedict and read any of his numerous works over many years, none of this is shocking or a surprise, and it’s all quite consistent.
It only puzzles us when we insist on filtering the pope’s words through our own expectations and ideologies, our own understanding of what religion and rationality and morality must be all about., We’re not starting from the same page, which might explain much of the invective directed at the pope by a curious, but often oblivious, press.
The reason I wanted to point this out is Amy has things right. Too often we get our information from the press and we know the press is focused on one liners and 30 second clips. Not very often do we get all the information from the press on what was really said or occurred. We usually react to the one liner or 30 second clip and too often we accept that as being the entire truth. I just want to say that before you get upset and believe what you read or hear about the Pope’s messages, due your research and take what you know about the Catholic faith and see if they align. Take the time to make your own conclusion on what you read/hear/see in the press.
Now back to the Pope Benedict’s comments. I would first like to say that I am glad to finally hear that the Church may start to teach that under certain situations, condom use is acceptable. In this case, the Pope was talking about a male prostitute who has AIDs. He was explain how in this situation, it may be better to protect the individual the male prostitute is engaging in sexual activities with from receiving the HIV/AIDs virus.
When this comment was made public about a week ago, I recall sitting in my living watching either ABC World News or NBC Nightly News. The report that was compiled to make the final report was of interviewers interviewing people from all over the world on how they felt about this comment. This report lasted for roughly 30 seconds and it seems that the reporters asked the one’s being interviewed about the one line the Pope said “condom use is alright under certain situations”. It was about 50/50 on those that favored the comment and those that seemed confused on why the Pope would make such a comment.
About 8 years ago, CNN run a documentary on people (mostly men) going to other countries to engage in sexual activities with minors. I bring this up because this comment from the Pope reminded me of this documentary. Many of the kids in this story felt they had no other way to make money to just survive. In this documentary, there was a boy who was being sold by his father. The man that was producing the documentary asked the dad why the boy was being sold for sex. The reason that was gave was the family had no other way to make money for just the basic things in life, just as food and water. He was unable to find work and this was the only way he found that he could make money for these things.
I think many times when we hear the word prostitute, we think of individuals whom have drug problems that are out there selling their bodies to make enough cash for their next high. We think that for many of these individuals a life in prostitution is something they have chosen for themselves. However, there are many that are involved in prostitution and are doing so just so they can afford to eat, have clothes on their back and maybe even to take care of their family. In these cases, I would have to say that using a condom to help protect against an STD would be the right thing to do. I do think that to God these situations like the boy’s story are truly saddening to him. The sin may not even fall on the boy, but on the individuals whom pay to have sex with him as well as those that have failed to prevent this from happening (those that know what is going on and do nothing). We do know that in the Our Father prayer, we ask God to forgive us for actions we do not take to help others.
As for the remark that Pope Benedict made about homosexuality not being “normal”, I do not think this should surprise anyone that has read anything the Pope has said/written on this subject. I often wonder if the reason the leaders of the Catholic Church speak in such language about those that are homosexuality is because the majority of the Catholic Church is heterosexual. With the latest estimates of the percentage of the world’s population of those that are homosexual being somewhere between 1% to 3% and the fact that many homosexual seem to go against the Church, the leaders feel they are more able to speak in a negative way about those that are gay. We do know that the Catechism teaches us that we are suppose to have compassion for those “dealing with” same sex attractions, it seems to me that the leaders do not seem to follow how we are taught to deal with those that are gay. But the problem could also be that we are not getting to full story from the press, which seems to like to cause friction between people and the Church (or corporations, the government).
Even though I am sadden by the comments of the Pope and other Church leaders on the subject of homosexuality, it doesn’t live a bitter taste in my mouth. It really makes me want to help out other gay Catholics more. I think the only way that we can get the Pope and other Church leaders to see that gay Catholics are equal to anyone else and that we have the same rights to attend Mass. It will take gay Catholics to stand up and show they have huge hearts, are willing to help the poor, feed the hungry, and offer assistance to anyone that they can. I think the only way we will see any change is to show the leaders of the Church that we are not going to go away, that we are going to be a part of the Church and that we are going to do the work God is calling us to do.
To often it seems that the Church teaching leaves gays out in the cold. If you have ever felt this way, do not think you are alone. Do not become discourage. Look at how many saints have we know have because they have gone the path God has lead them down, even if that path was against the will of the Catholic Church. The saints stayed true to the Catholic Church and to God, just as we should. If you have any ideas of how we can work together to help the Church accept that we are born gay and that we should be treated as equals within the Church, feel free to leave a comment below. Share your thought with others that take the time to read this. You never know, you may just inspire someone to take an action that will have an effect on us all.