A lot of ink has been devoted to the Catholic Church’s unwavering prohibition on condom use, particularly in AIDS ravaged Africa. In fact, Pope Benedict’s historic visit to Cameroon back in March of ’09 was overshadowed by the following response to reporters on the plane ride there:
“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.” (Huffpo)
A maelstrom of ‘controversy’ dominated the media, with some pundits going as far as accusing the pope of killing Africans. In his recent article, George Weigel wrote about the Vatican’s decision not to reappoint Lesley-Anne Knight for a second, four-year term as secretary general of Caritas International, a global network of 165 Catholic agencies working primarily in the Third World on development and health-care issues. Worth reading in full, following is an excerpt which offers the best perspective on the Catholic position of condoms and AIDS:
“Yes, there is a uniquely Catholic approach to the global HIV pandemic. It is an approach that takes seriously the dignity of the human person, which includes the capacity of men and women to change patterns of behavior that put themselves, their families and their communities at risk. It is an approach that takes the spiritual and moral dimensions of the AIDS crisis seriously. It is an approach that stresses abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage—both of which have been shown by independent scholars to drive down the incidence of AIDS in vulnerable populations. It is an approach that refuses to accept the empirically unproven claims that poverty, stigma and low levels of education drive AIDS epidemics. And it is an approach that refuses to burn incense at the altar of the false god latex, where the real votaries of rigid dogma are to be found among those for whom condoms are instruments of salvation.”
|Annunciation by Andrea del Sarto, 1513|
When we think of the Incarnation, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14) we mostly think of Christmas and the baby Jesus. But nine months before Christmas, on March 25th, a life began at conception. Today the Church celebrates the very moment of the conception of the Son of God, when the Word–in fact–became flesh and dwelt among us in His mother’s womb: Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,and you shall name him Jesus (Lk 1:31). This reality was recognized by St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. (Lk 1:43-44)
Is there no greater Pro-Life feast?
The incarnation of the Word was not only the work of the Father, Son and Spirit – the first consenting, the second descending, the third overshadowing – but it was also the work of the will and the faith of the Virgin. Without the three divine persons this design could not have been set in motion; but likewise the plan could not have been carried into effect without the consent and faith of the all-pure Virgin. Only after teaching and persuading her does God make her his Mother and receive from her the flesh which she consciously wills to offer him. Just as he was conceived by his own free choice, so in the same way she became his Mother voluntarily and with her free consent.
(St. Nicholas Cabasilas’ Homily on the Annunciation 4-5)
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