On Faith: What are the implications of Pope Benedict’s statement?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 23, 2010 — 15 Comments

My latest response at the Washington Post’s On Faith site is now up.

Here’s this week’s panel question:

Catholics and condoms. In an interview with journalist Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict XVI said that condom use may be acceptable under “exceptional circumstances” such as use by a male prostitute in order to prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS. Interpretation of the pope’s pronouncement has varied. Many insist that the church’s teaching, which bans birth control, has not changed, but others see the pope’s statement as opening the door to a broader conversation about human sexuality in the modern world. What are the implications of Pope Benedict’s statement on condoms in terms of AIDS policy, the church’s teaching on sex and its view of women?

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

The vast tragedy is the blind insistence that simply encouraging abstinence would somehow work. According to UNAIDS, there are more than 7000 new HIV infections each day. Many of those infected could have been reached by the Catholic Church, and by other Christian organizations that do outreach to people with HIV or AIDS, but who won’t encourage basic sexual responsibility. It’s this denial of Eros outside of rigidly defined roles, this romanticized struggle against the physical passions, that continues to be a massive failing of many strains of the dominant monotheisms. Our modern world is still so afraid of our sexual selves, still so wrapped in taboos and superstitions, that it is willing to turn this ongoing tragedy into a statistic, a talking point, a moral lesson, instead of seeing the industry of ignorance, suffering, and death in which it is engaged. We keep feeding the poor, but won’t ask why they are hungry.

I hope you’ll head over to the site and read my full response, and the other panelist responses, and share your thoughts.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Crystal7431

    Many many years later.

  • Crystal7431

    Well, that's sort of the Pope's mentality these days.

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    I'd never want to be a woman in ancient Athens…

    • Pagan Puff Pieces

      I feel so much better reading that.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Yes. This.

  • Rombald

    What does "sharing cookies or using tape" mean?

  • Malaz

    Thank you Jason.
    Your commentary on WP is exactly what people need to hear.


  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    Well, there is that big question of whether or not civilization is at all possible without an underclass of some sort.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    I was being facetious.

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

    "their women and children"?

    Ouch! Way to use a possessive case pronoun…

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    I wish there were; I was just thinking how boring this conversation was getting. Needs some spice.

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

      Dude. Vanilla is a spice, too. ;-)

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

    *grin* Yeah, I figured. It was quite the word choice in context, though. ;-)

  • Tomb

    Does that despite I am a Greco-Egyptian Recon, I stil favor the Catholics over the Protestants make me a bad pagan?

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

    Do you have a proposal on this score?