Catholic news around the Web

A few interesting Catholic news stories from around the Web:

First, the pope met behind closed doors with 100 cardinals to discuss both sexual abuse by priests and religious freedom around the world:

The meeting is taking place on the eve of a ceremony known as a consistory at which the pope will create 24 new cardinals, including 20 who are under 80 and thus eligible to… elect his successor.

This meeting comes just before the release of a new book of interviews with the Holy Father, conducted by veteran journalist Peter Seewald and entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.

The Vatican also announced that come January, it will establish an ordinariate for Anglicans in England and Wales. According to news reports, “five traditionalist Church of England bishops have applied to join the ordinariate, and about 30 groups of parishioners are due to cross over from the Anglican Church.”

In related news, France will be granting asylum to 150 Iraqi Christians, giving priority to those wounded in the recent siege on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad:

The first batch of 36 Iraqis wounded in the Baghdad church hostage crisis were due to arrive in France on Monday, said Eric Besson, the immigration minister.

France said it would help the most seriously wounded, all but two of whom are Christians, soon after last Sunday’s shoot-out, when Iraqi and US security forces stormed the Syriac Catholic cathedral during mass.

France has been receiving Iraqi Christians since 2007.

Zoe Romanowsky


Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Zo

  • Pammie

    I wonder if you might be aware of this latest atrocity?…hild.html
    It is about an American couple who are conducting an online poll on whether or not to abort their unborn child. Just when you think it can’t get much worse.

  • Pammie

    Try this one—…child.html

  • Zoe

    Pammie, I just saw that and was thinking of posting it, but didn’t know what to say beyond, “Huh?!” It’s not just disgusting, it’s stupid. But let me tell you how I really feel… smilies/smiley.gif

  • Marthe L

    I have not read that post yet, but at least they are open to hear some opinions. Why not get everybody on all of our personal networks to send them the pro-life message? Who knows, it might make a difference.

  • Pammie

    I expect you’re right. Some things are just so outrageously awful that words fail. Ms Lepine that sound like a good idea!

  • Peter Freeman

    Oh, but it looks like you missed the FoxNews report that Pope Benedict is now okay with condoms…in some cases…like homosexual relations during male prostitution:…ied-cases/
    I’m sure that was precisely the take home point he had planned when he sat down for that interview.

  • Mena

    The condom statement is being taken absurdly out of context. The sex-obsessed leftist media are doing this on purpose.

    First, the Pope was NOT making any case for general condom morality, and in fact the news reports admit the Pope says condoms are NOT any solution to HIV or promiscuity. So, the wire services are giving misleading headlines, as if the Pope has changed his mind on condoms and now believes that they’re partially moral. It’s a total mischaracterization.

    Instead, the Pope conceded that if a prostitute uses condoms to prevent contracting or spreading deadly disease, that decision to take a precaution to prevent killing people shows a sliver of morality. A prostitute is immoral in sexuality, but at least some prostitutes don’t want spread deadly diseases, and the Pope was admitting that a prostitute’s use of a condom in that situation shows a moral consideration to NOT kill people by HIV and other STDs.

    But that’s all the Pope said, and the news media are intentionally misreporting this. The left is so completely diabolical.

  • Chrissy G

    Mena, I’m not sure where the left comes into play regarding this article.
    Fox News is not left-leaning– is the author of the book, or some other news agency from which Fox gets its information? Just a bit confused.

    Though I definitely am aware of and understand why the left would prefer to misinterpret the pope’s comments in this light.

  • Cord Hamrick

    Anyone who thinks the pope said anything substantively different, in this statement, than he or other popes have said before, have misunderstood his statement.

    The problem was not in the words the pope used, but in the reading comprehension skills of others (particularly reporters).

    Catholic moral theology holds that for an act to be morally licit, the act, its methods, and its intent, must all be licit. A good act through good methods for a bad reason is not moral; A good act for a good reason using bad methods is not moral; and an evil act, even if it uses permissible methods and is done with good intent, is not moral.

    The statement of the Pope did not give any HINT of justification to the act of a male prostitute servicing a client, nor any HINT of justification to any particular method of doing so. These things have always been known to be illicit; the Pope said nothing and thus changed nothing in either category.

    The only category the Pope addressed was intent.

    Did he say that the intent to have disordered sex was a good or morally-neutral intent? No. He did not say that.

    He holds that such intentions are dehumanizing, are un-humane, are disrespectful of human dignity. He has said this before, and did not contradict himself here.

    Did he imply that wearing a condom while doing such a disordered sexual act might be prompted — not the act, mind you, but the wearing of the condom during the act — by a good intent, namely, the intent not to pass a deadly disease to another person? Yes, he did imply that.

    He went on to imply that IF a male prostitute, engaging in an evil act through evil methods for evil reasons, happened (as a result of a slight moral awakening) to choose to wear a condom while doing so, that choice MIGHT (not “must,” but “might”) be prompted by the good intent not to harm his client through disease. This would mean that the male prostitute’s intentions in the OVERALL act were now no longer purely evil, but a mix of good and evil — which is a slight improvement.

    Thus, says the Pope, this improved intent MIGHT (not “must,” but “might”) represent a partial move in the direction of a more humane, less dehumanized, understanding of sexuality. It would of course not achieve a FULL REALIZATION of humane sexuality: It would represent improvement, but not complete reversal. The combined intent of the act would still not be morally good or even morally neutral, but it would be slightly less bad than before.

    That, albeit with greater brevity, was what the Holy Father said.

    Now how is it that some media myrmidons interpreted such a statement — a statement that a given act, while immoral in object and immoral in method, might be slightly less immoral in intent than it otherwise could have been, though doubtless still not morally neutral or morally good — how is it that the media could interpret that statement as an assertion that the act was morally justified? (Remember, moral justification requires that all three facets of the act be moral, not just one of them.)

    How could they get it that wrong?

    Easy. As Simon and Garfunkel noted (and they could easily have been talking about nearly all the writing by nearly all reporters in world history): “[It’s] all lies in jest; still, a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

    So we can all settle down and have no fear. The Holy Father has not yanked the rug out from underneath anyone.

    (And if he had, it wouldn’t matter. For, as others have pointed out, this was not an encyclical or similar Magisterial document. He was not exercising his office to teach the whole church. This was a personal interview; no infallibility attaches.)

    No, the pope didn’t say anything new. It is just that reporters (a.) know nothing about Catholic moral theology, (b.) all desperately want the Church to change its teaching, and (c.) haven’t usually exercised critical thinking skills in their adult lives (as a rule, their industry lacks such standards), and thus were unable to comprehend what the Holy Father was saying.

    In other news, the daytime sky, when unobstructed by clouds, is blue.

  • Joshua

    My understanding is that a sexually active married woman can use the birth control pill to control certain disorders that the pill can help treat as long as the intent is to treat the disorder not preventing pregnancy, even though it would prevent pregnancy (and possible be abortive in its use).

    If the above is true, can a married couple use a condom to prevent the spread of disease even though it also prevent pregnancy if the intent is to prevent disease and not to prevent pregnancy?

  • Mena

    This all seems very orchestrated to me. I think this statement was known about long ago and was leaked to progressives so that they could misrepresent it worldwide. Nearly ALL the main reports have very misleading headlines that make it seem a big change was offered by the Pope.

    Yet the context of the statement argues quite the opposite point, and yet this is being reported all wrong.

    I have watched politics long enough to know that “there are no accidents in politics.” This bears all the marks of a carefully orchestrated hit job on the Church by misrepresenting something the Pope said. It’s all so way out of context.

    Smells very funny.

  • Kathryn

    I mentioned to my sister this morning (who dumped it about 2 years after conversion due to silliness like this) that the Pope “okayed” condoms for male prostitutes as a method to prevent the spread of HIV. Her response: “Ask the Pope if he would fly on an airline with a 16% crash rate.”

    16% is the average condom failure rate for prevention of pregnancy. In every cycle (which is typically about 1 month long) there is only a window of about 6 days in which a woman can become pregnant. A lot of people are using condoms when they wouldn’t get pregnanty anyway, so I imagine the true failure rate of comdoms as a method of pregnancy prevention is higher.

    STDs on other hand can be transmitted on any day of the cycle. And condoms do not prevent all STDs (genital warts being one of them, which may occur on areas not covered by the condom).

    Can (or may) a married couple use a condom? Well, I have yet to see any contracepting couple be turned away from communion. But don’t kid yourself into thinking the condom will prevent STD tranmission for very long.

  • Cord Hamrick


    Certain details in your note confuse me; will you elaborate?

    1. I didn’t understand what you were saying about your sister. Were you saying that your sister converted to Catholicism, and dumped her conversion (“Unconverted?” Is that a word?) due to “silliness like this?”

    2. Silliness like what? Silliness like reporters writing incorrect pieces about the Pope? Or silliness like the Pope or the Bishops saying things that are too easily misconstrued? Or something else?

    3. The third item isn’t so much a question as an expression of skepticism about drawing the kinds of conclusions you have drawn from a particular observation you have made.

    You say,

    Can (or may) a married couple use a condom? Well, I have yet to see any contracepting couple be turned away from communion.

    Hmm. I’d be careful drawing any conclusions from an observation phrased as “I have yet to see….”

    Are you speaking here of more than one couple you have seen whom…

    (a.) you know to be contracepting (not just using birth control pills for another purpose as Joshua mentioned, but for the purpose of preventing conception or implantation),
    (b.) you know has informed their priest or bishop that they are contracepting;
    (c.) you know have not been advised not to receive communion; and,
    (d.) you have regularly seen take communion?

    And if so, how many such couples?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve no doubt that such couples are out there. The numbers in polls on the subject are such that there must be.

    All the same, I don’t think it safe to make conclusions about Church teaching on the basis of such observations as you describe.

    It does seem unlikely that you (or anyone else apart from, say, a Catholic OB-GYN) would be personally aware of several such couples at once (enough to constitute a statistically valid sample set). For that to be the case, you’d have to be on sufficiently close terms with the couples that they openly shared their contraceptive practices with you, and that isn’t usually, y’know, a topic for light dinner conversation.

    You would also need to know that they’d told their priest about it, since the priest can’t very well be held responsible for not turning away someone he didn’t know ought to be turned away. If he doesn’t know, his failure to do so can’t really be held indicative of Church concern, or lack thereof, about this issue.

    And you’d have to know that the priest didn’t advise them not to take communion. He could easily have done so, and yet they could circumvent this obstacle by going to another parish where the priest was more pliable, or by confessing in one parish but taking communion in another, or by receiving from an Extraordinary Minister when the priest wasn’t paying attention.

    And it seems to me there are other exceptions which could play havoc with observations of this kind. There are certainly couples with no or few kids who look on the outside like they’re contracepting, but who are actually struggling with infertility. There are couples where one spouse wants to be obedient to the Church’s teaching and the other does not, resulting in erratic disobedience followed by regret and reconciliation for the more-obedient spouse, followed by that spouse taking communion, while the other has no regret and either takes communion, or doesn’t, according to how important he/she believes the issue is. Surely that kind of couple should be regarded a half-and-half split, and the priest’s failure to refuse the confessing spouse communion should be interpreted as pastoral mercy rather than unconcern?

    And of course there are priests who live in various degrees of confusion or dissent on the issue, often as a consequence of spiritual/priestly formation at the hands of modernist, or dissenting, or sentimentally permissive seminary instructors. When such a priest dismisses the issue as unimportant, one is not getting an accurate “read” on the mind of the Church.

    Anyhow, I mention all this because, while there are (presumably reliable) polls stating that a lot of Catholics contracept, and while I’m entirely prepared to accept those findings as statistically valid assuming the study methodology isn’t flawed, I wouldn’t want to rely on anecdotal observations of the type you describe. Such observations can give inaccurate impressions if there are things going on we don’t know about, or things not going on which we assumed were.

  • Kathryn

    Wonderful. Had a long responce I just lost somehow. 🙁

    1&2) Yes, my sister converted and then dumped the Church. She’s a Yes-yes-No- no kind of person. The touchy, feely, inclusive language, liberal politics, liturgical abuses, etc. got to be too much.

    There is something jarring about opening up Yahoo news on Sunday morning to the headline: Pope Says Condom Morally Justifiable in Some Cases. She didn’t see that one, but I did. It was hard to take on only one cup of coffee. Heck, it would have been hard to take on an espresso.

    I read the blogs; I see what he is saying, but really, did he have to say it? Something like that was just begging to be misinterpretted.

    3) Okay, I admit. I should not have made that crack about contracepting couples.

    My husband and I do not have a large family due to secondary infertility, so I appreciate your thoughts on that. Since people are marrying later, they’ll probably have fewer children. And if the STD stats are to be believed, many couples likely have ferility problems due to that as well, even if they have become faithful couples.

    Still, the former bishop of our diocese was one of the most liberal in the country, although he was not as famous as Weakland or Mahoney. And he certainly set the tone for contraceptive acceptance. DH tells me about the time during a men’s spiritually session where a participant was openly joking about his vasectomy in front of the asst. pastor. When we tried to get our then-pastor to include NFP information in the parish marriage-prep program, he told us he could not figure out how to do that. He also told us the IUD was just fine as a method of birth control…he’d been assured of that by a parishoner who was a physician who was in the IUD insertion/vasectomy business (and very open about it.)

    Can a married couple morally use the condom to avoid tranference of an STD (as long as they are not also trying to avoid pregnancy). STDs can be very, very serious. No one should fool themselves into thinking that because the Pope says something along the lines that condom use might show a moral awakening among certain people who are engaged in objectively mortal sin, that condom use will protect anyone from genital warts, or syphillis or HIV or anything else for very long. It might. It might not.

    If it is that important to remain STD free (or avoid pregnancy for that matter) a person has one option–don’t have sexual intercourse. Anyone can say what he likes about the morality of this or that; anyone can come up with a scenerio. Long winded hermeneutical explainations about double effect and a person’s culpability may be offered.

    The bacteria don’t care, and the viruses seemed not to have received the memo. They just infect people. Sometimes lives are ruined. Sometimes, people die.