.- Despite media claims of a revolutionary change, Pope Benedict is not altering Catholic teaching on condom use or justifying the disordered use of sexuality, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has explained.
In a Nov. 21 statement from Vatican Radio, Fr. Lombardi discussed the Popeâs comments in Peter Seewaldâs forthcoming book âLight of the World: the Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.â
In these comments âthe Pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the Church but he reaffirms it, putting it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility,â the spokesman said.
In Seewaldâs book, Pope Benedict says that the Church âof courseâ does not regard condom use as âa real or moral solutionâ to the problem of AIDS. According to Fr. Lombardi, his treatment of the topic considers an âexceptional situationâ in which a sexual act presents a true risk for anotherâs life.
In a short passage at the end of the tenth chapter of Seewaldâs book, the Pope discusses the âbanalization of sexuality,â which treats sexuality as a drug. The pontiff uses the example of a prostitute.
âIn such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality,â the spokesman explained. Rather, the use of the condom to lessen the danger of contagion may be âa first act of responsibilityâ and âa first step on the path toward a more human sexualityâ rather than acting to put anotherâs life at risk.
âIn this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary turning point,â Fr. Lombardi said, following worldwide media reports of a change in Church teaching on contraception.
He added that there is some novelty in hearing this discussion from a Pope, even in âa colloquial and non-magisterial form.â According to the spokesman, this was an âoriginal contributionâ because it refuted the âillusory pathâ of trust in condom use. At the same time, the papal comments showed a âfar-sighted visionâ attentive to the small steps which an âoften very poor spirituallyâ humanity must take towards âa more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.â
Fr. Lombardi repeated Pope Benedictâs view that concentrating solely on the condom trivializes sexuality. This obscures its meaning as an expression of love between people and makes it become like a drug.
Fighting against this banalization preserves sexuality's positive value and helps it to have a positive effect on âthe whole of manâs being,â Pope Benedict says in Seewaldâs book.