Austen Ivereigh and Condoms

The following items are tagged Austen Ivereigh and Condoms

Intra-Catholic Issues

Blogged by James 2 Years ago...

I've had a few emails this morning from Catholic Voices who are outraged at my suggestion that Jack and Austen are using Catholic Voices as a platform to promote the view that condoms should be promoted to those suffering with HIV.

Austen Ivereigh spelled it out quite clearly on his blog at America Magazine that "the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of Aids is not contraception, and therefore morally licit if the intention is to prevent infection" and elsewhere that "urging a promiscuous infected person to at least use a condom -- assuming that they are not ready or willing or able (and remember, many prostitutes in Africa sell their bodies to feed their children) -- is Catholic pastoral practice."

Jack Valero has been on TV as a Catholic Voice where he said "The Church is not against condoms" and explained that while "the Church is against contraception of course" "we're talking here about HIV, no the Church is against contraception."

There is no doubt that Austen and Jack both hold the view that the Church is against contraception in Marriage, but not against the use of condoms in combating HIV. There is no doubt that they have been using the Catholic Voices project as a platform to promote this view.

So what? Say the Catholic Voice Volunteers... I don't personally agree with them... It's not fair to say that we all agree with them...

Many Catholic Voices Volunteers disagree with the view that the Church tells us to be "urging" people to "at least use a condom" and this is being put forward as evidence that clearly Austen and Jack are not brainwashing them all and that silly James Preece chap has it all wrong because Catholic Voices Volunteers are free to think anything they like.

Only that's not really the problem at all. Yes, of course it's obvious that individual Catholic Voices Volunteers are free to hold different opinions. This is the semi-official maybe-authoritative blessed-by-the-Bishops-but-they-can't-be-held-responsible media organisation of the broad-tent Church of Vincent who-knows-what's-down-the-road Nichols. Of course people are allowed to think what they like.

Except on one thing.. the only thing that really matters here..

You see, Jack and Austen don't actually need to get everybody to agree with them about the "urging" thing. All they actually need to do is convince everybody that this is (as Peter D Williams put it) an "intra-Catholic issue".

If they can get it out of the things Catholics are forbidden to believe box and in to the stuff that's up for discussion box then their work is done. Cafod can do out and distribute condoms and when people like me kick off about it, well, it's an open question isn't it and we're just trying to force our "vision of Church" on everybody else, or something..

Unless there is a Catholic Voice out there who is willing to stand up in public and say that actually, no, this isn't an "intra-Catholic" issue, the Church doesn't teach that Catholics should be "urging" people to "at least use a condom" and that promoting that view in public is at least as bad as anything that nasty James Preece fellow might have said about the Bishops Conference..

Unless there is a Catholic Voice who is willing to say that people who hold that view really shouldn't be running international media operations on behalf of the Church.

Well, frankly, they are part of the problem.

Spinning the Pope

Blogged by James 3 Years ago...

Not so very long ago a boring, sheltered, stuffy, regal, distant, conservative Pope who never ever did anything radical sat down for a book length interview and explained to the world that condoms are wonderful and their use should be urged.

Remember that one?

I do. Though I remember it slightly differently. I remember that Pope Benedict said that "in the intention" (e.g. not in the condom) there was "a first step in the direction of" (e.g. not an arrival at) "toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed". Note that the awareness is moved towards something.

This is a million miles from saying that the act itself is made good by the presence of a condom, or that adding a condom to the act is a good thing. In fact, to make himself extra clear, Pope Benedict added that condom use "is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection" and that condoms were not to be regarded as "a real or moral solution".

Properly understood I thought that was quite reasonable, though it was a bit naive of Benedict to think he could say something so subtle without his words being abused.

Within hours, the BBC headline read "Pope condones condom use" and our friend Austen Ivereigh went on to say that "urging a promiscuous infected person to at least use a condom" was now "Catholic pastoral practice."

Note the contradiction - Pope Benedict said condom use was not "a real or moral solution". Austen Ivereigh heard those words and thought "ah, I get it - condom use must be Catholic pastoral practice". This is a man who, if you believe the rumours, can even tie his own shoelaces.

That didn't suprise me. What suprised me was that people believed him. All over the blogs I saw normally sensible Catholics wailing and saying "Benedict has said condoms ar okay, he must have done, because The Tablet and the BBC say so". Nobody seemed to be looking at what Benedict actually said in the first place.

Please guys, don't fall for it again.

I mention this because Ivereigh and the gang are once again in full spin mode with their stories of limousines "shunned" and thrones "ignored". Give me a break. I don't deny that Pope Francis rode on the bus with the other cardinals and chose to greet them standing.. but shunning? ignoring?

Those meanings were added by the man who took "not a real or moral solution" and turned it in to "Catholic pastoral practice".

Then they tell us Pope Francis "spontaneously" stroked a dog. Stroking a dog? Ooooh how down to earth, how radical. Because, as the fathers of the Birmingham Oratory will tell you - Pope Benedict never ever made spontaneous gestures toward animals. Or was tickling a cat behind the ears while saying "aren’t you pretty, aren’t you pretty?" not spontaneous enough?

If we are not careful, there is a real danger that everything Pope Francis does will be reported through a lens, so that what we experience through the media in England will not be the papacy of Pope Francis, but the papacy of Ivereigh, Pepinster and Mickens.

You have the internet - read Pope Francis's words directly. See what he is saying and please: Don't believe the lie that Pope Benedict was a stuffy, distant, regal Pope who always stuck to protocol. He wasn't and he didn't - but these people will re-write history if you let them.

Don't let them get away with it.

It's been a while now since Pope Benedict's words in "Light of the World" about condoms. I did not personally find them very troubling because it was clear what Pope Benedict was saying, I was however troubled by the spin put out by people who wanted to claim he was saying something else. I ended up thinking that perhaps we would have been better off if he had said nothing on the matter at all.

By way of a reminder, he said...

Pope Benedict: There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.

Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

Pope Benedict: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.


If we read the words in the proper order we see that Pope Benedict qualifies his sentences very well. He speaks only of a "first step" or "a movement toward" (e.g. not an arrival at a destination) and he refers to "intentions" and not actions. In short, he is a million miles from saying "using a condom to prevent aids is okay"

Of course, some people find that if they throw all these words in a pan and fry them up they can make an ommelette with the word "moral" and the word "condom" in the order they want.

Dr Austen Ivereigh for example, took the Pope's words (and the resulting CDF clarification) to mean this...

There is an important line in the CDF's clarification which is likely to pass unnoticed but which is, I believe, central to the Vatican strategy -- and I am sure it is a strategy -- for breaking the ice over this issue. It is that Pope Benedict's words do not signify any change "in the pastoral practice of the Church".

In other words, urging a promiscuous infected person to at least use a condom -- assuming that they are not ready or willing or able (and remember, many prostitutes in Africa sell their bodies to feed their children) -- is Catholic pastoral practice. That pastoral counsel is the beginning of a journey, as the Pope says -- the start of choosing life over death, morality over immorality.


See that? Urging condom use is "Catholic pastoral practice", as I said at the time never have I seen such flagrant abuse of the phrase "in other words".

The Pope's words above relate specifically to the intentions of somebody who chooses a wrong method but at least is taking the first step towards realising there might be a right choice. Dr Ivereigh thinks that means we should urge people to use the wrong method.

Anyways, I mention all this today because while the above has been spread far and wide by the promoters of ambiguity, Dr Ivereigh and co have been strangely silent about the following which was recently submitted to the United Nations by the Holy See...

The Holy See reaffirms its reservations with the Resolution, especially regarding its references to “sexual and reproductive health” since the Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of such terms and regarding the term “family planning” as the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.


In other words (ahem) the Holy See does not endorse contraception or the use of condoms in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.

Strange - if urging condom use is Catholic pastoral practice then why on earth is the Holy See going to the trouble of telling the UN that the use of condoms in HIV/AIDs prevention programmes is in no way endorsed?