Cassocks and Condoms

November 24, 2010

The Washington Post carried an article today entitled “Theologians debate meaning of pope’s condom remark.”

No, really.

If ever there were an event that vividly illustrated the pointlessness of theologians, this is it.

For those who may have missed the exciting news: Pope Benedict recently gave a lengthy interview to a German journalist, now released in book form, in which he observed that prostitutes infected with HIV could permissibly use condoms, provided their intent was to prevent the spread of disease rather than pregnancy.

Coming from the notoriously condom-phobic Vatican, such a remark apparently caused substantial commotion among those concerned with papal utterances, including that global battalion of unproductive interpreters of meaningless arcana known as theologians. The first profound dispute focused on whether Benny only meant to allow male prostitutes to use disease-preventing condoms, as his interview quoted him using the male pronoun. But at a Vatican press conference yesterday, a breathless Father Lombardi excitedly explained to anxious reporters that the use of the male pronoun was incidental, and His Holiness had assured him that “gender really doesn’t matter.”

Whew. Aren’t you glad we got that clarified?

But I guess you still have to be selling sex to have a condom used during intercourse. This insight shows why the Catholic Church is regarded as such a great moral teacher.

The second dispute focused on whether the pope’s throwaway remark suggested an ever-so-slight shift in the Church’s position on contraception. Sentences were parsed, punctuation marks analyzed, context was considered, and then an answer came forth: no, for the Church, contraception remains “intrinsically an evil.”

So essentially, much ado about nothing, unless you are a HIV-infected prostitute who rigorously adheres to Church dogma.

This episode is so absurd that merciless ridicule would be the only appropriate response were it not for the fact that millions of persons (not all of whom are prostitutes) still believe the Church should be their moral guide, and they lead their lives accordingly. The misery caused by the Church is all too real.

I erred earlier in suggesting theologians were useless. Actually, as long as they can persuade the gullible, they remain effectively pernicious.