Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cardinal: Condoms 'Lesser Evil' Than AIDS

Eeeeee Gads.... it appears this Cardinal may need a refresher on Catholic moral theology...

According to this article in the Washington Post...

Cardinal: Condoms 'Lesser Evil' Than AIDS
"We must do everything to fight AIDS," said Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan, in Italy's L'Espresso newsweekly. "Certainly, the use of condoms can constitute in certain situations a lesser evil."
Cardinal Martini has suggested that using a condom is justifiable under the ethical principle of the "lesser of evils." However, the Jesuits taught me many moons ago that in order for the ethical principle of lesser evils to apply certain conditions must be met. One such condition is that there can be no "greater good" as a moral choice. In other words, the moral agent is faced with ONLY the possibility of evil moral choices. Faced with that situation, we are ethically bound to choose the lesser of the evil choices. If there is a greater good, we must choose it, as St. Thomas Aquinas asserted, "the lesser evil or the greater good is always to be chosen" (Summa Theologica, suppl, 47, 2).

What about the situation where a person with HIV/AIDS desires to have sexual relations? If Cardinal Martini insists that sex with a condom is the lesser evil or greater good then he's become terribly confused. A person with HIV/AIDS is not faced with just the two choices: 1) have sex without a condemn and risk spreading HIV/AIDS to your partner, or 2) have sex with a condom, thereby mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS. There's another choice which the Cardinal seems to have simply forgotten about, that is, don't have sex.

Is abstinence a greater evil than exposing yourself or your spouse to HIV/AIDS? Intercourse with a condom is intrinsically evil. Abstinence is not. Can abstinence be a greater evil than contraception? If so, what is the basis for this claim? Such a proposition is dubious at best. In doubtful matters, it is morally illicit to act contrary to the safer course of action. In otherwords, we know that intercourse with a condom is intrinsically evil. We have no evidence that suggests abstinence is a greater evil. Thus, one cannot arbitrarily decide that it is. Catholics especially owe their obedience and submission to the Teaching Church on the matter.

Moreover, condoms are claimed to be at best 90% effective against spreading sexually transmitted diseases. Consequently, if you have sex 10 times, odds are you will give your partner your life-threatening disease even if you wear a condom. Is that the greater good? Is sex so important to you that you would accept a 10% chance of giving your partner a deadly disease? That's like playing Russian roulette with a 10-bullet pistol loaded with one bullet. Sure, its safer than having 10 bullets, but it only takes one bullet to kill you. The "greater good" is clearly to not play Russian roulette.

Likewise, it is absurd to expose your sexual partner to a deadly disease when you don't have to. Mitigating the risk by 100% is better than mitigating the risk by 90%. I betcha abstinence is 100% effective in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease.

Thus, one is NOT facing a situation where the "lesser of evils" principle applies, because there is another choice which is a "greater good." Abstinence is not intrinsically evil, is it? Jesus was celibate, wasn't he? Human acts which render sex non-procreative is intrinsically evil (cf. Gen 38:9, Casti Connubii, 56; Humanae Vitae; CCC 2370). Yet, the virtue of chastity is not evil (cf. 2 Cor. 7:11 ; Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 5:22; Jas. 3:17; 1 John 3:3; 1 Pet. 3:2; 2 Cor. 11:2; Titus 2:5; CCC 2349, 2337). Choosing an evil is not morally justified if one could choose a greater good.

What is the teaching of the magisterium on the matter?

According to this 24 Apr 2006 article by Catholic News Agency...

Vatican office clarifies: teaching on condoms and AIDS will not change
Msgr. Antonio Soto Guerrero, personal secretary of Cardinal Lozano Barragán, and member of the Pontifical Council for Health, told CNA that “the Doctrine of the Church remains firmly within the principles of Catholic moral. Facing AIDS, there is abstinence;
According to the Pontifical Council on the Family:
parents must also reject the promotion of so-called "safe sex" or "safer sex", a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS. [Human Sexuality]
More from the Pontifical Council on the Family can be read here: Family Values vs. Safe Sex

See also ...

Teaching on Contraception
By Bishop Michael J. Sheridan
Diocese of Colorado Springs
21 October 2005

God bless,