"Pope allows condoms!", headlined the world. "Pope loosens condom ban" trailed the Suddeutsche, "Saver sex for hustlers" headlined the TAZ their reports and even the Berliner Kurier headlined "Pope gives rubber!" The statements of the Holy Father on sexual morality still cause discussion and confusion. In an interview with our site specified Vicar General Dr. Dominik Schwaderlapp the attitude of the catholic church in the K-question.
Let us recall the statement of the Holy Father on the use of condoms. He said: "The mere fixation on the condom means a banalization of sexuality, and this is precisely the dangerous source of the fact that so many people no longer find in sexuality the expression of their love, but only a kind of drug that they administer to themselves. (…) There may be justified individual cases, for example when a prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step towards moralization, a first piece of responsibility, to develop again an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do everything one wants to do. But it is not the real way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. This must really lie in the humanization of sexuality."
Mr. Vicar General, how do you evaluate the statement? Many speak of a revolution that has taken place in the Vatican.
It is certainly not a revolution. It is a very important, very sensitive question whether in special situations the use of a condom can be allowed. One must place the question in a somewhat larger horizon.
Perhaps I may ask again: Until now, the popes have always said that they do not think much of condoms and that condoms are generally out of the question, in no case and there are no exceptions.
What is at stake? It is not about an isolated ban on condoms, but about the question of the right transmission of life and the meaning of sexuality. Human sexuality has a double meaning, given to us by the Creator. The one meaning is the communication of love. The partners give love to each other. Sexuality is a medium for the communication of love. But the transmission of life is also inextricably linked to it. The transmission of life and the communication of love are the two dimensions of sexuality that belong together as inseparably as body and soul.
What is happening now with contraception? In contraception, these two dimensions, the transmission of life and the communication of love, are artificially separated from each other. The artificiality of contraception does not consist in the fact that the condom is made of rubber, but in the artificial separation of this context of meaning which is given to us by the Creator. That is to say: fertility is perceived as disturbing in a certain life situation, and it is negated, it is excluded by technical means. Whether with condom, with the so-called pill or other means. We have a similar problem z.B. also when the other dimension, the communication of love, is excluded and only fertility remains. This happens in artificial insemination. Here, too, the context of loving union on the one hand and openness to life on the other is artificially separated. The rejection of such a separation is doctrine of the Church, it has not changed, not even by the statements of the Pope.
Now what case is at ie here? The pope deliberately mentions the situation of prostitutes. In the case of prostitution, so-called venal love, this connection between the meaning of loving union and openness to life is in principle torn apart. Therefore, as the pope says, it is still not a moral act. What it is about is that from this immoral action if possible still the worst consequences are mitigated. That z.B. then in prostitution by the use of condoms at least the AIDS problem is somewhat dampened. Well aware that this is not the solution. This is the point the pope is concerned with. That means: The basis for the teaching of the church, namely: Man does not have the right to separate love and the transmission of life as inseparable sense contents of the sense contents – that still remains. Only here this connection of meaning is not given from the beginning.
If one says, one can imagine justified individual cases, these are then the famous exceptions …
If I may perhaps hook in there once again. This is not about exceptions. Rather, there is no basis for this commandment, if you will. It is not an exception to a commandment that applies as a rule, but here the basis is missing for such a commandment to apply at all. Example: There are countries in the world where religious sisters live who regularly expose themselves to the danger of rape. In these cases, the conviction has always been that these prophylactic contraceptives can be taken so that in the event of rape, no child will result from it. Here too, in such a case, the connection between loving union and fertility would be separated anyway and it is a matter of mitigating a consequence.
I ask again about the justified exceptions, which the Holy Father has brought into the field and which are now being discussed everywhere – here at this site for example.B. the moral theologian Prof. Schockenhoff said that this should not only apply to prostitutes, but z.B. even for married couples, where one of the partners has AIDS.
Here, too, it is not a question of an exception, but of something else. Let's take another example that often occurs. The so-called pill is also a drug that is used for various medical indications in gynecology. As a side effect, which is accepted, the pill causes the woman to be infertile during the time in which it is taken for this healing effect. And if I transfer this to the case you mentioned: we have a married couple, the man has AIDS, then the condom is used in this case to prevent the transmission of a disease. The contraceptive effect is a side effect that is not intended, that is not wanted. The aim of the act is the protection against the transmission of a disease. This is a different act than if I take contraceptives to exclude fertility.
Am I interpreting you correctly: If z.B. Spouse says, I could infect you, that's why I use a condom, then it would be allowed?
The pope has not yet commented on this. But in my eyes, this would also be a conceivable case, because here, too, it is not a matter of contraception, but of preventing infection with infertility as a secondary consequence. That is at least my current assessment.
But this does not only apply to the AIDS-infection?
For which case else?
In the case of other venereal diseases that threaten the partner.
It should be made clear that the condom offers real protection for this. So far the topic is focused on AIDS, but I am not a medical doctor to judge that. Because in the case of AIDS, the prevailing opinion is that condoms offer actual protection against transmission. I cannot judge whether other illnesses can also be prevented by it.
I ask again: If I look at the passages of the interview with Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI says. with regard to condoms and prostitutes, that this could be something like a first step towards moralization. That is a completely new twist, it is not threatened here with something, but one says, it is quite a possibility to come again with itself purely, if one uses such a thing.
It is meant in the sense that someone who z.B. goes to a prostitute, at least thinks about the fact that he can transmit diseases and bring death to other people, then this thought is already more than just thinking about his own satisfaction. This can actually be a first step in that sense. The pope also says that this is not yet moral action. It is only perhaps a first awakening: Hello, what I am doing is not only about my own satisfaction, it is also about other people. We must not lose sight of the point, please: The real problem behind this is this promiscuity, d.h. That sexuality is separated from love. The fact that the partner or. the partner is abused as a means of his own satisfaction and it is not about the communication of life and love, which is the meaning of sexuality. My concern is that we now focus in our typical German manner on this question – condom yes or no, in which situations yes or no – and forget what the pope wants to say with it: This could be only a first step to a moralization, which is far from being given. And the problem of AIDS is not yet solved, God knows.
Certainly not. But you are addressing a major problem: the Vatican's media relations. Because this came as such a surprise to many clergy and dioceses, it was in all the headlines worldwide: Pope relaxes condom ban, ban only with exceptions. The Berliner Kurier headlined: Pope gives rubber. And many of those we asked from this site on the Domplatte also perceived, so to speak, only these headlines.
That is a problem of our time, that it is increasingly difficult for us to listen precisely and to differentiate and to distinguish one case from another. It is then strikingly all thrown into one pot. That makes the whole thing difficult. We live in a media age in which very complex truths have to be formulated within a few seconds. And there is a great danger of confusion. This is regrettable, and we must do everything possible to place what the Pope has said as comprehensively as possible in the larger context, which he naturally presupposes and which is important in order to understand his statements.
Do you think that these statements get stuck in people's heads?? The pope releases condoms, and in many cases there is no more talk about exceptions. Is it still possible to counteract this??
I think so. With a lot of patience and argumentation we have to do that. I see that as our task.
We are also trying to contribute a little bit to this here. We have tried to put this into the larger context. I have from today still another statement of bishop Klaus Kung from St. Peter. Polten are present, which tries to explain the pope. The has said: people who are not absolutely receptive to the call for the responsibility of marital fidelity and abstinence, for whom there may also be situations where it is better to use condoms to avoid infection. The bishop is also in line with you?
Yes, we just have to be careful that this does not go in the direction of a carte blanche for all situations that one can think of. I think we mean the same thing on this point. In prostitution, there is a clear break in the connection between loving union and fertility because it is broken from the start. But this is really an exceptional situation. We must do everything we can to sensitize people to the importance, to the high value of their own sexuality, and what significance it has in the structure of the human being and the love relationships of people. That seems to me to be important. And I also believe that we actually have quite good cards, that in these questions people are our best allies, because the longing for real love and security and not being taken advantage of, to really give oneself away and to really know that one is accepted, that is very deep in people and has by no means diminished. And if we awaken and expose this longing, which is in man, then understanding will also grow for the fact that neither condom nor pill are the solution, but a handling with the sexuality, which respects evenly the meaning contents fertility and love and accordingly arranges the own life.
There you are then completely with Cardinal Marx, who said: The Catholic Church is the last institution that still upholds romantic love in all its forms. Nevertheless, if we look into society, not only into the broad society, but also into the Christians, into the Catholics, we have to realize that they often have difficulties with the teaching, especially in the matter of contraception. And if now the pope comes and postulates these exceptions for prostitutes, don't married couples have to say: Why now again only there??
Yes, because – as I have tried to make clear: God knows you can't compare the behavior of prostitutes with the behavior of married couples in any way. But from the very basis of their marriage vows, spouses say YES to this context of meaning. And we must help them to be able to live this YES to fertility, YES also to love. There is not either contraception with a condom or the pill on the one hand or nothing on the other hand, but there is the way of natural contraception, which is a way to deal with sexuality in a holistic way, to say YES to it in both its dimensions and still to regulate the number of children.
Of course, I did not want to compare married couples with prostitutes, but if the disease state is a similar one, if one spouse is infected with AIDS, that would be an exception for you as well? And comparable maybe one or two other cases. Or would you really say that this only applies to the prostitute milieu??
As I said a moment ago: of course, that also applies in this case, that would be for me at least an idea that one would have to examine more closely, but where it seems to me to apply. Because in both cases the condom is not a means of contraception, that's the crucial thing. I'm not talking about an exception, but here in both cases the side effect is that no child can arise. But the reason why it is used is in both cases: One does not want to transmit a disease. And if someone has to take a medicine that prevents fertility, but is vital for him or her, then that is not a contraceptive act, but a healing act that has that as a side effect. If someone takes another drug, z.B. If you have to take a drug for the rest of your life to lower your blood prere or cholesterol, and it has a side effect that is also harmful, then you accept this harmful side effect for the sake of the main effect. And this is how it is seen here with the condom.
That would be the view of the lesser evil, whereas the Holy Father has said it may well be a way of coming clean morally again.
What the Holy Father says about this looks at the whole thing from another point of view: whoever has already gone so far and goes to a prostitute, if he thinks about what he is doing, that it is not only about him, but that he can harm others with it, then that is a first step to get out of the circle of his own egoism. And once that first step is taken, it can lead to further steps in the hope of no longer going to prostitutes, but living marital fidelity and abstinence and discovering sexuality in its wholeness.
Perhaps, since we have gone into the subject so intensively, we must once again clarify the role of the Pope in this: After all, this is basically not a papal doctrinal letter, which is on hand here. It is the first time that the Holy Father has chosen the form of such an interview book. One might have imagined something like this in the form of a doctrinal letter. Do you think that such a doctrinal letter will soon come from Rome, that the bodies publish such a thing?? Or is this the private opinion of the Holy Father?
I can't judge that, I'm not an expert there. But I can very well imagine, and in fact I expect, that there will be an official papal document on this very sensitive doctrinal ie, whether from the Pope himself or from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is also a doctrinal ie or an interpretation of a doctrine.
Then this was a first attempt to get some clarity. Thank you very much, Vicar General.
The interview was conducted by Ingo Bruggenjurgen.