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    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Condoms to prevent death


    Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels has said that the use of a condom might be a "lesser evil" when it could preserve someone from a deadly disease like AIDS.

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    Questioned on the use of condoms, Cardinal Danneels said that if an HIV-positive man wishes to have relations with his wife, "she should make him use a condom." Otherwise, he said, the couple might be "adding another sin: homicide." The cardinal reasoned: "A condom, when it is used for the protection of life, is not only a matter in the sexual domain." Cardinal Daneels made a similar statement in a television interview in January 2004.

    Other influential prelates have adopted similar positions, suggesting that condom use could be justified within marriage to prevent transmission of AIDS. In January 2005, Cardinal Georges Cottier, the theologian to the papal household, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that condom use "could be considered legitimate" under those restricted circumstances. Although the Church clearly condemns the use of condoms as a means of contraception, there has been no definitive statement from the magisterium on the particular question of whether condom use can ever be justified. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly studying the question of whether condoms might be used within marriage to prevent disease.

    In an interview with a Belgian journal, the cardinal said that it is legitimate for government to establish laws that differ from those of the Church on questions such as same-sex unions, prostituion, and contraception. "I can accept that civil legislation determines the conditions for cohabitation and the rights of homosexual couples," Cardinal Danneels said. He went on to say that he was not willing to accept a civil union between members of the same sex as a marriage. He explained: "If the germ 'marriage' covers all forms of cohabitation-- between a man and woman the same as between man and man-- then the word no longer has any meaning." He suggested the use of another term to describe same-sex unions.

    "It is normal that civil legislation, which I respect, will not be completely in accord with my ethical judgment," the Belgian prelate said. While the Church's teaching is clear-- that homosexuality is a disorder-- there is no cause for condemnation or discrimination, he said. Regarding the civil rights of homosexuals, he concluded, he is prepared to accept the government's laws.

    This is so interesting. I think that the Church has opened the door for
    such an approach by not sticking with the primacy of sex for procreation. The
    Church also talks about sex for the unitive benefits derived within marriage.

    Whatever the Church may eventually proclaim is OK with me.

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