The BBC reports the Vatican is downplaying Pope Benedict’s comments that it might be sort of okay if male prostitutes use condoms to minimize the risk of AIDs infection. Snort.
Behind convoluted, baroque theology, behind facades of morality is a church that has failed to convince its followers to follow its teaching s on sex. Roman Catholics world-wide ignore the Pope’s instructions. In the real world, Catholics have sex. They have sex out of marriage. They have multiple partners. They cheat on their partners. If catholics live in a stable country with reality-based sex education, they use condoms and birth control. If they’re in a war zone and/or live under economic and social catastrophe with no access to birth control and condoms and sex education, they’ll still have sex. But the consequences will be unwanted children and the spread of diseases like AIDS.
So why keep up the bullshit? Why keep attacking condoms? Well, as with any crime let’s look for a motive. I can suggest a few.
1.) Condemning condoms lets Catholic officials pretend they’re important and that people pay attention to them. Everyone–me, you, your mother-in-law, Darian Durant, Stephen Harper and the Pope–wants people to listen to them and respect their opinions and experiences. The Church can’t stop it’s followers from having unsanctioned sex. And you have to believe that this is a problem for priests and bishops and cardinals and popes, who correctly see real, actual human sexual behaviour as a rejection of their authority. Not to mention a challenge to their views on reality. But the Church can and has sabotaged education about sex and condoms, especially in developing countries (so have other religious and political groups, but we’re talking about Catholics today because the Pope said something off-script). This creates the illusion of authority and relevance. It’s not quite the same as actual obedience but it’s at least the appearance of it. Catholic officials will take what they can get.
2.) Allowing condoms and birth control empowers women at the expense of traditional male authority. Give women birth control and all of a sudden they have control over their lives. They can’t be shackled through child-rearing. They won’t die in childbirth as much, and the children they do have will have better lives. They’ll start owning property and voting and gaining economic clout and daring to challenge male authority and generally thinking, hey, we’re equal to men. They might even want to be pope themselves. This is a real threat to both the actual power and the egos of Club Sausage Vatican. And no one–not me, not you, not your father-in-law, or Henry Burris or Stephen Harper or the Pope, likes genuine challenges to their power and ego. And the more someone stands to lose, the less they like these challenges. The Catholic Church has a lot to lose.
3.) Condoms and birth control empower the poor and powerless at the expense of the wealthy and powerful. It’s not just women who benefit from control over their health and reproduction. Fewer children means less stress on local resources, better economic prospects for families, more time for people to join the labour force, start a business, work for community’s well-being, seek education and participate in politics. Smaller families lift economic fortunes and rising economic fortunes means less dependence on the charity of the rich and the psyche-in-crisis soothing pronouncements of religious authority. People who are healthy and having their basic needs met — food, shelter, social participation — aren’t dependent on religion. They may of course choose to be in the Catholic Church but they’re not being economically and psychologically blackmailed into participation. No matter how you slice it, that means less power for the Roman Catholic Church.
Given all that, the the Roman Catholic Church’s re-affirmed opposition to condoms should be seen for what it is: a disgusting, despicable, sexist and self-serving heap of steaming bullshit from privileged and delusional men.
I can only imagine how infuriated I’d be if I was Catholic.
If you want something else to read on this topic, here’s Dan Savage, who links to Andrew Sullivan. Both writers, by the way, have suggested the current pope is probably gay. Which is obviously relevant to this discussion.
And with that the floor is now open. Have at it. Tell me I’m right, I’m wrong, I’m over-simplifying, I’m anti-Christian, whatever. Personally I really want to read what Malcom+ thinks — hopefully he’s still following our blog.