PERTH, Australia –– The public debate on church teaching on condoms triggered by Pope Benedict XVI’s comments in a new book is an ideal opportunity for parish priests to clarify it for the faithful from the pulpit, said the president of Caritas Internationalis.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, told The Record, Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth, that many Catholics do not know what the church teaches in this regard.
“This could be a good opportunity for us in the parishes to clarify and to teach,” said the cardinal, who has completed separate doctorates in philosophy, theology and moral theology and holds a diploma in clinical psychology and psychotherapy.
The book, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” was based on interviews Pope Benedict granted German journalist Peter Seewald. The book was released Nov. 23.
In the book, Pope Benedict said: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward discovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.”
Cardinal Rodriguez laughed off claims made in secular media globally that the pope had changed the church’s teaching on the use of condoms.
“It has been the doctrine of the church all the time that when there are emergency cases the principle of double effect (applies). The pope was only quoting the extreme cases, so I believe it is coherent (with existing Catholic teaching),” Cardinal Rodriguez told The Record Nov. 26 during a four-day trip to Australia.
The church teaches that the principle of double effect may be employed when one is considering an action that is morally good, yet the action involves one or more unintended bad consequences. Because these consequences are side effects and not directly willed, the choice that brings them about is morally acceptable.
“We, as disciples of Christ, have a lot to learn; we cannot pretend that in special matters all the baptized know everything, as we are always learning and trying to implement what the mother church is teaching us,” the cardinal said.