Press release Rome / Lisbon / Munich, November 30, 2010
We Are Church: The Pope's book "Light of the world" brings too little light to the world
A new approach to the use of condoms is only a first step and should be followed by a fundamental revision of the Church’s sexual teaching.
The International Movement We are Church welcomes the fact that the Pope in his new book "Light of the world" has ended the Church’s total ban on condom use. However, the acknowledgment by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church that condoms are a critical means to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is long overdue.
We do not devalue the small concession Pope Benedict has made, nor do we underestimate the profoundly beneficial effect this concession will have for those bishops, priests, religious and organisations like Caritas International who in their work with AIDS patients and in the prevention of the spread of the pandemic recognise the role of condoms. who in their work with AIDS patients advocate the use of condoms for the prevention of the spread of the pandemic. Now it will become easier and more legitimate for international organisations to collaborate with Catholic organisations in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
While our Pope says that condoning the use of condoms could be “a first step in a movement toward a different approach, a more humane sexuality” We are Church sees the Pope’s words as the Catholic hierarchy's own first step in addressing the realities of sex and sexuality.
It is important to remember that back in November 2006, the “Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care” had recommended in a report to the Pope, that the Church should no longer consider it immoral when a couple use condoms if one partner is infected with HIV. We are Church strongly supports those Catholic moral theologians who consider the prevention of HIV as more important than following the hierarchy’s strict ban on "artificial" birth control.
In an informal way, this new book provides interesting insights into the Pope’s thinking. But it is perfectly clear that there is no U-turn on key theological, pastoral and moral issues concerning women’s ordination, celibacy, homosexuality, ecumenism etc.. Nevertheless the book will herald a new era if the minimal yet significant concession regarding the use of condoms leads to a return to a culture of open-minded dialogue within the Roman Catholic Church - one of the indispensable principles of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
But, as Hans Kueng argues, the Papal principle of infallibility is a large obstacle in the way of changing the thinking of those who hold the leadership of our worldwide faith community. This is also apparent when one sees the hostile comments made by fundamentalist theologians.
Today the majority of the faithful feel that the Roman Catholic Church urgently needs new insights regarding sexuality – humane indeed as the Pope himself underscores, loving and free from fear - because sexuality is a life-giving force for every human being created and loved by God.
We Are Church presented a discussion paper calling for future-oriented Christian sexual ethics in 2008, 40 Years after the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" was issued on July 25th, 1968. “The church's ministry shouldn't any longer barricade itself behind centuries-old walls. Likewise, it shouldn't any longer ignore the well-proved knowledge of human sciences on sexuality and sexual ethics”, We Are Church said.
When talking about the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae", we should not forget that the majority of the members of the commission established in 1962 by Pope John XXIII and enlarged by Pope Paul VI then voted for responsible parenthood without banning any means of contraception. It was Pope Paul VI who did not follow the vote of the overwhelming majority, but instead proclaimed the contrasting minority vote as official doctrine of the Church. This has had substantial consequences: The encyclical's positive reception and perception were reversed. Thereby the Catholic Church to a large extent lost its credibility and standing with regard to questions of human sexuality and sexual life.
About We Are Church:
A positive approach to sexuality is one of the five demands of the referendum of We Are Church, which was signed by more than 2.3 million people in Austria and Germany alone in 1995 and which was the foundation stone of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC) that is now represented on all the continents.
Statement of the International Movement We are Church:
"40 Years after Encyclical ‘Humanae Vitae’ (July 25th, 1968)”
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