any of the Churchs business to be advising people on how to commit
mortal sins in a more socially aware fashion, or is that the job of social
workers? Some theologians within the Church seem to think that the Church
should be advising people on these matters. But if somebody has decided to
commit mortal sins anyway, is it really any of the Churchs business
to be giving them additional moral guidance within the framework of their
mortal sin? Should the Church issue moral guidelines on how to potentially
mitigate damage to others if a person is already intent on committing mortal
sins, for example, by using condoms to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS?
Is that really part of the Churchs mission?
oure referring here to a
comment made by Pope Benedict XVI. It was an off-hand comment made to a reporter
during an airplane flight; then, once it got into print in a book, many of
those already intent on committing mortal sins seized on the comment as a
way to justify their sins.
The comment concerned the idea
that a prostitute who used condoms to help prevent the spread of
AIDS was committing less of a sin than the usual
sin of using a condom to obstruct procreation, even though the prostitutes
act still involved the sin of
prostitution itself. Philosophically,
this shows the Pope musing on the truthfundamental to the Catholic
Churchthat all of us are essentially good,
despite the evil to which we may assent.
Nevertheless, the urge to do
some good even while committing sin leaves you still committing a
sin. Choosing a lesser evil, therefore, is still
a choosing of evil, and that is, well, evil. Period.
Consequently, the Pope was making
a philosophical reflection, not attempting to justify a sin because it may
be a choice of a lesser evil. He was not issuing moral guidelines, nor was
he implying that using condoms to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS is a
part of the Churchs mission.
Many theologians, howeverand
many social workers who fancy themselves to be theologianstwisted the
Popes comment with classic casuistry. It would do them well if they
were to reflect on the well-known saying: The road to
hell is paved with good