Judging from the news coverage, one might think that Pope Benedict’s visit to Africa was about one thing: Condoms. No one mentions anything else about the trip, but that’s understandable, given the nature of our secular world and its underlying pessimism regarding humanity.
Prominent UK atheist, Richard Dawkins, has called the Pope “stupid,” and has said the Pope’s remarks condemning condoms could be “devastating for the health of millions of people.” (It has not been reported whether Dawkins threw in a “na na na na boo-boo”.) Um, what exactly were the nay-sayers expecting Pope Benedict to say? He is the spiritual leader and head of the Catholic Church, and as such, he has a responsibility to speak Truth. As Fr. pointed out last night, the media and opponents of the CC were in hysterics because Pope Benedict, apparently, was not utlilizing his trip to Africa as a way to throw condoms to the masses. They were in an uproar because he wasn’t using the popemobile as a prophylactic dispensary. The gall!
It is all a matter of perspectives, really. It’s quite simple. The way one looks at humanity is central to the way people decide the answers to society’s problems. To the pessimistic, humanity is a dung-heap, where men are no more than lust-ridden animals who are incapable of exercising self-control. Women, in this perspective, are little better. Their best bet is to utilize as many birth control devices as possible, let the savage men have their way with them, and cross their fingers that these men will then suddenly decide to commit. In this way, the ultimate panacea for many people, like Dawkins, is the lowly rubber. All hope has been placed in the condom. It will, they say, cure AIDS. Okay.
On the other hand, there are others, like the Pope, who see the beauty and inherent dignity in every human being, and tell men and women, “You’re better than that. You deserve the best.” God has placed a plan before us, and wants us to have a banquet. Why settle for the dumpster? It IS possible to exercise self-control and to adhere to God’s plan for marriage. And, when it is revered and respected and acted upon, all the negative consequences of infidelity and lust fall away. STDs and AIDS are no longer issues. Awesome! If everyone chose to live this out, it would mean the end of AIDS. Without a doubt.
For the record, people like Dawkins have been advocating and passing out condoms as a way to prevent AIDS for years. Over thirty years at least, probably much more than that. And AIDS is not going away. Quite the opposite. But instead of taking a step away and re-evaluating, these people persist in pushing condoms as a way to stop the spread of HIV. It’s their last best hope. Dung-heap.
If I were a feminist, I’d have a hard time reconciling that viewpoint. Women deserve better than that. And if people would be broad-minded enough to look into what Pope John Paul II had to say about human sexuality, I think they’d be blown away. There would be a rush to vote JP II as THE foremost feminist of our time. This blogger writes a post about “Why Eve Ensler’s got nothing on John Paul II.” Here is a link to a beautifully-written account of one woman’s change in viewpoint. You’ve really got to read it: Contraception and a woman’s self-image. Feminists, meet your new hero. He’s Catholic.
That aside, there are many self-professed feminists who are starting to practice one aspect of JP II’s beautiful theology, NFP, because it takes into account a woman’s dignity, and doesn’t simply make of her an object of her husband. Other women are shunning chemical birth control out of an understandable concern for their health. Whatever the initial draw, there is no bad consequence! It’s all good! It’s not a bunch of “no’s,” it’s all “Yes!” Who wouldn’t want that?