Bookmark and Share
My Photo


    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


« Must Read Interview of the Day: Mark Brumley and the Mainstream Media | Main | Shedding Some Light on "Light of the World" | Mark Brumley & Carl E. Olson »

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Jeff Grace

Fr. Fessio said:

    Here’s an example of this distinction that parallels what the Pope said. Muggers are using steel pipes to attack people and the injuries are severe. Some muggers use padded pipes to reduce the injuries, while still disabling the victim enough for the mugging. The Pope says that the intention of reducing injury (in the act of mugging) could be a first step toward greater moral responsibility. This would not justify the following headlines: “Pope Approves Padded Pipes for Mugging” “Pope Says Use of Padded Pipes Justified in Some Circumstances”, Pope Permits Use of Padded Pipes in Some Cases”.

Father, I'm not sure this example works. The underlying assumption here is that mugging is equivalent to sexual activity exercised apart from the goal of reproduction. That is exactly what is controverted, therefore you're begging the question, "Is it ever morally acceptable to use condoms?" Granted, there are some who would see mugging and sex outside of marriage/reproduction as morally equivalent... but to assume so misses the point on why the reaction to what the pope said is so perplexing to the world at large.


Jeff, I think that Fr Fessio, no intellectual slouch, is talking to people like me here - Mary Catholic with no special qualifications who doesn't look for "underlying assumptions" and "moral equivalence" and who doesn't use words from logic e.g."begging the question". I think that Fr Fessio was giving an example which everyone could understand without implying that one example equalled the other.


I think Fr Fessio's analogy is fine. What the press is doing is saying the Pope's statement imply what their headline says despite the backdrop of a long standing teaching that condom use is wrong. The long standing teaching would put condom use in the immoral act category which would parallel another immoral act like mugging.

I think Jeff's point is that the press does not think condom use is immoral. So their statement about it does not parallel what they would say about mugging. This is true. The press thinks they are being charitable by interpreting the pope's condom comments in the most permissive manner possible. But are they supposed to skew everyone's moral teaching towards their own? The do but most journalists would say they should not. Not even to try and be nice. Tell it like it is.

Jonathan Piers Waldburger

The comparison works because in the Pope's example the use of a condom is not contraceptive as he is referring to homosex. Condom use in itself is not wrong, as in the example of a gay prostitute protecting his customer from HIV infection. Here the sin is homosexuality, not contraception, and the use of a condom is actually a step in the direction towards morality. Condom use that serves to separate sex from procreation (which wouldn't be it's function for homosexuals) is immoral.

Mark Brumley

Father Fessio argument isn't begging the question. It is explaining how the pope can oppose condoms and yet state that "there can be nonetheless in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality”.

To explain that, Father explains the distinction between intention and the object of one's act. To help people understand that distinction he uses an example. He then applies to his example the kind of procedure to produce headlines that was applied to the pope's condom statement. As that procedure leads to absurd headlines in the latter case, so it helps us see how absurd were the headlines in the case of the pope's words about condoms.

One does not have to agree that condom use is immoral in order to get the point of Father's argument. Indeed, one not need hold that hitting muggers with pipes, padded or unpadded, is immoral, in order to see the point of the example. Whether or not mugging people with pipes is, in fact, immoral, the headlines Father describes in his example would be misleading.

st.petersburg tours

Lei ha fatto alcuni punti bella lì. Ho fatto una ricerca sul tema e ha trovato consenso soprattutto le persone con il tuo blog.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight


Ignatius Press

Catholic World Report


Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad