Benedict XVI: a traditionalist, yet more in tune with the realities of this age than his predecessor

 23rd November, 2010

[Benedict XVI] 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 moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants […]

[Peter Seewald] Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

[B. XVI] She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, 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.

Benedict XVI to Peter Seewald, quoted by Damian Thompson in the Daily Telegraph1

This is huge: one of those events so huge that a very short comment is sufficient to grasp their massive significance. Whatever the Pope’s enemies, be they conservative bigots or hate-filled so-called ‘liberals’ may rant or say. Despite — or perhaps because of — his advanced age, the Pope has shown, in his forthcoming book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and The Signs Of The Times, how much more he is in tune with the realities of this century than were his superficially more ‘modernist’ predecessors. The attention he has rightly given to continuity, by embarking on a restoration of the traditional mass, demonstrates that he instinctively knows it will be more popular with worshippers — and, more importantly still, potential worshippers — than the demonstrably hideous, vacuous and ultimately meaningless liturgy that took its place after 1969.

Now, by adapting Humanae vitae to the horrors of an age in which sexual intercourse can carry a death sentence, he has done what his predecessor, John Paul II, should have done and, to his eternal shame, never did: Benedict XVI has reaffirmed that the Church’s primary mission is to preserve God’s most precious gift to us, life — in this world and the next. It says something for the twisted nature of post-Conciliar theology that it has taken so long to understand this.

  1. The Daily Telegraph article is no longer online, but the Pope’s interview was widely discussed at the time, including by the National Catholic Register↩︎