Pope's judgment in question after condom remark

The recent news about Pope Benedict XVI’s musings concerning non-contraceptive condom usage leaves me confused (In Focus, Dec. 5). We expect the pope to guide us in moral decision making. Just what was the moral question that needed his input? If the question is “Should the Church approve of free condoms to homosexual prostitutes?” the answer is “No” for the same reason that the Church does not advocate free needles to drug addicts — this would imply fostering the underlying immoral acts by making them physically safer and hence presumably more attractive to the “customers” of homosexual prostitutes and drug dealers. 

If a group of moral theologians in their free time — the weekly poker party, for example — choose to privately speculate about the subjective moral motivations of hypothetical homosexual prostitutes in deciding about condom use, then it seems silly, but harmless. To use or not use condoms in the context of buyer and seller could be a purely business decision — my opinion, for what it’s worth! 

Morality, in a traditional Catholic context, is the judgment of the practical reason that a particular act is “good,” and therefore permissible or “bad” and must be avoided. For the pope to speak so casually and imprecisely in the context of an interview with a journalist for publication does not inspire me with the kind of confidence that I had in the good judgment of his predecessor. “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” an interview of Pope John Paul II made into a book, was inspirational and morally uplifting — a true gift to the world. Will any perceptive critic say this about Pope Benedict’s sensationalized book-length interview? 

—Jan Hicks, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Executing innocents 

Bravo Our Sunday Visitor! Your article on the Catholic university students helping free a Texas death row inmate was excellent (“Catholic university students help clear innocent man,” Nov. 28). 

Anthony Graves is one of the lucky ones. As the founder of Catholic Death Row Ministry, I am asked all the time, Are there innocent people on death row? Have innocent people been executed? YES! 

Your excellent story helps open people’s eyes to the truth. Thank you, Our Sunday Visitor. 

— Michael Denson, via email

‘Stout’ in multiple ways 

Greg Erlandson’s Spectator column tells us that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “is seen as a gregarious, but stout defender of the Church’s teachings” (“A surprising election,” Dec. 5). But, as you showed two pictures of the archbishop, we all know he is stout, but why rub it in? Great issue! Keep up the good work! 

— Mr. & Mrs. Jarlath Whalen, Philadelphia, Pa.

Check for loopholes 

If the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is read and understood to only include the immigrants in question, that would be fine (“DREAM Act would align policy with legal culture,” Dec. 19). 

The bill probably has all kinds of loopholes for the inclusion of all illegal immigrants. Has the bill been read and diagnosed and purged of any such loopholes? 

Remember the health care bill and what a disaster that was. The bishops must make sure they know what they are promoting before they promote.  

— Mary Hayes, Loganville, Ga.

Not such a dreamy idea 

The argument behind “DREAM Act would align policy with legal culture” (News Analysis, Dec. 19) is weak. If a father embezzles money and gives it to his children, is it “punishing the children” to take the stolen money away from them? 

The DREAM Act creates a permanent incentive for parents to illegally migrate here. 

What kind of an argument justifying law-breaking is it to say that there is a conspiracy among parts of the government and business to wink at the law? 

The public has not approved the conspiracy; the laws are still on the books. Since when is participating in a conspiracy to violate the laws, no matter who is behind it, justified?  

Finally, the St. Thomas Aquinas quote is lazy debate tactics: We reject the idea in America that having less justifies one in taking, without consent, from those who have “an abundance.” There is an obligation for citizens in foreign countries to work to address those nations’ problems, not to “take” what is America’s. 

— Jack Marshall, via www.osv.com

Breaking the law 

My response to the U.S. bishops’ concern regarding the DREAM Act is simple: The legal guardians/parents of these “innocents” broke the law. How can a good be built upon an illegal action? 

— Tom Sporman, via www.osv.com

Catechism refresher? 

Pope Benedict XVI is in error in permitting the use of condoms for any reason (“Ethicist: Pope intended condom use/AIDS reflection,” Dec. 19). He needs to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

— Terry Zimoski, via www.osv.com

Editor’s note: Mr. Zimoski needs to reread the article; Pope Benedict is saying something quite different.