Friday, February 19, 2016
Remarks On Use of Contraceptive by Pope on Plane From Mexico
Question from a friend: I'm getting peppered with questions about what the Pope meant when talking about avoiding pregnancy on his plane ride back to Rome. I think he strangely compared a contraceptive use by some nuns in Africa in the 1960s with the Zika crisis. He could have used some other example of avoiding preganancy by natural means instead of talking about the valid use of contraceptives. What do you think he means?
Let's call an expert. It harkens back to a response Benedict XVI gave on a plane from Africa about a homosexual prostitute using a condom to prevent the spread of aids. It seemed that pace the immorality of the action itself, the use of the contraceptive had the quality of self-gift and therefore could grow the person as person. I know this sounds like double talk, but the intention of gift can change the person at his deepest core and can be the beginning of a recovery of the whole moral conscience. This is what I thought at the time, and I still think it. I.e. the intention of true self-gift works on the deep ontological level of the person and can develop the moral conscience that comes from it.
Let me make it stronger. The pope is taking on the whole reductive mentality that is Greek, and assuming the burden of broadening it with the Christian mind. What is at stake is reality and the meaning of truth. He is taking from Vatican II that Jesus Christ is the meaning of reality, not just sensible things. The meaning of Being is Person, and concretely the Person of Jesus Christ. See Colossians 1, 15 and John, 1, 4. The Person of Christ is the meaning of truth. The meaning of morality is to have a mind that has that as the root of consciousness. To be moral is to be Christ and act as Christ. That action is always self-gift. All morality is to be formed on self-giftedness. It is not reducible to a conceptual ideology or nature in the Greek sense of principle of operations. The criterion of good and bad is person, and person as revealed by Christ is gift since His whole to be is "for" the Father.
Hence, the above. Contraception is evil because it prevents the gift of self between spouses in the conjugal union. The morality of the contraception is based on the relationality of persons. It is wrong because it breaks or prevents that relation of persons of body and soul. In a non-conjugal relation where there is no intention or performance of self-giving, the use of the contraceptive for motives of giftedness now trumps the immorality of using the contraceptive to avoid conception.
Does that make any sense? What's really at stake here is the development of the Greek mind and morality into a Christian mind formed on the Person of Christ. The Christian mind is the far more powerful ontological reasoning against the use of contraception., i.e. the conjugal union between a man (self-gift as donation) and woman (self-gift as reception) which constitutes the bond of the marriage.