The 79-year-old “progressive” Jesuit Italian Cardinal Carlo Martini, former Archbishop of Milan, recently in an interview with L’Espresso magazine pronounced his infallible statement on condom use for married couples: “Certainly the use of prophylactics can, in some situations, constitute a lesser evil. There is the particular situation of spouses, one of whom is affected by AIDS. It is the obligation of this spouse to protect the other partner and they must be able to protect themselves.”
Some have called this type of logic the ravings of an anti-pope who is a darling of the liberal media and who epitomizes all the forces of destruction from within the Church hierarchy that have been seething under the surface for the whole papacy of John Paul II. The anti-pope has spoken, but will the Catholic Church capitulate to his doctrine?
In the face of a media blitz supporting Martini's “lesser evil” casuistry and favorable remarks from certain Vatican officials, let me offer a historical perspective. There was a total Christian consensus against the use of all birth control up until 1930 when the Anglican Church, in its August 1930 Lambeth Conference, unilaterally decided that married couples could use birth control for reasons of the “lesser evil.”
The argument, using modern language, went something like this: childbearing is burdensome and kids are expensive; married couples get too stressed out if they have too many kids; this stress puts undue pressure on marriages which causes couples to divorce; divorce is an injustice to the kids that they have; therefore birth control for married couples is the “lesser evil” and even constitutes a responsible, moral act. Change the words a bit to add the modern scourge of AIDS to the formula and Cardinal Martini's position on so-called condom protection in marriage is indistinguishable from the first breakers of the teaching of Christ on birth control.
The condom savior is a false messiah. We have to “face facts fearlessly,” as our founder Fr. Paul Marx used to say, and ask the hard questions that the condom-promoting abortion industry is unwilling to address: with the infusion of literally billions of condoms into AIDS-ridden Africa over the past twenty years, have condoms stopped or even slowed the AIDS epidemic? The opposite is true: the epidemic has been fueled by that flawed piece of latex which only encourages the behavior that leads to AIDS and promises a false sense of security against it. Our Human Life International (HLI) representative in Tanzania told me that in 1981 there were only 3 cases of AIDS in his country. With the adoption of a national condom policy to solve what was a non-existent problem at the time, Tanzania now has more than 2 million cases of HIV/AIDS. The almighty condom has hardly helped this poor country.
The only country in the world that has successfully beaten back its HIV/AIDS problem is Uganda. Faced with a 30% AIDS prevalence rate in 1985, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his advisors (one of whom was a Franciscan nun) went about preaching sexual responsibility and behavior change as the only solution to the epidemic. Uganda reduced its HIV/AIDS rate to 6% within two decades and is maintaining a relatively AIDS-free culture despite the pressure of the population control lobby.
The Catholic Church is literally the only I repeat, the only moral force that is standing against total warfare by the culture of death on the human race. Cardinal Martini and the clerical apologists who want to give an “imprimatur” to the “lesser evil” condom mentality would do well to remember the Anglican washout in 1930 and read a little bit of the Catechism; the “lesser evil” in this case is still condemned by our Church.
Fr. Tom Euteneuer is president of Human Life International.