Jesuit Magazine Defends Article on Vatican and Condoms
Editor of America says magazine 'stands by' interpretation of Vatican statement
BY: Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
On September 19, 2000, the AP reported that Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau said that Jon D. Fuller, S.J., M.D., and James F. Keenan, S.J. had distorted church positions in their September 23 America article by suggesting that the Vatican has become "more tolerant" about the distribution of condoms to fight AIDS. He said the Vatican stance hasn't changed. "This is a manipulation. It is blown up and exaggerated," he told The Associated Press.
The authors andAmerica
stand by the article, which they believe is a clear, accurate and respectful analysis of Monsignor Suaudeau's article in L'Osservatore Romano.
The central issue is whether the use of condoms can be understood to be a "lesser evil." In Catholic moral theology this term denotes regrettable activity that nevertheless can be tolerated, or may even be mandated. Bishops from the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa and Papua New Guinea have argued that the use of condoms to prevent HIV transmission is a lesser evil, and the same language was used by Monsignor Suaudeau in L'Osservatore Romano. Although this argument is based on traditional Catholic moral reasoning, in the past, no Vatican official or agency has used the language of "lesser evil" in talking about condoms and AIDS. Nor has any Vatican official or agency ever indicated that condoms in some instances have "good results" in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. For these reasons the authors found it hopeful that Monsignor Suaudeau, after close observation of the catastrophic realities emerging from Africa and Asia, signaled a willingness to acknowledge the orthodoxy of local bishops who have invoked the principle of lesser evil in addressing the role of condoms in the context of HIV prevention.
Our article is on the Web at: http://www.americapress.org/articles/fuller-keenan.htm