Good news! No on one expects you to govern yourself or have any self control! This total abandonment of culpability seems to be the underlying message in the huge outpouring of criticism to the Pope’s remarks on condom use in Africa in March. According to an AP article, the Pope told his bishops in Africa the condoms were aggravating, rather than containing the continent’s raging AIDS problem. He called on congregations “to defend vigorously the essential values of the African family… [be] eager to promote a better understanding of the nature, dignity, and role of marriage….” Alain Fogue, a spokesman for MOCPAT, a group that campaigns for AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa, asked, “Is the Pope living in the 21st century?” He goes on to say, “The people will not follow what the Pope is saying. He lives in Heaven and we are on Earth. “
Mr. Fogue isn’t the only one up in arms over the Pope suggesting that people have some self-control and lead lives of decency and structure. He was also criticized by France, Germany, the UN AIDS-fighting agency, and a British medical journal. Belgium actually lodged a formal protest. These countries and groups insist the comments are “unacceptable,” “irresponsible and dangerous,” and “a threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life.”
I’m so glad I live in an age and time when no one expects anything from me. It is unreasonable and dangerous to ask that I don’t treat my body like an Econolodge, letting anybody who has $35 come and stay and trash the place. It is outdated to even consider that virtue before marriage and complete fidelity afterward would even begin to scratch the surface of the AIDS problem. My gosh, this is the 21st century! “The flesh is weak,” as Mr. Fogue so creatively points out. It’s weak and it can’t be trusted. Latex, in contrast, is strong, reliable, and always ready when you need it.
I’m used to the media and critics scorning every word that comes out of Salt Lake City. I know they make fun of the “Christian Right” and the evangelical movement. I never thought there would be such huge media criticism of the Pope! That guy is huge! He’s rich! He’s powerful! He has some really impressive hats and Prada shoes! What a sad commentary on our morals, our values, and our complete abandonment of God’s plan for his children when the Pope can’t express Church doctrine without coming under fire. Points do have to go to the Pontiff for criticizing the media right back, saying the backlash has been, “used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the Pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the Church’s doctrine.” The message from Rome seems to be, “The truth hurts doesn’t it? Your way of life created the problem. Don’t get mad at me for doing my job and pointing that out.” That’s why I really like Pope Benedict XVI—he’s not messing around.
As time goes on and it becomes less and less acceptable to even suggest that people control themselves or be responsible for the consequences of their actions, I hope all of us being laughed at and scorned will band together and continue to declare what’s right and what’s true despite all the naysayers. When we still “live in Heaven,” and Mr. Fogue and his fellows in scorn live…not in heaven…those of us who have stood our ground will know what’s really weak, what’s really reliable, and what’s really “unacceptable.”
And because we are nice, we will not point and laugh, though we will kind of want to.