La Blabbatore Romano

I’m not a moral theologian, and every time I try and play one on the internet, I regret it.  On the other hand, it would be kind of weird not to acknowledge the brouhaha about the Pope’s comments that L’Osservatore Romano leaked, apparently following its mission to act as the poorly-informed, half-senile uncle who blurts out crazy stuff and makes things so awkward around the holidays.  Sorry about Uncle Romano — he . . . he doesn’t really represent our family.  Just give him some more pie, and maybe he’ll be quiet.

Nothing that the Pope said changes anything in Catholic teaching — both because (a) his remarks aren’t Catholic teaching; and (b) anyway, he didn’t say anything contrary to Church teaching.  Basically what he said was that the use of condoms might signal that people are starting to move toward a more humane view of their sexual partners, because at least they are thinking about not spreading disease.  The Church is in favor of people beginning to move toward more moral behavior.  This is not news.

For a lucid explanation about what the Pope really said, please read Jimmy Akin’s short piece in the Register.  Akin also has a link to the full text of the Pope’s remarks and to Janet Smith’s guide to the uproar so far.

Hey, remember when that feeble old man was elected pope, and the press figured he was just a seat warmer until the College of Cardinals could find someone more suitable?


Even if you don’t like the guy, I don’t see how you can’t admire him.  He was ready to retire, and instead he got a life sentence to a job that any sane person would dread.  So he dove in head first and got to work, and hasn’t come up for air since.  May God bless and keep and strengthen him.  This is what true courage and fortitude looks like.

Final question:  what the heck is wrong with L’Osservatore Romano?  Were they were looking to boost circulation, or what?  My husband works for a newspaper, so I asked him what they do when their numbers are down.  He said, “Fire reporters.”  Not a bad idea.


  1. I agree. I’m also tired of the OR’s ridiculous attempts to label American cultural icons as Catholic–eg. the Blues Brothers and the Simpsons. Its embarrasing.

  2. Well done Simcha for wading in to the blogosphere to join the faithful army intent on clarifying and correcting the wilful misinterpretations of the Pope’s thinking on this.

    To those who think the Pope has brought all this on himself with some misjudged words: why should he dodge the major moral issues of our time?

    And just how low does he have to set the bar?

    Anyone with at least two brain cells can see at a glance that the Pope hasn’t altered an iota of Church teaching on this matter and the fact that he had to resort to such a contrived example to underscore that it’s only then that there “may” (key word) be a “basis” to even start to consider an irony that condom use – in such an extreme case – might just signal the spark of a moral re-awakening for an individual.

    The matter bears similar comparison to the mess concerning IVF. For example, the Pope could have cited a couple wanting only one child, who had then conceived six IVF embryos. He may have added that if the couple then decided, against all their initial and selfish planning, to ensure that all six embryos stood a chance of being born rather than any of them being destroyed, might (key word) signal a moral re-awakening concerning the gravity of their multi-layered sin.

    Cue media headline: “Pope suggests IVF may be moral”.

    From our religion correspondent – Stu Piddo

    “In what is being seen as a major turnaround in Church thought, the Pope today issued what is potentially a first-stage marker in revising Catholic teaching concerning IVF by highlighting its hidden life-giving morality…”

    * Bottom line: it’s up to priests worldwide next Sunday to clarify today’s media mess concerning “condomgate”.

    • Yep!

      Or try this example: in a (hypothetical) culture where husbands routinely cut off their wives noses for going out with their faces uncovered, a movement arises that tries to convince husbands that cutting off of noses is unnecessarily cruel, and that a severe beating is sufficient.

      The pope, when asked for his opinion about this, remarks that the movement that seeks to turn dismemberment into just a beating “may be” a “first step” towards a more moral way of seeing the world.

      MSM’s headline? “Pope says wife-beating justified!”

  3. I had to convince a friend that “L’Osservatore Romano” was not a branch of the Magisterium! She said she read an article from it saying that the Church had radically changed its teaching about seances and it was now perfectly all right to find a medium to get in touch with the alleged spirits of the dead. His reasoning was interesting: people find comfort in going to seances, and besides, it’s all been studied “scientifically.” QED. Looks like OR has turned into something like The Onion.

    • “people find comfort”: hey, if it feels good, do it! And damn any one or any institution who gets in our ego-gratifying way! After all, don’t we in the modern world love to constantly echo lucifer’s “non servium”? Reminds me of Luke 16:31.

  4. JUST as destructive was the CNS story on the same topic. Their headline was misleading, the first synopsis was MORE misleading, and it wasn’t until 10 grafs (or more) into the story that the adjective “male” was used before “prostitute.”

    It would seem that Abp. Dolan has more than a little homework on this Presidential Plate.

  5. Yup. I just made the mistake of reading the Yahoo/AP/High School Journalism article on this. Here is an initial quote:

    “I’ve got brothers and sisters and friends who are suffering from HIV because they were not practicing safe sex,” said Makome [actually Father Makome – eeks], who works in the capital Harare’s Southerton Parish. “Now the message has come out that they can go ahead and do safe sex; it’s much better for everyone.”

    Well, it won’t be better for the people on the receiving end of a failed condom.

    It gets worse.

    “Sex worker Constance Makoni, from the town of Mbare in Zimbabwe, said she was pleased to hear the Pope’s message. She said she uses condoms to protect herself against HIV, even though it is against her beliefs.”

    I guess sex worker is kosher though.

    “”It is important to bring this message in countries like Africa or for example, Latin America — places where the opinion of the pope still counts for a lot,” said Rik Torfs, the chairman of the Canon Law Faculty at the Catholic University of Leuven, one of the pre-eminent Roman Catholic universities in the world.”

    This one always gets me. If the authority of the Church was heeded in these places on questions of sexuality – we wouldn’t need condoms.

    And the Euros are alway good for some stoopid:

    “”It was well said, I believe you have to try to protect yourself against AIDS,” 50-year-old Andrew Oyoma said after participating in Sunday mass at St. Eugenia Catholic Church in Stockholm, Sweden. “We are happy he has changed his mind.”
    His wife, Felicia Oyoma agreed.
    “It is good to use condoms to protect against infections and unwanted pregnancies,” she said. “I am against abortion, so it is better to use a condom.””

    I didn’t think Sweden had Catholics anymore. I guess maybe I was right.

  6. Thanks for the hilarious take on the frustrating incompetence of those at La “Blabbatore Romano”! I needed it!

  7. I wish that Pope Benedict’s November 27 Vigil for Nascent Human Life were getting this much play in the press around the world.

  8. Why did the Pope feel compelled to touch the subject at all? With an AIDs pandemic in Africa, the Vatican has said “no” to condom distribution there.

    Can one imagine Christ taking this position? Would He not have said “The wages of sin are death?

    What is suffering and dying of AIDS compared to eternal damnation in Hell?

    • You’re so right Bill, I can totally see Jesus meeting people with AIDS, or, I dunno, lepers, and being all, “You guys had that coming, you pervs.” Jesus would never help someone who was sick! Rock on Trad Catholics!

    • Actually, Paul said “the wages of sin are death”.

      Bill, until I read what the Pope actually said, then I thought exactly what you say. The Pope simply said that a male prostitute using a condom shows SOME moral responsibility. Yes, I can see Jesus saying that.

      • Yes, he says that in the example he gives, the use of a condom can represent some responsibility. In other words, the intention might be praiseworthy, because it is at least a recognition that sex is not just about pleasure and “anything goes” but that it must be limited by respect for the other person. Notice he did not say it is a good action, only that the intention might be good.

    • If you read the segment of the book this was lifted from, the Pope was responding to a question NOT raising the subject himself. He was in the process of justifying the Church’s stance on distributing condoms and explainging that the Church is responsible for the majority of care of AIDS patients worldwide and that condoms do not solve the AIDS epidemic, moral responsibility does. Again, as others have stated here the use of a condom by a prostitute is a step (albeit a small one) toward moral responsibility by acknowledging a measure of respect toward another person.

  9. What also keeps getting overlooked is that condoms aren’t really designed to hold-up during the activity that male prostitutes are probably engaging in, so how much it would really help is debatable.

  10. Thanks for the humor, we needed it. What I noticed when reading several blogs from what would usually be considered ‘conservative’ websites (secular) is that anti-catholicism is much more prominent that I realized! Wow, the comments on the blogs are ripe with anti-catholic hatred, there is no other way to describe it. I expected this from ‘liberal’ blogs, but not from others. I guess I am more naive than I thought.

  11. All I keep thinking is “that poor Pope…”. I guess it’s fun to pick apart the inspired works of the eminently (npi) intelligent and hyper-learned (not to mention the intrinsic stress of the job, negotiating eternal matters in a world bent on Hell and all) and manipulate it into scandal? Really? Is it the age of texting, where no one can communicate n cmplt sntncs 4sht, or being distracted by shiny objects and losing interest before reading all the way through? In any case, the art of capturing the “main idea” appears to have been lost. I wish these people would take their brains off Auto(in)Correct.

    Was that the question?

  12. According to a report on NPR this morning, the Pope’s book-length interview was done for “damage control.” Once again, the press puts the “damn” in damage control

  13. Is any effort is going to be made to find out where this “leak” came from? When seen in context, the Pope’s meaning is obvious. So who plucked these passages and perpetrated the confusion? Did L’Osservatore get an advanced copy? Is there a reporter’s name tied to this?

    I’m just curious because I’m writing out my Christmas cards.

    [not really – I won’t do that until Dec. 26th three years from now, but it just sounded so cute.]

  14. Unfortunately, the Vatican “spokesperson” muddied the waters even further with his remarks. With friends like that who even needs the enemies in the press. Of course the basic problem is that we have scads of people (including at least one Cardinal apparently) who simply don’t know how to read. The Holy Father words things very carefully, but gets misunderstood even by people who should know better.

  15. […] I’m pulling an Osservatore Romano here (I love the way my sister Simcha characterizes them here) and pretending to be saying that this is what the Church actually teaches. I don’t know of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s