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January 20, 2005

Fighting Evil With Evil

by Thomas A. Droleskey

[This article deals with a subject that cannot be discussed in graphic terms. Pope Pius XI noted in Divini Illius Magistri that would should not descend into details when discussing matters of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. This applies to adults just as much as children. Thus, euphemisms and carefully worded phrases will be used in this commentary so as to avoid the explicit terminology that abounds so shamelessly even in Catholic publications and journals, to say nothing of such terms being used in a thoughtless manner by even traditional priests from the pulpit in the presence of children. It is sad enough that one even has to address the subject at hand without compounding the matter by the use of terms and phrases that are not proper to be used at any time by anyone in any circumstance. References to a particular sort of contraceptive device have been edited out of the Reuters report below.]

The Secretary-General of the Spanish bishops' conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, ignited a firestorm on Tuesday, January 18, 2005, when the following report was published by Reuters online:

MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Spain's Catholic Church acknowledged on Tuesday that condoms had a place in a broader strategy to halt the spread of AIDS, based primarily on sexual abstinence and fidelity. In an apparent shift from traditional Church teachings, the spokesman for Spain's Bishops' Conference, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said there was scientific evidence that [a certain type of contraceptive device] could combat the propagation of the disease. After meeting Health Minister Elena Salgado, the cleric said a recent study in medical journal the Lancet had supported an integrated approach to tackling AIDS, including the use of condoms and the practice of sexual restraint. "The Church is very worried and interested by this problem, and its position is backed by scientific proposals such as the one published in the prestigious magazine the Lancet," Martinez Camino said. "The time has come, the Lancet magazine says, for a joint strategy in the prevention of such a tragic pandemic as AIDS, and contraception has a place in a global approach to tackling AIDS," he said. Official Roman Catholic teaching bans the use of [such contraceptive devices] because they are a form of contraception. It teaches that abstinence -- even among married couples if necessary -- is the best way to stop the spread of AIDS. The remarks by Martinez Camino avoided another clash between the Church and Spain's Socialist government, which is promoting the use of [certain contraceptive devices] to fight AIDS. The Church, which remains a powerful voice in Spain, has criticised the government for a new law allowing homosexual marriage as well as legislation to make divorce and abortion easier and permit stem cell research. The Vatican has not issued a definitive statement on the use of [these contraceptive devices] in limited cases to stop AIDS, but most Vatican officials who have spoken out on the issue are against campaigns promoting their use. In November, the Vatican blamed the spread of AIDS on an "immunodeficiency" of moral values, among other factors, and called for education, abstinence and great access to drugs to fight the disease. Brussels Cardinal Godfried Danneels, touted as a possible successor to Pope John Paul, stirred surprise last week by saying he could reluctantly accept the use of [such contraceptive devices] to prevent the spread of AIDS.

The facts here are indisputable. A bishop who is in full communion with Pope John Paul II and who holds the position of secretary general of the Spanish bishops' conference came out publicly in favor of the use of a immoral device to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The initial report included also the factual statement that the ultra-Modernist Cardinal Archbishop of Brussels, Godfried Danneels, supports the use of the same immoral device. The mere fact that princes of the Church can be so woefully ignorant or willfully dismissive of Catholic moral teaching stands clear for all who have the honesty of vision to see and to admit. These princes have been appointed to their positions by Pope John Paul II. No one is talking about removing Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino from his position as secretary-general of the Spanish bishops' conference. No one is talking about taking away Cardinal Danneels's red hat, which I suggested in an article in The Wanderer in late 1994 should have been removed for his agreeing with the then Archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, that Catholics who are divorced and remarried without a decree of nullity should not be denied Holy Communion ("Make That Two Red Hats to Go, Please"). No, both of these prelates will be permitted to stay in place by the man who appointed them, Pope John Paul II. All has been made well by the fact that the Spanish bishops' conference has disavowed the statements of its own secretary-general.

The actual truth of this matter is that many cardinals and bishops around the world agree with Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels. Scores of so-called Catholic theologians agree with them. It is thus important for these prelates and theologians to review the basic teaching of the Catholic Church and to place themselves in full communion once again with the Deposit of Faith. For while they may be in a juridical communion with the Holy Father, the apostasy they are disseminating reveals that it is they who are in schism with almost everything that Our Lord has revealed to His true Church or exists in the nature of things and has been given to the Church to define and explicate. It is really a relatively minor thing for Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels to promote the use of a certain type of contraceptive device as a means of "preventing" a disease contracted principally as a result of immoral activity when more than a few bishops in good standing with the Holy See have denied the actual historicity of the Gospels.

That any kind of a "debate" on the matter of the use of an immoral device has gone on even for a fraction of a second indicates the degree to which the conciliarist religion has robbed Successors of the Apostles of the ability to think clearly in terms of the Deposit of Faith Our Lord entrusted to His true Church. The ethos of conciliarism preaches a belief that it is somehow unproductive to oppose abject evils, including the four sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance, on unapologetically Catholic grounds, preferring instead to appeal to naturalistic arguments. The logic of such an eschewing of the true Faith in public discourse is such that even bishops and priests and consecrated religious begin to think that sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments are more or less unavoidable and that it is necessary to take "prudent" measures designed to protect the physical, bodily safety of those who commit them.

Each of us is a sinner. Each of us is in need of making frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance. As I point out all of the time, however, it is one thing to sin and to confess one's sins to an alter Christus in the confessional. It is quite another to sin unrepentantly, worse yet to persist in unrepentant sin ad infinitum, abominably horrific for bishops and priests and consecrated religious to effectively reaffirm recidivist sinners in their sins, thereby denying the sufficiency of the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross to turn away from one's sins and to thus sin no more. One of Spiritual Works of Mercy is to admonish the sinner. One of the ways we can be complicit in the sins of others is to approve of the evil either through active consent or a refusal to issue a warning founded in true Charity, that virtue which wills the good of all men, starting with the salvation of their immortal souls. It is never an act of compassion to reaffirm anyone in his sins. Authentic compassion understands the frailty of fallen human nature, condemning the sin but imploring the sinner to seek out the Divine Mercy available to Him in the Sacrament of Penance. Our Lord, for example, did not reaffirm the woman caught in adultery. He understood her weakness. However, He told her to commit that sin no more. He did not tell her that there was no way for her to avoid her sin against the Sixth Commandment.

Well, the same is true of those who are steeped in acts of perversity committed in violation of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. It is no act of compassion to surrender to the alleged "hopelessness" of recidivist sinners turning away from their sins and converting to the practice of chastity as befits their particular states-in-life. Acts that are objectively evil can never be made "safe" from their spiritual and temporal consequences. Each sin we commit wounds our immortal souls, further darkening our intellects and weakening our wills, thereby inclining us all the more to so. There is no way by which to prevent any sin, including venial sin, from wounding our immortal souls to a greater or a lesser extent. To propose, therefore, some means or program by which sin could be made "safe" from its effects on the soul would be to engage in a maniacally absurd enterprise. Sin takes its toll on the soul in objective terms no matter what the culpability of the sinner or the conditions under which the sin was committed. Sin is sin. We suffer the effects of sin whether or not we like it and whether or not we admit that a great deal of the suffering we experience in life is the just punishment God sends us to help make reparation for our sins so that we can pay Him in back the debt that we owe to Him before we breathe our last in this vale of tears.

What is true of the soul is true also of the body. While the general frailty of the human body is the consequence of Original Sin, it is nevertheless true that certain of our actual sins have unavoidable consequences on our bodies. Gluttony and drunkenness, sins against the Fifth Commandment, defile our bodies, which are meant to be respected as temples of the Holy Ghost. Gluttony can lead to obesity, which has a variety of consequences on the human body in many cases. Drunkenness can lead to a state of alcoholism and thus to permanent damage to certain organs of the body, to say nothing of the impairment of the soul's ability to exercise its rational faculties. The same is true of sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. It is no accident that it is next to impossible (although not beyond the realm of possibility in some limited cases) for anyone leading a chaste life to contract a disease transmitted by unchaste behavior. There is no way to make unchastity safe from its natural, inexorably evil consequences on the human body.

The concession made by bishops such as Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels is simply an effort to once more make the case that the "crisis" caused by the spread of HIV/AIDS requires a novel application of Catholic moral principles. This ignores the fact that the most terrible thing in the world is not any particular bodily disease or its spread. The most terrible thing in the world is sin. It is sin that ruptured man's relationship with God in the Garden of Eden, and hence ruptured his relations with his fellow men. It is sin that caused Our Lord to suffer unspeakable in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross. It is each one of our actual sins that wound Our Lord's Mystical Body, Holy Mother Church, today. It is unrepentant sin that leads people to seek affirmation from others in their sins either as an expression of legitimate "freedom" or the inescapable result of biological forces that they cannot control. Sin is responsible for all of the problems of the world. But the remedy for sin is not to be found in trying to limit its evil consequences but in attempting convince individual sinners that they need to cooperate with the graces won for them by Our Lord in His Redemptive Act to reform their lives.

Thus, the argument made by the Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels, which has been advanced endlessly by many functionaries in the Catholic Church in the United States (see, for example, a document of the late 1980's that was issued by the National Catholic Education Association that endorsed the use of a certain contraceptive device to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS), is actually an outright denial of the power won for us by Our Lord to resist temptation and to grow more fully in holiness with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. The fact that certain individuals may be inclined to commit a particular sin does not mean that they are going to do so. Although we know that each of us must struggle against sin and temptation until the day we die, no particular sin or any individual is inevitable. To assert that certain individuals are destined to sin repeatedly--and to offer them the means that will supposedly make their evil behavior more immune from the natural evil consequences that flow therefrom--is to deny human free will. It is to embrace the inevitability of sin and the powerlessness of grace which was preached by Martin Luther and John Calvin. It is to give a left-handed salute to Sigmund Freud, who contended that human beings were driven by lust and aggression. It is to ignore the fact the fact, as noted above, that evil actions can never be fully immunized against their natural consequences. It is to say that while it is all well and good to talk about converting people to pursue a virtuous life in cooperation with the grace of Christ, the practical reality of modern man makes it necessary to distort the principle of the double-fold effect in order to provide a means of saving the physical lives of those who engage in intrinsically evil acts.

The grounds cited over and over again by the homosexualists as justification for the use of the contraceptive device in question to "contain" the spread of HIV/AIDS do indeed distort the principle of the double-fold effect, which states that a foreseen evil consequence of a good act may be tolerated if that foreseen evil consequence is not the direct intention of the act directly willed, which must be good in and of itself. The classic example of the double-fold effect that was given in the old textbooks used in Catholic moral theology classes up through the 1950s was the case of the removal of the cancerous uterus of a pregnant woman. The first end of the act is a legitimate one, to stop the spread of cancer (which the woman did not seek and was the result of forced beyond her control). The evil consequence of the act--namely, the death of her unborn child--is not directly will. It is the unintended but foreseen evil consequence of a legitimate act. [It should be noted that medical technology has advanced to such a state that this particular example has been effectively mooted. Measures can be taken to curb the spread of the cancer until such time as the child reaches the point of viability outside of the mother's womb, whereupon he can be placed in an incubator while the mother's cancer is treated more aggressively.]

The first end sought by the homosexualists is immoral of its nature. That is, an intrinsically evil act can never be justified under any circumstances. To try to render that evil act "safe" from its natural consequences is an unjust end. A pregnant woman's uterus may have to be removed. But one does not have to engage in sinful behavior that violates the Sixth and the Ninth Commandments, whether perversely or naturally. To assert that the containment of HIV/AIDS in persons who have the disease morally justifies the use of a contraceptive device is to lead directly to the propagation of other sins with deleterious bodily consequences as being deemed worthy of making "safe" from their consequences. What's next? Justifying hypodermic needle exchange programs for intravenous drug users? After all, it could be argued that the drug users are addicted, that they are not in control of their free wills. It is, after all, important to prevent them from spreading HIV/AIDS. Better to provide them with clean needles while they pollute their bodies, which are supposed to be temples of the Holy Ghost, with drugs that addict them the more and reduce their cognitive abilities. An acceptance of the rationales offered by Bishop Martinez Camino in Spain and Cardinal Danneels in Belgium thus leads to a endless array of "decisions" to be made that wind up reaffirming people in sins that are lethal to their souls and to their bodies.

What anyone who supports these immoral policies, including Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels, has forgotten, despite a nod in the direction of abstinence as the "best" way to avoid the spread of HIV/AIDS, is that the preservation of physical life is not an absolute value. One may be called on to give his life to save another person or to bear witness in defense of the Holy Faith. Moreover, one could legitimately choose not to use extraordinary means to preserve one's life when it is clear that the time of one's natural death is death (foregoing chemotherapy or heart bypass surgery, for example, when one is, say, ninety years of age). To assert, therefore, that the preservation of physical life in the face of the spread of a disease (which is principally contracted through morally evil behavior) outweighs the spiritual harm done to that person's soul by the immoral behavior is to ignore the primacy of the state of the soul in favor of an alleged good to be sought for the body. How it is in the service of the salvation of Our Lord and the salvation of the souls to facilitate the commission of a mortal sin? What incentive is being given to such a person so enabled to get himself into the confessional? After all, the act sought to be protected from its natural consequences has received implicit approval (despite all protestations to the contrary) by the concessions made to the inevitability of its commission, Are not those who are recidivist sinners to be encouraged to avoid sin, thereby facilitate their own spiritual and bodily health (and that of those with whom they might be tempted to sin with)?

In addition to these serious moral issues, a retreat from Catholic moral teaching on this matter has grave practical ramifications. Although the Vatican "quietly reiterated the official Church line," according to a BBC report posted on January 19, 2005, pressure is being placed by the homosexualists on the Holy See to accept the illicit rationales justifying support for the use of contraceptive devices to prevent the spread of disease. Remember, there are hordes of practicing perverts within the Church's structures (Vatican dicasteries, chancery offices, rectories, schools, universities, colleges, seminaries, monasteries, houses of "study") who have been militating for actual Church approval for the use of contraceptive devices to "contain" the spread of HIV/AIDS. These very people now feel even more justified than ever before in their efforts to "protect" themselves as they engage in perversity. And the sort of comments offered by Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels affirms those steeped in perversity outside of the Church in their own unrelenting efforts to push perverse violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments as acts that must be accepted by all in society in the name of "compassion" and "tolerance." It is to jettison the clear teaching Our Lord has entrusted to His true Church and exists in the nature of things in order to embrace a naturalistic and relativistic approach to a problem that has its origin solely in fallen human nature and can be ameliorated only by a cooperation with sanctifying grace.

An article in America magazine in the year 2000 pushed the envelope on this issue by attempting to take the spotlight off of perverse sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments by seeking to justify the use of a contraceptive device by married couples in cases where one or both suffers from HIV/AIDS. After all, isn't a married couple entitled to enjoy the fruits of marital union? But the answer to that question is no, if one must use a device that also prevents the natural fruition of the martial act. To assert otherwise, no matter what twisting and turning of the double-fold effect is attempted, is to essentially provide the same argument for the use of contraceptive devices now by married couples was was given by the Anglican Church's Lambeth Committee in 1931. As The Washington Post noted in an editorial on March 22, 1931, shortly after the Lambeth Committee issued its report, "The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be 'careful' and 'restrained' is preposterous." Indeed, it is. And the notion that the use of any contraceptive device would be limited strictly to married couples, as was suggested by the America article of five years ago, is not only preposterous, it is contradicted by all of the events of the past seventy years--and it is contradicted by the false theological reasoning contained in the arguments advanced by Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels.

Anyone supporting the statements made by Bishop Martinez Camino or Cardinal Danneels makes it easy for people to break the moral law. We cannot fight evil with evil. Our life is not supposed to be based on choosing which moral evil is less heinous than another. It is supposed to based on choosing the good and avoiding the evil, being ever ready to seek out the mercy of Christ in the confessional when we do sin and resolving in that forum to amend our lives and to live more perfectly as redeemed creatures.

Alas, Catholic bishops worldwide have demonstrated a willingness to turn a blind eye to the fact that the sin of Sodom is one of the four sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance. The Archbishop-elect of Atlanta and the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, has resisted all efforts on the part of of a few of his brother bishops to have the issue of the recruitment, promotion and protection of priests steeped in perversity discussed by the American bishops' conference. One diocese after another in this nation has had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims of perverted priests because their perversity was not considered to be at all problematic in the exercise of their priestly ministry. The irony here is inescapable: Catholics who seek out the fullness of Tradition without compromise by assisting at Masses offered by the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X and at chapels run by priests who have broken from the diocesan structure must be branded as the most dangerous people on the face of this earth. Those who promote sin and who affirm others in its practice are actually protected and favored by the ecclesiastical structures. That princes of the Church can even for one moment suggest that they endorse the use of an immoral device just goes to show once again the utter and total corruption of the conciliarist ethos. It shows that a retreat from the glories of Tradition leads inevitably to the embrace of the ignominious crimes of the present day under the false banners of "charity," "compassion," "tolerance," "saving lives," "public health," and "diversity."

Ultimately, those who promote and apologize for abject evils want to reaffirm themselves and their friends in the belief that they can live as they want without reforming their lives and still get to Heaven. That has always been the real point of so-called AIDS education programs. And it is really at the heart of the positions taken by men such as Bishop Martinez Camino and Cardinal Danneels.

As noted at the beginning of this article, the buck stops at the door of Pope John Paul II. Although the Vatican "quietly" reaffirmed the "official Church line" on January 19, 2005, it is Pope John Paul II who has appointed Bishop Martinez Camino and kept in power Cardinal Danneels. The fact that he could appoint men so bereft of their understanding of the Faith speaks volumes about the catastrophe that has been his twenty-six year, three month pontificate. He is very much responsible for the confusion and mixed signals that reign supreme in the Church today.

While we know that the Church is divinely founded and will last until the end of time, we must intensify our own practices of penance and mortification, especially as we approach the season of Septuagesima on Sunday, January 23, 2005, so as to make reparation for our own sins and those of the whole world. Saint Stephen prayed from eternity for the conversion of his chief persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, winning him for the Faith to become the Apostle to the Gentiles. With the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul approaching in but five days, we need to invoke the intercession of Saint Stephen anew to help win the conversion of our bishops and priests, starting with the Holy Father himself, away from the errors of Modernity and Modernism so that every bishop in the world will think, speak and act only with a view to giving honor and glory to the Blessed Trinity and to the sanctification and salvation of souls, never ceasing to invite everyone into the true Church and to invite all within the Church to turn away from sin and to scale the heights of sanctity, especially by Total Consecration to Mary.

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom and Comforter of the Afflicted, pray for us so that we will turn away from sins in our own lives so that our prayers will be more powerful with you and with your chaste spouse, Saint Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church. Please look kindly upon what we give to your Immaculate Heart as the means to help to restore the Tradition your Divine Son gave to the Apostles and which has been cast aside so needlessly in the past half century. And we beg you to bend the heart of our Holy Father to consecrate Russia to your Immaculate Heart, thus making the dark night of the Church's soul at present a thing of the distant past.












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