The Pope-saint or sinner?

Ok, perhaps that subject line is a bit too dramatic, but what prompted it was something i read in an English newspaper that hit the nail on the head: in effect the author was saying how can the pope be considered for the Nobel peace prize when his stand against condoms and contraceptives has had such a horrific impact especially on developing countries? I just wonder what you guys think of this argument. Should the pope still have got the nobel peace prize inspite of this?

Pardon me for sidetracking this, but doesn’t this question first necessitate a discussion on whether it’s wrong in the first place for the Pope to be denouncing contraceptives (condoms included)? You have to remember that the Pope is working from multiple premises:

  1. God exists.

  2. Christ is the true son of God, both human and divine.

  3. Christ insituted a Church, the successor of which exists in our current Catholic Church.

  4. The Papal Office is the divinely ordained representative of Christ on Earth
    …yadda yadda yadda…
    …contraceptives are bad.

    The difficult thing about these discussions is that if you eliminate any one of these, then the whole structure falls apart, and yeah, in terms of physical impact, the anti-contraceptive stance could be considered bad. (Keep in mind, though, that the Pope and many other Catholics ARE working from the stance that all these things are true, and therefore, the anti-contraceptive stance is with mankind’s best moral interest at heart. Even if they’re WRONG, their intentions are good.)

    Second, keep in mind that Catholicism and, hey, most other religions, work from a perspective of doing no evil, regardless of the result. (Hence the famous Biblical quote, “What if a man should gain the whole world but lose his soul?”) Christianity is not concerned with the best worldly outcome, even if some suffering results, difficult though it may be. As an extreme example: if I could guarantee that, oh, cancer could be eliminated forever if I kill one innocent person, I wouldn’t do it. It’s an act of evil contrary to God’s will, and it’s better that I find some other way or, if necessary, just deal with the ensuing suffering. The moral line can’t be crossed, no matter how much I’d like to do so. The end result is this…and I admit, a lot of people here will reject it: if the use of contraceptives is a moral wrong, then its use cannot be accepted, even if a supposed “horrific impact” results.

I would recommend flipping through The Catechism of the Catholic Church for more on these topics, contraceptives included. Keep in mind, again: everything is based on a larger context.

Third, it does seem to be a stretch of logic to say that the Pope is responsible for suffering resulting from non-use of contraceptives. The Pope is, for all his influence, only a moral leader. There is no papal police force running around the world, arresting people for using contraceptives. My short estimation would be that world governments in those countries bear the true responsibility for eliminating the contraceptives in the first place. They may be working from papal influence; they may not. There’s a horde of other factors to be taken into account here, and frankly, I’m a little tired of everyone pointing their fingers at one guy.

Hear, hear, ResIpsaLoquitor! Well-reasoned and thoughtful.

It’s all about your frame of reference. To those who accept Catholic beliefs, the Pope is a very good person. If we believe that the Pope is Catholic (which seems likely), he is succeeding at being a very good person. Remember, from their point of view stuff like discouraging contraception is done to protect us from a fate far worse than death. If I honestly believed there was a Hell, and that using contraceptives could push people further towards going there, I would logically accept the conclusion that the suffering in the mortal world caused by overpopulation and the other negative aspects of avoiding contraception is outweighed by the potential loss of eternal souls.

Of course, people who do not believe that using contraceptives can lead to eternal suffering, this is a harmful belief.

As an example, I would categorize an insane person who thought that he was saving the world from the antichrist by killing some random stranger was performing an extremely good act.

The trick is figuring out whose reality we are going to accept as the commonly accepted definition of ‘good’, if there can even be one.