The Compromise Solution
More and more I am hearing cries from various groups for the Church to change her stance on various moral issues. Usually these issues are derivative of vices that people don't want to feel guilty about anymore.
Take condoms, for instance.
A lot of people have sounded off on the issue of condoms being recommended by the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference as a method to allow married couples, with one partner infected with HIV, to experience sexual intimacy without putting the life of the other at risk.
I empathize with couples in that situation, although their numbers must be infinitesimally small. But I fear their tragic plight is being exploited by the enemies of the Church. Just like they used this lady back in the early 70's.
If Pope Benedict suddenly said, "Ok, world, it's morally permissible for married couples to use condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases between each other," you can bet the critics of the Church's stance against the immorality of contraception would be silenced, and we'd hear no more objections from them. They will have gained the sole exemption they sought.
Our enemies are looking for any way to erode the Rock of Peter, and they will chip away tirelessly at our foundations. A futile effort, but still they try.
Nine years ago, I toured Ireland with the Challenge Team and spoke in schools to promote chastity. The students often asked us very candid questions after the talks, and many wanted to know what our opinion on condoms was. We would talk about the failure rate (in laboratories and in real life) and about how they're not necessary if you're practicing chastity anyway. But I was astounded at how many young boys said they refused to use condoms when they had sex with their girlfriends because the Church said it was a sin.
Really, in that case, I think the consideration of what the Church identifies as sin is rather far from the boy's mind.
I get so tired of the demands for the Catholic Church to start loosening its definitions of sin to bring more people into parishes. That is a losing strategy. Any parish that holds to orthodoxy, that honours the Blessed Mother, that proclaims its fidelity to the magisterium, and that homilizes on the hard truths of the faith has always brought hordes of people into its fold. Young people especially are looking for a faith that challenges them, instead of a faith that says they can do no wrong. But when parishes loosen their grip of the basics of Catholic morality, decay sets in and in a few decades all you've got left is a bunch of grey-haired ex-hippies who had 1 kid each, and those individual kids are somewhere in Amsterdam or Singapore doping up, having rejected the flimsy faith of their parents.
Some would object that only perfect people could be welcome in a morally rigid Church. Not so. The marketing strategy of the Church acknowledges that her key demographic is sinners. She wants her pews to be full of them. What she doesn't want is to be filled with sin.
The expectation for anybody entering the Church is that he or she renounces sin and embraces God. You can't have it both ways. The standard the Church holds us to is not a human one, and it's not one that we can change, even if the Pope himself wanted to. We are living the truth as God has revealed it to us. Truth doesn't change.
Truth is also strangely attractive. Once you get a taste of it, you want more and nothing will stop you from finding a reliable source of it. You can't do without it. It's like a drug, except there is no delusion or risk associated with it. Rather, there is astonishing clarity and security.
Yet we are continually encouraged to cut the truth with lies. The world claims we may pick and choose the truths we like and ignore the ones that find us wanting, in hope they will just go away.
That won't happen. Truth is relentless. And thank God it is, or we'd never find it by ourselves.