Friday, April 21, 2006

If only he were pope...

In an interview with the Italian magazine L'Espresso, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, one-time papal contender and former archbishop of Milan, says what I know many Catholics are thinking: Not only does he argue condoms should be use to prevent the spread of HIV, he says it's better that abortion is legal than illegal (while saying governments should do everything they can to reduce abortion rates) and that it's better for even single women to carry IVF embryos to term rather than to destroy them or leave them frozen forever. Unfortunately, there is no English translation of the Italian interview, so we have to rely on new stories for the info. If you can read Italian, here's the real deal.

Of course, it's the abortion piece that will be the most controversial, and I imagine that there will be pressure for Martini to retract it, though at his age and stage of career, I don't see why he would. And let's be honest, we Catholic liberals (and I bet more than a few moderates and even conservatives) are a bit conflicted about abortion. We (or at least I) want to be unequivocably prolife but at the same time don't think abortion should be illegal in every case and that there are probably more politically possible and equally effective ways of reducing abortion rates than criminalization (comprehensive sex ed with good information about birth control methods, free pre- and post-natal health care, economic support for pregnant women and women with young children, you name it). And I think we can agree that the all-or-nothing, us-versus-them, pro-choice-versus-prolife approach has achieved absolutely nothing in the U.S. over the past 33 years.

So thank God Cardinal Martini has taken the chance on opening the can of worms on these issues. It's been time for grown up conversations about all these issues for decades.


At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Marc said...

To some, it may appear that Martini is breaking with the pope and official church teachings.

But in fact, Martini's comments in the Italian magazine are entirely consistent with the church's reverance for life.

The church teaches that no one should use a condom or any other type of artificial contraception.

The reality, though, that if everyone follows that teaching, people will likely die.

Martini is not a relativist. He is not arguing that the church shirk its beliefs and adapt to contemporary, secular morality — or immorality, if you will. He is not calling for condom distributions after Mass.

Martini just wants to make sure that whenever possible, the church avoids a greater evil and, even after man has sinned, always stands up for life.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Heidi said...

Good points, Marc. The sad thing is that Martini will be branded as an evil dissident who wants condom distribution at mass. Sad.


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