According to Cardinal Martini, condom and legal abortion are a "lesser evil".

Source: FSSPX News


Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, aged 79, a Jesuit and former Archbishop of Milan, now retired in Jerusalem, was the leader of the progressist during the latest conclave. In a dialogue with scientist Ignazio Marino, published in the Italian weekly L’Espresso of April 21, the prelate discussed the "borderline cases" to which Christian morals are confronted in certain situations or by reason of the progress of science. "Certainly, the use of condom may be a lesser evil in certain situations" when one is confronted with AIDS, he declared. "But the question is to know whether it belongs to the religious authority to advocate such a means of protection, as if the other morally acceptable means, including abstinence, were relegated to the background, at the risk of promoting an irresponsible attitude. The principle of the lesser evil, applicable in all the cases foreseen by moral doctrine is one thing, but the question of knowing who has the duty of stating this publicly is quite another thing, he added in very Jesuit fashion.

Concerning abortion, Cardinal Martini considered "on the whole as positive" that its legalization "contributed to reduce and tended to eradicate clandestine abortions". According to him, "it is difficult for a modern state not to intervene at least to prevent an uncontrolled and arbitrary situation", "which does not mean "a license to kill", he added, specifying that the State must use "every means" available to diminish the number of abortions.

The Italian cardinal also considered as a lesser evils that a woman, even single, adopt frozen embryos to have them implanted, rather than let these latter be destroyed. "Where there is a conflict of values, it seems to me morally more significant to propose this solution which enables life to flourish rather than to let it die", he explained.

Cardinal Martini judged that the role of the Church is "to form people’s conscience", to help them "discern right from wrong in any circumstances", but that "interdicts and "no-no" are useless".

Already in January 2005, when he was theologian for the pontifical house, the Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier considered that, in the context of the battle against AIDS, the use of condom could be "legitimate" in certain cases and within strict limits. On March 9, Cardinal Godefried Danneels, interviewed by a Belgian daily, showed himself in favor of condom when the life of one of the partners is in danger. The Archbishop of Malines-Brussels also deemed legitimate that society made laws at variance with those of the Church in matters of homosexual unions, prostitution or contraception (see DICI 132).

In the Vatican, the recent declarations of Cardinal Martini caused some "surprise" and "confusion". Thus, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who is usually loquacious on these subjects, wanted some delay before any possible response. "These issues are being debated. The declaration must be read carefully", he stated. "The cardinal used words which must be pondered, we cannot react impulsively", thought the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Mgr Elio Sgreccia. As for Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Vicar of Rome, he refused to comment on the issues tackled by Cardinal Martini.

According to information gathered by I.MEDIA press agency from the Pontifical Council for Health, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be preparing a document on the use of condom. They specify that it is a delicate issue on which theologians – and among them at one time Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – had been working for some time. Instead of giving her opinion haphazardly through cardinals voicing their sometimes divergent ideas, as it as been done up to now, the Church would make an official pronouncement on the question. She would then give recommendations, notably concerning the behavior of spouses in case one of them has been contaminated with AIDS. The document, reviewed by the pope, could be published within the year.

But on April 25, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral of Health, declared to Zenit press agency that the Holy See was currently preparing a "study" in view of an internal dialogue, and not a "document" – as it had been announced by some of the media – on condom and AIDS. The cardinal explained that this "thorough study" was taking into account "the scientific and technical aspects related to condom as well as the moral implications in their full extent".

The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral of Health is not "competent to present a document to the Church. The pope himself or he to whom he entrusts [this task] is competent". This Vatican dicastery is not a doctrinal dicastery ; it does not issue documents. This is the error in some of the information. We are a pastoral dicastery in charge of ensuring the presence of the Church near the sick, and especially those affected with AIDS", recalled the Mexican cardinal.

"Within the limits of this competence we have our medical counselors, our experts, our theologians; and together with them we work on this study", he added. The study specifically deals with the problem of couples united by the sacrament of marriage when one of the spouses has AIDS. "This is the first stage", he continued. "This study is promoting a dialogue only at the level of the Holy See, and it is not completed. Will a document be drafted once the study is finished? This is possible but not certain. This discatery is not habilitated to issue documents. The Holy Father will decide whether it is to be issued by another dicastery or whether no document is to be published".


All these declarations raise some questions:

-        Are the statements of Cardinal Martini, following those of Cardinals Cottier and Danneels (among others…), meant to exercise pressure and bend the traditional moral doctrine towards progressist laxity?

-        Does moral theology allow to consider condom as a lesser evil?

-        Can the Holy See be satisfied with an internal study, without providing any official document to enlighten people’s conscience on such a morally grave issue?

We will tackle these questions in a future issue of our magazine Christendom.