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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Marriage, Divorce & Condoms

Boy is she a cutie…NOT! Hey, I am a celibate priest, and most days that seems pretty good by me. Yes, it would be nice to have someone bring me soup when sick, and my slippers, and cook, and clean, and do the laundry and…well, as my dear mother used to say, “I am sure glad you are a priest, no woman in her right mind would have you!” Probably true, but house-keepers are soooo expensive!

Years ago I posted a Catholic Sex Morality Test on my old Blog. However, the quiz site deletes the quizzes after a certain period of time. Rather than make up a new test, I thought I would share my thoughts about the few questions that those answering often got wrong. Remember I am prudish, but I try to teach ONLY what the Church actually teaches.

One of the questions on the quiz was, “Marooned alone together on a desert island, can a Catholic man and woman marry?” The answer was, “Yes, they can pledge their vows before God privately.”

The laws of the Church regarding canonical form (requiring the presence of a priest and two witnesses) is only required if it is humanly possible. A couple on a desert island, cut off from the rest of the world, can still make their vows before God and if later rescued would be considered as husband and wife by the Church. If so desired, the ceremonials associated with the exchange of vows could be provided with a Mass at that time. Remember, the couple marry themselves. The priest witnesses it for the Church.

Another question was, “How does the Catholic Church judge divorce?” The answer was, “Sometimes tolerated, divorce is technically a sin.”

Actually, divorce is tolerated, especially in cases of abuse or where the true character of the marriage is in doubt. An annulment cannot be acquired in the United States unless there is a prior divorce. However, divorce of a true marriage is forbidden by Jesus and those guilty of breaking up a true marriage commit sin. I know this is a hard teaching for some and for that reason the Church struggles in maintaining this truth while showing pastoral consideration and compassion to persons.

A question that surprised many respondents was, “Can a condom be used to prevent spreading HIV to an uninfected spouse?” The correct answer was, “No, condom use is always intrinsically evil.”

Okay, upon this one I will grant some confusion because of news stories about a possible change in Church teaching; however, I do not consider dissenting theologians and liberal bishops to be credible authorities. There was some speculation recently that the Church might permit condom use in cases where a spouse was HIV positive and the other was uninfected. Even many conservative thinkers thought that it might be permitted if the couple were elderly or infertile. Obviously, there would be no contraceptive intent. However, given the papal teachings we do have, the danger of watering down Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, and the consensus of magisterial theologians like the late Msgr. Smith of Dunwoodie and Dr. William May now retired of the JPII Marriage Institute, it is my conviction that the current teaching of the Church will not be modified. Condom use is always intrinsically evil. There is no fecundity with condom use. It feigns the marital act but is objectively something else.

I always speak honestly about what I believe…and I only hold what the Church claims as true. When and if the Church corrects me, I will always be a faithful and obedient son.

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