Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dale Price's dyspeptic mutterings about the worst-ever in-flight interview

"Stakes on a Plane" (Dyspeptic Mutterings, February 19, 2016):
Pope Francis.

A pressurized cabin.



Half-baked spitballing and word association games.

Followed by a flop-sweat-soaked Fr. Lombardi and legions of unpaid papal apologists energetically trying to deny the obvious import.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It would be nice if we didn't have to do this every other Alitalia flight, but there you go.

Oh, but this one is genuinely different--it manages to be the worst yet.
[There follows an excerpt from the interview with Pope Francis, which concludes]:... On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.
Sure reads like an endorsement of contraception in the face of the Zika virus. Interestingly enough, it was the Pope who used the term "contraceptives," not the nefarious reporter.



I mean, there's just no way that can be read as an endorsement of contraceptive use here, you faithless moron!

Fair enough--Father Lombardi to the rescue! He'll fix it--he always does:
... Pope Francis said that "contraceptives or condoms, in cases of particular emergency and gravity, can be the object of a serious discernment of conscience," Father Lombardi said, "while on abortion, he did not allow any room for consideration."

Wait, what?

So much for yesterday's vigorous papalist spinning.

So, yeah--the Pope just endorsed contraceptive use for the normal conjugal act.

But it's far, far worse than that. To say that the hypothetical threat of birth defects is sufficient reason for contraception is to authorize it to serve eugenic ends. The threat here is not to the life or health of the mother--the threat is that she may bear a "defective" child.

And put the emphasis on the "may"--the link has not been established.

... Take no chances, though. Lebensunwertes Leben. [Link added]

And how does the Pope's argument not apply to the threat posed by all birth defects, from fetal alcohol syndrome on down? Aren't these all "situations of special danger"? Any parent could discern such--Can't risk it.

But keep spinning. People love the guy, and that's what really matters.
[Advisory: Rules 7-9]

[Hat tip to JM]


Charles said...

Well, as troubling as this is, I've been wondering about the principle that "allows" nuns afeared of rape to use a sterilizing contraceptive. Does this principle also allow nuns in war-torn areas in general to go whole hog and get a tubal ligation? After all, they do not intend ever to engage in a marriage act, so it's not really sterilization now, is it? Well, then, why don't we sterilize "morons," since they are incapable, due to mental defect, of ever engaging in the marriage act. Maybe that's going beyond the principle, but hey, who am I to judge. Let's walk it back a bit. Let's say I live in a pretty bad area, in which rapes occur frequently, say, one of these ivy league schools where rape culture reigns supreme. Shouldn't I ensure that my wife takes the pill in case she should be accosted by a band of horny frat boys? Sure, our marriage act would be rendered sterile, but that would only be an unintended effect of the morally good act of Self Defense that the taking of contraceptives is in its moral species. Certainly, I should ensure that my daughters are on the pill too, since you never know when someone is liable to up and rape them. Ah, the wonderful world of moral philosophy, where intention rules the roost, and acts cannot be intrinsically evil! Contraceptives and tubal ligations for one and all, but not qua sterilizing! Self-defense will wash all your troubles away!

Pertinacious Papist said...


Great questions. I wish Janet Smith could field them for you, since this is really her bailiwick!

Charles said...

Dr. Blosser,
Actually, my thoughts were occasioned in part by Dr. Smith's article in the book "The Ethics of Organ Transplantation," which was very useful to me recently in my dissertation research and writing. My topic is the ethics of embryo adoption (supervisor is Steven Jensen at the Center for Thomistic Studies), so sexual ethics is my main focus at this time. I have come to the position that the use of the contraceptive pill is wrong, even apart from the intention to render the marriage act sterile, because the end of the work is to render a healthy organ system inoperative, and there is no per se benefit to the health of the body by doing so.

Pertinacious Papist said...


You're in great company if you have Jensen as your supervisor and have read Smith's book you mentioned (and doubtless much more in your special area of concentration). We look forward to reading (and hearing) good things from you, my friend.