Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Pope in Africa--the Rest of the Story

John Allen is a very meticulous reporter. Bet you didn't know that the Pope said a lot of stuff not related to condomolatry, right?

In Africa, meanwhile, the trip has been a hit, beginning with Benedict's dramatic insistence that Christians must never be silent in the face of "corruption and abuses of power," and extending through a remarkable meeting with African Muslims in which the pope said more clearly and succinctly what he wanted to say three years ago in his infamous Regensburg address...

...Vast and pumped-up crowds flocked to see the pope, and Benedict seemed swept up in the enthusiasm. Twice he referred to Africa as the "continent of hope," and at one point, this consummate theologian even mused aloud about a new burst of intellectual energy in Africa that might generate a 21st century version of the famed school of Alexandria, which gave the early church such luminaries as Clement and Origen


As to condomolatry:

...This perception gap is not exclusively, or even primarily, the media's fault. The reporter from French TV who asked Benedict the condom question aboard the papal plane was well within bounds; AIDS is serious business, and it's fair game to ask the pope about it on his first visit to the continent that's been hardest hit by the disease.

Once the question was popped, the ball was in Benedict's court. Much of the blame for what happened next, therefore, has to lie at his feet.

By that, I'm not taking any position on the substance of the pope's answer, though in fairness he did no more than repeat church teaching on contraception, as well as the nearly unanimous view of every African bishop I've ever interviewed: that condoms give their people a false sense of invulnerability, thereby encouraging risky sexual behavior. That may be debatable, but one can hardly fault the pope for taking his cues from the bishops on the ground. (Ironically, popes usually get in trouble precisely for not listening to local bishops.)

That's debatable. The Pope's munus is to teach the faith, 'in season and out of season'. His task is not to be politically correct, nor to dance on the issues.

Allen has a LOT more at this link (and the links at the bottom of the page.)

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