From Mr Anthony McCarthy SIR – Brian Conway and Quentin de la Bédoyère (Letters, January 14) believe – perhaps understandably – that the Pope “accepts” or “contemplates” condom use in some situations. But, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently confirmed, the Pope was not in any way changing Catholic teaching in his remarks on prostitution. The Pope did not say that condoms may be used in prostitution; he did not suggest that evil – whether lesser or otherwise – can be licitly willed. Evil may never be willed.
That surely includes the evil of non-unitive sex of any kind, in or outside marriage – such as anal sex, sex with a condom or sex of some other non-procreative (and thus not truly unitive) kind.
Condom use is not neutral, as Mr Conway misinterprets me as saying: the activity it changes may already be immoral, but will never be redeemed by a condom, which is always antiunitive.
Unless a sexual act is a complete act of self-giving, with a structure that relates simultaneously to life and to committed love, it will inevitably be morally wrong, whether or not the agent knows this. The wrong may be aggravated in one or other way – such as greater degrees of risk, dishonesty or distortion – but cannot be put right except by abstinence or, where possible, true marital self-giving.
As to “contraception proper”, where the motive in using a condom is to prevent conception, this merely adds another serious wrong to that of putting a barrier between persons. Contraception does indeed have the harmful social effects that Mr Conway mentions. But we should ask whether these harmful effects do not stem naturally from abusing what should be a powerful symbol of an institution radically devoted to life and to love.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY MCCARTHY Hanwell