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Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales



Letters to All Roman Catholic Bishops



July 21, 2004

Re: Opus Dei priest Fr Rhonheimer & contraception

Your lordship

In the articles in The Tablet July 10, 2004 and the Catholic Herald, July 16, 2004 the Opus Dei priest, Fr Martin Rhonheime, claims that those who act with sexual immorality should be allowed to use condoms to help prevent HIV, and, 'that such an attitude fully respect(s) the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception'.  However, such an attitude cannot be further from the truth.  Humanae Vitae is clear on this issue.  Humanae Vitae is not just for 'the moral' and not just for Catholics but is for all people, and indeed the whole world.

Humanae Vitae states that there are two purposes of human sexual intercourse; the unitive purpose and the procreative purpose.  Condoms, even when used during the infertile period and used in order to avoid infection, still destroy the unitive purpose of sexual intercourse and is therefore opposed to the Church's teaching made clear in Humanae Vitae.

Also it is never right to make an evil action "safe" or "safer", so that one can then do the evil act with impunity.  To want to reduce the consequences of an evil act is all part of the evil act and can only lead to doing even more evil.  To commit an evil act and to try to avoid the consequences of that evil act is not a virtue, but is the nature of sin.

Humanae Vitae continues 'it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it - in other words, to intend positively something which intrinsically contradicts the moral order, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of a society in general'.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1756, states 'It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or their circumstances (environment, social pressures, duress or emergency, etc) which supply their context.  There are acts which, in and of themselves, independent of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery.  One may not do evil so that good may result from it'.

There is now plenty of evidence to show that condoms are far too risky to place them between a healthy body and a deadly disease.  Even the British Blood Transfusion Service does not trust condoms to keep people safe.  In their leaflet 'Keep Blood Transfusion Safe' they state 'You must not give blood for at least 12 months after sex, even if you use a condom or other protective, with someone who is or you think may be HIV positive - or if a partner who has or you think may have been sexually active in parts of the world where HIV/AIDS is very common.  This includes most countries in Africa'.

It is Christ's call to chastity both within marriage and outside it that is at the heart of the matter.


Yours sincerely


Chris Mason,  Co-ordinator,  United for Life