Rome Diary

Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, kept a blog of sorts — Rome Diary — while covering the funeral of John Paul II, the conclave and election of Benedict XVI.

Here is an excerpt:

“… [Benedict XVI] will be carrying forward the work of John Paul the Great in bringing together again the great themes of the Second Vatican Council: ressourcement and aggiornamento. The reappropriation of the tradition and the conversation with the contemporary world are not two agendas, one dubbed conservative and the other liberal, but the two essential dimensions of the renewal of the Church.”

Here is another:

“There is an astonishing progressive love affair with condoms and allowing their use at least in certain rare circumstances related to AIDS. Here, it is thought, some wiggle room might be countenanced by the next pope. The progressive agenda has come down to condoms.”


  1. I hear condescention in the last excerpt. It is not so much that the best progressives can do is argue about condoms. I would argue that it is more along the lines of:

    “For the love of God, and the end to needless, needless misery – please, please, please consider revising your attitude towards condoms. People are suffering and dying needlessly, uselessly, on account of your direct attitude. Help us end this needless, absurd, crushing misery and death.”

    The second excerpt makes it seem like it is a trifling argument over who gets to eat the last Skittle. But then again maybe that is how this issue is viewed at the vatican. Skittles, and who gets to eat the green ones.

  2. Fr. Emmanuel Katongole says

    I remember in the early ’80s when, at least in Uganda, billboards warning against the spread of HIV infection carried the picture of what was obviously a married couple with their three young children and bore the caption: “Love Faithfully to Avoid AIDS.” This recommendation was soon replaced by the Uganda AIDS Commission with what was seen to be a more potent picture: two young lovers in embrace, with the caption: “Love Carefully.” What the Uganda AIDS Commission might not have realized, but what in fact it was confirming was the realization that with AIDS even lovers cannot (or is it, should not) trust each other fully (love faithfully), but must learn the art of loving “carefully,” that is, suspiciously. Apparently it did not take a long time to realize that such “careful” love involves regarding the partner as potential danger from which one had to “protect” oneself. Thus, by mid ’90s the captions had changed again, this time from “Love Carefully” to “Use a Condom to Avoid AIDS.”

    The West may have long ago adopted this mutual suspicion, but it is new to Africa. This radical suspicion generated by AIDS gnaws at the very core of our self-understanding, and thus threatens the basic trust on which our individual and societal existence is based.

    Instead of addressing how Africans can rebuild trust, the West has promoted condoms. One of the leading Western brands is even called Trust. This process of sidestepping the fundamental

    The issue is not whether condoms do or do not protect against the spread of AIDS. The issue is about the sort of culture which “condomization” promotes, and the sort of people we become as a result. Condomization becomes a metaphor for the incursion of postmodern culture in Africa.

    Condoms are disposable, like so many other aspects of Western culture. But condomization is not just about the convenience of disposable condoms, but more importantly it is about the popularization of a certain form of sexual activity, i.e., one detached from any serious attachment or stable commitment. In other words, condomization encourages one to view sex and one’s sex partner(s) as essentially disposable, while at the same time parading such lack of attachment as a high mark of freedom and accomplishment.

  3. Dr. Raymond Downing says

    In the United States, diabetes is our AIDS: the disease of excess in a land of unjust excess; AIDS in Africa is a disease of deficiency in a land of unjust deficiency. And both diseases hit the poor preferentially. Further, the “answer” to our market-driven diabetes epidemic is more market (pills); the “answer” to Africa’s AIDS epidemic is more market (condoms and antiretroviral drugs). It is this “answer,” I think,’ that a lot of Africans are skeptical of. So am I.

  4. Steve Mosher says

    The position of the Catholic Church — that abstinence and fidelity are key to stopping the spread of the epidemic — is now beginning to receive support from a wide variety of sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now promoting what it calls “partner reduction” and “long-term monogamous relationships.” (Faithfulness and marriage, for you ordinary folks, words that apparently still make WHO’s sexperts choke.)

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