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Condoms undermine Catholic ideals

Letter to the Editor | Friday, January 26, 2007

With Notre Dame being a Catholic institution of intellectual exchange, I would like to take this opportunity to partake in the ongoing dialogue regarding the use of contraceptives and condoms. Many of those who have contributed disagree with Eleanore Strong (“Contraceptive society morally harmful,” Letter to the Editor, Jan. 22). Although I missed reading the letter, after reading the disagreeing responses I feel the need to address some of the assertions put forth by others.

Let me start by attending to the definition and purpose of sex, as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Sex is to be the selfless act of love that consummates the loving relationship between a man and a woman, and is best appropriate in the context of marriage. In this sense, sex is said to be unitive,that is, uniting the two persons in a physical act of love. The second purpose of sex is procreative, an openness to possibility of the creation of a new life. Contraceptives and condoms prohibit these purposes of sex because, in using contraceptive or ‘protective’ measures, not only are the persons obliterating the procreative purpose, but they are also preventing sex from being a selfless, unifying act.

One might ask: How is this possible, contraceptives and condoms allow people to engage is sex without the “fear of death, disease or an unwanted pregnancy?”(Letter to the Editor, “Condoms are not the cause,” Jan. 23). Such a question exhibits a misunderstanding of and lack of respect for the sexual act. Sex, when practiced under the circumstances for which it was intended, is meant to be a complete and selfless gift of oneself to one’s partner. This entails an unconditional surrender of any personal reservations (such as fear) of each and an acceptance of the vulnerabilities of the love that sex professes.

Contraceptives, condoms and the like allow people an avenue to access sex in a more selfish context by allowing partners (long- and short-term) to experience the physical pleasures of sex without necessarily being concerned with the other person. This is where we get the term “contraceptive mentality,” which refers to the devaluing of sex to the extent that it is seen in a casual and even commercial light. Although called the “contraceptive” mentality, this concept refers to the general deprecating attitude toward the true purposes of sex, whether or not actual contraceptive measures are used. While many factors have contributed to this present mentality, it can be reasonably stated that the advent of contraception was a big push down the slippery slope on which we now find ourselves.

Mary Kate Daly


Welsh Family Hall

Jan. 24