Last week, when the whole world was abuzz with news that the Spanish arm of the Catholic Church had made noises to the effect that condoms were AOK in the fight against AIDS, a few friends asked me what I thought of this new development of doctrine. Would the Catholic Church finally see the light/get with the program/insert clichÃƒÂƒ(c) here and join the 21st Century?
I had a two-word response: just wait.
After what one can only imagine were a few very heated phone calls from the Vatican, the conference of Spanish Bishops explained that the offending statement "must be understood in the context of Catholic doctrine, which holds that use of condoms is immoral sexual conduct."
Translation: There's nothing to see here. Move along.
What were the words that set this particular tempest to boil? Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the conference of bishops, had told reporters that "condoms have a place in the global prevention of AIDS."
The press can be forgiven for playing this one up. This is not the sort of thing that one expects to hear from a spokesman for the Catholic Church, and apparently the Vatican was so stunned by it that the higher-ups initially didn't know what to say to reporters.
What is less forgivable is how reporters covered the story as a Historic Shift in the Church's teaching rather than what it likely was: the aberrant statement of a contrarian voice.
The AP quoted the president of the Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals as saying, "I think it was absolutely inevitable that the Church would change its stance," but didn't quote anyone saying, Hey, let's not jump to conclusions or anything.