Wednesday, December 29, 2010

antediluvian hyperbole...what?

Back to regular programming...

RH Bill advocate hits CBCP for 'church terrorism'

In his Christmas message, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines President Nereo Odchimar said “the threat of war, political unrest, and armed conflicts put nations in constant fear…And the most glaring among others is that unpeace in the mother’s womb. With the approval of RH Bill, a woman’s womb can be a ferocious threat to those who are yet to be born."

Several prelates also made use of issue to further strengthen their cause. Many of their followers heard this, of course, on Christmas morning.

Not to be brushed aside, however, an RH Bill advocate lambasted the Catholic church for equating the RH bill to acts of terrorism.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said “it is the height of antediluvian hyperbole for the leadership of the CBCP” to connect the RH advocacy to such.

Lagman noted the history of the church is “so engulfed in terrorism” that any development not in accordance with its dogma is “conveniently labeled terroristic.”

“These acts of church terrorism extended to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period which was dominated by the Church and are perpetuated today with threats of excommunication against perceived religious dissenters like RH and pro-women advocates,” he said...

Antedeluvian hyperbole? Why, I had to scramble for my dictionary to look up the meaning. Roughly it means a primitive exaggeration, with a pointed reference to antiquated ideas that properly belonged to a period before the Great Flood as depicted in the book of Genesis. It is interesting that Lagman references a biblical event to lambast the president of the Bishop's council. Bishop Odchimar says the approval of the RH bill "can be a ferocious threat to those who are yet to be born" while Lagman shot back by charges of "church terrorism...against religious dissenters". Anyway Bishop Odchimar's statements were quoted from his Christmas message, and it is also an interesting discovery to find out that Lagman is an avid listener of Christmas messages from CBCP. As far as I see it, Bishop Odchimar's message was directed to the faithful.

At any rate I can't see any shadow of a threat of excommunication in that Christmas message. I am not sure why liberal dissenters who ignore church teachings would make a big production out of a CBCP Christmas message anyway. I expect a liberal dissenter to completely ignore it and say: who cares? Maybe Lagman is suffering from a postdeluvian hangover.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last minute shopping at Divisoria

I haven't been to Divisoria since eons ago, but me and the wife just had to go there this morning to buy a PSP imitation which we promised as a Christmas gift to my 5 year old tyke. I had an inkling there would be a crushing crowd, but it was either that or World War 3. So off we went very early in the morning. We took the MRT to Recto.

Our target was the 168 shopping mall. I expected the area to be crowded but I guess I am at a loss for a more intense word to describe the jampacked atmosphere. On the way to 168 we had to inch our way on the sidewalk, if it could be called a sidewalk. Every imaginable inch of space was occuppied by vendors of all sorts of imaginable items, from the corner of Abad Santos all the way through the tail-end of CM Recto. After we arrived at the mall after a seeming interminable struggle just to walk towards it, the crowd became thankfully thinner. I made a mental note that the walk back could be far worse, so we decided to be quick about it. On the way back, my wife had to buy a pair of slippers since her sandals were busted due to a number of times it was stepped upon.

The entire area on the CM Recto portion and the side streets was an accident waiting to happen. I dreaded the idea that a sparked stampede could be deadly disastrous on a massive scale. To compound the danger, there were small stalls scattered randomly selling all sorts of fireworks while passersby close around had lighted cigarettes - even some vendors themselves were smoking nonchalantly. All the signs of danger were in that place, and I wonder why the Manila authorities allowed such a situation where there was absolutely no control. The place was total haywire. Come to think of it, I did not even see any police around. Yan ang napapala ng last-minute shopping. Fortunately, we're back home in one piece (except for the busted sandals), with the prized 'PSP'. I will never ever do this thing again. Promise.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Myspace Christmas Codes

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On the trivilization of sexuality

Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

On the trivilization of sexuality

Regarding certain interpretations of "Light of the World"

Following the publication of the interview-book Light of the World by Benedict XVI, a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality. The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words – a meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human sexuality is treated. The intention of the Holy Father is clear: to rediscover the beauty of the divine gift of human sexuality and, in this way, to avoid the cheapening of sexuality which is common today.

Some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive change and lamented by others as a cause of concern – as if his statements represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the Church’s stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope – which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) – do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.

As is clear from an attentive reading of the pages in question, the Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception. This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarized succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, when he wrote that "also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means." The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought. On this issue the Pope proposes instead – and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively (cf. Light of the World, p. 147) – humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation.

On the pages in question, the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behaviour which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral (cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2355). The response of the entire Christian tradition – and indeed not only of the Christian tradition – to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: "Flee from fornication" (1 Cor 6:18). The practice of prostitution should be shunned, and it is the duty of the agencies of the Church, of civil society and of the State to do all they can to liberate those involved from this practice.

In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute "the real or moral solution" to the problem of AIDS and also that "the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality" in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom "with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." This affirmation is clearly compatible with the Holy Father’s previous statement that this is "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."

Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the "lesser evil". This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, n. 75-77). An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed. The Holy Father did not say – as some people have claimed – that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.

In conclusion, in the battle against AIDS, the Catholic faithful and the agencies of the Catholic Church should be close to those affected, should care for the sick and should encourage all people to live abstinence before and fidelity within marriage. In this regard it is also important to condemn any behaviour which cheapens sexuality because, as the Pope says, such behaviour is the reason why so many people no longer see in sexuality an expression of their love: "This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being" (Light of the World, p. 119).


So there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

He who laughs last

Catholic Church, groups call for cuts in Dolphy’s movie

The Catholic Church and various church organizations called on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), on Monday, to delete scenes from Dolphy's comedy flick "Fr. Jejemon" deemed as offensive and disrespectful to the Catholic faith.

One of the scenes that sent the Church and other groups fuming was a priest, portrayed by the King of Comedy, Dolphy, accidentally dropping a host to a woman's cleavage as the latter took communion during Holy Mass.

Another scene in the movie -- an entry to the 36th Metro Manila Film Festival -- that offended Catholic groups showed a host getting stuck on an old woman's false teeth while also receiving communion.

"The MTRCB should delete that portion and other elements in the film that are disrespectful to human beliefs,” said Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Episcopal Commission on Mass Communications and Mass Media.

No move to pull out Dolphy comedy from film festival —MMDA chief

MTRCB lauds Dolphy outfit for voluntarily censoring ‘Father Jejemon’

MANILA, Philippinies -- The chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has lauded comedy king Dolphy’s film outfit for voluntarily excising scenes from his latest movie, "Fr. Jejemon," which had offended the Catholic Church.

MTRCB chair Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares related in a statement to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the film’s producer RVQ Productions, Inc., “upon learning of the public’s sentiments against some scenes in the teasers, immediately exercised self-regulation and voluntarily deleted those evoking scenes.”
It was good of Dolphy's RVQ Productions to voluntarily excise the offending scenes. Reports have it that Dolphy is unequivocally Catholic, as quoted from Zsa Zsa Padilla (Dolphy's partner and RVQ's producer) who said: “Initially, I found the scene ‘cute.’ We didn’t have any malicious intention to offend any religion, not especially Catholicism, because Dolphy is sarado Katoliko.”. It seems strange therefore that Dolphy consented to shoot those scenes in the first place, which indicates that the king of comedy is out of touch with the utmost reverence that Catholics are supposed to accord to the Holy Eucharist. I grant however, that Dolphy (as well as Zsa Zsa) "didn’t have any malicious intention to offend any religion, not especially Catholicism". I grant further that if there is anything that they are surely guilty of, it is absolute cluelessness on the exalted reverence that is due to the sacred Host, even if they do only a mock representation. Sarado Katolikos should know better.

Another thing that could pose discomfort for faithful Catholics is the plot of the film, and what messages they impart. Being a comedy, would it mock priests and Catholicism in its attempt to be funny? Here is a short synopsis from the entertainment section of the Inquirer:

‘Father Jejemon’

In this comedy flick, Dolphy plays Fr. Jeremiah Jerome Montes, or Father Jejemon. He endears himself to the people of the fictitious town Parmbil because of his modern and offbeat ways. He plays rock music and organizes talent competitions. He even calls the members of his parish’s all-women group as the Lady Nga-Ngas, inspired by the pop singer Lady Gaga. Things take an interesting turn when the priest gets accused of child molestation. Dolphy, whose movie is up against other surefire block-busters in this festival, said he is not after topping the box-office. “Gusto ko lang masayahan ang manonood,” he declared.

It has been classified as General Patronage, and kids would get to watch it with their families. I am not about to judge the overall film at this premature point, although I would say it would be a disaster if those two offensive scenes (and perhaps more like it) are not deleted. This could be Dolphy's last film, and it is pitiful if his entire film legacy gets tainted by this grossly insensitive scenes. Even though it is meant as a comedy film, it is certain to impart values among its gullible audience, sarado Katoliko or otherwise. I sure hope there are authentic values to be learned from the film, even though Dolphy's main aim to to make people laugh. Nothing wrong with that, and I hope he succeeds. He is truly funny and a living legend in Philippine cinema. "Gusto ko lang masayahan ang manonood", he says. I hope the One watching from above appreciates this funny movie, or else the one down below will be the one laughing out loud - and that would be very, very bad for Dolphy. I wonder who laughs last. Dolphy's time is running short and when the time comes for this sarado Katoliko, baka sarado pinto.

Update: Dolphy asks for forgiveness

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yuri in pre-school Nativity presentation

Stage play review:

In this play acted out by kids at the Sta Rafaela Maria pre-school, most of the little tykes try to act out the part but spend half the time giggling and waving at their parents in the audience. For their part, the audience mostly takes pictures and videos but also spend half the time giggling and waving at their kids on stage. There is Yuri my youngest playing Joseph. LoL. What a fun night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Vizconde Massacre puzzle

SC acquits Hubert Webb, 6 others in Vizconde massacre case

Hubert Webb, 5 others freed

MANILA, Philippines – Hubert Webb and five others convicted in the massacre of a family in 1991 walk out of prison after spending 15 years in jail.

Aside from Webb, the Supreme Court also acquitted Antonio Lejano II, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada, Hospicio “Pyke” Fernandez.

The sixth was Gerardo Biong who was released recently after serving 15 years in jail.

How the SC justices voted

The votes for acquittal-dissenting-inhibits:

No, I wouldn't dwell on the merits or demerits of the decision for or against, whether the decision reveals the truth or not. What strikes me is the fact that some of the most educated, most intelligent people in the land see the case differently, and come up with contrasting conclusions. Same evidence, varying appreciations, contrasting conclusions. It doesn't give me any comfort in the fact that a majority decision prevails. I am more concerned that a decision was promulgated in a lower court; that decision was challenged yet was affirmed by the appeals court by the slimmest of margins (3-2); all of which was eventually overturned (after 15 long, long years) by a vote of 7 to 4. In essence, the 7 Supreme Court Justices say that the trial court judge was wrong, the appeals court was wrong, and the 4 dissenting Supreme Court Justices are wrong, and all those topnotch lawyers in one way or another, are all wrong. Grievously wrong. How come all these people under those circumstances, with the same hard facts before them, with the same rules of procedure, experience and jurisprudence behind them... disagree mightily in an epic manner? It is a horrible miscarriage of justice, regardless of whether one is for or against the decision.

A sober reminder that we live in an imperfect world, and that true justice can be found elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On the Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8
Short history

Doctrines are defined formally only when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up or when by the magisterium the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine.

It was clear in the first centuries that only a perfect holiness, including absence of sin, was fitting in view of the dignity of her role. By the 8th century belief that Mary’s holiness was both flawless and immense was firmly established throughout the East, and it was in that century that the feast of her conception was first celebrated liturgically. In the West the belief grew more slowly, but by 1099 St Anselm could write: “It was fitting that she be clothed with a purity so splendid that none greater under God could be conceived.”

The belief in the Immaculate Conception was initially met with theological difficulty. If Christ was the redeemer of all, as the Scriptures affirm, he would have been the redeemer of Mary too. But then how was it possible that she was conceived immaculate and therefore was not in need of redemption? St Thomas Aquinas, unable to resolve the difficulty, concluded that Mary was conceived in original sin but was cleansed from it before her birth.

The decisive argument came from the Franciscan John Duns Scotus (1264-1308), who reasoned that Mary too was in need of redemption, but she was redeemed from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son’s death on the Cross many years later. Duns Scotus laid the foundations of the true doctrine so solidly and dispelled the objections in a manner so satisfactory, that from that time onward the doctrine prevailed.( more on Catholic Encyclopedia - Immaculate Conception) .

While theologians continued to debate the question for several more centuries, by the end of the 17th century there was practically universal agreement on Mary’s immaculate conception. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was "invented" at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals.

The dogma

In the Encyclical Ineffabilis Deus by Pope Pius IX:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

...Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.
Update: Read Mark Shea's excellent post on the development of the Immaculate Conception dogma.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It ain't separation of Church and State if you agree with them

Council of Churches pushes passage of RH bill

MANILA, Philippines - A group of religious organizations has urged lawmakers to speed up the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill into law.

Rev. Rex Reyes Jr., secretary-general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), said the bill is not just about the use of contraceptives but also the promotion of responsible parenthood.

“We should also look at the other (contents) or what is not being said in the RH bill. It’s not just about contraceptives. It’s basically about responsible parenthood and the responsibility of the State to see to it that all its citizens are given the benefit and the opportunity to lead decent lives as Filipinos,” Reyes said.

The NCCP is the largest group of non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines....

I respect the NCCP's stand on the RH-bill, even though I do not agree with them. But where are the wise guys who love to holler
"separation of Church and State!" ? Hmm....

Double standard.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Odds and Ends 12/2/10

Holyfield to fight Denmark's Nielsen in March

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield has been lined up to fight Denmark's Brian Nielsen in Denmark on March 5, promoters said Wednesday.
The bout will feature fighters with a combined age of 93 — Holyfield is 48, Nielsen 45.

The winner of the bout will get to challenge former heavyweight champ Smokin Joe Frazier, now 64 years old.
CBCP exec questions results of survey on RH bill

...“Our impression is that they are trying to influence the legislators. They have to discuss the merits of bill and not the number [of its supporters],” Fr Melvin Castro said.

They are trying to influence the legislators, though perhaps only the unthinking or conscienceless ones. But how many legislators can be influenced by surveys rather than sound reasoning? Need a survey.
P-Noy risks impeachment if RH bill is enacted into law

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino could expose himself to a torrent of impeachment complaints if he enacts into law pending Reproductive Health (RH) bills in the House of Representatives without removing provisions that promote abortions, a lawmaker warned today.

Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez aired the warning at the resumption of the hearings on the controversial RH Bill in the House committee on population and family relations that stalled on the issue of agreeing on when life begins.

“Before we can even decide at all (on whether to pass or not the RH Bill), we have to decide whether or not this state, as enshrined in the Constitution, would protect the life of mother and unborn from moment of fertilization or conception? I think Mr. Chair, we should discuss that first,” Golez, a medical doctor, said.

Good point, as the President has sworn to uphold the Constitution. Legislators likewise. The RH proponents must first answer the question squarely: Does the bill unequivocally protect the unborn (as the Constitution asserts) from the moment of conception? Yes or No? Why is the pro-RH crowd fidgety with answering this question first?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Promises of Christ

via CatholicFriends:
by Bill
"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God

That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ."

How often we have prayed these words! Let us stop and think about what His promises include. What comes to mind? How many are there? Is there a list? Or should we not be too inquisitive about them, and instead fortify our faith that they will be all we could ever want, truly unimaginable?
One of my favorites is:

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It is so comforting that Jesus promised to be always with us, through thick and thin, now and forever. Of course it still depends on our free will because Jesus will never force us, we can still stray away. But where do we go? Peter in John 6:68 has the same question and answer at the same time: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.

I have not found a list of Jesus' promises. There must be quite a number, but the really unique thing about Jesus' promises is that - he meant all of them. Jesus is the only one who makes many promises and intends to fulfill them all. The reverse is true for most politicians I know.

We must be careful though in reading the promises. We must keep in mind that in reading Scriptures, there is the literal sense and the spiritual sense, otherwise we are inviting undue confusion. I remember last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus promised the thief on the cross: this day you shall be with me in paradise. That is a literal promise. However, the Sunday before that, he promised his disciples: not a hair on your head will be destroyed. This other one is obviously spiritual-allegorical. I know of many holy men who went bald before their time, so the meaning can't be literal.

"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Communications Fail

Clergy can't be more popish than the Pope - Palace

MANILA, Philippines - MalacaƱang welcomed yesterday the pronouncement of Pope Benedict XVI that condom use may be allowed to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS, and urged local Church officials to take the same stand because “they cannot be more popish than the Pope.” [what a charitable insult]

“That’s a good step. I think our own clergy should be informed by the views of the Vatican [they're not?] because they’ve always referred to the Vatican when they stated their position, now that the Vatican’s position [what position?] is such then I think that should result in a corresponding flexibility on the part of our Church,” Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ricky Carandang said. [the Vatican's position has a flexibility...where?]

Carandang said the Pope’s statement could “absolutely” boost support for the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. [Boost support? In short, separation of church and state is only applicable when the Church disagrees with you?]

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said a meeting on the RH bill between the Palace and the CBCP has been tentatively scheduled between Dec. 7 and 15.

President Aquino has said he is for responsible parenthood, including educating couples on how to plan their families and providing them assistance with artificial birth control methods such as the use of condoms.

“I don’t want to misquote the Pope. [You just did] I think he was very qualified in what he said [Of course. And you Mr Carandang, is very qualified in what?] but still what you can say [you mean what YOU can say] is the Pope has shown some flexibility [flexibility? Substantiate it then, Mr Theology expert] on an issue that is still controversial here. It’s not controversial in the rest of the world anymore,” [so what?] Carandang said. “I think the Pope’s position should inform the position of the local clergy [you mean they don't?]. Like I said, our clergy cannot be more popish than the pope.

[And like I said, people who can't understand the Pope's communications correctly should just shut up, especially if one is the head of MalacaƱang's Communications Department. Ironically, Carandang thinks is more capable than the bishops in interpreting the Pope. More popish than the pope eh? Does PNoy agree with your choice of words? Methinks Carandang wants to be more presidential than the president. This is a simple case of a super-lightweight in theology trying to interpret a super-heavyweight's statements on morality, and FAILS...miserably.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Liberals pounce on "first step", trips and falls flat

Vatican Clarification on AIDS and Condoms

The Holy See Press Office has issued a clarification on the Pope’s comments on condoms and AIDS, according to Vatican Radio:

The head of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has issued a statement clarifying passages of the book Light of the World, in which Pope Benedict discusses AIDS and condom use.

The statement says Pope Benedict states that AIDs cannot be solved only by the distribution of condoms, and, in fact, concentrating on condoms just trivializes sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love and becomes like a drug.

At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”, rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others.

Father Lombardi’s statement clarifies Pope Benedict XVI has not reformed or changed the Church’s teaching, but by putting it in perspective reaffirms the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility.

In other words, the Pope, when talking about the "first step", is talking about the first step to conversion. To state the obvious, any stairway has more than one step.

Janet Smith explains basically what the Pope is saying, and the extent of what he is saying (h/t Jimmy Akin):

If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.

Funny. Those people who never bother read and understand the Pope's voluminous encyclicals and other official Magisterial acts now give a lot of weight
and attention (and their own twisted interpretations) to tiny tidbits of what the Pope said in a non-Magisterial interview.
(excerpt of Pope's interview here)