Pope and the condom controversy

It might be useful to begin by noting exactly what was the context and content of the exchange on the flight from Rome to Yaounde that has caused all this kuffuffle. The Pope was asked whether the Church’s approach to AIDS prevention – which focuses primarily on sexual responsibility and rejects condom campaigns – was unrealistic and ineffective, and the Pope responded in these words:
“I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant’Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS….and of all the Sisters at the service of the sick.
“I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money — which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn’t help.
“One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary they increase the problem.
“The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are the factors that help result in real and visible progress…..I think this is the proper response and the Church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this”. (As reported by CNS from Yaounde).
A correspondent from English-speaking Africa sent in a number of responses from CCIH (Christian Connections for International Health) which he says is a reliable source of HIV/AIDS information. It might also be noted, as was reported in a recent austraLasia (2376) that the Southern African Salesian ‘Love Matters’ programme is well respected, especially in Swaziland which has the world’s highest rate of HIV infection.
The reader will have no difficulty finding the negative reactions. What of positive reactions? Dr Edward (Ted) Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies, CCIH member and principal author of CCIH’s publication The ABC approach to preventing the sexual transmission of HIV: Common questions and answers, has this to say:
“The Pope is correct, or put in a better way, the best evidence we have supports the Pope’s comments. Condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population’, which of course is the level we care about, in the so-called generalized epidemics of Africa. There is in fact a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the US-funded ‘Democratic and Health Surveys’, between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk reduction technology.
“Certainly we have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working”.
It is interesting too, to note that in the British media, which has fairly roundly condemned the Papal comment (or better just the part that refers to condoms), The Telegraph reporter George Pitcher, has decided to ‘stick up for Benedict’ as he puts it:
“He declares that the Church’s historic teaching that chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it would prevent the spread of killer diseases such as AIDS. Whatever your views on the subject, that simple statement is undoubtedly true. And Benedict is in the truth business.
“But it is also a canon of what the Church teaches is God’s intention for his creation: it points to the Kingdom of God and what heaven hopes for us. These are divine standards that are indeed impossibly high for us to achieve in a broken and fallen world. But it is the Pope’s task to declare that they are there, and that we are in sin for falling short this side of eternity and forgiven in God’s grace. That is what the Church calls truth.
“To compromise that truth, infinitely beyond us in this world as it is, would be for it to cease to be the truth, so far as the Roman Catholic Church interprets it.
“Interestingly, many of the people who howl their protests at the Pope in response to his declaration of an immutable truth will also accuse the Anglican Church of a wishy-washy, anything-goes liberalism as it goes about its business of re-interpretive truth. We can’t win with the secularists and atheists.
“That’s bye the bye. None of us can deny that the Pope speaks the absolute truth in Africa, uncomfortable as it is”.
austraLasia #2381



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2 responses to “Pope and the condom controversy

  1. RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  2. Hello !! 😉
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter

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