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March 19, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI speaking out against condom use!

Since the death of Pope John Paul II and the succession of Pope Benedict XVI, it seems the Catholic Church, and the Vatican in particular, has been in the news frequently, and not in a good way. Lately we’ve been hearing about Pope Benedict XVI lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying Bishop, which has set off a torrent of hate and anger from the Jewish community around the world and, let’s face it, anyone else in the world with even half a brain. Barely recovered from this gaffe, Pope Benedict XVI has once again opened his mouth, only to insert his foot and insult the intelligence (and general common sense?) of people all over the globe.

His latest problem? Speaking out against condom use, with particular reference to AIDS-ravaged areas of Africa. According to the story first released on, “About 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In 2007, three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide were there, as well as two-thirds of all people living with HIV.” This is NOT a minor blip on the radar of health issues around the world; this is a full-blown epidemic, where children are burying their parents while suffering from the disease themselves. It as the point where condoms are very likely the only thing that will effectively reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, and yet the Vatican still puts Dogma above human life.

Here is the issue as I, an admitted non-Catholic, have come to understand it: The Catholic Church adamantly insists its followers abstain from pre-marital sex and sex outside the marriage, and also abstain from using any form of contraception, including condoms. The purpose of this, as it has been explained to me, is to keep sexual intercourse for the purpose of procreation only; that is, sex is not for pleasure or intimacy in the marriage, but for the purpose of expanding one’s family. Realistic? Not particularly. I know plenty of Catholics who had pre-marital sex and use birth control; there’s the “perfect world” and the “actual world;” does the Vatican know the difference?

With respect to the Catholic Church’s position on HIV/AIDS and condoms in Africa, it appears that they are still insisting that their Dogma is what will be the saving grace, not something like condoms; after all, people shouldn’t be having sex if not trying to get pregnant, right? Regardless of the fact 22 million people are infected with HIV, regardless of the fact that children are too ill to go to school, regardless of the fact that condoms are much more affordable in poverty-stricken Africa than the expensive anti-retroviral medications; regardless of all this, the Church remains staunch in its abstainence-only programs. (Because that worked so well for Bristol Palin?)

While the Church does, of course, have the right to maintain its own agenda as in line with its own faith, when is it going to realize that it cannot do worldwide charitable works, if it is not going to look at the bigger picture? How can it stand by, while this disease ravages these people, and close its eyes to the obvious? How can the Church stay put, arms crossed and head in the sand, and maintain that condoms are not going to be a large part of a turnaround for Africa? How can the Church claim that, and still claim to be involved in Christian work, helping those who need it, regardless of their own faith?

Faith should no longer be the big issue anymore. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa is at such a point that the whole world needs to focus on what will actually WORK to help curb, and eventually eradicate, this nightmare. Who in Sub-Saharan Africa can afford anti-retroviral medications? Almost no one. (Read 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa for more about this problem) The Vatican can push its abstainance program all it wants, but it is unrealistic and not going to be nearly as helpful as actual, accurate, sexual health programs. Not all Africans suffering from HIV/AIDS are Catholics, but they do all need help. It’s time to put religious ideology aside for a minute, and focus on realistic ideas to help save a part of the world dessicated by illness and death.

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1 Comment(s)

  1. richard | Mar 20, 2009 | Reply

    1. (condoms) The Church IS, as you said, stating its teachings. Just because the secular world doesn’t agree is no concern for faithful Catholics. Our concern is those nominal Catholics who disagree and profess publicly that disagreement. Just as most organizations have policies and procedures, the Church has its also. Those nominal Catholics not satisfied may easily choose another denomination more in line with their mindset.
    2. (Williamson) Excommunication, in simplistic terms, is the same as me placing my disobedient child in the corner. Once the action has achieved its desired effect, the child is allowed out of the corner. The child’s opinion is not a determining factor as to whether or not to let him/her come out of the corner.
    3. The only problem I see with these various flaps is the secular and sometimes non-Catholic media either reacting without having done adequate research or with the explicit intent to cause an uproar because the Church is, at last, restating what it has stated for years. Many don’t agree. Too bad.
    3. The Church, throughout history, has lead the way in performing charitable works. To say that it is uncharitable with regard to HIV/Aids is incorrect. It cares for those afflicted yet condemns the manner in which it is acquired.

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