Here is an article that nicely summarizes responses–both negative and positive–to Pope Benedict’s recent statement that condoms will not combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and in fact could exacerbate it (with my emphases and comments):
By Hilary White
ROME, March 19, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two days after Pope Benedict XVI warned that more condoms would facilitate the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the world’s condom-promoters and their political allies are leading an all-out attack on the pope and on the Catholic Church. However, at the same time, Catholic and other conservative leaders are defending the pope, pointing out that not only is science on his side, but also that in his remarks the pope was showing a welcome deference to the pro-family culture of Africa, which is opposed to the population control agenda promoted in the continent by many Western “aid” agencies.
The day after the Pope made his comments, the heavily anti-Catholic government of Spain announced it would be sending over a million condoms to African countries. The Spanish health ministry said in a statement Wednesday, “Condoms have been demonstrated to be a necessary element in prevention policies and an efficient barrier against the virus.”
The French foreign ministry called the comments a “threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life,” while the Dutch development minister said it was “extremely harmful” and that “the pope is making matters worse.” Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, interviewed Wednesday by France Culture, said, “This pope is becoming a real problem.” [As a Catholic, I consider that a good sign.]
“To go say in Africa that condoms increase the danger of AIDS is, first of all an untruth and it is unacceptable for the African people and for everyone else,” Juppé said.
Aurelio Mancuso of the Italian group Arcigay said, “While across the world and especially in Africa thousands are dying of Aids, Ratzinger [Benedict] can think of nothing better to say than repeat the Vatican’s position on condoms. [The way this is said makes the pope sound like a brainless idiot who does nothing but parrot sayings. Give me a break--we're talking about one of the most brilliant, articulate, and eloquent people on earth! But as for the position he holds and supports--what on earth do they expect from the pope?]
“We are now beyond the paradox, this view simply contributes to the spread of the disease and especially in Africa where there are not enough medical resources to treat patients.”
The Telegraph also quoted Lisa Power of Britain’s homosexualist activist group, the Terrence Higgins Trust, who said, “We deeply regret the continued misinformation around condoms, which remain the most effective way of preventing the spread of HIV.
“Both abstinence and condoms are valid weapons in the fight against HIV, but unfortunately abstinence has a far higher failure rate.”
Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, told the Guardian that the Pope’s “opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.” [Or could it be that religious dogma is important because it saves and improves the lives of human beings? But only a stupid, unenlightened Catholic could believe that.]
However, while Pope Benedict in his remarks was merely reiterating Catholic teaching, backed up by research showing that the failure rate of condoms and the promiscuity they encourage significantly contribute to the spread of AIDS, defenders of the pope have observed that the Holy Father’s remarks had a further inspiration, beyond the science of the matter. [Given what a thorough thinker Pope Benedict is, I'm sure this is true.]
Franciscan Father Maurizio Faggioni has suggested that the pope was in part responding to a grave cultural threat to Africa posed by the condom philosophy and the international population control movement that promotes it. Faggioni, who has advised the Vatican on sexual morality issues, told Catholic News Service that the pope sees condom campaigns as a question of “cultural violence,” especially in Africa, where there has never been a “contraceptive mentality.” [The contraceptive movement is just the latest form of Western imperialism. I'm sure that this is something the Holy Father has in mind.]
This opinion is supported by local African AIDS activists who regularly complain that AIDS sufferers in their countries are being used in a massive international campaign both to reduce African populations and undermine traditional African family values. ["Being used" is the operative phrase here. Whenever human beings are used as means to an end, when human beings are treated like objects, we're talking grave, intrinsic evil. The fact that these particular human beings are already gravely ill and suffering just makes it more monstrous.]
Martin Ssempa, a key player in Uganda’s highly successful abstinence and faithfulness anti-AIDS programmes, [Hello! This can't be ignored!] told LifeSiteNews.com that the hostility towards the Catholic Church of the international AIDS organisations is matched only by their hatred of traditional Christian sexual morality. [Their alleged concern for AIDS and AIDS patients is their means of trying to bring down the entire body of Christian sexual morality. By pressuring the Church to give up its stance on condoms, they expect that they can get the Church to give up its stance on everything else as well. And they'd probably be right--but they aren't going to succeed.]
Ssempa, a Protestant minister, said in October 2007, during a previous media-sponsored wave of furor over the Catholic Church’s opposition to condoms, “Condoms have not reduced HIV-AIDS anywhere in the world … Higher condoms [rates] across Africa have resulted in higher HIV.”
Condom promoting international organisations such as UNAIDS, he said, are “demonizing the Catholic Church unfairly.” [Again, I take that as a good sign. If the Church were no longer demonized unfairly, I think we'd need to seriously examine ourselves.]
“In fact,” he said, “in countries where the Catholic Church is strong, there is lower HIV than places where the Catholic Church is not.”
In 2008, Sam L. Ruteikara, the co-chair of Uganda’s AIDS-prevention Committee wrote in the Washington Post that in the fight against AIDS, “profiteering has trumped prevention.”
“AIDS is no longer simply a disease,” he said, “it has become a multibillion-dollar industry … [And of course, those who cash in on it aren't really interested in destroying it.] Meanwhile, effective HIV prevention methods, such as urging Africans to stick to one partner, don’t qualify for lucrative universal-access status.”
Rutkara said, “Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored. [Because the West knows best, dontcha know?!] Telling men and women to keep sex sacred – to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful – is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love.”
In a meeting with the press on board the plane taking him to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, on Tuesday, the pope set off a firestorm after responding to the assertion that the Catholic Church’s position on combating AIDS is considered “unrealistic and ineffective.”
“I would say the opposite,” Benedict said. [I love how he begins his response this way! It is bold in its contradiction. As I've said before, the Holy Father has an exquisite manner of calmness, gentleness, and charity--but he's no push-over. He doesn't hesitate to draw sharp lines when it comes to ideas and beliefs and what's wrong and what's right. God bless him for it!] “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 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,” he said.
“One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.”
Benedict said that combating the spread of AIDS requires “first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another. [Sexuality must involve relating with another human being--not using them.] Second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering.” [True compassion--something the secular world just doesn't understand any more. " 'Make personal sacrifices'? Sounds hard and painful--why on earth would we do that?"]
I definitely understand why his statements are making some people angry. But I love that he’s willing to say things that make people angry. If the pope can’t or won’t do so, then what hope is there for the rest of the Catholic world? I’m so grateful that we have a Holy Father who is able to lead by example and inspire courage and reassurance in his flock. May God bless him with continued long life!
And just in case we need further evidence that the pope was right in his statement, here’s another article to look at: Harvard AIDS Expert Says Pope is Correct on Condom Distribution Making AIDS Worse