While medical workers advocate the use of condoms to help prevent the spread of AIDS, the Church insists on fidelity within heterosexual marriage, chastity and abstinence.
“The problem cannot be overcome by distributing condoms. It only increases the problem,” the pontiff told reporters on board the plane headed for Africa.
While in Cameroon, he will visit charities, meet Muslim leaders and attend a gathering of bishops trying to chart the Church’s role in bettering Africans’ lives.
If Mr. Ratzinger really wants to help better African lives, he could start by encouraging people to use condoms when they have sex with people who have had multiple partners, or if they themselves have multiple partners.
The suggestions of fidelity within marriage, chastity and abstinence without, are perfectly fine, and if people were entirely different than they are, I’m sure that we could leave it at that. But people have sex outside of marriage. Priests have sex outside of marriage. Popes have sex outside of marriage! There is at least one pope who was the illegitimate son of another pope, so we know that these things happen.
And it isn’t the end of the world.
On the other hand, the raging AIDS pandemic is very, very bad. Truckers get HIV while traveling, and spread it all along their routes. Prostitutes and their wives get infected, and they pass it on to other people, including their children. Then the mothers develop AIDS, and pretty soon their HIV+ children are orphans. Anything that reduces the number of AIDS orphans is a good thing. Anything that increases their ranks is a bad thing. And by “a bad thing,” I mean a deeply immoral thing, a sin on a par with any other form of mass murder.
The Catholic Church’s aversion to condoms never made sense, and in the face of the catastrophe surrounding AIDS, there’s no excuse to perpetuate and deepen that aversion. Condoms save lives, and the Catholic Church is complicit in that plague’s ongoing decimation of Africa.