Via ObWi, we learn that the Pope took time out of his busy schedule to extend the AIDS crisis in Africa:

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Doug
    March 18, 2009

    The good ol’ Pope, continuing the tradition of using ignorance to slaughter millions. I wonder if priests use condoms when they molest altar boys? Or would that be considered a sin?

  2. #2 claude lambert
    March 18, 2009

    I have seen that for fifty years now: there is in the church a total lack of social conscience. It is true for condoms, it is also true for birth control. In the meantime, science is still the enemy (Ah, if Galileo had been a better scientist, the Church would have acted differently) is the last avatar of a very long story. And the way the church treats women (the source of all sins) is totally unacceptable. This all shows that with a good mix of threats and pompous ceremonies, you can do just about anything immoral,unethical and irresponsible for thousand of years.

  3. #3 Physicalist
    March 18, 2009

    “Prostitutes and their wives get infected…”

    Are we talking male prostitutes here? Just not the situation I would have guessed . . .

  4. #4 MOHAMED ISMAIL
    March 19, 2009

    SIR,AS THE POPE WHAT GOOD ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR MUSLIM WORLD?THERE IS NO PEACE AND HARMONY.

  5. #5 turkeyfish
    March 23, 2009

    The pope’s position on condom use is a clarion call to all Catholics to pray for his soul. No one, who actually believes in the teachings of Christ can advocate a policy so indifferent to the deaths of millions to be caused by such a wanton act of ignorance and still expect salvation.

    The pope has abandoned the teachings of Jesus probably because he sees them a threat to the business model of the church. To advocate that we should stand by and watch millions die simply to sustain ignorance is fundamentally anti-Christian and too much to ask of true Christians.

    Let us all pray for his soul.

  6. #6 anomalous
    March 23, 2009

    So, married heterosex is death.
    Birth control is life.

    Did I get that right?

  7. #7 Prometheus
    March 23, 2009

    “No one, who actually believes in the teachings of Christ can advocate a policy so indifferent to the deaths of millions to be caused by such a wanton act of ignorance and still expect salvation.”

    Keep telling yourself that.

    Say it really loud with your fingers in your ears and your eyes scrunched shut.

  8. #8 anomalous
    March 23, 2009

    If we scream loud enough, does that make it true?

  9. #9 Dreck
    March 25, 2009

    An op-ed in today’s Irish Times may offer the usual apologism for a particular brand of dogma, but it is also ostensibly supported by hard “facts”: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0325/1224243368629.html

    Twomey claims that “studies…have shown a consistent association between greater availability and use of condoms and higher HIV infection rates.”

    I’m not familiar with the research he’s quoting, and its conclusion seems counter-intuitive, but do you know if these “facts” actually do stand up, or can it be demonstrated that he’s misquoting/manipulating the study, or if the study itself is flawed, or if any evidence can be offered to the contrary?

    I’ve heard, and made, arguments against the Pope’s condom claims, but it would be nice if I could back this up with solid statistical evidence – which Twomey claims to have on his side.

  10. #10 Mike
    March 29, 2009

    Today in the Washington Post, Edward Green says that the Pope made evidence based statements about HIV and condoms in Africa. And that everyone who criticized the Pope was waging war on science in order to get in political/religious pot shots.

    What is your take on this article?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html

    “In 2003, Norman Hearst and Sanny Chen of the University of California conducted a condom effectiveness study for the United Nations’ AIDS program and found no evidence of condoms working as a primary in HIV-prevention measure in Africa. UNAIDS quietly disowned the study. (The authors eventually managed to publish their findings in the quarterly Studies in Family Planning.) Since then, major articles in other peer-reviewed journals such as the Lancet, Science and BMJ have confirmed that condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa. In a 2008 article in Science called “Reassessing HIV Prevention” 10 AIDS experts concluded that “consistent condom use has not reached a sufficiently high level, even after many years of widespread and often aggressive promotion, to produce a measurable slowing of new infections in the generalized epidemics of Sub-Saharan Africa.” “

  11. #11 Josh Rosenau
    March 30, 2009

    From that article:

    In a 2008 article in Science called “Reassessing HIV Prevention” 10 AIDS experts concluded that “consistent condom use has not reached a sufficiently high level, even after many years of widespread and often aggressive promotion, to produce a measurable slowing of new infections in the generalized epidemics of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

    So his most recent article supposedly backing the Pope actually says that we need more condom distribution, not less. Furthermore, the Ugandan program he mentions is called ABC: Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms. In other words condoms don’t make things worse. His only argument in favor of the claim that they do is “risk compensation,” and he offers no evidence that it actually operates in Africa.

    The problem, your favored author and the researchers he relies on agree, is that not enough people use condoms. Will having the Pope come out against condom usage improve or hinder more widespread adoption of safer sex practices? He observes that “people seldom use condoms in steady relationships because doing so would imply a lack of trust.” But that’s less true in the US than it is in Africa. Removing the cultural stigma from condoms would boost condom use in exactly those circumstances where it is needed.

  12. #12 Nathan
    April 2, 2009

    Look at his comments from an unbiased perspective.

    If, like he said, every body in Africa never had sex again outside of marriage the numbers of people with HIV/AIDS would decrease significantly. However this will not happen over night and while it if fine for him to believe it i think considering the amount of people in Africa dying from aids (900-1000) people a day and rising it is necessary to look at what we can do NOW and not in the future.

    Also to everybody slatting what they call ‘The Church’ please be careful. I am religious and go to church every week. His views do not represent ‘The church’. They represent his church, not the one i attend and many others. Please recognise the difference.

    To the author:

    ‘the Catholic Church is complicit in that plague’s ongoing decimation of Africa.’

    Im sorry but are you an idiot?! Pope goes to africa, brings AIDS back to to the front of the papers. Causes discussions like this which raise awareness 10 fold. Which is a problem especially in america where ‘Overseas Ignorance,’ is a epidemic and promoted by the media. Coverage over things like the Israel – gaza war are considered unimportant.

    This man has at least addressed the issue. Simply because you don’t agree with his thoughts do not brand the man a murderer, bringing about the decimation of Africa. Are you kidding me. I dont agree with his views, condoms are great, dont see why people say since sliced bread when since condoms makes so much more sense. Something makes me think your looking for a way to slate him no matter what he says.

    Action, even in ignorance is better than the back seat approach the majority of leaders have taken. Imagine if it was losing that many people everyday? Not to mention the fact that AIDS isn’t the biggest killer in africa.

    Nathan from the UK