Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pope vs. Condoms in Africa

As happens every time I can remember, the media has once again sided against the Catholic Church. Now, as the Pope visits Africa, they are attacking his stance on condom use in the fight against AIDS/HIV.

Here's a portion of the story I saw on PBS:

Pope Claims Condoms Worsen AIDS Crisis

The interviewer's slant isn't that strong in this particular segment. The part this page doesn't show is that much more time was spent hearing from some restaurant that distributes condoms in another African country.

The first comment on the story read in part:
"As leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope has a moral duty and obligation to ensure followers are educated and lives are saved from HIV infections and AIDS deaths! Around the world, condoms are seen as a necessary requirement for engaging in sexual activity. Promoting condom use has not and does not promote promiscuity... The Catholic Church is promoting practices of abstinence and fidelity, which are widely known to have a high failure rate and allow more HIV infections!"
-Bradford McIntyre
My response follows:

The Pope has a moral duty to do what he is doing. He is teaching the consistent teaching of the Church. It has taught this for nearly 2000 years.

It is certainly a hard teaching to understand, and a hard one to follow, but that does not make it a false teaching.

People should not be so quick to judge the very institution that has passed on the fundamental idea, taught by Jesus Christ, that every human life has value. Without this idea, which has been implanted in the heart of Western society by its Christian past, we would not care at all about the fate of the Africans.

But, sadly, we have rejected so many other teachings of Jesus, and only the Pope continues to teach them clearly.

The Pope certainly would not deny that condoms can prevent AIDS infections. The problem is that they often fail, and they also contribute to a general promiscuous culture which really only makes the problem worse in the long term.

They are certainly not the only factor, and may not even be the primary factor, which is why abstinence education can not stand on its own. It needs to be a part of a far more comprehensive solution.

The other commenter was right, to an extent, that condoms themselves don't cause promiscuity, but he is wrong in thinking that they do not contribute to promiscuity. They are just one of many contributing factors, and we need to address them all to see real success, but success can not be found by abandoning our morals.

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