More Uproar Over Pope’s Condom Comment


After a deluge of uproar over the Pope’s comments about condoms and HIV/AIDS in Africa (that the disease “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it”), wowOwow reports that the medical journal The Lancet ran an editorial accusing the Pope of distorting the scientific evidence to fit Catholic ideology (you need to register to view the article).

They also call for the Pope to retract his comments:

 

Whether the Pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican’s attempts to tweak the Pope’s words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

 


wowOwow calls the backlash the “the dump-on-the-pope bandwagon,” and although it’s a disturbing turn of phrase, we’ve certainly done our part explaining why the Pope is wrong. The backlash now includes a Facebook group where users have pledged to send the Pope condoms in protest of his comments. At the moment of publication, one group calling itself “Let’s send a Condom to Pope Ratzinger!” has over 30,000 members.

The Pope’s comments were irresponsible and wrong; it only makes sense for people to expect him to make a retraction.

 

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  • emma

    It’s kind of depressing to see someone lose all decency and humanity (if Ratzy had any of either in the first place) to adherence to dogma and bad theology. It is hard to believe how much damage a single professional virgin can cause to so many people. It’s almost like he’s trying to drive the Catholic Church into crazed irrelevance.

  • invalid-0
  • invalid-0

    You could have just posted the link directly:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=15445

    So you have a Harvard fellow saying that condoms are not the be-all end-all of AIDS prevention. This is news? Mainstream AIDS efforts know that condoms are only a palliative, and that short of a feasible medical cure, social conventions will have to change in order to address the problem. That’s why there’s a lot of focus on women’s empowerment (in the long run), as well as marriage fidelity (shorter-term).

    Of course, the Catholic Church would twist this fellow’s words to say condoms are unilaterally BAD—because the Church would rather see people die of AIDS, than live with sin and a rubber. And that’s what the Lancet editorial was getting at.

  • invalid-0

    I completely agree that social conventions will have to change. Well said. It’s a cultural shift that takes time. Our country is going through one now as well with the dignity of life issues.

    Michael Czerny, S.J., the Director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network :

    Regarding individual acts: according to prevention experts, a condom, when it is correctly used, can reduce the risk of HIV-infection during an act of intercourse, and individuals who use condoms consistently are less likely to give or get HIV. When a man and woman have sex before, within or outside marriage, public health is unconcerned with the morality of what they do in the privacy of the bedroom. Culturally and legally, in Europe and North America, there is considerable acceptance for sexual behaviour as long as it is consensual, that is, provided the two individuals both agree. In this context, the condom seems common sense. Western opinion makers and media really want the Church to approve of extramarital sex, which is against the religious faith and traditional cultural values shared by millions throughout the world.

    The Church understands sexual intercourse as part of a moral vision, permitting intercourse only within a married couple and excluding artificial means of contraception. Doing something wrong might be safer with a condom but safety doesn’t make the act right. The Church cannot encourage ‘safer’ without suggesting that it is somehow right. To say, ‘Do not commit adultery but, if you do, use a condom’ is tantamount to saying: ‘The Church has no confidence in you to live the good life.’

    A man and woman, not married to each other, who have consensual intercourse are disregarding the Church’s teaching. They hardly need the Pope to tell them to use a condom. What they badly do need is for the Church to help them live a respectful and responsible sexuality. ‘Abstinence and fidelity are not only the best way to avoid becoming infected by HIV or infecting others, but even more are they the best way of ensuring progress towards lifelong happiness and true fulfilment.’

    I’m not seeing any twisting of words. And I’m also not seeing that the Church wants anyone to die of AIDS. They want the root of the problem to be addressed and that’s why there are thousands of missionaries over in Africa (have you been there to administer to these people with AIDS?) helping these people everyday. It’s not just lip service.

    As you said, it’s a change that needs to happen within the culture but you can hardly expect the Pope to stand down on the faith and moral values that it has taught since the beginning now and pick them up later when we’ve come closer to the ideal? It’s critical thinking, my friend.

    Thanks for the great discussion!

  • invalid-0

    Western opinion makers and media really want the Church to approve of extramarital sex

    Excuse me? Where is anyone calling for the Church to approve of cheating? There’s no shortage of disapproval of that in secular culture already!

    Doing something wrong might be safer with a condom but safety doesn’t make the act right.

    True—but safety makes the act less likely to result in HIV infection, which is what health advocates are worried about. Are you going to tell me that, if a person engages in a sinful act, it is better for that person to be infected with an incurable disease?

    The Church cannot encourage ‘safer’ without suggesting that it is somehow right. To say, ‘Do not commit adultery but, if you do, use a condom’ is tantamount to saying: ‘The Church has no confidence in you to live the good life.’

    Is the Church not capable of saying, “If you have sex, use a condom?” Lots of infections occur between married couples, you know.

    And I’m also not seeing that the Church wants anyone to die of AIDS.

    That’s because you do not grasp how the pronouncements of a popular religious leader can affect public health efforts and private behavior. It’s nothing so simple as the Church “wanting” to kill people with AIDS, so much as articulating dogma that is divorced from reality and makes the situation worse. It’s their prerogative to say whatever they want, but with the cultural power and sway that they hold, this dogma will result in more deaths. And their unwillingness to self-examine on this is just one step removed from making those deaths intentional.

  • emma

    I just spoke to a Catholic guy I know yesterday who helps fund a charity that works (amongst other things) to reduce HIV rates in South Africa. They promote condom use, and, being a doctor and a compassionate person with common sense, my friend agrees with this strategy. He also mentioned to me that most of the people who attend his church can’t stand the current pope. I’m actually yet to meet a Catholic who *does* approve of Ratzy. It’s just a pity that he has so much influence, because his statements about condoms are really going to help worsen the HIV epidemic. It’s all very well to say to people ‘don’t have sex!’, but it’s just not going to work; people will always have sex. The vast, vast majority of adults in the world have or have had sex. It’s normal.

    There’s something really revolting about a guy who lives in a palace and heads an institution with as much wealth as the Catholic church instructing poverty stricken people living in the midst of an epidemic on their reproductive health. The guy is so sheltered that he just has no idea.

  • invalid-0

    —Excuse me? Where is anyone calling for the Church to approve of cheating? There’s no shortage of disapproval of that in secular culture already!—

    Ummm…extramarital sex means any sex between persons who are not married to each other, not just between 2 married persons having sex outside of their marriage.

    –True but safety makes the act less likely to result in HIV infection, which is what health advocates are worried about. Are you going to tell me that, if a person engages in a sinful act, it is better for that person to be infected with an incurable disease?–

    Nope. But I am going to tell you that it’s better for the person not to engage in the sinful act to begin with. Are you going to tell me that if you choose to engage in a sinful act it means I want you to die? Not so. Again, I, along with other Catholics, the Holy Father included, want people to be able to avoid this disease with a manner that really works. Monogomy and/or abstainence.

    Dr. Green’s (Harvard AIDS prevention expert)assertion coincides with the position of on-the-ground AIDS activists in Africa who have attempted to stem the flood of condoms into their countries, saying that it is sexual promiscuity that has increased AIDS in their countries. 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 … Meanwhile, effective HIV prevention methods, such as urging Africans to stick to one partner, don’t qualify for lucrative universal-access status.”

    The Lancet’s editorial is the latest in with what one British commentator called the “hysterical” reaction of much of the world’s secular media to nearly everything the pope says, no matter how innocent.

    Kevin Myers, writing for the Belfast Telegraph, wrote, “Who would be Pope Benedict? The poor German has merely to say ‘good morning’, and the liberal tabloids are shrieking: ‘Thousands dead in Sudan; famine across the world; ecological disaster everywhere – and Hitler Youth Pontiff thinks it’s A GOOD MORNING!’”

    He continued, “What is it about sex which so diminishes rational thought?”

    “Look. It’s simple,” Myers writes. “As part of an anti-Aids programme, condoms are unnecessary within a sexually continent people – Loreto nuns, say, or married couples who don’t stray from the marital bed.

    “But condoms will not prevent the spread of Aids amongst a general population of sexually promiscuous individuals. Even if used conscientiously (which never happens in public health programmes) the best condoms in the world have a failure rate of around 5per cent.”

    The result of this is the hard calculation, he says, that “actuarially”, in every group of 20,000 people using condoms, at least 1,000 will fail.

    “In time, a very large number of the condom-using group will become infected by Aids. This is not a probability: it is an epidemiological certainty.”

  • invalid-0

    Ummm…extramarital sex means any sex between persons who are not married to each other, not just between 2 married persons having sex outside of their marriage.

    Great. So you have a Church that is incapable of being pragmatic even when people’s lives depend on it.

    Nope. But I am going to tell you that it’s better for the person not to engage in the sinful act to begin with. Are you going to tell me that if you choose to engage in a sinful act it means I want you to die? Not so. Again, I, along with other Catholics, the Holy Father included, want people to be able to avoid this disease with a manner that really works. Monogomy and/or abstainence.

    • Let’s remove seat belts from cars, then. They only encourage reckless driving. The real solution to highway deaths is for people to drive carefully.
    • Let’s remove locks from people’s doors, then. They only engender mistrust. The real solution to burglaries is for people to respect each other’s property.
    • Let’s remove guard rails from balconies, then. They only tempt people to get too close to the edge. The real solution to preventing falls is for people to learn a good sense of balance and overcome vertigo.

    Those propositions all make as much sense as yours. You’d rather say “Everyone should do X, and the problem will go away,” and tacitly condemn to death those who don’t do X, instead of saying “Everyone should do X, but if you don’t do X, do Y,” even when the Y part is distasteful to your religious beliefs. You, and the Pope, place more value on the purity of your dogma than the human lives that will die because of it. God forbid anything in this world should lead you to reexamine your beliefs.

  • invalid-0

    —God forbid anything in this world should lead you to reexamine your beliefs.—

    I would like to say the same thing to you, my friend. I don’t condone changing my moral behavior based on the changing winds of the popular culture. Challenge yourself a little. You may surprise yourself. I know you want to write me off as a living-in-a-bubble-fanatic-weird-o. Not sure how old you are or how many children you have but consider your statement above in say 10 years. I will do the same. In the meantime, I would like for the people in Africa to have a fighting chance at actually changing their behavior/situation so AIDS is not an epidemic anymore. Not just a band-aid but an actual solution that engenders positive cultural change. The means to the end do matter. And your “means/ends” are not working thus far. Condoms are not the answer. Re-read what the Pope Benedict actually said. For the record, I don’t think seatbelts, guardrails, or locks on my doors are sinful. I’m a huge fan of my life. Would like to keep it as safe as possible. Comparison there is weak as I’m sure you realize. I’m also not suggesting that we “go in” to Africa, scoop up all the condoms, sticking out our tongues saying “neener neener neener, these aren’t working, save your mortal soul” and getting out of dodge. There is actual work being done, by real people, educating these amazing people.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t condone changing my moral behavior based on the changing winds of the popular culture.

    In other words, your beliefs are divorced from reality.

    Not sure how old you are or how many children you have but consider your statement above in say 10 years.

    Do you believe that in ten years, I won’t think it immoral and hypocritical to let people die for the sake of religious dogma?

    In the meantime, I would like for the people in Africa to have a fighting chance at actually changing their behavior/situation so AIDS is not an epidemic anymore. Not just a band-aid but an actual solution that engenders positive cultural change.

    And anyone who isn’t on board with your “positive cultural change” can simply f*** off and die (of AIDS).

    For the record, I don’t think seatbelts, guardrails, or locks on my doors are sinful. I’m a huge fan of my life. Would like to keep it as safe as possible.

    How fortunate for you that you are not subject to a religion that objects to these safety measures.

  • invalid-0

    Well said, KFC. I wish more people were as well informed. “Anonymous”, I do hope you actually read what the Pope said. It’s easy to form an opinion based on the hearsay of others…an entirely different matter when you go directly to the source. I hope then you will understand.

    So if, as you said, “condoms are only palliative”, and if as Dr. Green asserts, condoms may “be exacerbating the problem”….then why such vitriol towards the Pontiff(and KFK) when he may, just may be right…and has a genuine love/concern for the people of Africa?

    His pockets stand to gain nothing by his stance. The condom manufacturers do stand to profit at the expense of innocent lives. Do you think he actually thought his statement would be well received-that it wouldn’t receive an immediate maelstrom of criticism? Yet, he said it. That takes, not only courage, but selflessness. In light of a world that only stands for what is popular, what will be well received, I respect what he said far more than those who have not dared to read even one of his encyclicals before forming an opinion of him and of the Catholic Church.

  • invalid-0

    In my experience, most people are not really truth-seekers as much as they are self-justifiers. My overall feeling from those who post on this website is that they are not truthfully addressing the one and only issue involved here, but rather are trying to justify their own propensity to want to indulge unrestrictedly in sexual activity. The one and only issue involved here – completely missed by everyone – is this and only this: “what is the purpose of sexuality?” And it astounds me that very few seem to know the answer to that question. Most people – most notably those on this website – have the wrong answer. They reduce it solely to a game or a toy or a way to pass the afternoon or evening. Even the pre-Christian pagan philosophers understood that true happiness results only from a certain amount of self-restraint and acting in accordance with the nature of the human being. It is impossible to explore the concept of truth to those who simply don’t care about the concept. Lack of intellectual integrity solves nothing. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.

    The overall feeling I get from not only everyone on this website but in Western Civilization in general is that religion is nothing but a bunch of old fogies who are nay-sayers and nothing else. There seems to be no honest reflection or intellectual inquiry as to the historical basis of the Christian faith, the validity of its claims, or the consequent claims of religious authority. Again, that’s nothing short of deliberate historical and theological blindness.

  • invalid-0

    I personally have been celebit by choice for 12 years. I believe in Jesus not religion. Religion is created by humans and I don’t listen to humans I answer to a higher authority when it comes to serious issues.
    I am however very pro-choice. I believe no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her own body. It is way to much interferrence.
    Most of the people here who comment are trying to protect what few rights we as woman have. If one goes so do the others. Look at what W.Bush did to us! If he had been in office much longer we may have lost our rights to vote!
    Sorry, to long a fight to lose any rights. It really has nothing to do with wanting to abort anything. It has to do with freedom. Something pro-lifers do not get.

  • http://sosnika.com invalid-0

    Very useful website, wants to see much more on it! Go on!