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If you don’t have anything nice to say…

by Archives March 24, 2009

While most of us have gotten used to the often out-dated pronouncements of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict’s recent comments on condom use could incite rage in even the calmest among us.
Publicly addressing the issue of condoms in the fight against AIDS for the first time, Benedict was quoted as saying, “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms.” The Pope, who was en route to Cameroon at the time, even went so far as to suggest condoms exacerbate the issue. “On the contrary,” he divined, “it increases the problem.”
According to UNAIDS, around 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV. A study by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded condoms can reduce the transmission of the AIDS virus by 80 per cent. Furthermore, UNAIDS credits condoms with being “the single most effective, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV.” These statistics leave one wondering where the Pope is getting his information.
Aside from the outright ignorance of the Pope’s comments, what is perhaps most troubling about his remarks is that they will be taken seriously in Africa’s bourgeoning Catholic community.
According to the Vatican, in 2006 Catholics made up 17 per cent of the African population and Rebecca Hodes of the Treatment Action Campaign suggests the Pope has “about a billion followers worldwide.” The church’s solution to the problem -abstinence without marriage – is a nice idea, but it’s hardly reasonable. Lest we forget that most practising Catholics do indeed indulge in carnal acts from time to time.
Even priests and nuns living and working with the affected are questioning Benedict’s shocking claim. This could be due to a rational self-awareness present in the lower ranks of the Church, but apparently not possessed by the Pope, or simply the reaction of the people actually living and working around the victims.
In any case, these clergy members’ dissonance indicates that they value the lives of Africans over the ordinances of their religion. The Pope needs to realize that when dealing with life and death, dogma must always come second.
It is infuriatingly frustrating that the Catholic Church refuses to acknowledge and validate the vital role that condom distribution plays in the fight against the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS. As a man with so much sway over so many, the Pope has a responsibility to protect and look after his followers.
His blatant denial of the facts and moreover his completely fictitious comments are proof enough that he has no allegiance to those who so trust him so fiercely and look to him for guidance. It’s time that the Catholic Church adapts to the 21st century, as it is painstakingly clear that their current tactic isn’t working.
One of the Pope’s more prolific and less asinine quotes was, “a Christian can never remain silent.”
In this case I wish he had.

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