Michael Cook at TechCentralStation answers charges about Pope John Paul II being responsible for AIDS deaths in Africa.
But there is something absurdly medieval about making the Pope a scapegoat, as if the clouds would break and the sun shine if we thrust enough pins through a JP2 voodoo doll. Pinning such blame for the tragedy of African AIDS on one man is one of those ideas that is, in the words of George Orwell, "so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them."
Two doubtful ideas run through all these criticisms. The first is basically this: African Catholics are so devout that if they have sex outside of marriage, dally with prostitutes or take a third wife, they will piously refrain from using condoms because the Great White Father told them not to. Ms. Toynbee darkly invokes "the Vatican’s deeper power… its personal authority over 1.3 billion worshippers, which is strongest over the poorest, most helpless devotees."
But she can’t have it both ways: these benighted dark-skinned Catholics can’t be both too goody-two-shoes to use condoms and too wicked to resist temptation. Journalist Brendan O’Neill — who describes himself as an ex-Catholic who has jettisoned Catholic teaching on sexual morality — sums up this patronising argument in the on-line journal Spiked: "The only reason you could believe the fantastically simplistic idea that Vatican edict = AIDS in Africa is if you consider Africans to be little more than automatons… who do as they are told" (8).
Superimposing maps of prevalence of AIDS on prevalence of Catholicism is enough to sink the link between the Catholic Church and AIDS. In the hospice which is Swaziland nowadays, only about 5 per cent of the population is Catholic. In Botswana, where 37 per cent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 per cent of the population is Catholic. In South Africa, 22 per cent of the population is HIV infected, and only 6 per cent is Catholic. But in Uganda, with 43 per cent of the population Catholic, the proportion of HIV infected adults is 4 per cent (9).
In fact, without the Catholic Church the situation might be much worse. The AIDS disaster in Africa weighed heavily on the Pope. Ten years ago he appealed to "the world’s scientists and political leaders, moved by the love and respect due to every human person, to use every means available in order to put an end to this scourge" (10). And Catholics have responded. [Source]
The whole article is also pretty good and even though it isn’t written from a specifically Catholic prospective the author noted "These statistics suggest that the true story may be quite the opposite to the tune sung by the media: that Catholic observance may, in fact, be the best prophylactic."