VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI urged African bishops Friday to keep up their fight against AIDS, reiterating church teaching that abstinence is the only "fail-safe" way to prevent the spread of the virus.
Benedict met with the bishops from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho, all of whom were making a periodic visit to the Vatican.
"It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality, all of which contribute to a breakdown in sexual morality," Benedict said.
The pope said he shared the bishops’ concern about the devastation caused by AIDS and that he prayed for "all those whose lives have been shattered by this cruel epidemic."
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 60 percent of the 40 million people infected with HIV worldwide. In March, a U.N. study predicted that more than 80 million Africans may die from AIDS by 2025 and infections could soar to 90 million – or more than 10 percent of the continent’s population – if more is not done to expand prevention programs and offer better access to drugs that can control the virus.
South Africa has the highest number of HIV-infected people in the world, and an estimated 600-1,000 people die of AIDS there every day.
The Vatican’s opposition to condoms has been criticized by those who advocate condom use as a way to help combat the spread of the HIV virus. However, several prelates have suggested that using condoms that could prevent a death may be the lesser of evils.
The pope did not directly touch on that debate in his remarks.
He did say that "the Catholic Church has always been at the forefront both in prevention and in treatment of this illness" and that "the traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS." [Source]
I have never understood the lesser of two evils argument when it comes to condom use. If you are going to commit adultery, fornication anyway then go ahead an use a condom. Visiting prostitutes? Then use a condom. After all you are committing a mortal sin anyway so what is one more. This is like saying if you are going to rob a bank anyway please use a stun gun and say please on the note you give the cashier. This whole attitude places care of the physical body as a higher good then care of the soul. That it is better to commit a gravely sinful act to prevent damage to the body. This totally inverts Jesus’ question "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" Killing the soul is not a lesser evil then consequently killing the body.
This struck me the same way. The idea that people who are ignoring the Church teaching regarding sexual immorality will say: “I’d better not use a condom when I’m screwing my neighbor’s wife, or I’ll go to hell!”
I highly recommend reading “Was Karol Wojtyla the Greatest Mass Murderer of the 20th Century?” – http://www.techcentralstation.com/061005D.html
The logic of the secularists on this is mind boggling. The Church has not only the constant and universal teaching on its side … it has facts on its side. The solution in Uganda should be proof enough that unless behaviors change, the problem isn’t going to get any better.
Jeff for some reason my blog isn’t trackbacking properly to yours. Its likely something on my end since I am using a toy blog 🙂 but I did want to let you know.
Thanks for thta reflection after the article. You put it perfectly!
…whereas apparently I can’t seem to put even the word “that” perfectly!
This is nothing more than a smear campaign against the pope.
This “condom vs. abstinence” issue isn’t new, so why, suddenly, is the pope to blame for millions of AIDS sufferers in Africa?
In 1985 I worked for an advertising agency who won the contract to promote communications regarding this new disease called AIDS. I was a junior director, so I didn’t have much clout… but I DID happen to be abstaining from sex as I was not yet married. It was made clear from on high: Promote condom use. Period. The senior director came up with the slogan: “If you love me… wear a condom.”
I said, “Really? No, I mean it, really? I thought ‘If you love me, you would never put me in harms way,’ and that love was built on trust which takes time and faith.” Everyone had a good laugh at “the kid” and educated me on “insurance policies” and at the heart of it no one could every REALLY trust anyone.
But again I say, this is all a smear tactic against the pope and the Church.