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Big News: Condoms for Catholics

Big News with Dave Crampton

Condoms for Catholics

Last weeks issue of Newsweek opened the Catholic condom conundrum with a story on the debate in the South African Catholic church over whether getting it on meant rubbering it up or not. One of their bishops wanted the Vatican to change its mind about the use of condoms to prevent AIDS and be used in the “fight for life” against a pandemic that has killed more than 4.7 million Africans. It has caused a bit of a stir among local Catholics.

After the African Government, the Catholic Church runs the regions biggest network of AIDS programmes.

Bishop Dowling, who is co-ordinator of the AIDS office of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference, is against the use of condoms when used to prevent life, but not when preventing death from AIDS. He maintains that is not against catholic moral tradition. He is not alone, but he is a minority among decision makers.

His president, Cardinal Wilfred Napier, says the proposal had to be weighed up against the teaching of the church as well as current scientific evidence about their effectiveness. I actually thought the Church had forbidden the use of condoms irrespective of their effectiveness.

UK International Development secretary Clare Short, who was raised a Catholic, has criticised the Church for its stance on contraceptive use as an AIDS prevention, saying condoms should be available as easily as Coca Cola. She was told off in turn by British Prime Minister John Major, who’s wife is Catholic. It is an issue that has divided Catholics world-wide, and the closer Catholics work with AIDS patients, the more likely they are to seek a reversal of the draconian rule.



“ I can ‘t see how it fits in with true obedience to Gods will to endanger the other spouse when it can be easy to avoid such danger by the use of a condom” Bishop Dowling said. Now that makes sense to everybody except Vatican virgins and hard line Catholics who would rather partners were infected with AIDS than prevented from infection through condom use.

Dowling wants to see HIV positive men prevented from wives becoming infected so their children aren’t left as orphans, maintaining the “greater good” requires the mother to stay alive.

But the problem these leaders have is to get Vatican approval. From men who have never used a condom. Approval wasn`t required as Cardinal Napier and his moral right wingers decided that the status quo was to prevail. The African Bishops conference said condoms were “immoral and dangerous” and encouraged casual sex. In a statement they said “Abstain and be faithful (in marriage) is the human and Christian way of overcoming HIV-AIDS”.

But that doesn’t address the majority who don’t want to be Christian, or are not Catholic. Not does it address the plight of those who have an AIDS infected spouse and want to remain faithful in marriage without further infection in the family. The Bishops even said that condoms are a main reason for the spread of AIDS!! Now I bet that kept the smiles on the faces of the aged virgins in the Vatican.

I guess if the African Catholics obey the Vatican in part by having premarital sex without condoms, that will be one way to lower the Catholic population, as most of them will eventually die of AIDS. Sexually active African Catholics would do better to stay alive by having sex within marriage and using a condom if they have an AIDS- infected spouse, than to obey draconian rules primarily made by people who do not behave as if they are in the real world. Of course if you are not a Catholic, who cares what the Vatican says.

Staying alive is a sexual responsibility which is ignored by Catholic officials – except in the realm of population control, a whole topic on it’s own. Staying alive and creating more life as fast as possible seems a good idea to Vatican officials. They oppose abortion, which is fair enough as it is the killing of life, but they also oppose contraceptives – providing even more children if pregnancy occurs and abortion is not an option. Result: over-population and further poverty.

The Vatican wants to deny the choice of contraceptive method to those who want it. This is apparently for reasons of morality. That' may be fine - as long as they follow that morality through and donate all of their vast and unnecessary wealth to support the children born into poverty as a result. Now how likely is that?

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for newsroom-online.com. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

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