Condomania & the Catholic Church

The rapid spread in Latin America of the virus that causes AIDS is made worse by the Roman Catholic Church's stand against using condoms, a U.N. official said on Monday.

Some 1.7 million people across Latin America are infected with the HIV virus or full-blown AIDS, and the epidemic is spreading swiftly with up to 410,000 new cases in 2006, up from as many as 320,000 new cases in 2004, according the UN AIDS program, UNAIDS.

"In Latin America the use of condoms has been demonized, but if they were used in every relation I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region," said Alberto Stella, the UNAIDS Coordinator for Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. MORE

This is so absurd it would be funny if the subject were less serious. We are, apparently, supposed to believe that the very same people who obviously reject Catholic teaching on fornication, adultery, homosexual acts, and other such practices somehow feel they must, nevertheless, slavishly avoid condoms because the Church tells them to. Therefore, the Catholic Church is responsible for AIDS. I don't think so.

In fact, if the people of Latin America (or anywhere else) actually did what the Catholic Church says - i.e. limit sexual activity to married men and women who are faithful to each other - diseases like AIDS/HIV would disappear very quickly. Funny how this works - frequently things the Church teaches for moral reasons also turn out to be just plain smart. Most Protestant and Evangelical denominations teach the same thing, incidentally.

Some will argue that that condoms are hard to obtain in Catholic-dominated cultures. Even if it's true, which I doubt, so what? The places where condoms are most easily obtainable also happen to be the places with the highest HIV infection rates. Condoms are freely available all over the United States, even beginning in middle school in some states, and we still have an HIV epidemic here. Clearly the relationship between condom usage and infection is a little more complicated than just assuming "More condoms = less HIV."

The most effective way to prevent HIV and other STDs is to change your behavior and stop engaging in the practices that spread it. This is what the Catholic Church teaches, but it isn't just a moral principle; it is scientific fact. The UN certainly isn't giving people this message, but someone needs to. Lives depend on it.

[Note also, in the Reuters story linked above, how all pretense of journalistic objectivity is abandoned. Normal practice is to show both points of view. In this case the UN condom pusher gets quoted directly, while the Catholic position is characterized by the reporter without a response from the Church. Typical for the Reuters "News" Agency.]

American Papist has a good take on this same story.

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