The Church’s continued ostrich approach to the catastrophe that is HIV/AIDS on the continent:
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday signed off on an African roadmap for the Roman Catholic Church that calls for good governance and denounces abuses, while labelling AIDS a mainly ethical problem. Benedict signed the apostolic exhortation called “The Pledge for Africa” during a visit to the West African nation of Benin, his second trip to the continent as pontiff.
The document says AIDS requires a medical response, but is mainly an ethical problem.
Changes in behaviour are required to combat the disease, including sexual abstinence and rejection of promiscuity, it adds. “The problem of AIDS in particular clearly calls for a medical and a pharmaceutical response,” it says. “This is not enough however. The problem goes deeper. Above all, it is an ethical problem.”
The Catholic church continues to forbid the use of condoms and all other contraceptives among its faithful. Such teaching is mostly emphasized in the third world – Africa, Latin America and Asia – where the populations continue to remain oblivious to the virtues of family planning and disease prevention through the use of contraceptives. This at a time when the Church’s home continent – Europe – is experiencing a demographic decline. People are able to better plan their lives if they can control the number of children they have. Period. The Vatican has failed to enforce its have-as-many-children-as-you-can and don’t-use-condoms policies at home and so it trumpets them abroad – and in places with serious problems of over-population. I say this is hypocritical.
Millions around the world have died of AIDS, causing untold suffering to tens of millions of orphans. The use of condoms, although not 100% efficient, has been known to substantially reduce chances of infection. So it does not make any sense that the Church would continue to ban its use. Does the Almighty really want parents dying, leaving behind orphans who can’t fend for themselves? Does He really want families having 12 children that they can’t feed or educate? Abortion might be another issue (and genuinely so) but preventing pregnancies – without having to kill any embryos or fetuses – or avoiding diseases through the use of condoms should never even be debated. It is common sense. I don’t understand how the Church can endorse the veracity of Darwin’s theories (of course as GUIDED by God) and refuse to acknowledge this simple fact.
And about abstinence. It is great, but most people never practice it. It is time the Church stopped pretending that this is a viable way of coping with the spread of AIDS. More than two decades of the disease have proven otherwise. Government health officials throughout the third world should be honest with the Church and inform them to change this weird policy or face penalties. It is lives we are talking about, not some theologian’s ideas of the ideal Christian society.
And don’t even get me started on how these weird church policies disproportionately burden women – through both risky and costly child bearing and diseases.