Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Uniquely Catholic Approach to the Global HIV Pandemic

A lot of ink has been devoted to the Catholic Church's unwavering prohibition on condom use, particularly in AIDS ravaged Africa.  In fact, Pope Benedict's historic visit to Cameroon back in March of '09 was overshadowed by the following response to reporters on the plane ride there:
"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem." (Huffpo)  
A maelstrom of 'controversy' dominated the media, with some pundits going as far as accusing the pope of killing Africans.  In his recent article, George Weigel wrote about the Vatican's decision not to reappoint Lesley-Anne  Knight for a second, four-year term as secretary general of Caritas International, a global network of 165 Catholic agencies working primarily in the Third World on development and health-care issues.  Worth reading in full, following is an excerpt which offers the best perspective on the Catholic position of condoms and AIDS:
 “Yes, there is a uniquely Catholic approach to the global HIV pandemic. It is an approach that takes seriously the dignity of the human person, which includes the capacity of men and women to change patterns of behavior that put themselves, their families and their communities at risk. It is an approach that takes the spiritual and moral dimensions of the AIDS crisis seriously. It is an approach that stresses abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage—both of which have been shown by independent scholars to drive down the incidence of AIDS in vulnerable populations. It is an approach that refuses to accept the empirically unproven claims that poverty, stigma and low levels of education drive AIDS epidemics. And it is an approach that refuses to burn incense at the altar of the false god latex, where the real votaries of rigid dogma are to be found among those for whom condoms are instruments of salvation.”

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