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The Pope, Condoms, AIDS and South America

Yes, its time for another go around with the "we really abhor Church teaching but we'll pretend to kind of like the Church for a little while to get in some doctrinal digs" people.

This week's contestant is Nicholas D. Kristof over at the New York Times with his op-ed entry The Pope and AIDS.

Here is a flavor:

Let's hope that Pope Benedict XVI quickly realizes that the worst sex scandal in the Catholic Church doesn't involve predatory priests. Rather, it involves the Vatican's hostility to condoms, which is creating more AIDS orphans every day.

Nobody does nobler work throughout the developing world than the Catholic Church. You find priests and nuns in the most remote spots of Latin America and Africa, curing the sick and feeding the hungry, and Catholic Relief Services is a model of compassion.

But at the same time, the Vatican's ban on condoms has cost many hundreds of thousands of lives from AIDS. So when historians look back at the Catholic Church in this era, they'll give it credit for having fought Communism and helped millions of the poor around the world. But they'll also count its anti-condom campaign as among its most tragic mistakes in the first two millennia of its history.

Bascially, Kristof wants the Church to do the compassionate thing and "start a condom factory right in the Vatican." Never mind the fact that folks have been handing out condoms in Africa for years with little progress to show for their efforts, or that infection rates seem to be highest among the most sexual promiscuous. The Church has a moral obligation to embrace contraception, not for the sexually liberated Amercians, but for her suffering southern hemisphere faithful.

Of course this line of reasoning begs the great question of common sense. If you are dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, why on earth would you hand out condoms and encourgae people to continue to have sexual relations? Wouldn't you tell them to avoid sex in order to avoid the disease?

Blatantly obvious, I know.

So it seems the Church is defintiely landing on the more compassionate side of the coin if you truly value the lives of those invovled as Kristof claims he does. But where does this put his position? I would venture to say it places him squarely in the "sex is more important than life itself" camp.

It is only a value hierarchy that places the opportunity to engage in sexual relations above avoiding infections that would advocate the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. What man, who truly loves his wife, would put her in a position where she may contract the disease?

There are those who will argue that we have an obligation to help those who "will do it anyway" but the fact of the matter is if they don't care about the Church's teaching on sexual relations, they sure aren't going to care about her teachings on contraception or condom use.

Of course the more interesting part of all this is not Kristof's opinion, but the extent to which it reflects the broader agenda laid out by "Catholics" for a Free Choice. In an open letter outlining their hopes for the first 100 days of the new pontificate, their two main areas of emphasis are on the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the Church's opposition to condoms as it relates to AIDS. Kristof's opening paragraph follows this formula to the letter.


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Comments (1)

Jason A.:

Thanks for posting on this. I can't remember how many times I've taken Kristof to task for his usual fallacies, so I am glad someone else picked up the gauntlet.

There are of course some extreme situations where condoms might be used as a defense mechanism, but I thought it ironic that Kristof noted that someone was encouraging prostitutes to have condoms on hand.

Umm... can I at least assume that the same worker encouraged those women not to be prostitutes? Or, perhaps telling the 17 year old girl not to have premarital sex?

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