Aboard the Papal Plane (heh) today, Pope Benedict XVI made some interesting remarks about condoms and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
(From the Globe and Mail)
He had never directly addressed condom use, but has said the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease.
“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane on its way to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he has arrived to start his first visit to Africa as pontiff. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”
Okay. As stated in the article, Africa is the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, not a government figure or policy maker, and therefore he has not only the right but the obligation to promote the beliefs of the church, no matter how idealistic, dogmatic or outdated they may be.
Would you take advice on how to fix your broken computer from an Amish person? No. So taking advice on sexual relations from someone who has been celibate his entire life is a little ridiculous. As much as the Roman Catholic Church would like to believe that abstinence is nothing but a bit of self control, the truth is that people today are interacting with more people on a daily basis than just their local blacksmith and the baker. Not to mention the social stigmas that come along with abstaining from sex that can make it excruciatingly hard for teenagers and young adults to keep the pants on.
Although abstinence is indeed, a sure fire way to prevent becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, the idea that the distribution of condoms is actually contributing to the problem is absurd. A condom does no good when it’s left unopened, but used or unused, it doesn’t SPREAD AIDS.
Want to know something that DOES contribute, intensely, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa that people seem to conveniently be omitting from the discussion?
Millions and millions of women and children are being raped in Africa, yet we’re focusing on abstaining from consenual sex?
Lesbians are being subjected to “corrective rape” in South Africa, yet the solution is to stop distributing condoms?
Women are struggling to bond with their children who are born of rape, while at the same time being stigmatized by their own communities for doing so. (Check out Jonathan Torgovnik’s amazing set of photographs and interviews from Rwanda called “Intended Consequences” here and here.)
You can’t choose to abstain from sex when it is being brutally and inhumanly forced upon you. Abstinence is an idea, and a useless one for people who are being forced involuntarily into sex in the first place. While they won’t spark a massive paradigm and behavioral change in the minds of rapists, condoms are a tangible thing that can be used to address the problem in the meantime. Abstinence offers no solution to a woman who is going to be raped. Point, blank, period.
And lawwwd, don’t even get me started on pharmaceutical companies and affordable HIV/AIDS medication.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, you Irish sleazeballz!