Condom Activists Take on Vatican
Activists from Condoms4Life have a plan to get the Vatican to drop its ban on condoms.
About 20,000 scientists, world leaders and activists from around the world gather in Toronto tomorrow for AIDS 2006, the XVI International AIDS Conference.
Condoms4Life decided it was the perfect opportunity to take on the Catholic church.
Many of the countries being devastated by AIDS are devoutly Catholic. The official policy of the church is that birth control is a sin.
“A change in Vatican policy is critical. You can’t keep talking about a culture of life and turn a blind eye to the suffering and dying. You can’t tell people to love and care for one another and deny them the means by which to protect each other,” said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice and founder of Condoms4Life.
“More than two dozen bishops and bishops’ conferences have asked for a change. Catholic people get it. People spending their lives fighting this pandemic get it,” Kissling said yesterday from New York. “Lifting this cruel and stigmatizing ban on condoms would be a positive and life-affirming move for the new pope.”
The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS says that since Benedict became pope in April 2005, more than 5 million people have acquired HIV, and more than 3 million have died of AIDS-related diseases.
Many Catholic institutions around the world are against condom use. In Toronto, beginning in 2000, St. Michael’s Hospital, a Catholic institution, assumed the responsibilities of the former Wellesley hospital, which served the gay community.
St. Mike’s has the largest HIV/AIDS medical unit in the country.
The hospital has a needle exchange program to help prevent the spread of AIDS, but it doesn’t hand out condoms.
“It’s an example of what is going on around the world and it’s appalling,” Kissling said.
“It’s not a good use of the public health system, which is supposed to serve and treat AIDS patients as well as prevent the spread of the disease.”
This article originally appeared in the 12 August 2006 edition of the Ottawa Sun.