Vatican Defends Its Opposition to Condom Use
Church response: To mark World AIDS Day yesterday the Vatican issued a strong defence of its opposition to the use of condoms, saying fidelity, chastity and abstinence were the best ways to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in a “pan-sexualist society”.
Meanwhile the international group Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC) has begun what it described as “a new global public education effort to counter Vatican misinformation on condoms.” Using the slogan “Good Catholics Use Condoms”, the planned worldwide campaign was launched in Washington yesterday.
In a five-page statement emphasising the Church’s position Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Vatican’s Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health and Care Workers, called for new ways of helping people change lifestyles.
“We have to present this as the main way for the effective prevention of infection and spread of HIV/AIDS, since the phenomenon of AIDS is a pathology of the spirit,” he said.
He spoke of the “importance of respecting the religious and moral values of sexuality and matrimony, namely fidelity, chastity and abstinence”. in favour of the culture of life and responsible love”.
In a clear reference to condoms, he said information campaigns should not be “based on policies that foster immoral and hedonistic lifestyles”.
Two months ago the Vatican’s Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo said that relying on condoms to stop AIDS was like “betting on your own death”. The World Health Organisation rejected that view, saying condoms can reduce the risk of infection by 90 per cent.
Ms Frances Kissling, president of the CFFC group, yesterday accused the Vatican of having an “irresponsible attitude towards condoms and Catholics.” Cardinals and bishops “must promote a culture of life in which responsible sexuality and AIDS prevention are linked; not a culture of death which will result in more AIDS ravaged communities, especially in the developing world,” she said.
This article first appeared in the 2 December 2003 edition of the Irish Times.