The Catholic Bishops and Condoms: Statements and Actions Opposing Condom Use as Part of an HIV Prevention Strategy
Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference released a statement at the conclusion of the International Pro-Life Conference held in Accra. The communiqué, signed by Bishop Anthony Adanuty of Keta-Katsi, vice-president of the bishops’ conference, denounced “the radical promotion of abortion, the use of condoms and other forms of contraception by various international groups and organizations through international platforms and humanitarian aid.”
Catholic World News, “Ghana Bishops’ Pro-life Conference Denounces Abortion, Upholds Sacramental Marriage,” August 20, 2015
Forty-five bishops from 40 African countries signed the Common Declaration of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar, which stated, “The billions of dollars allotted to the production and distribution of condoms and contraceptives and to the establishment of sex-education programs that do not respect universal moral norms are a scandal.”
Mark Judge, “‘This is a New Type of Slavery!’ African Bishops Denounce ‘Colonialist Spirit’ of Contraception, Abortion Agenda,” CNS News, September 22, 2015.
Aleteia.org, “Common Declaration of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar,” June 2015
At a parish celebration in Nsambya, Uganda, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala exhorted the faithful to avoid sexual promiscuity because “you were not created to use condoms.”
New Vision (Uganda), “You Were Not Created to Use Condoms – Cardinal Wamala,” June 29, 2015
The bishop’s office of Getafe, Spain, wrote a letter to the local authorities expressing “indignation” about the policy of distributing condoms during church feast days. The letter said, “The bishop’s office of Getafe profoundly laments the damage to young people’s consciences produced by this action” because “these types of gestures, far from preventing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, encourage promiscuity… [and ] high-risk behaviors….”
Diócesis de Getafe, “El Obispado de Getafe Lamenta el Daño en la Conciencia Causado a los Jóvenes por la Entrega de Preservativos,” May 14, 2015
Bishop Antonio González Sánchez of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, spoke out against the distribution of 50,000 condoms by the Tamaulipas Secretary of Health. “Where is the education in passing out condoms [to young people]?” the bishop asked. “To me it is an invitation to have sex.”
El Mañana (Mexico), “Repartir Condones… Incita al Sexo: Obispo,” March 29, 2015
Bishop Philip Egan, Portsmouth, UK
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth described a theoretical charity for the homeless that distributes food boxes. He said that the inclusion of “various toiletries and condoms” would be “gravely morally wrong and any co-operation with the third-party charity would need to both definitively exclude participation in those activities and … [make] a clear public statement distancing the confirmation candidates from these activities of the charity.”
Catholic Herald (UK), “Bishop Egan to Priests: Be Careful about the Charities You Support,” March 20, 2015
Bishop Luis Felipe Gallardo Martín del Campo of Veracruz, Mexico, expressed his dissatisfaction with the distribution of condoms at the local carnival. Speaking to Marcha.com, the bishop criticized “the donation of condoms” because it encouraged people “to have relations with anyone they meet.”
Cinthia Zúñiga, “Carnaval Promueve Crimen y Promiscuidad: Obispo,” Marcha.com (Mexico), February 16, 2015
Archbishop Javier del Río Alba, Arequipa, Perú
Archbishop Javier del Río Alba of Arequipa, Perú, opposed the Ministry of Health’s policy of distributing condoms in schools to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. He said that the more than 100 Catholic schools in Arequipa would close “before such an aberration” because “distributing condoms is not providing education.”
Zenaida Condori Contreras, “Colegios Católicos Impedirán el Reparto de Preservativos,” La República (Perú), February 19, 2015
Bishop Cesare Bonivento, Vanimo, Papua New Guinea
Bishop Cesare Bonivento of Vanimo, Papua New Guinea, reproved the education department’s decision to provide condoms to students, saying that the use of condoms is like “a gun that instead of killing the enemy, very often exploded in the hands of the one who wanted to use it for personal defence.”
AsiaNews.it, “Bishop Bonivento’s Service to the Country Recognised with National Award,” January 5, 2015
Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference released a statement about the government’s role in helping international organizations impose foreign values. The statement said in part, “We also deplore in no uncertain terms a radical and faceless culture of death which promotes among other things the supply and use of the condom in our schools….”
Ghana StarrFMOnline (103.5PM), “Stop Promoting Condom Use in Schools, It’s a Deathly Culture – Catholic Bishops,” November 16, 2014
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, Jos, Nigeria
Speaking at the 2014 Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria said, “Now you come to tell us about reproductive rights, and you give us condoms and artificial contraceptives. Those are not the things we want. We want food, we want education, we want good roads….”
Joshua J. McElwee, “African Archbishop Frankly Criticizes Western Attitudes at Synod,” National Catholic Reporter, October 8, 2014
Archbishop Héctor Aguer, La Plata, Argentina
Archbishop Héctor Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, characterized condoms as a “gadget” that allows people to go against the Commandments because “the condom is used to commit adultery.” He further stated that promoting the use of condoms to prevent disease was a “manipulation of sexuality.”
Diario Uno (Argentina), “El Arzobispo de La Plata Criticó la Utilización del Preservativo: ‘Se lo Usa para Cometer Adulterio,’” September 21, 2014
Bishop Jaime Fuentes, Mina, Uruguay
In his blog, “Desde el Verdún,” Bishop Jaime Fuentes of Mina, Uruguay, responded to a pamphlet on sexuality produced by the National Administration of Public Education, which contained information and diagrams on how to use condoms. The bishop, who is also head of the Pastoral Commission for Family and Life for the Uruguayan Bishops’ Conference, depicted discussions of condom use as “gender ideology, whose pretention is to change the Judeo-Christian concept of the family and sexuality.”
Bishop Jaime Fuentes, “La Hilacha Majestuosa (Cómo enfrentar un tsunami-5),” Desde el Verdún Blog, July 23, 2014
Bishop Crispin Varquez of the Borongo Diocese, Philippines, commented about relief organizations distributing condoms to typhoon-affected areas: “We must be extra careful in dealing with NGOs, which promote artificial reproductive devices. They are taking advantage of the vulnerability of the victims.”
Jocelyn R. Uy, “Bishop Slams Agencies Distributing Condoms, Pills to Women in Yolanda-hit Areas,” Philippines Inquirer, May 14, 2014
In an interview with Radio 780 AM Paraguay, Bishop Gogorza Izaguirre of Encarnación said that the church “does not allow” the use of condoms and “will not change” this position because “there are ecclesiastical norms that we cannot contradict.” The bishop further stated that “celibacy and monogamy” are the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Paraguayan News Portal (PPN.com.py), “Preocupa Aumento de Casos de Sífilis en el País,” March 11, 2014.
Radio 780 AM, “No Variará la Prohibición de la Iglesia Católica sobre el Uso del Condón,” Mons. Ignacio Gogorza,” Twitter.com, March 11, 2014
“The solution is not condoms but change of lifestyle, abstinence and fidelity. They have not learned from the experience of Africa,” said Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila. “Sex education of the government and loose morals in the media promote promiscuity and these are fertile grounds of HIV.”
Jocelyn R. Uy, “Bishop Says Condoms Not Effective against HIV/AIDS,” Philippines Inquirer, March 18, 2014
Bishop Dorick Wright of Belize City and Belmopan, a prominent figure in the Central American church, singled out several programs for condoning condom use. The Red Cross and the National AIDS Commission came under fire because, according to Wright, they “foster programmes that ultimately undermine our Catholic values.”
Jon Stibbs, “Bishop Wants Pro-condom, Pro-choice Groups out of Schools,” Tablet (UK), March 18, 2014
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Commission on Family and Life for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, called for condom ads to be removed from television networks. “These ads are corrupting the minds and hearts of our young people. And these are being shown in the prime time so the children will be able to watch it,” Castro said over Radio Veritas.
CBCP News, “CBCP Exec Seeks Stop on Condom Ads,” February 11, 2014
Bishop Raúl Vera López, Saltillo, Mexico
Bishop Raúl Vera López of the Diocese of Saltillo, Mexico, responded to a proposed law that would require schools to offer condoms to students, stating that Catholic schools would not participate because “we are very sorry, but we have freedom of conscience.”
María Eugenia Alvarado, “‘Escuelas Católicas No Distribuirán Condones,’” Vanguardia (Mexico), September 10, 2013
Bishop Gabriel Reyes, Bishop of Antipolo and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, compared Catholics paying for condom subsidies to making Muslims support pork consumption: “The Muslims would get angry and that’s like what they’re doing to us. They should also respect Catholic beliefs.”
Philip C. Tubeza, “Lay Leader Asks Why Catholics Should Subsidize Condoms,” Philippines Daily Inquirer, July 23, 2013
Archbishop Peter Kairo, Nyeri, Kenya
Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri, Kenya, said to a congregation in Othaya, “As the Catholic Church we are not promoting use of condoms. I don’t agree with the advertisements on the billboards and newspapers that say Catholics believe in sex which is sacred and that they believe in using condoms,” referring to advertisements sponsored by Catholics for Choice.
James Ngunjiri, “Church Affirms Stand against Condom Use,” Daily Nation (Kenya), April 28, 2013
The Catholic church in Samoa is opposed to a health authority initiative to distribute free condoms on the campus of the National University of Samoa. Spokesman Fr. Ioane Ono said on the air, “There’s no guarantee that these condoms protect the passing on of diseases. And on the other side of the coin, it is promoting promiscuity and promoting fornication.”
Radio Australia, “Samoan Catholic Church Gives Thumbs Down to Free Condom Plan,” April 25, 2013.
Faced with a memorandum of agreement with provincial authorities that would require condom distribution at all health facilities, Bishop Rolando Santos created a diocesan policy on condoms.
The guidelines call the use of condoms “intrinsically evil” and say that they “may even be one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, “Diocese of Alotau Rejects Government Policy on Condoms,” April 3, 2013
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Durban, South Africa
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, announced that Catholic schools would not be complying with the directive to distribute condoms to students: “I cannot understand how you introduce condoms to children of that age when legally they are not supposed to be engaging in sexual activity.”
Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, “Catholic Church rejects school condoms plan,” February 25, 2013.
Archbishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve reacted to a decision by Colombia’s secretary of health to distribute condoms at the Baranquilla carnival, stating, “The carnival is a beautiful artistic and cultural expression. And with this delivery of condoms is recommending completely irresponsible sex.”
Tara Morris, “Catholic Church criticizes condom distribution at Barranquilla carnival,” Colombia Reports, February 8, 2013.
Fr. Gabriel Dunia, health committee chairman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, raised an alarm over the mass distribution of condoms by government agencies and foreign organizations, saying the gesture was a ploy to actualize “population management” under the pretext of providing health care or reproductive health services to Nigerians.Adelanwa Bamigboye and Abbas Jimoh, “Nigeria: Mass Condoms Distribution, Population Trick – Bishops,” Daily Trust (Nigeria), December 18, 2012.
Echoing Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 statement that condom use “aggravates” the AIDS epidemic, Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo of the Eshowe diocese in Zululand, South Africa, said that condom use “helps spread [HIV] because every young person, even those who are not aware of sexual activity, is taught in the school about this condom in sexual education. They try it and that is why you still have a high rate of people being infected with this AIDS epidemic.”Patrick B. Crane, “South African bishop backs Pope against condoms in AIDS crisis,” LifeSiteNews, July 16, 2012.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Fr. Philip Bené, legal attaché to the Holy See, attempted to clarify the Holy See’s position on condoms stating, “The Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programs.”
LifeSiteNews, “At UN Vatican Reaffirms Stance Against Condoms for HIV/AIDS Prevention,” November 23, 2011.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops cut off funding to the NYC AIDS Housing Network, a grantee of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, after an independent report revealed that the group had been distributing condoms.LifeSiteNews, “US Bishops’ social justice arm rejects grantee caught distributing condoms,” October 21, 2011.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
At a Vatican conference on AIDS, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations, quoted from Pope Benedict’s book, “Light of the World.” He chose the passage that reads, “We cannot solve the problem (of AIDS) by distributing condoms.”Catholic News Service, “Vatican AIDS conference focuses on need to change sexual behavior,” May 31, 2011.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) spoke out against the annual Valentine’s Day condom distribution campaign sponsored by the Philippines Department of Health. Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Family and Life, warned that “ it was the idea of ‘safe sex’ that, in fact, pushed people to engage in irresponsible sex.” Pointing to statistics reflecting an increase in the number of new HIV infections the previous year, Castro said, “Why did the figures increase in 2010? When did they distribute condoms? It was in 2010.”
ABS-CBN News, “CBCP to DOH: No condoms on Valentine’s Day, please,” February 7, 2011.
Archbishop Nicholas Chia Yeck Joo, Singapore
Speaking against government sexuality education programs for students, Archbishop Nicholas Chia said, “If we present to our young people how to use the condom outside marriage, just in case you need it, it would be as though the Church is teaching us how to sin less grievously which makes no sense.”
Catholic News, “Archbishop stresses faithfulness to Church teaching in sexuality education,” February 2011.
Kenya Episcopal Conference
The bishops of Kenya released a statement with their interpretation of Pope Benedict’s remarks about condoms, saying, “We reiterate and reaffirm that the position of the Catholic Church as regards the use of condoms, both as a means of contraception and as a means of addressing the grave issue of HIV/AIDS infection has not changed and remains as always unacceptable.”LifeSiteNews, “Statement of bishops of Kenya on Pope and condoms controversy,” December 15, 2010.
Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, Madrid, Spain
Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, stated that the use of condoms “always” occurs “within a context of immorality” and “can never be recommended.”Catholic News Agency, “Pope did not legitimize condom use, affirms Spanish bishop,” November 29, 2010.
Bishop Nereo Odchimar, Tandag, Philippines
Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said that not only should condom advertisements be prohibited, but condoms should be labeled with the warning, “Condoms may fail to protect from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.”ABS-CBN News, “Catholic bishops want condom ads banned,” March 3, 2010.
Congolese Bishops Conference
The statement, signed by the conference president, Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe, added, “We say no to condoms!” The prelates noted that condom use is “not only an ethical disorder but above all the proof of the trivialization of sexuality in our society.” They affirmed, “Instead of preventing the spread of the disease, and without even guaranteeing complete security, [the condom] heightens human selfishness, worsens the problem, and encourages people to let themselves be driven by their sexual instincts and divests sexuality of its religious and symbolic functions.”
Zenit.org, “Congolese Bishops Say Condoms Breed Selfishness” May 5, 2009.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia
In a recent television interview, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, repeated Pope Benedict’s attack on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. He stated, “The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous…Condoms are encouraging promiscuity. They are encouraging irresponsibility.”Weekend Australian, “Condoms Will Not Save Africa: Pell,” April 11, 2009.
Pope Benedict XVI
On his flight to Cameroon, Pope Benedict XVI stated in response to a reporter’s question on the HIV/AIDS epidemic: “It is my belief that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is in fact the Catholic Church and her institutions. … The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, it worsens the problem.”
“Pope replies to questions from journalists.” Vatican Information Service, March 17, 2009.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, heartlessly asserted that “it is quite ridiculous to go on about Aids in Africa and condoms.” According to O’Connor, there are much more important things, including “education, healthcare, and abstinence.” He also furthered the myth that condoms can cause HIV/AIDS, stating that his “diocese is flooded with condoms and there is more AIDS because of them.”
Times (London), “Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor: Recession May be Jolt that Selfish Britain Needs,” February 14, 2009.
Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain
Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain, has absurdly claimed that the Catholic Church is leading the fight against HIV/AIDS by denouncing condom use and encouraging abstinence. According to Fernandez, “The condom is a cork,” and is “not always effective.” He went so far as to say that in the “field of AIDS, as in all fields that include the proper use of sexuality, the Church presents the proposal of true love, which brings with it a proper education in the virtue of chastity.”
Catholic News Agency, “Church Proposes More Effective Approach to AIDS, Spanish Bishop Says,” August 11, 2008.
Bishop Hugh Slattery of Tzaneen, South Africa
Bishop Hugh Slattery of Tzaneen, South Africa, recently expressed a multi-step plan for reducing the high rate of HIV/AIDS in his country that unrealistically focuses on abstinence only. He stated that the first step is to make everyone aware of the problem and the next involves “showing that abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage will quickly stop the spread of AIDS.” Despite his narrow approach, he even suggested, “As a Church, we are trying to lift the veil of secrecy and denial around HIV/AIDS and get people to talk about it openly.”
Zenit, “Common Sense in Fighting AIDS,” January 9, 2008.
Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, Maputo, Mozambique
The archbishop of Chimoio has accused European condom makers of intentionally trying to spread AIDS in Africa. According to Chimoio, the condoms being sent to Africa are first contaminated with HIV “in order to finish quickly the African people.” It is estimated that one in six people in Mozambique is HIV positive. While the comments have earned attention, ridicule and reprove worldwide, the Vatican has been silent on the subject, failing to publicly reprimand the archbishop or even denounce his accusations.
BBC News, “Shock at archbishop condom claim.” September 26, 2007.
During the first national Catholic conference on HIV/AIDS in Nairobi, Bishop Sulumeti stated that the Catholic Church opposed all forms of contraceptives. In reference to the difficult situation faced by couples where in one partner is HIV positive, he stated flatly, “Even in the case of discordant couples [where one spouse is infected], those offering care should look at all the issues affecting the couple other than the sexual aspect. One of them will have to sacrifice for the sake of the other.”
Catholic Information Service for Africa,”Kenya: Catholics Reaffirm Stand Against Condoms in Fighting HIV/AIDS,” Africa News, June 26, 2007.
Cardinal Edward M. Egan, New York
Cardinal Egan chided the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for its plan to distribute 18 million condoms to the public for free in an effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. According to Egan, the city’s initiative and encourages “inappropriate sexual activity.”
National Catholic Reporter, “Condom Giveaway,” March 2, 2007.
Cardinal Geraldo Majella Angelo, Brazil
In the months preceding the papal visit to Brazil, officials came under harsh attack from the country’s Roman Catholic hierarchy for the government’s support of comprehensive sex education and a successful AIDS prevention program which distributes free condoms. On the television program Fantastico,Cardinal Majella, the head of the National Bishops Conference commented, “We cannot agree with condoms because they turn life into a life without responsibility.” In a later interview he added that “the use of the condom encourages people to have inconsequential and irresponsible sex.”
Reuters, “Condom debate flares in Brazil before pope visit,” March 12, 2007.
Pravda, “Brazilian government and church argue over condoms,” March 13, 2007.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Westminster
In response to a comment made by Tony Blair on December 1, World AIDS Day, calling on the church to reassess its position on condom use, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor criticized the prime minister’s willingness to give “more and more aid, including more condoms” to Africa for AIDS prevention. According to the cardinal, African bishops he has spoken with claim their dioceses are “flooded” with condoms and “it has meant more promiscuity and more AIDS.”
Ben Padley, “Drugs Better than Condoms in AIDS Fight, Says Cardinal,” Press Association, December 3, 2006.
Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, Nairobi
During the opening of the national religious leaders’ conference on stigma, denial and discrimination in Kenya, Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki urged the government to ban advertising and distributing condoms. He insisted, “There are no two ways about it…. When condoms are provided anyhowly, chances of promiscuity increase since a majority of our people end up engaging in casual sex.”
The Nation (Nairobi, Kenya), “Stop Giving Free Condoms, Say Clerics,” November 29, 2006.
Archbishop Barry Hickey, Perth, Australia
In an interview with the Sunday Times (Perth, Australia), Perth archbishop Barry Hickey condemned those who promote condoms as a means for safe sex saying, “Society only gives false assurances to young people…because the failure rate of condoms will eventually catch up with them and the consequences of intercourse will be there…. Pregnancy is an obvious example but even as preventers of disease, condoms eventually fail…. There is another answer and that’s self-control and chastity.”
Paul Lampathakis, “Calls for Modest Dress, Less Sex,” Sunday Times (Perth, Australia), November 13, 2006.
Cardinal Alfonso Lopéz Trujillo
In an interview for a Spanish newspaper, Cardinal Alfonso Lopéz Trujillo discredits a statement made by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini that the use of condoms for AIDS prevention is “a lesser evil,” insisting that the statement was not reflective of the church’s position. Despite confirmation given late in April by the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, Cardinal Trujillo also denied that Pope Benedict XVI ordered a study on condoms.
Néstor Pongutá Puerto, “Por ahora no hay nada sobre la aceptación del uso del preservative,” El País, May 4, 2006, and John L. Allen, Jr., “Vatican in Condom Debate,” National Catholic Reporter, April 28, 2006.
Tanzanian Episcopal Conference
Tanzania’s Episcopal Conference calls material on the Ministry of Education’s recently released school science syllabus “sinful” because it includes the proper use of condoms as one way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In a statement issued on behalf of the conference, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, the archbishop of Dar es Salaam, says the “introduction of the [teaching of] use of condoms in schools…is indeed justification and opening the door for immoral lifestyles.”
Africa News, “Catholic bishops reject school syllabus over condoms,” January 13, 2006.
Bishop Paul Marx, Papua New Guinea
Bishop Paul Marx of the Diocese of Kerema in Papua New Guinea insists that an Australian National AIDS Council campaign “is sending out the wrong message that promiscuity is the normal, ordinary way of life.… By distributing condoms all over the place it will facilitate even further that promiscuity, which is the main breeding ground of HIV/AIDS.” The ad, which says “No condoms, no sex,” also promotes abstinence and faithfulness. However, even Bishop Marx believes that there are times when it is morally acceptable to use condoms, as he adds, “I am not of the other extreme opinion that condoms can never be used in any circumstance whatsoever.”
Maureen Gerawa, “Bishop slams new condom campaign,” PNG Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea), August 3, 2005.
Indian Bishops Conference
The Health Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India opposes the ABC method of HIV prevention because it includes condom use. The commission issues a statement claiming, “We do not think that condoms do much to prevent AIDS.… It’s just a false promise. They say consistent and continuous use of condoms would yield results. That’s not practical. So we do not support it proactively.”
Indo-Asian News Service, “Church backs Bush’s anti-HIV formula, nixes condoms,” August 30, 2005.
Pope Benedict XVI
In a meeting at the Vatican with visiting bishops from five African nations, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirms the hierarchy’s opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, describing abstinence as the only “fail safe” method.
Associated Press, “Pope promotes abstinence to fight AIDS,” June 10, 2005.
Tanzanian bishop Anthony Banzi, one of two spokesmen for the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) rejects condoms as a means to fight HIV/AIDS, stating during the association’s 15th plenary meeting that condoms “are one of the artificial birth control methods and the Church is against birth control.”
Josephine Maseruka, “Condoms not for Catholics,” New Vision (Uganda), June 10, 2005.
Archbishop Orlando Antonini, Zambia
Commenting on the challenges faced by Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Orlando Antonini, the apostolic nuncio to Zambia, defends the church’s ban on condoms and asserts that the “use of condoms still constitutes a false solution” to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Chansa Kabwela, “Use of condoms is a false solution to HIV/AIDS–Nuncio Antonini,” Post (Zambia), May 5, 2005.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Pontifical Academy for Life
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, questions the effectiveness of condoms to prevent transmission of the HIV virus, asserting that scientific research has not proven that a condom “immunizes against infection.”
Zenit, “Bishop Sgreccia Says Condoms Don’t Ensure Immunity,” February 17, 2005.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, South Africa
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, head of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, criticizes the South African government for condom promotion. “There’s no medical evidence to prove that condoms prevent the transmission of AIDS and it’s only 70% to 75% effective in preventing pregnancy,” says Cardinal Napier.
Mail and Guardian, “Cardinal: Condoms ‘clearly don’t work,'” January 25, 2005.
In response to Spanish and British bishops’ statements recognizing a place for condoms in HIV/AIDS prevention, an official in Rome states: “The Vatican has always expressed its opposition to the use of condoms. The Vatican believes that the spread of AIDS is due to a breakdown in moral values.”
Daily Mail (UK), “Bishops defy the Vatican over backing for condoms,” January 20, 2005.
Swiss and Croatian Bishops Conferences
The Catholic church in Switzerland publicly announces that it does not support the Spanish bishops and “remains on the same line as Rome.” The Croatian Bishops Conference maintains its opposition to condoms, noting that abstinence and fidelity are the most effective methods of prevention against HIV.
After a bishop announces the Spanish Bishops Conference’s support for condom use as part of a global HIV prevention strategy, Pope John Paul II reiterates his ban on condoms: “The Holy See…considers that it is necessary above all to combat this disease in a responsible way by increasing prevention, notably through education about respect of the sacred value of life and formation about the correct practice of sexuality, which presupposes chastity and fidelity.”
The Spanish Bishops Conference retreats from its earlier stand, stating the bishop’s comments “must be understood in the context of Catholic doctrine, which holds that use of condoms is immoral sexual conduct.”
The Vatican once again misses an opportunity to revisit its ban on condoms, instead promoting abstinence as the only option for prevention. In his written message for the XIII World Day of the Sick to take place in Cameroon in February 2005, Pope John Paul II states, “As regards the drama of AIDS, I have already had occasion in other circumstances to emphasize that AIDS is also a ‘pathology of the spirit.’ In order to fight AIDS in a responsible way, its prevention should be increased through education in respect for the sacred value of life and through formation in the correct practice of sexuality.”
Zenit, “Vatican Message for World AIDS Day, Dedicated This Year to Women,” November 24, 2004.
Bishop Rafael Llano Cifuentes, the President of the Brazilian Bishops Commission for Family and Life, claims that “using a condom to stop AIDS is like trying to put out a fire with petrol.” As many as 100,000 leaflets are distributed wherein he argues that the AIDS virus can pass through condoms “as easily as a cat through a garage door.” He is later shown on a BBC Panorama investigation saying, “I’ve never seen a little dog using a condom during sexual intercourse with another dog. Animals have natural sex. Man likes the pleasure but not the consequences.”
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, Uganda
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, the Archbishop of Kampala, publicly declares his support of the choice of a Catholic Ugandan woman to sleep unprotected with her infected husband rather than using condoms. “If it is wrong to use the condom, then she has made the right choice,” says the cardinal.
Panorama, “Can Condoms Kill?” British Broadcasting Corporation, June 27, 2004.
The Croatian Catholic bishops oppose a safe-sex program in the public school system because of the inclusion of condoms as part of a broad prevention strategy. Bishop Valter Zupan draws the ire of the medical community with distortions of science, including claims that the HIV virus passes through “pores” in condoms and that the use of condoms “increases the risk of HIV infection.”
Agence France-Presse,”After yoga and Sunday shopping, Croatia’s Catholic Church targets condoms,” February 15, 2004.
The Vatican promotes a new paper from Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council on the Family. In “Family Values versus Safe Sex,” the cardinal, most known for an appalling misstatement about condoms’ ability to prevent the transmission of the HIV on the BBC’s Panorama program “Sex and the Holy City,” misrepresents scientific research to advance his flawed and unjust view on the ethics of condom use.
Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, says that the HIV virus is small enough to pass through condoms and promoting condom use is like playing “Russian roulette” with AIDS. He remarks further that “safe-sex” campaigns are dangerous because they increase promiscuity and give condom users a false sense of security.
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, Uganda
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala of Uganda says condoms were originally made for prostitutes and “if we want to promote immorality then we shall continue advocating artificial methods like condoms.”
Africa News, “Condoms promote immorality,” September 29, 2003.
Southern African Bishops Conference
In response to a proposal to sanction condom use, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference releases a statement saying that widespread promotion of condom use is “an immoral and misguided weapon in our battle against HIV/AIDS.” Reading from the statement, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier says, “Condoms may even be one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV/AIDS. Apart from the possibility of condoms being faulty or wrongly used, they contribute to the breaking down of self-control and mutual respect.”
Australian, “Bishops attack use of condoms in AIDS war,” August 1, 2001.
At a Vatican conference on AIDS, Camillian Father Felice Ruffini, undersecretary to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, says that because the church teaches that all sexual relations outside of marriage are immoral, the question of condom use in those circumstances is superfluous. He further argues that while “it’s tough to be able to maintain matrimonial chastity,” condom use in marriages in which one partner is infected with HIV is still prohibited and moralists cannot craft “an exception to Christ’s law.”
America, “Vatican: AIDS Problem Involves More Than Condoms,” December 16, 2000.
A Dutch moral theologian who does consultancy work for the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Bonifacio Honings of the Discalced Carmelites, says that a husband with HIV has no right to request sexual relations from his healthy wife. “If it is true love on the part of the husband, he will do everything possible to not demand such a dangerous relation from his wife,” he says. At the same time, the wife could choose to consent to sexual relations “to avoid worse things—her husband becoming intractable, or the husband being unfaithful to her, etc,” he says.
America, “Vatican: AIDS Problem Involves More Than Condoms,” December 16, 2000.
Father Jacques Suaudeau, a medical doctor who is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, claims that using condoms during sexual intercourse will not protect against transmission of the HIV virus.
Tablet, October 18, 1997.
Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera, Mexico
With the support of PROVIDA, a conservative prolife group in Mexico, Mexico’s Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera rejects the use of contraceptives in marriage. In his homily, Rivera Carrera instructs parishioners not to use intrauterine devices and condoms, arguing that they are methods that destroy the sexual unity between spouses.
Crónica, “Rivera Carrera rechaza los métodos anticonceptivos dentro del matrimonio,” September 1, 1997.
The Vatican advises parents to “reject the promotion of ‘safe sex’ or ‘safer sex,’ a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS.”
Pontifical Council for the Family, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,” Origins, February 1, 1996.
Peruvian Bishops Conference
The Peruvian Bishops Conference releases a letter, “Building a Culture of Life,” that criticizes the government’s promotion of a sex education program geared toward adolescents. It claims the program is devoid of moral values and social responsibility. It asserts that the program is limited to education on prophylactics and condoms, and thus encourages recreational sex that does not take into account responsibility for consequences.
Catholic World Report, March 1996.
Please cite as:
Condoms4Life, “The Catholic Bishops and Condoms: Statements and Actions Supporting Condom Use to Prevent the Spread of HIV,” Washington DC: Catholics for Choice, 2015.