Catholics Challenge Church Hierarchy’s Position on Use of Condoms
Campaign Urges World Leaders to Support Full HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs
Washington, DC—Catholics for a Free Choice has called on progressive Catholics around the globe to make their voices heard on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2000. According to the latest estimates from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 34.3 million adults and 1.3 million children were living with HIV at the end of 1999. The overwhelming majority of people with HIV—some 95% of the global total—live in developing countries.
Catholics for Contraception, an initiative of CFFC working to counter the actions of the Catholic hierarchy in shaping family planning public policies, urged supporters to voice their concern over the Catholic church’s teachings on condom use, and its implication in the global HIV/AIDS crisis. “International leaders need to be reminded that most Catholics disagree with the church hierarchy’s position on the use of condoms, particularly in disease prevention,” said CFFC President Frances Kissling. “When it comes to fighting AIDS,” she continued, “the Catholic hierarchy simply does not speak for ordinary Catholics.”
For decades, Catholics have roundly rejected the church hierarchy’s ban on contraception all over the world. The overwhelming majority of Catholics use, or have used, a method of family planning that the church prohibits. Having failed to convince lay Catholics not to use contraception, the hierarchy now works to keep contraception, including condoms, out of reach for those who need it most. The Vatican remains active on the international policy scene, working at the United Nations and other forums to restrict access to contraception, especially by cutting off family planning aid to developing countries.
While the Catholic church has been a commendable participant in many programs that help people living with HIV/AIDS, the church hierarchy continues to obstruct programs that could save millions of lives. “By advocating programs that threaten the survival of women, children and men, church leaders are producing exactly the opposite result from their stated intentions, and it is time for the rest of us—Catholic and non-Catholic—to hold them accountable,” said Kissling.