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Censored Condoms4Life Campaign Is Beamed Around the World

August 21, 2011

Campaign’s Night Projections Target Censors during Catholic World Youth Day

This week, The Condoms4Life Campaign brought the message that good Catholics use condoms and condoms save lives to the pilgrims of World Youth Day and the people of Madrid. Despite attempts by the local authorities to ban our ads, hundreds of thousands of people saw them via the materials we handed out, our nightly projections on buildings throughout central Madrid, and the thousands of clings and posters that were put up around the city.

After the local authorities censored our ads, we targeted their offices and other key players with our projections: the offices of Publimedia—who initially accepted and then rejected our ads for buses and bus shelters; the office of city council member Ana Botella who was reported to be behind the decision to ban the ad and the residence of Archbishop Antonio María Rouco Varela of Madrid, the local prelate, among other high-profile venues.

Marissa Valeri, one of the campaign spokespeople, said, “The pilgrims attending World Youth Day loved the Condoms4Life materials. Pilgrims throughout the city wore our wristbands and discussed the messages on our postcards. Everywhere we went, we saw our stickers and the removable clings. We saw so many people taking pictures of them or even taking them down to share with others.”

The coalition was a huge hit with the media, appearing on TV, radio, in print and online across the globe.

Valeri continued, “Interestingly, Pope Benedict had a very cordial meeting with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Far from shunning or dressing down a politician who has consistently promoted progressive policies that go against the wishes of the Spanish bishops and the Vatican, the pope set all that aside and had a constructive and amiable encounter with the Spanish PM. Hopefully this is a sign of a thaw in the too-often cantankerous relationships that some bishops have with progressive politicians. It would be nice to see bishops working as much as they can with politicians and respectfully agreeing to disagree when necessary.

“Essentially, a key aspect of our Catholic belief system can be described as unity through diversity. The church is certainly diverse, and I truly hope that we can achieve unity by promoting condom use to prevent the spread of HIV and by doing so, save people’s lives.”


Read about the progress the group made this week on the WY4All blog:

See the Condoms4Life campaign ads that were initially banned and then appeared in projections, clings and in media around the world at

The World Youth Day 4 All coalition is a global initiative led, organized and staffed by young people from Azerbaijan, Belize, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Ireland, Jamaica, Morocco, Nicaragua, Poland, Uganda, the United States and Venezuela. The message they want to share with the World Youth Day pilgrims is “Good Catholics Use Condoms” and they say they’ve got the pope on their side, citing his statement late last year acknowledging that condoms use can be an effective and moral step in preventing HIV transmission. Coalition members represent the following organizations: Advocates for Youth (USA); Catholics for Choice; Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Nicaragua); Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (El Salvador); YouAct—European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights; International Planned Parenthood Federation; Irish Family Planning Association (Ireland) and PONTON (Poland).

Condoms4Life is an unprecedented worldwide public education effort to raise awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms. The campaign was launched at World AIDS Day 2001 with billboards and ads in subways and newspapers saying, “Banning Condoms Kills.” According to its own figures, the Catholic church provides as much as one quarter of all care to people living with HIV and AIDS. The pope has recognized the value of condoms in the fight against HIV transmission. However, a few vocal, ultraconservative members of the Catholic hierarchy have tried to rewrite the pope’s words, and with them the truth about condom use by Catholics and in healthcare delivery by Catholic organizations across the globe. With this new ad campaign Catholics for Choice stands by the pope’s statements on condoms as an HIV prevention method that saves lives.