WISHFUL THINKING, CONDOMS, AFRICA, AND AIDS

When most feuds last for decades and even centuries, I find it hard to believe that fresh news is better news.  So I am usually content to read the morning paper in the evening or the next morning at breakfast.  So what sparked my interest in Friday’s paper on Saturday morning?

Unprecedented pontiff bashing has taken hold in the press – prompted by Pope Benedict XVI’s criticism of the use of condoms in anti-AIDS programs, made on his arrival Tuesday for a weeklong tour of Africa.

“This is one of the most horrifically ignorant statements made by a world leader since former President George W. Bush’s promise to ‘smoke ’em out’ in reference to terrorist leaders including Osama bin Laden,” said Bonnie Erbe, a PBS host and columnist.  (from here)

Curiously, this Washington Times article never stated exactly what the Pope said.  After a little research I determined that all that mattered is that Pope does not support the sacred condom as the sanctified solution to the AIDS virus.  Instead, the Pope believes self restraint is necessary.

What did the Pope say?  The Vatican did not publish the transcript of the Pope’s remarks in English (see here, via the UK Telegraph here).   Fortunately, the Catholic News Service (CNS) did provide a transcript (here) of the Pope’s remarks.  The Pope’s remarks came when he answered the questions of journalists aboard a flight to Cameroon.   Here is the pertinent section of the CNS article.

Lest it be taken out of context, here is the exchange that took place on the pope’s plane. The question’s premise was “The Catholic Church’s position on the way to fight against AIDS is often considered unrealistic and ineffective,” and the pope responded:

“I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant’Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS … and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.

“I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money — which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn’t help.

“One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

“The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

“Therefore I would say this is our double strength — to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one’s own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. … I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this.”  (from here)

Is it not remarkable that there is such an ideological edge to condom use that even these remarks sparked outrage?

Cartoons And Posters

In the first row below, we have three cartoons.   In the second we have a couple of posters.   These cartoons seem to be largely representative of what is available on the Internet.  From conventional wisdom, it seems that quite a few cartoonists have learned that the Pope is an idiot.  Yet the more condoms we pour into Africa, the more people die.

Now consider the posters below (from here and here).  Do they teach people to use condoms or that it is perfectly okay to engage in casual sex?

It may make sense for a married man and woman — two mature adults — to use a condom for birth control.  What I seriously doubt is that it makes sense to use a condom to protect children and relative strangers from each other.   Why would anyone who loves their child choose to teach their child to depend upon the small, thin membrane of a condom to protect themselves from a few moments of frivolous sex?  Is it that difficult to understand that love and the acceptance of responsibility must come before sex?

If you don’t believe how one-sided the cartoons actually are, check out this list from The Cartoonist Group.


17 thoughts on “WISHFUL THINKING, CONDOMS, AFRICA, AND AIDS

  1. Brian – Well, I guess no one else had time to do the research. One thing to consider is that the news article you reference on Brazil was somewhat dated. This link to the CIA World Factbook shows the prevalence of AIDS in Brazil. It is not extraordinary one way or the other. Does that have anything to do with condoms? If statistics of the following sort are to be believed, I doubt it.

    About 80 per cent of young men polled by the Health Ministry reported using condoms, although just 40 per cent of women said they insist on it, Temporao said, without giving more details on the survey. Nearly 600,000 Brazilians are HIV positive, of whom 200,000 are being treated, he said. (from here)

    What works in theory does not always work in practice.

    HIV/AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate among teenage girls in Brazil, with six 13 to 19-year-old girls infected for every boy in that age group.

    That is the only category in which the growth of the epidemic shows such ”a huge gender difference,” with the rate dropping among teenage boys and rising swiftly among girls, Alexandre Granjeiro, the head of the Brazilian Health Ministry’s division on Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (ETS/Sida), said in an interview with IPS. (continued here)

    While condoms and the elaborate rituals you linked to may work in theory, it is much easier just to tell kids they are not allowed to have sex. Of course, parents do have to be willing to behave like parents.

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  2. Proven? In just one country? We don’t have a worldwide AIDS problem? I guess Brazil is the only place where everyone is smart enough to use condoms appropriately.

    I am preoccupied with other activities at the moment. Would anyone else like to comment on Brian’s references?

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  3. Look at the references provided by Tony. The protection afforded by a condom is minimal, at best. However, I suppose some protection is better than none. So, I suppose we can agree that most of the the sleep-around survivors use condoms. The same people probably also exercise a little more discretion as to who they sleep with.

    That said, I suspect sleeping around is like a great many other ills. There is much talk about sex which the young imitate not fully understanding why their elders think the talk foolish. Why don’t they understand? It is the way we educate. We provide the technical details of an education without providing much understanding of the moral imperatives. Too often, we don’t even try.

    When we teach an adolescent about sex without any instruction about the responsibilities involved, we have set that kid up for trouble. This is akin to handing someone a gun without explaining which end the bullet comes out.

    Here is an example. When I was in college, I had a roommate who slept around. He was “careful.” He kept track of the times he got STDs; he did not want to suffer permanent damage. Who did he sleep with? Well, I knew of one “girl friend”; he did not take her seriously, but she took him seriously. How did I learn this? When she called for him, I answered the phone. She was drunk and persistent, but there was nothing I could do. He was not interested. He had used her. She knew it, but she could not accept it.

    Unfortunately, the young woman did not fully appreciate the emotional implications of having sexual intercourse until she had had sex intercourse. Yet the knowledge of the problems involved is very old. As the Apostle Paul explain better than I could, when two people couple they become one flesh (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

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  4. “Isn’t anyone who is going to do it with as many people as they can unlikely to use protection?”

    Not necessarily. Promiscuity has nothing to do with whether or not you wear a condom. Many people who “sleep around” use protection every time. Trust me on this one 🙂

    Like

  5. Isn’t anyone who is going to do it with as many people as they can unlikely to use protection? Isn’t that why this matter is first a moral problem and, second, a technical issue?

    Like

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