25 March 2009

The Pope, AIDS and Condoms

Like many, I was rather saddened that the whole condom debate, and media furore, which rather overshadowed HH Pope Benedict's trip to Africa. I have been mulling over the issues, comments and reports and just today came across this wonderful piece by Michael Czerny SJ. I'm particularly impressed that he writes out of personal experience as well as offering insightful views of those actually affected in sub-Saharan Africa. Not, like me, those with Western views and experience of the issues involved. He concludes:

The Holy Father concludes by answering again the journalist’s allegation of ‘unrealistic and ineffective?’: ‘It seems to me that this is the proper response, and the Church does this, thereby offering an enormous and important contribution. We thank all who do so.’

According to my experience, most Africans, Catholic or not, agree. To them, what the Holy Father said is profound and true. He is reiterating what they have been experiencing for years and what they continue to expect. They too thank those who implement the Church’s strategy.

Even if we don't accept his experience and knowledge of the subject, then we can listen to the voice of the Kenyan Bishops, who said, in 2006:
Even if HIV did not make pre-marital sex, fornication, adultery, abuse of minors and rape so terribly dangerous, they would still be wrong and always have been. It is not the risk of HIV or the sufferings of AIDS, which make sexual licence immoral; these are violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments which are sinful, and today in Kenya surely the worst of their many destructive consequences is HIV and AIDS. The Church does not teach a different sexual morality, when or where AIDS poses no danger. But this teaching is not easy for ‘the world’ including the media to understand, much less accept.
Excellent reading. Highly recommended.

Michael Czerny SJ is Director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN)

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