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  • on 22.11.2010
  • at 04:46 PM
  • by Staff

Africa and Pope’s condom move 0

Pope Benedict said in a new book, Light of the World, that the Church does not see condom use as “a real or moral solution” to the AIDS problem. But it could be justified in some cases, such as a male prostitute who uses one to reduce the risk of infection and thus take responsibility for his actions”.

The news could reignite fresh debate within the Catholic Church on use of condoms.

While the church hurriedly moved to put the record straight; “The comments do not change the church’s ban on contraception” dissident Catholics, Aids workers and commentators greeted it as breakthrough.

“It is a victory for common sense and reason, a major step forward towards recognising that condom use can play a vital role in reducing the future impact of the HIV pandemic, said Jon O’Brien, head of the US group Catholics for Choice.

Kenyan Catholic leadership is still mum as it awaits the return of the head of the Chruch, Cardinal John Njue who is currently in Rome.

Enquiries of the church position on the matter were not answered.

Cardinal Njue’s personal assistant Fr Calistus Nyagilo Oduor said the Cardinal was in Rome to welcome new cardinals ordained into the College of Cardinals by the Pope on Friday.

Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC) Secretary General Fr Vincent Wambugu and Fr Oduor said it was only the Cardinal who also doubles up as the Chairman of KEC, who could state the church’s position on the matter.

“We have not received any official communication from the Vatican on the matter and until that happens we cannot comment,” added Fr Wambugu.

The Holy See’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement stressing that the Pope’s comment in a book being published on Tuesday neither “reforms or changes” church teaching, which forbids use of condoms and other contraceptives.

Neither was Benedict “morally justifying” the unbridled exercise of sexuality, Lombardi added.

The pope maintains that condom use to lessen the danger of infection is a “first assumption of responsibility,” the statement said, quoting from the book.

The Catholic Church has historically opposed all forms of artificial contraception.

But in 2005, Bishop Boniface Lele of Kitui, was reported saying condoms use could “mean the difference between life and death.”

He was then quoted as saying HIV-positive couples “faced with the sad prospect” of having their family “wiped out” by the disease could prolong life by using condoms, which might be a “lifesaver” in such situations.

Lele said “emerging circumstances in the life of the living church confront our conscience every time members of our church are under threat.”

In South Africa, the Roman Catholic Church condemned promotion of condoms within the country, saying it fails to curb the spread of HIV and may increase promiscuity.

Cardinal Wilfred Napier is quoted in 2005 as saying there was “no evidence” that condom promotion works to prevent HIV transmission and that, as a contraceptive, condoms have a failure rate.

“Can you show me one example where condoms have stopped the spread of AIDS?” he asked, adding, “If you look at South Africa, millions have been spent promoting condoms, and we have one of the highest rates in the world. By promoting condoms, we are promoting immoral behaviour.” Napier was quoted by the Press adding that promiscuity is “more damaging” than the HIV/AIDS pandemic,

The Catholic Church’s position on contraception was formally explained and expressed by Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae in 1968.

Artificial contraception is considered a mortal sin, but methods of natural family planning are morally permissible in some circumstances, as they do not usurp the natural way of conception.

In justification of this position, Pope Paul VI claimed: “Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

In issuing Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI relied on the Minority Papal Commission Report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control. The Minority report argued that:

“One can find no period of history, no document of the church, no theological school, scarcely one Catholic theologian, who ever denied that contraception was always seriously evil. The teaching of the Church in this matter is absolutely constant. Until the present century this teaching was peacefully possessed by all other Christians, whether Orthodox or Anglican or Protestant. The Orthodox retain this as common teaching today.”

On July 17, 1994, John Paul II clarified the Church’s position during a meditation said prior to an angelus recitation.

In 1997, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family stated
:

“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.”

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI asserted that handing out condoms is not the solution to combating AIDS and might makes the problem worse.

Some senior Catholic authorities, such as Belgian Cardinal Emeritus Godfried Danneels, believe the Catholic Church should support condoms used to prevent serious diseases such as AIDS, because non-use is tantamount to murder.

In 2003 the BBC’s
Panorama claimed that Vatican is intentionally spreading lies that HIV virus can pass through the membrane of the condom.

Many Western Catholics have voiced significant disagreement with the Church’s stance on contraception.

Catholics for a Free Choice claimed in 1998 that 96 per cent of U.S. Catholic women had used contraceptives at some point in their lives and that 72 per cent of Catholics believed that one could be a good Catholic without obeying the Church’s teaching on birth control.

According to a nationwide poll of 2,242 U.S. adults surveyed online in September 2005 by Harris Interactive, 90 per centof Catholics supported the use of birth control/contraceptives.

Use of natural family planning methods among United States Catholics purportedly is low, although the number cannot be known with certainty.

By Henry NeondoNews From Africa

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