This statement, which is really a restatement of constant Catholic teaching, has started a firestorm of angry outbursts from around the world condemning the pope and the Catholic Church for our “backward”, “ignorant”, and “dogma over life” approach.
Seems Pope Benedict reads G. K. Chesterton:
"I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean."
The Holy Father should be pretty clean considering how much hot water he gets in!
The secular media are quick to invoke quotes from all sorts of people condemning the Catholic position but I have yet to see one that clearly articulates what our position is. Simply that HIV (the virus that can lead to AIDS) is spread primarily through sexual contact and the most effective method of preventing the transmission of HIV is to prevent the sexual act in the first place.
“Impossible” say some. “Unrealistic” say others. “Too restrictive” say the rest.
I disagree. Sam L. Ruteikara is the co-founder of the ABC program (Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms as a last resort) in Uganda that began in the late 1980’s. During this program which promoted fidelity to one partner above all else (condoms are purely a last resort) Uganda saw a decrease in HIV-infected population go from 21% in 1991 to 6% in 2002.
Then AIDs organizations came in and told them the ABC program doesn’t work and instead forced the distribution of condoms. Guess what? HIV rates in Uganda have risen again. Guess what else? Those same AIDs supporters think the solution is more condoms even though condoms are much more readily available in Uganda today than anytime before.
Ruteikara’s full commentary can be found here. It’s well worth a read.
But what about sexual liberation? Shouldn’t people be able to have sex with whomever they want whenever they want? The Catholic position is “no”. Sexual intimacy is a gift from God to be used within the context of marriage. Some things are dangerous and should be avoided; promiscuity is one of them.
You don’t tell you children to wear orange vests when they play in the street so cars will avoid them, you tell them not to play in the street at all! This isn’t restrictive; it’s effective and simply makes sense.
The effective way to prevent HIV happens to be difficult and very, very inexpensive. The popular way is easy and extremely expensive (think about who pays for those “free” condoms? Governments including the United States government). What a coincidence that so many voices rise up in opposition of an inexpensive solution. A coincidence to be sure.