Signaling a meaningful change from President George W. Bush's disastrous policies, the Obama administration last week endorsed a United Nations statement calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. The primary opponents of this measure were radical Islamist countries and the Vatican, representing a new unholy alliance across the globe.
The previous day on his way to Africa, the Pope spoke to reporters about the role condoms play in the prevention of HIV. Unbelievably, the Pontiff said they make the epidemic worse.
"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the Pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he began a seven-day pilgrimage on the continent. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
Internationally, people were stunned at the Pope's scientific ignorance and indifference to human suffering. Africa, after all, is a continent with more than 22 million people living with the disease. Only thin strips of latex have stopped this figure from rapidly multiplying and leaving behind an even more horrific trail of death.
How many people is this man willing to see die to defend his outdated dogma? How high must the body count be before the Pope is no longer considered pro-life?
French foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier justifiably reacted with exasperation when he said, "While it is not up to us to pass judgment on Church doctrine, we consider that such comments are a threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life." German officials called the Pope's statement "irresponsible" urged the availability of condoms in Africa.
How ironic that a Pope fixated on stanching the decline of the Catholic Church in Western Europe would declare something so out of touch with the modern world. His unconscionable cruelty has transformed him into crusty relic on the verge of irrelevance.
Appearing on Fox's O'Reilly Factor last week, I debated the Pope's statement with writer Raymond Arroyo. I pointed out that UNAIDS, calls the condom the "single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV." Arroyo responded with a bizarre conspiracy theory saying that the United Nations group was only trying to "protect the government infusion of money to these condom programs that have demonstrably not worked at all."
Then I asked Arroyo point blank: "If all the condoms in Africa magically disappeared, would the number of HIV cases increase or decrease?"
He responded that HIV would decrease if people would model their lives on the Pope's "ideal way in which to live."
In the ideal world promoted by Arroyo, priests would not rape little boys, while getting shuffled around parishes to protect the church. In the real world, the Vatican has spent millions of dollars to pay for child abuse lawsuits. In Arroyo's fantasy world, young people pledge abstinence until marriage. In the real world, studies show that teens taking virginity pledges were just as likely to engage in sex -- and less likely to use birth control or condoms when they finally did.
It is such wanton disregard for reality and wearing of rose-colored shades to blind oneself from avoidable carnage that define fanaticism. There is something pathological and perverse in the psyche of people willing to do enormous wrong in order to prove their doctrine right.
The history books will not be kind to this Pope. From rehabilitating Holocaust deniers, to rampant homophobia, to fighting against legislation allowing victims of child sexual abuse to sue, "Bumbling Benedict" seems to lurch from one avoidable crisis to another.
As he flails in his attempts to woo Europe and ultimately fails in the West, the Pontiff will increasingly dupe the developing world. His road show will focus on poor countries where people aren't as attuned to the ethical depravity of his unscientific proclamations. Indeed, few people will hear from those suffering after the Pope goes home and they die in silent anonymity -- victims of a flawed and fatalistic vision. Far from infallibility, this Pope has failed on so many levels that he has virtually no credibility on matters of morality.
During the show, Arroyo asked me, "What do you want him to do, hand out IUD's and condoms from the Pope Mobile?"
If that's what it takes to save human lives, then the answer is yes. One would think that this is what a man of God would be commanded to do. But, sadly, compassion is out of fashion at the Vatican these days.
The Pope is a business man first: the fewer condoms, the more little Catholics being born to continue to fill his coffers, which after all have decreased due to the settlement of pedophile cases. It's good business passing off as Catholic dogma. Granted Wayne, he may not be pro life as per your piece, but he is certainly pro bucks! richard schillen
posted by richard schillen, at
3/23/2009 10:30 PM
Great statement by this Arroyo fellow about the Pope handing out IUD's and condoms from the Popemobile. And IUDs have what to do with HIV transmission? His conflation of IUDs and condoms supports R. Schillen's viewpoint, that what the Vatican is really concerned with is keeping the birth rate high.
posted by Cacau, at
3/23/2009 10:42 PM
Now today, he says that "his heart cannot be at peace while people (in Africa) are homeless". Aparently, the Angolan government has violently evicted thousands of people from land owned by the catholic church, yes the church owns land in Africa. If this bigot and hypocrite were a real christian and put his money where his mouth is, he'd do exactly what Jesus Christ said..."sell all you have if you want to follow me". I don't see him doing that so readily, do you, condom distribution aside.
posted by Robert, NYC., at
3/24/2009 6:45 AM
We are witnessing the actions of one of the most evil institutions on the face of the planet.
posted by Chris L., at
3/24/2009 8:00 AM
I agree Chris. I've never understood how any intelligent, decent human can adopt this doctrine ~ and there are many brainwashed by this. I believe the Pope is hanging himself now though, as these words are eroding the imagine of so called compassion. Keeping the issues active and exposed will further bring this hypocrisy to light...
posted by TrevorHere, at
3/24/2009 9:05 AM
I agree TrevorHere. Give the old bastard enough rope and he will hang himself. Goddess knows why they had to elect this piece of crap as Pope. Surely there were some decent, humane members of the College of Cardinals, men who would be far worthier to be Pope.
No, I in general do not like the Roman Catholic Church--actually in particulars as well. The one good thing about Benedicta is that she will continue to make the church more and more irrelevant as time goes on.
I have yet to see a picture of this queen (and that is an insult to good queens everywhere) that has him looking as if he isn't thinking of yet more evil to commit and spout. This character is a waste of oxygen!
posted by Merlyn, at
3/24/2009 10:10 AM
This is all great and parts of the Pope's comments greatly disturb me, but there are some problems with the argument laid out in this blog.
1. There is not a shred of evidence presented here to show a correlation (forget causal relationship) between condom promotion and reductions in a general population-level epidemic. (This is not to be confused with individual condom use for protecting an individual.) This is not surprising because no such evidence has withstood peer-review in a scientific journal. By contrast, evidence concerning the effectiveness of partner reduction has been published in Science and the Lancet. I believe that every individual engaging in high-risk sex should use a condom, that should not be confused with believing, after 25 years of condom promotion, that condoms will put a dent in the population epidemic. Reason: even when they have access to them, in the heat of the moment, people don't use them frequently enough to lower their overall risk.
2. The facts are that the Bush administration, disgusted with it as I am, provided far more condoms to Africa than the Clinton administration or any other administration in history. The problem that people have is that this is not all they did. They actually had the audacity to try other things (seeing how more than two decades of solely promoting condoms had not done a thing): one of them (abstinence) did not work (interestingly for the same reason that condoms had not... no such thing as partial compliance with abstinence and partial compliance with condoms does not reduce your vulnerability to infected sexual networks) and one has shown considerable promise (partner reduction, which is inherently partial compliance and it does reduce vulnerabity to infected sexual networks).
There are areas where condoms work. Promotion of condoms to specific high-risk groups (e.g., Thai brothels) has proven extraordinarily successful (though note there has been an exceptionally large decline in the number of people visiting said brothels -- partner reduction)...
But do not think for one second that focusing solely on condoms and testing is magically going to solve the problem. (And that is what a reversal of Bush's "disastrous"-to-some constitutes).
We have already been down this road before. Advocates, such as the person writing this blog, ran our international AIDS program from 1985-2002, and during this period they refuse to fund any intervention that was not about promoting condoms.
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posted by SEO, at
8/17/2009 11:03 PM