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Thursday, April 27, 2006

AIDS- Africa - the Church

I came across a couple of articles on the subject of AIDS in Africa and the Church ... perhaps this is a sign of a change in the Church's stand on the use of condoms there.

Aids and the lesser evil - the editorial - The Tablet ...

The Vatican could no longer ignore the evidence of a serious division of opinion in the Catholic Church about the use of condoms in the fight against HIV-Aids. It was therefore judicious of Pope Benedict XVI to call for a review of the medical and theological issues soon after his election, a review now being undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Health Care. News of the review coincided with the publication of an interview with Cardinal Martini, widely regarded as the principal alternative candidate for the papacy in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI a year ago, where he added his voice to those of other senior church figures who have expressed similar views in favour of a limited use of condoms. As he put it in an interview with an Italian magazine, there may be occasions where the use of a condom by a married person to protect their spouse from infection could be the lesser evil.

The Church & AIDS in Africa - Condoms & the Culture of Life by Marcella Alsan, MD _ Commonweal ...

This is the reality: a married woman living in Southern Africa is at higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than an unmarried woman. Extolling abstinence and fidelity, as the Catholic Church does, will not protect her; in all likelihood she is already monogamous. It is her husband who is likely to have HIV. Yet refusing a husband’s sexual overtures risks ostracism, violence, and destitution for herself and her children. Given these realities, isn’t opposing the use of condoms tantamount to condemning countless women to death? In the midst of the AIDS epidemic, which has already killed tens of millions and preys disproportionately on the poor, the condom acts as a contra mortem and its use is justified by the Catholic consistent ethic of life.


11 Comments:

Blogger afp763389 said...

:)

hello in this cloudy morning

12:05 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Crystal, related with your post check the link below on www.chiesa. It is a lenghty but interesting article.
http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=51790&eng=y

4:27 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hmmm...the link is too long...again:
http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/
dettaglio.jsp?id=51790&eng=y

4:29 AM  
Blogger Father Basil said...

I've always found the RC objection to the use of condoms to be rather puzzling. I understand the objection to the birth control pill, though I don't share it, because it can be thought of as something that can lead to spontaneous abortion. But the objection to condoms cannot be made on the same ground.

The basic objection to condoms, as I understand it, is that by preventing the possibility of procreation a human being is altering the nature of the sexual act and making it morally illicit. The basic premise being that anything that prevents the possibility of procreation makes sex bad. But then why would the Church allow for and even encourage the use of the rhythm method? It also works as an attempt to avoid procreation. Shouldn't that also make sex bad?

The situation of HIV/AIDS in Africa is dire. I don't know if opening up the possibility of condom use among Catholics will help. There are many cultural stereotypes to avoid, and women unfortunately are at the greatest risk because they are so often made subordinate to men in sexual interactions. But even if it doesn't help tremendously, loosening the moral restrictions on the use of condoms couldn't hurt. I hope the Roman Catholic Church makes this move. It would be a sign that the current pope is paying attention to the needs of the so called "third world."

7:13 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hello afp763389. It's sunny here :-).

Paula - thanks for the link. I think Cardinal Martini is a very interesting guy!

Fr. Basil -

I think you're right about the inconsistancy of the RCC stance on birth control. I understand the idea that sex without the possibility of procreation my lead to sex that is only selfish in nature, and not "giving" to the other, but as you pointed out, the rhythm method would seem to fall into that catagory.

About condums - one article I read said that docs are working on a method of HIV protection that a woman can use without the cooperation of her partner, so if he doesn't want to use a condum, she will still be protected from the virus.

11:33 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

PS - I should mention that I don't think the church sees sex without procreation as a bad thing ... Humanae Vitae seems to say there are worthwhile reasons for those married to have sex without wanting children

12:27 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

My wife and I have been blessed with six children in thirteen years of marriage. Generally speaking, we are in accord with the Church on being open to the transmission of life. All of our children were planned and wanted.

Having established our Humanae Vitae bona fides, I think I have the right to offer a question about rythym (and NFP) and the issues regarding selfishness, because I think you and Father Basil bring up good points... When you have as many young children as we do, intimacy can be like a car wreck. You never know when it is going to happen, and when it does, it is almost entirely unexpected and you rarely see it coming.

My rhetorical question:

Which is more selfish from a husband's perspective:

A) Planning a specific time for intimacy using NFP, a time in in which the wife is less naturally receptive than she is when she is ovulating. A time that can easily and arbitrarily be upset by anything else that occurs that day (problems at work, with children, a spat, etc... ) which causes stress and lessens the receptivity for intimacy.

B) Enjoying intimacy at the time when the wife is naturally more receptive to her husband, and when the conditions are amenable to both husband and wife in general, using an age-old method that is more "open to life" than both NFP and artificial contraception, but has been condemned by the Church using some questionable exegesis on the story of Onan in Genesis.

I'd be interested in what people think, or, you can just file it under the "too much information" category.

7:21 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jeff, don't worry, you're not "over-sharing" :-). I think you have a valid point.

I'm really the last person who should give opinions on this subject, as all my relationships have been miles away from the ideal the church imagines in Humanae Vitae, but this issue (in Africa) seems to be not so much about birth control, or even intimate bonding, as protecting the lives of the adult partners. As that doctor in the Commonweal article wrote ...

... the condom acts as a contra mortem and its use is justified by the Catholic consistent ethic of life.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous coco said...

Allow the Vatican to dictate the moral policy of millions of people is a crime, while they claim the condom "is a sin", and while this people is dying
If we affirm the radical islam is medieval for how they treat women, what the Vatican is?..
More about what I think in: http://cocosworld.wordpress.com/2006/05/08/catholics-and-modern-world-los-catolicos-y-el-mundo-moderno/

9:37 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Coo, thanks for dropping by and for your comments.

1:49 PM  
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