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Vatican Decries Reaction to Pope’s Condom Remarks

posted by akornfeld

Vatican City – Critics of the Catholic Church’s social teachings are trying to intimidate Pope Benedict XVI into silence, the Vatican charged Friday in responding to attacks on the pontiff’s remarks about AIDS and condom use.
In a strongly worded statement, the Vatican defended the pope’s view that condoms aren’t the answer to Africa’s AIDS epidemic and could make it worse. On his way to Africa last month, he said the best strategy is the church’s effort to promote sexual responsibility through abstinence and monogamy.
France, Germany, the United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency and the British medical journal The Lancet called the remarks irresponsible and dangerous. The Belgian parliament passed a resolution calling them “unacceptable” and demanded Belgium’s government officially protest.
Belgium’s ambassador to the Holy See lodged the formal protest Wednesday, prompting the Vatican Secretariat to issue its tough statement denouncing the Belgian vote.
The Vatican deplored “the fact that a parliamentary assembly should have thought it appropriate to criticize the Holy Father on the basis of an isolated extract from an interview, separated from its context.”
It said Benedict’s remarks to reporters had been “used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the church’s doctrine.”
The Vatican said the criticism of the pontiff was followed by an “unprecedented media campaign” in Europe extolling the value of condoms in fighting AIDS while ignoring Benedict’s message about the need for responsible sexuality and to care for those suffering from AIDS.
The statement was the latest sign of the Vatican’s increasing defensiveness and frustration as it tries to get Benedict’s message out. It follows a maelstrom of criticism – including from within the church itself – after the pope lifted the excommunication of a bishop who denied the Holocaust.
Vatican officials said they acted so forcefully this time because the Belgian criticism required a formal, diplomatic response.
“The Vatican is responding to this protest in a measured and balanced way, but also firmly and clearly,” said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “We are making it clear that the pope and the church won’t be intimidated by these criticisms or by media campaigns and will continue to staunchly support Catholic positions on moral issues.”
The Belgian resolution, which passed April 2, said Benedict’s comments ran against numerous international declarations and actions taken by the U.N. and groups fighting AIDS and other transmittable diseases. It called the remarks “unacceptable” and said the Belgian government didn’t share them.
The Rev. John Wauck, professor of literature at the Pontifical Santa Croce University in Rome, said the Vatican’s response was diplomatically appropriate and was actually restrained in that it didn’t highlight the enormous work that the Catholic Church undertakes in caring for AIDS sufferers.
“Sending a package of prophylactics signifies a lot less in terms of self-giving in comparison to someone who has left their country and dedicates their lives to caring for people sick with AIDS,” Wauck said.
He noted much of the criticism came not from Africa but from the West. Africans “weren’t up in arms about what the pope was saying. The people who were up in arms are in Brussels,” he said.
The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against contraception. It advocates sexual abstinence and sexual faithfulness between husband and wife as the best ways to combat the spread of HIV.
While some churchmen have said condoms are a “lesser evil” in combatting the spread of AIDS, others say condoms can increase the scourge by providing a false sense of security.
The Vatican said it was consoled that Africans and some members of the scientific community had appreciated the pontiff’s remarks.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, ran an article Friday summarizing reports in mainstream Western newspapers quoting experts who have questioned the efficacy of condoms alone in fighting AIDS.
Wauck cited those reports in saying the criticism of the pope was scientifically uninformed.
“I don’t think it necessarily comes from hostility, but what you got was very instinctive reactions based on presuppositions that turn out not to be the case,” he said.
Associated Press
Associated Press writer Constant Brand in Brussels contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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pagansister

posted April 17, 2009 at 8:25 pm


What else would the Vatican say? HEllO, they work for Benny!! Guess the world isn’t suppoed to have an opinion on Benny’s mighty pronouncements.



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Callaigh

posted April 17, 2009 at 8:56 pm


This seems to me to be a case of two opposing sides that don’t need to be, mostly because of deliberate misunderstanding (of course due to ideological differences.)
On the one hand, the Vatican has a point about condoms ALONE(!!) promoting a false sense of security. Education about safe practices and care for the ill are both gravely necessary.
That said, saying that monogamy and abstinence ALONE are sufficient, while technically true, is less than ideal when relapse (failure) rates and the cultural barriers involved are taken into account — just like with condoms.
Comprehensive sex education and compassion are the true solutions here, but if in the meanwhile all we’ve got is condoms, we can hope they slow things down a little while that comprehensive education works through.



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nnmns

posted April 17, 2009 at 9:34 pm


As I’ve said before, condoms clearly aren’t the whole answer and few if any of the people involved say they are. But clearly they are an important part of the answer and PB wants to take all condoms away from everyone. And his statement could easily be used or interpreted to mean people should not use them to protect their wives and any future children.
This is not defense of a correct position, it’s damage control.



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cknuck

posted April 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm


No one has the power to take condoms away but the pope is right about abstinenece and monogamy and I think in the bigger picture the pope is trying to send a message that could save many people through changing the culture concerning relationships. This change will make the countries affected stronger, the behavior that condoms promote will change nothing. The good pope’s insight is wasted on the poeple who are powerless over their drives and desires.



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nnmns

posted April 18, 2009 at 2:40 am


“The good pope’s insight is wasted on the poeple who are powerless over their drives and desires.”
Given that we all give in to our drives once in a while, it’s good to have a back-up. That’s what the Pope and his ilk want to take away from everyone.



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Your Name

posted April 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm


I don’t believe the Pope or his ‘ilk’ are advocating making contraception illegal or forcefully removing it from those who already possess it. The Vatican seems more or less consigned to accept that as long as people give in to their urges then they won’t have any reservations about using contraception. He’s only trying to influence those who would listen, ie those of a noncaptive audience. Too bad if it offends those of a different persuasion.



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Tom

posted April 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm


Above post mine.



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nnmns

posted April 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm


I believe it’s Vatican policy that contraceptives are bad and to be opposed; they don’t mention it much in the US because they are so far from being able to illegalizee them and they take the long-term, one thing at a time approach. Here’s an article about fairly recent history on that at a Georgetown U. law school site.
No, given the power to do it, the RCC would take effective contraception away from us all.



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cknuck

posted April 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm


WOW nnmns you really had to dig deep to pull up that article it’s a ancient and I am sure it has nothing to do with how the pope wants to approach the condom situation in Africa. I’m equally sure it is not about “illegalizing” but a moral and Christian approach to an epidemic problem that is so far beyond the western world’s thinking or concern, his approach is more than a bandage.



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nnmns

posted April 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm


cknuck sometimes you are so naive. When your organization has existed well over a thousand years and you expect it to exist as long again that’s not long ago at all.
Let’s look at the relevant doctrine, Humanae Vitae (1968). Here’s the Wikipedia article. Some quotes:
“Mainly because of its prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception, the encyclical has been controversial.”
“In this encyclical Paul VI reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s traditional view of marriage and marital relations and a continued condemnation of artificial birth control.”
“Pope John Paul II readdressed some of the same issues in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor. He reaffirmed much of Humanae Vitae, and specifically described the practice of artificial contraception as an act not permitted by Catholic teaching in any circumstances.”
Pope Benedict speaking on Humanae Vitae on May 12, 2008: “Humanae Vitae became “a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition… What was true yesterday is true also today.”
So they do not like artificial [i.e. effective] contraception but, due to its popularity, they aren’t publicly trying to deny it. If somehow they had the power to do it, they would take it away from us in a minute. And you’ve got to figure they are working against it wherever they can.



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cknuck

posted April 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm


nnmns how can I be naive when I know this already I just happen to agree with part of what the pope is saying about condoms, the African culture and HIV. Your statement of “they would take it away from us in a minute” is your stuff because it only exist in your imagination, to the rest of the world it is impossible so there for irrelevant, of no importance, if you will.
Our culture and our treatment of sex have to change but of course we like many other civilizations at the height of our love of decadence are blind to change. I am sure the pope sees some hope for change in the African situation or maybe a, desperation to stay off the death of a people. So yeah I’m on the pope’s side on this one, condoms are not the answer the importance of relationship is more of a solution.



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Henrietta22

posted April 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm


It would be a waste of time to try and change the social truths of the Vatican and the Pope. People who are trying to save people from AIDS, and HIV have to speake up and show that condoms are a helper along with abstinence, and staying within a marriage. It is wrong to not use everything there is to keep from catching HIV. To haggle over this just to try and keep followers of RC from never using contraceptives is selfish, and will certainly keep the Catholics busy caring for AIDS patients forever if they follow the path they are on. The sad thing is the people who are so meek will try to do it the Pope’s way and will probably perish.



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nnmns

posted April 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm


cknuck, I think the Pope would not say any variant of “Condoms are part of the solution for AIDS.” Would you say they are part of the solution? If so, you are not in agreement with the Pope.
If I’m wrong about this maybe Tom or Nate or even Bob will be able to convince me.



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Your Name

posted April 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm


okay nnmns here it is in my opinion, condoms it a committed relationship or marriage where one of the two has HIV and the other does not is a choice that may have merit. I personally could not make that choice but some may. But anything other than abstinence, monogamy, or committed or marriage relationships is not a good choice, using condoms for recreational sex in this day and climate is not a good choice and will have bad ramifications on the health of the world. I don’t know how close that comes to what the pope is selling but his statements so far are close enough for me to agree that he does have the best interest at heart for these people. Certainly more so than those who want to pump the place full of condoms that approach has not done much for our young people.



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Henrietta22

posted April 19, 2009 at 3:48 pm


Your Name (cknuck) you say you couldn’t make a choice to save your wife if you suddenly caught HIV? Let’s say you save someones life who has AIDS, and his blood gets into an open sore you have and you develop HIV. Yes, it has happened. Now you want to be intimate with your wife, do you give it to her, use a condom, or just seperate because you no longer can be intimate with anyone? You and the Pope just don’t make sense. Just common sense tells me that condoms have helped people over and over for many years. But common sense can’t be measured against your extremist religious beliefs, can it?



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Your Name

posted April 19, 2009 at 4:20 pm


Okay H22 I really do dislike it when you put words into my mouth, which you are so use to doing. I am Your Name my first post did not go through and I forgot to sign off on the retry. Is that a valuable lesson for you or what? lol on the floor!



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cknuck

posted April 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm


darn it that second try gets me all the time.



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pagansister

posted April 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm


Condoms are just common sense…something Benny doesn’t seem to understand.



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Henrietta22

posted April 19, 2009 at 7:17 pm


Cknuck your quote: Ok nnmns here is my opinion, in a committed relationship or marriage where one of the two has HIV and the other does not may have merit. I personally could not make that choice but some may.
I didn’t put these words in your mouth, you typed them. That’s why I asked you what you would do. I don’t put words in anyones mouth, don’t have to, everyone seems able to comment as they think.



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cknuck

posted April 19, 2009 at 7:53 pm


H22, I ddidn’t say: Your Name (cknuck) you say you couldn’t make a choice to save your wife if you suddenly caught HIV?
you did. So yes those are your words not mine. Be honest about things.



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cknuck

posted April 19, 2009 at 7:55 pm


If I had HIV I would never have sex with anyone who didn’t but then that’s just me. If you want to quote that then that would be my position as stated by me



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nnmns

posted April 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm


A very reasonable position; would that more people took it.



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pagansister

posted April 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm


cknuck: If I had HIV I would never have sex with anyone who didn’t but then that’s just me.”
Wouldn’t expect you to do anything else, cknuck.



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Henrietta22

posted April 19, 2009 at 10:43 pm


Cknuck, thanks for answering my question. I should have worded it differently, it seems. It was a hard question, and I hope it never happens to any of us. The Africans kept having sex with their wives, and in many cases married knowing they had it for years. Don’t know if they are still doing this, but the Pope doesn’t help his followers by saying no condoms. He is sentencing the women to a horrible disease, and their children.



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jestrfyl

posted April 20, 2009 at 11:27 am


The problem is not that the pope proposes that birth control violates his and the RCC’s religious tenets. It is that he makes the audacious claim to speak as the only authoritative voice for all Christianity. There are many of us who are Christian that do not believe as he does. He has not been the only one to give the entire discussion thought or prayerful consideration.
I would hope the pope, whoever it happens to be, would not feel stifled by criticism. But I also hope that the pope would feel they are in the position to state so empahtically that anyone who does not agree with him is condemned.
Sometimes people in positions of authority begin to believe their own publicity too much. They start to act like the monster in bad Japanese sci fi movies, stomping around, bellowing and belching fire. It may not seem fair to so charicatize a personage like the pope, but he is not alone – many other religious Protestant figures assume this posture and are just as tiresome.



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cknuck

posted April 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm


H22 quote, “The Africans kept having sex with their wives,”
Now we’re getting to the real nitty gritty. Not only do they keep having sex eitth their wives they have sex with young girls thinking the act is a help to their health. So men are passing on the HIV to innocents and women infected continue to have sex in hope of finding a stable relationship. I think (I hope) this is what the pope is addressing the cultural and sub-cultural positions that no condom in the world can help.
I remember when I was sowing my wild oats (nothing to be proud of) but I would sneak the condom off because as you know there is no feeling like; well let’s just say flesh against flesh. I would always promise to pull back and the girl would always accept that promise in the heat of passion. I was lucky by the time that HIV hit the scene I was disciplined in my desires and I choose abstinence outside of marriage, other wise it might be different for me.



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Henrietta22

posted April 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm


You are right about no condom in the world will help selfishness and achieving self-centered desires, cknuck, and so is the Pope. And maybe they won’t be used as they should be, but maybe some would work and delay catching HIV, rather than not trying at all. Come on you sowing your wild oats? Hard to believe. ;)



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cknuck

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:18 am


H22, quote “Come on you sowing your wild oats? Hard to believe. ;)”
Yeah, a long long time ago in a land far away, lol.



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Confessoressa

posted April 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm


cknuck,
Or you could have just chosen to do the responsible thing and keep the condom on. There are many men who do just that and have no problem following through with the conviction that it is simply the right thing to do.



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