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Monday, April 24, 2006

Vatican 'may relax condom rules'

Don't be alarmed by the headline above...it's not that the Pope is going to begin handing out condoms to priests and nuns (story here). They are, however, considering relaxing the ban on the use of condoms for people gravely ill - for example, for a married couple where one partner lives with HIV/AIDS. The compassionate Cardinals feel that using a condom will be a 'lesser sin'. How understanding.

Okay, tell me why this is progress over the Middle Ages (or Dark Ages)? True believing Catholics are not supposed to use birth control and, of course, unmarried Catholics don't have sex. So, what about this rampant wave of death and misery in the Catholic world's major recruiting ground, Africa? The Catholic Church has reinforced ignorance and denial of the problem and supported the spread of the virus through its anti-condom policy.

Who is thinking about the 80 to 90 million Africans who will die from AIDS by 2025? Who is thinking prevention? Who is thinking compassion and spending the dough that would save millions of people? (By the way, I know not all Catholics support all of the Vatican's interpretations and rules and that there are more subtle understandings available - but I do wonder why there isn't more of a groundswell from within the church - to either revolt against the boys club or to start a new branch of the church...)

It's popular in the US now to ask WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). Many assume they know the answer and wear their WWJD with pride. Of course, Jesus would invade Iraq, bomb the hell out of Iran, tax the poor to feed the super rich, avoid universal health care and travel from school to school getting young people to sign virginity pledges. Apparently, to some, he would also write arcane laws that delve into the bedrooms of humans around the world...and one whole subsection would be on condoms. Busy man, that Jesus.

Okay, it's Monday morning, so I'll post a nice positive photo to go with my rant. That's a picture of Nelson, BC, where I live.

I think this is an important development in Vatican and they are slowly realizing the gravity of the situation...wish they could have done it earlier.
It is a step in the right direction...
...but I do wonder why there isn't more of a groundswell from within the church - to either revolt against the boys club or to start a new branch of the church...

The Vatican trapped itself in the 1800s by declaring the doctrine of infallibility. Nothing that is declared infallible can later be retracted. You see the problem. And if it admits that it was wrong about one issue, it has to open the door to the possibility that it could be wrong about anything at all.

There has been a huge groundswell in Europe and North America, but most people see the cause of reform as being so utterly hopeless that they just leave. There are also several Catholic offshoot churches (I'll try to find a couple links) that maintain the liturgy without the anachronisms.
"In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies of liberty."

-David Hume
For years, my brother kept a poster on his bedroom wall: "Jesus is coming, and man, is he pissed."

I wonder if he'd want his good name tarnished this way.

Beautiful pic.
I haven't really researched this one, but I spoke at length with someone who had. If I recall correctly (and I assure you, I do), it was a pope that had re-introduced the use of the condom; this after it had become an antiquated technology.
The story goes that the church was losing a lot of nuns due to pregnancy following rape; this during the times after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was determined that for the nuns to refuse their ravishers would amount to suicide, and this must necessarily be avoided; but they might ask if their attckers might please wear this little doo-dad, and all would be well. (This is a re-telling by paraphrase, btw)

Sorry to say, but the first thing that came to mind seeing this headline was a rather droll question regarding the buggery of minors. Seems to draw quite a parallel with the historical example above. All will be well.

Beautiful place, that Nelson. Does that mountain behind it have a name?
Jublu, if I recall that bedroom was in Hell - that's one brave brother (and I don't think his name has been tarnished by this :)

PT - that's really an interesting tale - the Vatican has a long history with what the Monty Python film calls, "those wee rubber thingees".

The mountain behind Nelson on that side is Hall Mountain. Have a peek at some other sites here
I treid to leave a comment earlier but Blogger was having none of it.

There is a groundswell of sorts in this country by Catholics who ignore Rome. I wish they'd speak out though.

I don't understand people who claim to value life but are willing to let millions of people, including the innocent women and babies, die.

I commented on another blog about the vaccine for cervical cancer. It prevents the types of cancer in women which might be caused at least partially by sexual activity. The religious right is appalled. It will promote promiscuity so they say.

My God!!

Thanks for your comment on isamericaburning.

We sure are ranting in tune Gary. As I said the Christian Politburo's move: too little too late!
Hi Gary

I think HIV -- AIDS is a disease of our poor African countries – whose women need to be given power to protect themselves. That’s the first thought that comes to me!! , from my limited first hand knowledge of the situation!!

There are some good men, but the prevalence is towards a culture of disrespect and violence towards women, a catalyst for its rapid spread.
I’m not against condoms but if the Catholic Church said it’s Ok with Condoms my guess is wont change behaviours of men in Africa.

Religions in Africa to day are competing to see which can be the stronger, Islam or Christianity with Christianity often bundled together in “Basic Christen Communities” for refuge to compete with Islam, and prone to be very hard line, afraid otherwise to be seen as weak, rather than speaking out against violence and for social justice. In sub-Saharan Africa, with 25 million of the 40 million people infected with HIV women account for nearly 60 percent of infections. Most are acquired through heterosexual intercourse with men who are notoriously reluctant to use condoms, and who have multiple partners.

The availability of a microbicide gel to women for protection against the virus would be an answer, once developed together with educational human rights indicatives to promote the status of women as equal citizens and to promote social justice.

best wishes
"Relax condom rules" - I was born and raised Catholic, but such a decree from the Vatican makes me cringe with embarrassment for admitting that I am a Catholic. But I suppose they can argue that I am not a true Catholic since I don't follow their "rules" to the letter.

In any event, WWJD? Certainly not what is happening in today's world.
Hi Nova - thanks for visiting - I really like your site's new look.

Lindsay, I think you're right - HIV/AIDS in Africa won't be eliminated by the church letting up on its condom ban. It's more complex
- and education, honesty, violence against women, social status and many other factors come in to play. Sub-Sahara Africa accounts for about 60% of the cases worldwide - lots of growth elsewhere too.

However, to have a major religious institution preach abstinance as the only solution is disturbing to me. Safer sex is one clear strategy.

The cost of providing anti-retroviral drugs in Africa, for those already infected, is a fraction of the annual budget for the war in Iraq - that's another angle.

What are needed to turn the tide are massive responses at the national and international level:

* People need to challenge the myths and misconceptions about human sexuality that translate into dangerous sexual practices.

* Work and legislation is needed to reduce prejudice felt by HIV+ people around the world and the discrimination that prevents people from "coming out" as being HIV positive.

* HIV prevention initiatives need to be increased, people across the world need to be made aware of the dangers, the risks, and the ways they can protect themselves.

* Condom promotion and supply needs to be increased, and the appropriate sexual health education needs to be provided to young people before they reach an age where they become sexually active.

* Medication and support needs to be provided to people who are already HIV+, so that they can live longer and more productive lives, support their families, and avoid transmitting the virus onwards.

* Support and care needs to be provided for those children who have already been orphaned by AIDS, so that they can grow up safely, without experiencing poverty, exploitation, and themselves falling prey to HIV.

Sorry for the long comment!

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