Originally on The Point.
Pope Benedict XVI has sparked international outrage with his statements regarding his rejection of using condoms to fight the AIDS epidemic. From time to time I see this happen, and I never understand why people suddenly act outraged at teachings the Catholic Church has always held.
The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms because they create a barrier to life within the marriage that is contrary to the natural order. But condoms distract us from the real problem. The Catholic Church doesn’t say an unmarried couple shouldn’t use condoms. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the Church teaches abstinence as the only legitimate way of protecting the physical and spiritual life of the persons in question.
Just like the economic crisis, the AIDS epidemic materialized from a moral problem. Whether a lack of control in spending, or a lack of control in sexual behavior, eventually the consequences of our actions surface.
Rebecca Hodes, head of policy, communication and research for the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, doesn’t understand the problem. In a recent statement made to the Huffington Post she demonstrated the very ignorance that brought about this problem and the weight it bears, when she separated our actions from their moral consequences. Her misplaced frustrations were exposed when she said, “[Pope Benedict’s] opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”
The Pope holds so firmly to religious dogma BECAUSE of his love for the lives, both physical and spiritual, of those in Africa.
In further legitimizing Pope Benedict’s argument, Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, said that the “essential principles” that if ignored exacerbate the AIDS/HIV problem, are “education about people’s responsibility in the use of sexuality” and the “essential role of marriage and family.” Denying these principles is similar to providing heroin addicts with clean needles to prevent disease. They shouldn’t use drugs at all! The problem is deeper than condom use; it’s about valuing sexuality and the sanctity of marriage, rather than the exploitation of baser instincts.
As a Catholic, I’m proud that Pope Benedict has stuck to his guns on this. Too often in this world people sacrifice what they believe so they won’t be labeled as “intolerant.” The Pope has been extremely tolerant of people of other religions, faiths, lifestyles, etc. He has upheld the dignity of the Christian faith by not accepting a degradation of our physical and spiritual lives through condom use.