The Pope lives in the 21st century
Is the Pope living in the 21st century, a Cameroonian NGO wondered after Benedict XVI said condoms are not the solution to fighting AIDS. He said this on Tuesday as he was about to board the plane that took him to the African continent, where 22 million people suffer from the disease.
His brief speech only reinforced the idea that abstinence from sex is the best way to be safe from AIDS. "It cannot be solved," he told reporters, "by distributing condoms. Instead, he called for "a humanisation of sexuality, a spiritual renewal, which entails a new way of behaving towards one another".
Excellent speech, if only it were addressed to the thousands of priests who have committed sexual abuse. The problem with the Pope's medieval outburst is not so much what he says, but to whom it is addressed. Alain Fogue of the Cameroonian Movement for Access to Treatment (MOCPAT) is appalled: "To say that condoms aggravate the problem of AIDS goes against all the efforts of the Cameroonian government and the actors involved in the fight against AIDS in the country in recent years.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hands out condoms
A Christian emperor
At the countries south of the Sahara live among the hardest-hit populations, with nearly two-thirds of those infected with HIV. Cameroon, the first stop on the Pope's trip to the African continent, is not safe. "People are not going to do what the Pope said," says Fogue, because "he lives in heaven and we live on earth.
The second problem of this German pope, almost 82 years oldThe only thing that is more important is his stubborn inclination to submit to ridicule, a "quality" that puts at stake the fidelity of his community of believers. Suffice it to recall how he earned the ire of the Muslim world with his quotation of a 14th century Christian emperor, who said that the prophet Mohammed had brought violence into the world.
After the apologies, it was the turn of the Williamson case, the Holocaust-denying fundamentalist British priest whose excommunication was lifted by Benedict XVI, along with other bishops who were followers of the schismatic Bishop Lefebre.
It took us by surprise
"Communication problems", argued the Vatican when it backed down, with its tail between its legs. "It took us by surprise", excused a Spanish bishop... AIDS, on the other hand, does not go unnoticed by anyone. This evil, which afflicts poor countries more than rich countries, has an ally in ignorance, the best breeding ground for irrational beliefs.
Could it be that this Pope, fearing that his lambs will be frightened by his words, is looking for new followers among the most destitute? It would be nothing if he would at least contribute to save them in life and worry less about their souls.