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Vatican Backs Pope's "CONDOM" Comment

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Bianca
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« on: March 19, 2009, 09:40:37 am »









                                          Vatican backs pope's condom comment



                                Criticism from governments, the EC and AIDS agencies






 (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 18 - The Vatican on Wednesday backed comments by Pope Benedict XVI against the use of condoms to combat AIDS in Africa as he came under heavy fire from governments, AIDS agencies and humanitarian organisations.

The pontiff grabbed headlines worldwide Tuesday after saying condoms not only do not help, but ''increase the problem'' in the spread of AIDS as he spoke to journalists accompanying him on a flight to Africa for a seven-day pastoral trip.

Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that Benedict had simply reiterated the position of the Catholic Church already confirmed by the pope's predecessor John Paul II. ''Don't expect any change of position during this trip,'' Lombardi added.

He stressed that the Church believed the best approach to the AIDS problem was by educating people on sexual behaviour and reinforcing the role of marriage, researching and applying efficient treatment, and ''spiritual and human aid'' for those already suffering with AIDS.

''Concentrating on condoms is not the right line because it distracts from a more complex educational commitment. It's not through the power of condoms that one blocks the spread of AIDS,'' Lombardi said.

Aside from opposing the use of condoms because they are a contraceptive device, the Catholic Church has also said in the past that they are ineffective against AIDS because the HIV virus which causes it can permeate condoms.

The official Catholic line is that sexual abstinence is the only real way of preventing HIV spreading.

However, in what some observers saw as a reaction to the international outcry caused by the pope's comments, the Vatican made a slight alteration to a transcript of Benedict's words, toning down the pontiff's assertion that condoms


                                                        ''increased the problem''.



In the official text published by the Vatican, Benedict is reported as saying that AIDS ''cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem''. But journalists who had been on the flight replayed tape recordings of the interview to confirm that the pope had in fact said condoms ''on the contrary, increase the problem''.
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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2009, 09:51:27 am »









CRITICISM FROM NGOs AND GOVERNMENTS.



The pope's remarks were widely criticised Wednesday by non-governmental organisations including Christian Aid, Oxfam and Medecins du Monde (MDM), all of whom said they were particularly serious in light of Catholicism's strong influence in Africa, where two thirds of HIV-positive people live. ''We are furious because this sets back years of work and especially because millions of people will be infected as a result of these comments. It's an absolute contradiction with one of the principal messages of the Church to respect life,'' Beatrice Luminet of MDM told France Presse.

The director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Michel Kazatchkine, called on the pope to withdraw his remarks, which he described as ''unacceptable''.

Members of Italy's AIDS Commission on Wednesday condemned the pope's comments as ''mistaken, irresponsible and dangerous''. ''The fact that condoms avoid the transmission of HIV is by now a given fact shared by the scientific community,'' said Adriano Lazzarin, professor of infectious diseases at Milan's San Raffaele University.

While most governments did not immediately react to the pope's comments Tuesday, on Wednesday France, Germany and Belgium broke the silence to speak out against the remarks. ''France expresses very strong concern over the consequences of the remarks by Benedict XVI,'' said a spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Eric Chevallier. ''While it is not up to us to make judgements on Church doctrine, we believe that phrases of this sort put public health policy and the imperatives of protecting human life in danger''.

A spokesman for the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid said condoms were ''one of the essential elements in the fight against AIDS''.

''The EC believes there is clear scientific proof that confirms the preventative role of the condom in the spread of AIDS, which is why it actively supports their use,'' said John Clancy.

The European Union is the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

But Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday opted out of the polemics, refusing to answer questions on Benedict's statement. ''I do not comment on the words of the Pope,'' Frattini told the press.

Vatican daily Osservatore Romano meanwhile lamented the fact that the pope's trip to Africa - his first since his election to the papacy in 2005 - had been hijacked by the row.

The pope's March 17-23 pastoral visit is his 11th abroad. Cameroon is the first stop on his visit and Benedict is set to give bishops there a preparatory document - the Instrumentum Laboris - dealing with issues to be discussed at next autumn's Vatican synod on Africa.

Benedict will travel to Angola on Friday to celebrate the 500 years of evangelisation there. Vatican sources said both countries symbolise the potentials of the continent as well as its plights - hunger, ongoing conflicts and the spread of AIDS.
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Bianca
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2009, 09:53:00 am »








                     ".....millions of people will be infected as a result of these comments....."
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