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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 4, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 49
Stop asking me about HIV and condoms, Pope says
Section One
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Stop asking me about HIV and condoms, Pope says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Pope Francis brushed off a question about HIV and condoms on November 30, on his way home after a tour of Africa.

Asked by a German reporter if the Catholic Church might change its stand against condoms if they are used to prevent HIV infection, the Pope was visibly annoyed.

The question is 'too small, partial,' he replied.

'I don't like getting into questions or reflections that are so technical when people die because they don't have water or food or housing,' Francis said.

Once Africa can solve more important problems, the Pope added, then it will make sense to discuss HIV prevention.

Some 22 million Africans are now living with HIV, and AIDS is a leading cause of death in a number of African countries.

The Pope admitted that HIV prevention was 'morally complicated for the Church,' and that condoms were 'one of the methods' that could prevent new HIV infections.

The Catholic Church has opposed condom use because condoms can be used for contraception as well as HIV prevention and consequently can separate sex from procreation, thereby making it sinful. And, according to Church doctrine, same-sex encounters are sinful in themselves and should not be encouraged, condoms or no condoms.

In 2010, Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI said that male prostitutes who use condoms to prevent the spread of STIs might be acting responsibly. The remark, made to a German journalist, caused a furor among Catholic officials, and Benedict subsequently issued a clarification saying that condoms were not 'a moral solution' to HIV - the 'moral' solution, in his view, being to limit sex to heterosexual married couples who want to conceive children.

In 2009, Benedict had specifically ruled out condoms as a way to control HIV infections in Africa, saying that condom use 'increases the problem' because it encourages promiscuity.

Pope Francis also disappointed human rights advocates when he visited Uganda, making no mention at all of that country's new law allowing the government to shut down NGOs that serve LGBT people or HIV patients.

One clause in the new legislation forbids organizations from engaging 'in any activity which is ... contrary to the dignity of the people of Uganda.'

The law also allows groups to be disbanded 'where it is in the public interest to refuse to register the organization, or ... for any other reason that the [government's NGO] Board may deem relevant.'

Human rights activists - in Uganda and outside it - said the law would be used to crack down on LGBT and HIV activists.

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Stop asking me about HIV and condoms, Pope says
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