Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When Religion and Healthcare Collide

During his recent trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI made the statement that condoms may worsen the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

“You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

Instead, Benedict recommends abstinence and “a responsible and moral attitude toward sex” in order to combat the disease. That’s nice. Tell that to the 22 million people living in Africa with HIV.

I really wish that a spiritual leader, supposedly with the best of intentions, would think a little before making asinine comments. First, this wasn’t some offhand comment answering a question on the spot. The questions were submitted beforehand, so the answers were probably prepared as well. Second, not everyone has the ability to abstain from sex, women in particular. And lastly, if Benedict had simply stated his stance that Catholicism does not accept the use of contraceptives, I would have less of a problem with his statement. However, he goes on to say that condoms will increase the AIDS problem, despite all evidence to the contrary.

I have never understood the Catholic Church’s outright ban on contraceptives. I recall a vague reference to a story in Genesis (Genesis 38, to be exact. I just had to look it up). Onan’s brother has been slain by God for being ‘wicked’. Onan’s father than orders him to sleep with his brother’s wife widow in order to produce an heir. Instead of impregnating her, he pulls out and ‘spills his seed upon the ground’. God gets mad at the shenanigans and kills Onan, as well. The Catholic Church interprets the story as every sperm is sacred. I would interpret the story to be trying to tell you not to disobey God.

No comments: