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Condoms: When religion and reality collide

When it came to sex education, I remember being told in both middle school and high school that abstinence should be the first choice, but, if necessary, one should always use a condom to protect against pregnancy, and of course STDs and HIV. Apparently Pope Benedict XVI doesn't feel the same way. On Tuesday, March 17 Benedict arrived in Yaoundé, Cameroon‘s capital, greeted by a crowd of flag–waving, camera–snapping people on his first pilgrimage to Africa as Pope.

Pope Benedict argued that HIV/AIDS is, “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem.”

Pope Benedict recently argued that condoms alone cannot stop the HIV/AIDS crisis
Instead, he said that the solution is “spiritual and human awakening” and “friendship for those who suffer.” Although Africa is seen as vital to the Church's future, since the number of practicing Catholics in the developed world has been dwindling, the relationship is not without controversy.

The aforementioned statement made by Pope Benedict is probably one of the most horrifically ignorant statements ever made by a world leader.

Not only does it set Catholicism theory back a few thousand years, butit also is highly offensive to the women. The Pope advised women in the audience to exhibit, “correct behavior regarding one's body.”

According to UN figures for 2007, some 22 million people are infected with HIV in sub–Saharan Africa; this amounts to about two–thirds of the global total.

Matemilola, a medical doctor who has been living with HIV/AIDS for more than a decade said “the Pope saying they are not good [condoms] is like someone saying traveling by air is not 100 percent safe, so we should not fly,” in a recent Reuters interview.

However it appears that Pope Benedict‘s advice is completely useless to women in Africa. In the United Nations magazine, Africa Renewal, one expert who participated in a survey of AIDS impact on young African women said “[They] are not in a position to abstain. They are not in a position to demand faithfulness of their partners. In many cases they are in fact faithful, but are being infected by unfaithful partners.”

Although Pope Benedict is correct in saying that AIDS cannot be eradicated by condom use alone, he could have offered advice other than to abstain such as informing women about STDs, and distributing anti–viral foam, which is the only form of protection against AIDS that women can control and secretly use without their husbands' permission.

The Roman Catholic Church‘s position on condoms clearly has not changed, but is it right for the Pope to preach the Church‘s ideals and beliefs at the expense of peoples' safety and health?

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Source: The Mirror

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