The pope visited Africa for the first time and promptly spoke about condoms and AIDS.
In many countries in Africa, there are two inherent cultural things going on that contribute to the inexorable spread of AIDS:
- African men think that if they like a woman, any woman, anywhere, they have a right to have sex with her. In many African countries, even in modern times, polygamy is a common practice. Read Obama’s book Dreams of My Father and you will get the gist.
- There is a myth that circulates in Africa that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS.
Take those two facts together and you realize that Africa is an AIDS powderkeg. The statistics we are reading are simply corroborating this reality.
Here comes the leader of the Catholic Church. According to the article referenced above:
“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.”
The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.
The Roman Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. Senior Vatican officials have advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the fight against AIDS.
How exactly the pope intends to impart to African men his version of morality, the definition of premarital sex, fidelity and general ethical behavior as well as health eduction is not clear.
It’s going to take more than a Catholic message. Catholics in particular and Christians in general have caused so much damage, pain, injustice and often death through the millennia that I simply can’t buy into their message today as anything more valuable and sensible than it’s been all along.
The Church has a history of accumulating wealth and usurp power for an elite few, by keeping the masses misinformed, by hiding the truth when convenient, by sowing guilt to squelch dissent and threatening eternal damnation to those who dare to challenge the establishment.
Telling African men that condoms are not the answer is misinformation. Condoms are not the answer to the AIDS problem in Africa, but every time a condom is used, one woman has a much better chance not to get infected than she would otherwise. If a condom saves one woman from AIDS, power to the condom.
It’s going to take a lot more than a few soundbites by the pope to fix Africa.