Kicking off his very first visit to the Motherland by making a stop in Cameroon, Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday to reporters that condoms are not the solution to the AIDS / HIV epidemic that is ravishing the continent.
Pope Benedict XVI said that AIDS “is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.”
The pope, who according to the teachings of the Catholic Chruch, is a human spokeman or mouth piece for God, told those who gathered to greet him at the Yaounde airport, that “the traditional teaching of the Church is the only sure way of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.” How archaic is that particular line of reasoning? In the worldwide scheme of things, not everyone is a Catholic or practice catholicism. So, what about those individuals? Are we all heathens and doomed to die in a fiery Hell because we are not Catholics and do not subscribe to the “traditional teachings of the Catholic Church?”
For arguments sake, lets suggest that everyone became a Catholic and abstained from premarital sex or remained fatihful to our spouses. That would be only one part of the equation. What happens to the twenty-two million people who are living with HIV or AIDS? Do we turn our back on them? Pope Benedict XVI says that AIDS / HIV “cannot be overcome by money” but wouldn’t you agree that it takes money, and lots of it to fund programs that assist the millions suffering from AIDS / HIV in Africa?
What about the 1.8 million children who are orphaned because of losing their parents to AIDS? How about the plight of 12 million African women who are living with AIDS / HIV? Pope Benedict XVI made the claim that “the Catholic Church is at the forefront of the battle against AIDS.” In what is that the case? By offering dead-end solutions?
The Catholic Church needs to revise its’ “traditional teaching” to include the needs of those who aren’t Catholics, or Christians. Visiting the Motherland for a week should enlighten the pope to the numerous religious and tribal belief systems that many Africans hold dear. Not only that, it is important for the pope and the Catholic Church to note that educating Africans about AIDS / HIV is the dominant means to prevent the spread of this disease. Using condoms is a must. But if African women are still living within a culture that makes them less third class citizens with absolutely no say so over their own bodies, how does the “traditional teachings of the Catholic Church” help them?
Pope Benedict XVI is in a position to really help the people of the Motherland. However, from his mouth, we have learned that that help is limited at best. In fact, virtually non-existent. Instead of spouting religious rhetoric that is valueless to the hearers, the pope should offer realistic solutions that can bring the desired results. If he really cares about the people of Africa, this week in the Motherland should provide Pope Benedict XVI eyewitness testimony of how the Catholic Church is ineffectively doing what it can to stop the spread of AIDS / HIV.