Monday, 29 November, 2004

The Catholic Church and AIDS

I got a note today from the Executive Officer of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center, asking me to take a look at two articles that explain the Catholic Church's position on AIDS and contraception.  This was in response to my entry for July 30, 2001.

The first article, The Social Vaccine,  describes the success that the African nation of Uganda has had in using an abstinence-based program to combat the spread of AIDS.  One can't argue with such success.  I've long held that abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage is the most effective way to combat AIDS.  I also recognize that not everybody believes in abstinence, so I still advocate the use of condoms.  In my opinion, stopping the spread of AIDS using whatever means are available is more important than the Church's position regarding contraception and pre-marital or extra-marital sex.

The second article, Contraception: Why Not? by Janet Smith, attempts to explain the Church's continued insistence that contraception is one of the worst inventions of our time.  Ms. Smith draws some interesting correlations between the wide availability of contraceptive devices and all manner of social ills, but I'd be hard pressed to accept her correlations as conclusive.  Be that as it may, I've never advocated the type of indiscriminate behavior that she describes.  Contraceptives are a tool, and like any tool they can be misused.

The Church's position on the use of contraceptives in marriage still boggles the mind.  According to Ms. Smith, Pope John Paul II's position is:

"the sexual act was meant to be an act of total self-giving.  You want to give everything you've got to someone you love.  And when you're withholding your fertility, you're withholding something that belongs in the sexual act, something that actually belongs there.  To withhold it means that you're not giving of yourself completely."

I guess everybody has to believe something.

To Mr. Field who sent me the nice email, thank you.  At least I now more fully understand the Church's stance on the issue.  I don't agree with it anymore now than I did before, but it's nice to know that there is something there.  It's a shame, though, that it takes a layperson to explain it.  What the heck are priests for?