Outrage Over Pope’s Condom Comments

Joe Veix

The Daily Show and others respond to the Pope's outrageous claim that condoms increase the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Last night, The Daily Show responded in its own, special way to the Pope’s misguided comment that condoms actually increase the problem of AIDS in Africa:

Stewart is right. Obviously the Pope’s comments have outraged many. Our own Kathleen Reeves wrote a great post here.

What is the Pope’s authority on this issue, other than a supposed moral one? Even in a moral case, it’s a dubious stance: how can you attack condom use under the guise of promoting a "culture of life" when condoms are proven to be effective at helping prevent the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS, and consequently saving lives? It’s contradictory, with the Pope ignoring the complexities inherent in parsing Catholic morality (with its stance against contraceptives)with the grim realities in Africa (with 7,400 new infections reported daily). Instead he gives an outrageous and easy answer to the problem.

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The Pope also has no right to dispute scientific evidence, especially when the stakes are so high. His comments ring of the disastrous rhetoric of the past decade, perpetuating a culture of rigid idealism that refuses to acknowledge realities that may dispute the ideology. We can’t ignore evidence we don’t want to believe is true in order to support what we do believe to be true.

According to a study by The Cochrane Collaboration (full text here), "consistent use of condoms results in 80% reduction in H.I.V. incidence."

So are condoms 100% perfect in preventing the spread of H.I.V.? No. But do condoms make the AIDS epidemic worse? Definitively, no.

I wonder if, given the outrage, the Pope might apologize for his statement. He’s spreading a dangerous, misinformed opinion.

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