Roundup: More on the Pope and Condoms

Beth Saunders

Reactions from around the world on the Pope's statement on condoms, plus why a supermodel got involved in maternal health activism.

As Jodi Jacobson reported yesterday, Pope Benedict said recently that condom use may sometimes be permissible for Catholics in very limited cases. From CBS News:

Just a year after he said condoms could be making the AIDS crisis worse, Benedict said that for some people, such as male prostitutes, using them could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

While it may seem like a tiny step, it is a step nonetheless. Activists, Vatican scholars and health care workers from around the world reacted to the Pope’s statement.

From the Philipines:

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President Benigno Aquino and other contraceptive advocates said the pope’s remarks would help overcome church resistance to a bill that would compel the government to supply the poor with condoms.
“Our clergy cannot be more popish than the pope,” Aquino’s spokesman, Ricky Carandang, told reporters when asked whether Benedict’s comments would bolster momentum for the passing of the reproductive health bill.

In Papua New Guinea:

When I asked how she reconciled the edicts of her church with her ministry, Sister Rose explained she separated her vocation as a nun from her role as a counsellor to people of many faiths. She tells those in her care ”the most important thing is to keep you alive”, and lays out the strategies for doing that. Sometimes a condom is the best option. ”We’re not here to tell you what to do. We’re here to give you all the information, and you make your decision.”

I have had many similar conversations with clergy and lay Catholic aid workers engaged with this work, trying to reconcile their practice, their church, with the enunciations of Head Office. It’s never a comfortable conversation.

The wry joke among nuns at the coalface is that they are getting very old and hard of hearing, and Rome is a long way away. The line reflects their weary forbearance, but it obscures the darker reality of their bravery.

And in Nairobi, he’s saying what we’re all thinking:

But despite his comments that the use of condoms might be justified on a case-by-case basis to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids, the congregation outside the basilica say that most people have been using them anyway.

“People are already using them to prevent HIV,” says Joseph Thuku (41), an accountant who has come to mass with his friend Joseph Wainana (26), a pharmacist, who says he sells contraceptives at the pharmacy where he works.

Does he see a contradiction between being a Catholic and his work? “We are trained as professionals, to do the work we do regardless of faith. I work as a pharmacist, not a Catholic.”

From the United States:

Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethic Center in the United States, said that when L’Osservatore published the excerpts in advance of publication he wondered “had the Vatican lost its collective head.”

Or, said Hass, who insists the pope made no change in policy, “there may be an agenda. I am utterly baffled.”

Mini-Roundup: Supermodel Christy Turlington details her experience with a postpartum hemorrhage and how it led her into maternal health activism.

Mini-Roundup Two: Need breast-milk? Look on Facebook!

Nov 22

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Nov 19

Topics and Tags:

Catholics, condoms, Pope Benedict

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