The Pope has done it again. On a 7-day tour of Africa (Seriously is he kidding? All Africa in seven days flat?), the first thing Pope Joseph Ratzinger, or Benedict XVI, did was to address the problem of AIDS in Africa, and he did it in trademark Catholic-style. He said that condoms are not the solution to AIDS, and went on to say that condoms could actually increase the problem. Now we call Africa the dark continent, but I see the Roman Catholic Church has some serious enlightenment issues, too.
Firstly, the facts. An estimated 22 million people in the continent are known to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And of the 2.1 million worldwide deaths from the disease in 2007, over two-thirds occured in sub-Saharan Africa. Plagued with a host of other problems, like population explosion, ethnic conflicts, economic mismanagement, rampant corruption, and frequent malaria epidemics, AIDS can ruin whatever there is left in the weak African economy. Governments are grappling to spread awareness about the disease and promote safe sex, and then suddenly like an angel, the Pope comes and says condoms aren’t good. Abstinence. Abstinence is the key. And oh yes, we’re going to preach that to the Africans.
Perhaps the Pope forgot to do his homework. This is Africa, not Europe. Here, people still believe that having intercourse with a virgin or an animal (yes; I’m sorry but I had to write this) can cure one of AIDS. Perhaps he is ignorant of the many ills that plague Africa, and are factors in the spread of this disease. Or perhaps, like all Catholics, he has a sheer disdain for modern medical science, and maybe even a disdain for the people of Africa. After all, he is the great Pope. He heads a class of super-rich and super-influential people who condemn assisted childbirth (oh let the mother die, caesarean section is evil), preach against contraception (because hey, children are God’s gift and you can’t obstruct that), and that all sex is evil (except maybe for them).
And so, if the Pope says that abstinence is the way to prevent AIDS, it doesn’t come as a surprise. He could even go ahead and suggest that the solution to all problems in Africa is the Bible. Because it is easy to say that when you live in a palace in Rome, with all pleasures that you entail as the first citizen of the Vatican. No, O great Pope of the world. Abstinence is not the solution to the problem of AIDS, not in Africa, not anywhere else. It might be a solution to breaking marriages, but not to AIDS. The solution is education and enlightenment in the modern sense of the word. Not age-old and outdated dogma that the most devout Christians across the world have started to question.
Safe sex is the way to combat AIDS. Sue the medical community for saying that.
(For more information about AIDS, visit this Wikipedia page)