Pope Benedict is in Africa this week, and he made some remarks that have sparked outrage across the continent, where Catholicism is reportedly growing rapidly. The Pope reinforced the Church's laws regarding the use of condoms, which is strictly forbidden as intercourse is to be used solely for procreation.
I'm very disappointed in his stance, but not surprised. With his declaration, he's basically advocating the spread of the two most serious sexually transmitted diseases, which in my opinion are HIV/AIDS and unintentional pregnancies. The pope said this about HIV/AIDS: "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem." Currently there are 22 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV/AIDS.
So the Church is choosing to stay firmly in the 14th century by sticking to its position of abstinence except to produce a child. Abstinence is a favorite of the religious crowd. However, this sort of medieval thinking has been proven to fail time and again, as the most recent addition to the Palin family clearly shows.
Abstinence fails on a massive scale because, crazy as it seems, people like to have sex. Lots and lots of it. As often as possible. Everywhere. Sometimes in an uncomfortable place, like the back seat of a Volkswagon.
They're going to continue to have sex regardless of what anyone says. But the Pope's reinforcement of the ban will have the direct result of spreading HIV/AIDS. Because Catholic charities, which do some wonderful things in Africa, will continue to withhold distribution of condoms. Aid workers may refuse to give them out if they happen to be Catholic. Bureaucracies will have an excuse to cut funding to birth control and disease prevention programs.
Pope Benedict just doesn't get it. I'm sure he's a nice guy. But on this one, he's absolutely wrong.
And don't try to tell me that the Church doesn't change to reflect the times. If it didn't, all you Catholics would be sitting through Mass every week listening to Latin. The most recent ecumenical council (Vatican 2, from 1962-1965) allowed the mass to be celebrated in the native languages where they were held.
As a child, I attended weekly mass at a local church. I was baptized, received my first communion, and later confirmed in the Church. I honestly tried my best to understand and love the Church. But this is exactly the sort of out-of-touch and needlessly cruel thinking that led to my abandoning the Church many years ago.
I haven't regretted my decision for a minute. And I doubt we'll be seeing a Vatican 3 any time in the foreseeable future, so I won't be coming back.