Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opposing Opinion Pieces on Vatican’s Stance on Condom Use
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, in an interview published last month in Rome's La Repubblica said Pope Benedict XVI had asked the council and other scientists and theologians to study condom use as a means of HIV prevention among married couples in which one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not. He also said that the Vatican would release a document on the subject soon. However, Vatican officials recently denied reports that the Vatican plans to release a document, and Barragan over the weekend said the council only is drafting an internal study of the issue (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/2). The New York Daily News on Sunday published two opinion pieces on the Vatican's stance on condom use. Summaries of the pieces appear below.
- Thomas Berg: The Catholic Church "should not change its teaching on condom use," Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, writes. "Intercourse using a condom cannot be marital intimacy," Berg writes, adding that "even in the heartrending case" of a marriage in which one spouse is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative, the church cannot endorse condom use because the couple would be "expressing their sexuality in a severely distorted way." Berg concludes, "The Catholic Church will continue to promote every morally feasible means of ridding the world of AIDS," but a church "that forfeited its commitment to the true meaning of human sexuality would be [a] real disservice" (Berg, New York Daily News, 5/14).
- Frances Kissling: A "modest change" in the Catholic Church's stance on condom use to prevent the spread of HIV "would be a lifesaver," according to Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice and founder of the Condoms4life campaign. "A sincere and honest presentation of Catholic theology and Christian compassion would first admit that using condoms to prevent the transmission of [HIV/]AIDS has nothing to do with the church's opposition to contraceptives," Kissling says. She adds that using condoms to protect against HIV is like using vaccines to protect against life-threatening diseases, which the church once opposed but now provides at clinics and health care centers worldwide. Kissling says the Catholic Church should provide people at risk of contracting HIV with education about and access to condoms and "let them decide whether to abstain or use them." She adds that "people cannot be treated as a means to anyone's end," concluding, "No ideology or misguided theology should get in the way of the gospel of love" (Kissling, New York Daily News, 5/14).