Preach Responsibly.

Alcohol ads always have a little tag line that says you should consume responsibly.  Our religious leaders need a similar warning label.  Or maybe they just need to think before they speak.

(I’m going to offend a lot of people with what I’m about to say because a) I will swear and not use asterisks and b) I will be talking about a religious leader many hold dear.  I think I may actually be sorry to offend people — hence this little disclaimer — but I’m angry enough to not censor what I’m thinking.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

How fucking irresponsible is the Pope?  He’s visiting Africa, a continent that is being decimated by the spread of AIDS and one of the first things he says is that condoms aren’t an answer, that condoms make the problem worse?  He says that?  Really?  And no one challenges his logic or calls him a jackassed fool?

Yes, I get it.  Condoms are used for contraception and, as leader of the Catholic church, Benedict is against contraception.  Condoms keep the faithful from getting pregnant.  Yes, absolutely.  I don’t think a lack of new births is the pressing problem in light of the statistics for rates of new infections; in light of a political leader saying that — after allegedly raping a woman — he reduced his risk of being infected with HIV by taking a shower; in light of men still believing that raping a virgin will cure them of AIDS.

Catholicism is spreading faster in Africa than almost anywhere in the world.  A fact that is surely a reason for Benedict’s visit.  So why would he endanger that growing population by saying something as wrong-headed and destructive as condoms make the AIDS epidemic worse?  Sure, you’re the Pope and you’re opposed to birth control, but are you an advocate for disease and death?  You don’t want to come out and say, “Use condoms!”  Of course not.  And that’s fine.  Just. don’t. say. anything.  Not one word.  Leave the subject alone.  There’s no reason to be making pronouncements about AIDS prevention.  If he had made his visit and gone home, I can’t imagine anyone faulting him for not saying anything about condoms.  It’s his first visit to the continent, after all.  Everyone’s abuzz with him.  No one would have noticed had he just kept yammering on about ‘sending telegrams of peace’ and not said a word about condoms.

Is it too much to expect a man in a position of power and influence over millions of people to have a care for the well-being of those people, to think through the consequences of one stupid comment, to understand why it is that the Pope can’t run around misinforming his flock by saying that condoms make the AIDS crisis worse?


20 thoughts on “Preach Responsibly.

  1. I don’t understand either. Especially since AIDS is now a pandemic and obviously preaching to abstain isn’t working so why not try to dispel some of the myths? Kudos for speaking your mind.


  2. Elizabeth

    I have no defense of the Pope. Having had several conversations with my mother, who is about his age though, I know they don’t see the world the way we do. And I don’t see it the way my kids do.

    I was quite taken aback at what he said, wondering if his need to reiterate his church’s stand was worth it? I know my religious leaders at times have said things that have made me cringe.

    So I hope the rest of us just doing what we can do to help rid the world of this terrible scourge–educate, educate, educate.

    Thanks for your post.


  3. GriotGirl,

    Well said. I can’t say more because I’m still stunned that given the pandemic, the man would say such an idiotic thing. Does he know how many children are orphans in Zimbawae alone? Does he know whole families have died from the disease and women have no defense in countries where husbands infect their wives or leave them after they’ve been raped?


  4. Zealotry is dangerous in any religion. The pope’s rules and regulations disproportionately affect WOMEN. And for me, it’s complicated by race–remember when it was time to pick a new pope, and one African man was under consideration? Would it have made a difference, if he also adhered to church doctrine? Or would he have been more sympathetic to his fellow believers on the continent? It bothers me that one man–so far removed in so many ways from the majority of his followers–gets to decide life and death issues for millions of people of color. But then there’s the question: why is anyone listening to him anyway? The “flock” mentality continues to amaze me…I guess poverty has a lot to do with it?


  5. Well. As Erika alludes to…one more issue to the pile.

    Why would we expect someone who went out of his way to allow back into the church a priest who had been excommunicated no less by a previous Pope.. a priest who is on record for denying the Holocaust not just years ago, but recently….This man, this priest, is allowed back in by the German born Pope.

    This we know.

    Sensitivity isn’t his long suit. Righteousness is.


  6. This is the same sort of backwards logic that says teaching sex ed makes kids more likely to have premarital sex. I agree that he should have just not said anything about the subject.
    I am sad for the Catholic Church, Benedict will never measure up to his predecessor but this sort of righteousness does not bode well for the future of Catholicism under his guidance. He is like the George Bush of religion right now.


  7. Reuters said,”Senior French politicians of all colors roundly criticized Pope Benedict on Wednesday for saying the use of condoms was complicating the fight against AIDS.”

    So there are many( at least in France) who agree with us that the Pope was completely out on line with his remark.


  8. molly

    This is exactly the pope that the roman catholic hierarchy wanted in this historical moment. They knew his precise beliefs on everything from homosexuality to women to reproduction to the one true faith. The man is a dick, and was well known as one. He was chosen to lead his wealthy theological monarchy precisely for the qualities that he has demonstrated on each and every occasion.


  9. Thanks, everyone. I’m still so shocked and angry, especially when I read that he and his staff ‘dismiss’ the public outcry over his condom statement. How can they be so casual, so callous? And yes, this is definitely only one of many reasons to be angry with this Pope, and I shouldn’t be at all surprised when he makes pronouncements like this one after everything I read about him after he was named. Still. This comment seemed so wantonly irresponsible …


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  13. Then the U.S.’s (former) Global Gag Rule stating it wouldn’t provide funds to countries for AIDS prevention if it didn’t teach abstinence only didn’t really help matters at all. These countries couldn’t even use OTHER FUNDS for much-needed education. There are enough barriers to condom use in these countries, they need to reinforce these attitudes?


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