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?