Pope Condoms Debate Likely to Surface in Africa Visit
Pope Benedict XVI came under fire during a 2009 visit to Cameroon and Angola when he suggested that condom distribution worsened the AIDS problem. Now he’s headed for Africa again this week and is likely to face some questions on the Church’s stance on condoms, AFP reported.
The Pope is due to arrive in Benin, a country in West Africa, Friday. And although he has eased his stance somewhat since his controversial remark two years ago, many in sub-Saharan Africa still feel conflicted regarding their faith’s denunciation of condom use and reality of life in a region home to 70 percent of the world’s AIDS cases.
“What the Pope said is the ideal. But to be honest with you, I do not respect it and I find it difficult to respect this,” 28-year-old Benin resident Lea Glago told AFP. “I do not know anyone around me that does.”
In fact, the news agency found that most Catholics in the region take a more pragmatic approach to HIV prevention. In Swaziland, where 26 percent of the adult population has AIDS, Catholic missionaries say they focus on saving lives rather than pressing specific Church doctrine.
“As a church man, a lot of what you are doing is not praying,” said Father Martin McCormick of the hospice care facility Hope House. “It is crisis response.”
AFP noted that under Catholic doctrine, sex is reserved for marriage only. Whether Pope Benedict will stick with the strict abstinence message during his Africa trip remains to be seen, however.