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Church now claiming condoms don't prevent AIDS?

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#1 Bad Wolf

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:29 AM

DISCLAIMER:  I want to make it PERFECTLY clear that when I talk about the Catholic Church in this thread I am talking about the institution.  The fact that some of the quotes come from very highly placed members of its hierarchy make me comfortable with that.  I am in NO way making any claims about anyone HERE or about any individual Catholic other than the ones quoted in this post.

I came across this in my travels.

http://news.bbc.co.u...lth/3176982.stm

The claim that the Catholic Church has now resorted to stating that condoms do not prevent AIDS as a tactic to keep people in countries particularly affected from using contraception is going to be made on television by a Panorama program called "Sex and the Holy City".

Now first of all, this is just an article based on a report that I haven't read (but would love to) and there is always the possibility that it's inaccurate but if it's true I think that there are some interesting claims on both sides that I disagree with.

Some excerpts and commentary:

Quote

According to the United Nations Population Fund, around 6,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 catch the virus every day.

Half of all new infections are now in people under the age of 25 and most of these are young women living in the developing world.

Those are staggering numbers and quite alarming I think.

Some of the alleged statements by some Church people, including one highly placed Cardinal:

Quote

In an interview, one of the Vatican's most senior cardinals Alfonso Lopez Trujillo suggested HIV could even pass through condoms.

"The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom," he says.

also allegedly by Cardinal Trujillo:

Quote

"These margins of uncertainty...should represent an obligation on the part of the health ministries and all these campaigns to act in the same way as they do with regard to cigarettes, which they state to be a danger."



The Archbishop of Nairobi :

Quote

"Aids...has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms," he said.



Catherine Hankin, Chief scientific advisor to UNAidsresponds:

Quote

"It is very unfortunate to have this type of misinformation being broadcast," she told BBC News Online.

"It is a concern. From a technical point of view, the statements are totally incorrect.

"Latex condoms are impermeable. They do prevent HIV transmission."

Okay well.

First of all, as some people might know, I very much oppose the Catholic Church's stance on birth control, precisely because of my concern about the growing AIDS problem, particularly in developing countries.

However, it is a matter of the Churches' doctrine.

It just is unfortunate to me that the doctrine should take precedence over a health concern of this nature.

IF true I find the fact that Church officials now appear to be spreading misinformation regarding the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted disease to be another matter entirely.  The scientific evidence that condoms DO prevent AIDS is pretty overwhelming and in my view what the Church is being accused of doing is deliberately telling falsehoods in order to prevent people from using condoms.

However, I also find it troubling that while the opposition insists that condoms DO prevent AIDS they come off to me (at least in this article) like condoms are the only solution.  And they're wrong because obviously behavior modification will also help.  If you don't use needles or have sex, that's also prevention.

I wish that rather than being at odds the two sides could come up with a plan that acknowledged behavior modification as a goal through education while promoting the use of condoms as a safety measure.

Instead what seems to be happening is a further polarization of both sides of the issue and that is very unfortunate for the people in developing countries most affected by AIDS.

Lil

Edited by Una Salus Lillius, 09 October 2003 - 10:36 AM.

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#2 Rhea

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:36 AM

^Whoah! Aids has grown so fast BECAUSE of condoms? Can you say "ignorant?"  :suspect:

Further deponent sayeth not in an attempt to follow the "if you can't say something respectful about the Church don't say anything" format.

Edited by Rhea, 09 October 2003 - 10:37 AM.

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#3 Bad Wolf

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:40 AM

I actually would go further than "ignorance" on this one.

Again, assuming that the statement actually got made, in my view spreading this kind of stuff in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is lying.  Not to mention irresponsible and immoral.  Which Commandment is the one about lying?

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#4 Rov Judicata

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:49 AM

I think the problem is this:

The Vatican has to know that their position is scientifically flat wrong... but admitting it outright would severely undermine papal infallibility, and there's really no way to do it gradually. They're trapped between severely undermining their prestige/power and seriously undermining the condition of those in Africa... and I'm sorry to say they chose to compromise the latter.
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#5 Delvo

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:02 AM

Um... sorry to interrupt a good religious quarrel with a reality check here, but condoms DON'T prevent the spread of diseases. They just reduce the rates to some extent if all else is equal. But they also fail, when used as intended, routinely.

And, in fact, the pretense that condoms will solve everything sexually has led people to become careless with other aspects of their own sexual decisions, thinking it's all OK because there won't be consequences because the condom will take care of everything. While condoms would help if all else would remain equal, condoms change behavior so that things are not equal. And this isn't a hypothetical idea; it's an explanation for the cold hard fact that sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies go UP when and where condoms are introduced and pushed as the solution to the problems.

The problem with the Church, or anyone else, naysaying condoms is that they probably don't always do it in complete context, which means failing to counter the condom-culture's efforts to shoot down any concept of personal responsibility.

#6 Rov Judicata

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:09 AM

Delvo-- Obviously, condoms aren't 100%. I think the figure is that used properly and consistently, the success rate is about 85%.

But that's substantially different from this:

Quote

In an interview, one of the Vatican's most senior cardinals Alfonso Lopez Trujillo suggested HIV could even pass through condoms.

"The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom," he says.

That's simply a lie. Further, telling people that condoms are laced with HIV/AIDS is even worse. Saying, "We don't think you should have sex before marriage because of <theology>, but you should really use a condom if you do." would do a world of good.

Here's another article with more information on how well condoms work:

http://www.guardian....1059068,00.html
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#7 Banapis

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:13 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Oct 9 2003, 03:49 PM, said:

I think the problem is this:

The Vatican has to know that their position is scientifically flat wrong... but admitting it outright would severely undermine papal infallibility.
Ah, but did the Church ever invoke papal infallibilty on this issue?

No.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII convened a Papal Commission on Birth Control to explore the issue.  After John XXIII's death, the final report was submitted to Paul VI.   The majority report recommended approval of artificial means of contraception.  Eventually, over a vociferous dissent, Paul VI rejected the majority report and issued the encyclical Humane Vitae.  However, he allowed for the possibility he might be in error.

At the press conference announcing Humane Vitae, the Vatican spokesperson, Monsignor Fernando Lambruschini, specifically stated “attentive reading of the encyclical Humanae Vitae does not suggest the theological note of infallibility…It is not infallible.”

It's enforcement has generally been weak, and bishop's reports implementing the encyclical undermine it further.  For example, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops assured Catholics "that whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.” Similar statements appear in other reports.

A more recent example, which also touches on the topic of AIDS, is the March 1996 document of the French Bishops "AIDS: Society in Question," that states that those who can not refrain from sex need to start using using condoms to prevent the risk of spreading of AIDS.

Banapis

#8 Rhea

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:18 AM

^That all ties in with something which really bothers me.

Most Christians (not all, by a long shot) accept that the creation story in Genesis is an allegory for the process as a whole. In other words, the preponderance of scientific evidence has convinced many Christians that the earth wasn't created in 7 days.

So how much evidence do you need to change out-of-date ideas about contraception and homosexuality?

Do you just ignore the evidence that AIDS is a sexually trasmitted disease which is decimating Africa in particular and could be prevented by the use of condoms so that you can cling to outmoded ideas about contraception?

And by the same token, how much scientific evidence will have to be amassed before Christians acknowledge that homosexuality is genetic and not a lifestyle?

And before you jump on me, I'm genuinely curious about what people would consider a breakpoint. Just one of those things that goes through your mind while you're stuck in rush hour traffic...  ;)
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#9 Bad Wolf

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:18 AM

Delvo, on Oct 9 2003, 09:02 AM, said:

And, in fact, the pretense that condoms will solve everything sexually has led people to become careless with other aspects of their own sexual decisions, thinking it's all OK because there won't be consequences because the condom will take care of everything.
Guess what?

I COMPLETELY agree with this.  (don't faint on me now).

But I pretty much disagree with you otherwise.  The scientific evidence is very strong that the AIDS virus will not pass through a latex condom.

No that doesn't mean it prevents AIDS altogether because there are other ways of contracting it that don't involve sex and it all depends upon people actually using them.
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#10 Rov Judicata

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:18 AM

Banapis-- Hrm, I didn't know that. Thank you. In that case, I have no idea what's going on.
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#11 Lady of Mystery

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:32 AM

Rhea, on Oct 9 2003, 11:18 AM, said:

Most Christians (not all, by a long shot) accept that the creation story in Genesis is an allegory for the process as a whole. In other words, the preponderance of scientific evidence has convinced many Christians that the earth wasn't created in 7 days.
Thank you for saying, "Most" and not all.  :)

The way I look at this, there will always be 'some' cases where any number of 'leaks' can occur, meaning that someone 'tears' a teeny weeny hole when putting the condom on.

But I would have to say that from articles I have read in the past,  that the condom, is pretty good at protecting, that is IF used.  :)

L

#12 Delvo

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:59 AM

Interesting question about how much evidence it takes to convince the religious that something religion taught them is wrong, Rhea... especially because of the first example you chose.

Not only do many Christians now admit that the world is very old and evolution is real, but in fact practically all of them had accepted the planet's ancientness by the time Darwin was born; the acceptance of science on these points has gone DOWN since then. The modern resistance to evolution, which tends to take with it a resistance the planet's ancientness, can easily be traced back to a few people in the latter half of the ninteenth century. What had happened to cause them to snap BACK so far, to a point that the vast majority of Christians had already gotten past decades before?

Remember, what they were admitting when Darwin was born was only that the world is much older than they'd thought before. That doesn't say anything about evolution, but allows the possibility of life remaining pretty much as it is now throughout that whole time. What happened to change their attitude half a century later was an indirect effect of The Origin of Species. Darwin had been writing from the scientific perspective, which, unlike the religious one, was that, plainly, evolution had of course happened, and the question was how. But the lack of an answer for how (and ignorance of known examples of it) had been the main reason left for many people not to be convinced it had happened at all. By publicly cataloguing more known examples than most people had ever been aware of, and supplying an answer to the question of HOW evolution happened, he also thus finally convinced most holdouts THAT it had happened at all.

To some Christians, that was too much all at once, or it was seen as encroachment and invasion of religious territory by science, or they felt that it diminished God, or something like that. And the suddenness of the switch toward nearly everyone believing in evolution was shocking and threatening to them, since it constituted, as far as they were concerned, a rejection of religious teachings that they had until then thought they could continue to maintain. The result was a backlash against anything scientific as the enemy of Christianity, and, somewhat contradictorily to that, a series of attempts to make a Biblical-literalist Christian version of the world sound like it fit the scientific evidence. That backlash is what continues today. One step forward and two steps back.

So sometimes, more evidence and logic and science actually takes people farther from science and deeper into religious unscience, depending on the circumstances.

#13 Jid

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:09 PM

Rhea, on Oct 9 2003, 10:18 AM, said:

So how much evidence do you need to change out-of-date ideas about contraception and homosexuality?

Do you just ignore the evidence that AIDS is a sexually trasmitted disease which is decimating Africa in particular and could be prevented by the use of condoms so that you can cling to outmoded ideas about contraception?
You raise some interesting points, Rhea :)

I'm not a Catholic myself, but there are certain parts of the vatican I find fascinating (i.e. their stable of Jesuits with Ph.D's in every field imaginable whose sole purpose is to keep the Church organization briefed on what is coming around the corner)

But, I think in the issue of contraception, Catholicism objects more on the grounds of

a) They don't believe that contraception has a use in marriage - not entirely clear on the reasons, but it leads to ...

b) If contraceptives aren't used in marriage, the only possible use is for sexual intercourse outside of marriage, which is a lifestyle choice the church would never condone.

To me, this matter of claiming it doesn't prevent AIDS is a part truth, mostly question-begging approach.  Since the church has already made up it's mind on contraception, it follows they need to justify their position.

As Rov above stated, they do have the 85% effectiveness figure, which, iirc, is a figure related to pregnancy prevention.

However, I'm not sure on if that 85% is for condoms that didn't rupture/otherwise *physically* fail, or includes the cases where condoms pop, etc.

If it's the former, I'll have to research more carefully the claims that condoms are an effective AIDS barrier.  A cell like a spermatozoa is as a general rule a fair amount larger than a virus....  so if conjecture were to hold, and spermatozoa can still go through a "structurally sound" condom barrier 15% of the time... the AIDS virus may also be able to do so, some of the time.

As I stated, though, that I can only say not knowing what the 15% of "failures" for condom usage are.

Quote

And by the same token, how much scientific evidence will have to be amassed before Christians acknowledge that homosexuality is genetic and not a lifestyle?

My guess, sound genetic mapping that says what genes cause it.  While studies as the one currently being discussed in another topic are certainly excellent indicators, the church would probably hold out for 100% proof, overall.  

(Scientifically speaking, even the best of us can only say that based on current evidence, it's very likely.  It's the crappy part of having to stick to empirical evidence.   I'm sure we'll get it soon enough though :) )
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#14 QueenTiye

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:12 PM

Take a bow, Delvo...

That's an EXCELLENT response!

Rhea: I think that theologians have to wrestle with the doctrines in light of scientific knowledge, and then see what they come up with.  And - it may not always be what scientists and others  may like - but there is a gradual change.  Religion (I think) is very conservative in outlook - there are a set of ideas that make a religion a religion, and straying from those ideas has to be done very carefully.

For my part - I think the process is exciting - if infuriorating sometimes.... :)

QT

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#15 Lover of Purple

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:31 PM

For anyone interested there are several books written by Dr. Henry Madison Morrison that covers science from a Christian viewpoint very well. A Yahoo search will turn up many of his books. They cover creation vs evolution fairly well.  I suggest Science and the Bible.

Now, as far as the topic at hand goes, I think it is irresponsible for anyone in the "Church" to say such a thing. It would be best if they just said "We do not agree with contraceptive uses." instead of lying to scare people. What good do they feel this will do?

This Christian is very confused. And no, I am not Catholic.

Edited by Lover of Purple, 09 October 2003 - 12:32 PM.


#16 Bad Wolf

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:33 PM

QueenTiye, on Oct 9 2003, 10:12 AM, said:

Take a bow, Delvo...

That's an EXCELLENT response!
That goes double from me.

Lil
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#17 Rhea

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:33 PM

QueenTiye, on Oct 9 2003, 10:12 AM, said:

Take a bow, Delvo...

That's an EXCELLENT response!

Rhea: I think that theologians have to wrestle with the doctrines in light of scientific knowledge, and then see what they come up with.  And - it may not always be what scientists and others  may like - but there is a gradual change.  Religion (I think) is very conservative in outlook - there are a set of ideas that make a religion a religion, and straying from those ideas has to be done very carefully.

For my part - I think the process is exciting - if infuriorating sometimes.... :)

QT
I find it fascinating as well. It's almost like certain groups achieve some kind of gestalt and just change their minds or the zeitgeist changes and it feels spontaneous. Others struggle with the questions (witness the schism among Episcopalians about homosexuality).

And I agree - Delvo, your last post was excellent.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#18 Bad Wolf

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:36 PM

Mark this day:  QT, Rhea, Delvo, and Lil all agree about something in the OT forum.

:wideeyed:  :angel:  :wideeyed:
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#19 QueenTiye

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:47 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Oct 9 2003, 01:36 PM, said:

Mark this day:  QT, Rhea, Delvo, and Lil all agree about something in the OT forum.

:wideeyed:  :angel:  :wideeyed:
LOL!!! HOLIDAY! Posted Image

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#20 Rhea

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:51 PM

LOL, QT! I *adore* the smiley.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH



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