Pope’s words misguide African continent


The definition of common sense, as stated by Webster’s dictionary is: “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” For example, if you took a look at the situation and facts surrounding Africa, you would see that the continent has been hit harder by AIDS and HIV than any other region of the world. Based on this fact, prudent judgment would tell you not to go to Africa and preach against the use of condoms, right?

Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t think so. In fact, the Pope was so caught up in the traditional Catholic argument against artificial contraceptives that he forgot his common sense completely.

During the Pope’s first visit to the continent, he refused to go against the Vatican’s long time ban on condom use. In fact, he said that the distribution of condoms would only worsen the AIDS problem by encouraging pre-marital sex and infidelity between couples.

In Africa, the problem with HIV and AIDS is very much past the point of preaching against sex. As of now, 22 million people are infected with HIV and 1.5 million people died of AIDS in 2007 alone. It is estimated that by 2010, 42 million children worldwide will be orphaned by AIDS, 20 million of which will be Africans.

With that being said, this problem is not only due to na’ve couples having unprotected sex or married couples not staying faithful to one another. Those are contributing factors, but Africa is also one of the most war torn continents in the world. Armed groups use rape as a weapon of war and as a way to control women. Due to a lack of medical resources and education, these women unknowingly pass the disease on to their children.

In studies done during 2007 on couples where one partner was HIV-positive and the other wasn’t, the infection rate was less than 1 percent per year for those who used condoms correctly and consistently; for couples who either used condoms inconsistently or not at all, the infection rates were 10-14 percent. So what happens when Pope Benedict, who is meant to be the voice of the Holy Father on Earth, tells the people of Africa not to use condoms? Africa is home to 13.2 percent of the world’s Catholics, so while many will listen to the pope, the others who rape, mutilate and pillage will continue to do so.

The reason Pope Benedict has been traveling to these Third World countries lately is to promote Catholicism. It seems to me that instead of doing so, he is setting the religion back a few hundred years or so.

It is no secret that the teaching of abstinence in the United States has not been very successful, so I’m not sure why it would work in a continent filled with people who are even less educated about sexual health with almost no resources whatsoever. What we need to do is educate the people of Africa, and send in the resources they need to slowly rehabilitate the continent.

If this means flying in a plane filled with condoms so one less child will lose his mother to AIDS, I say let’s do it.