Aids Focus

Africa welcomes pope's condom stance

2010-11-24 13:22

Special Report

Nairobi - The pope's stunning suggestion that condoms could be used in limited situations has grabbed the attention of Africa, which has a soaring number of Catholics and a raging HIV pandemic.

From church leaders to Aids activists, many Africans welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's message that condoms could be morally justified in some cases, such as with male prostitutes to prevent the spread of HIV. Some disagreed with him.

More than 20 million people across Africa are infected with HIV - more than the rest of the world combined. A half-million more people become infected each year in South Africa alone.

"I say hurrah for Pope Benedict," said Linda-Gail Bekker, chief executive of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. She said his statement may prompt many people at risk of contracting HIV to "adopt a simple lifestyle strategy to protect themselves."

Sello Hatang, spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, applauded the pope, saying "condom use is essential in the fight against HIV.

Lesser evil

While some church leaders in Africa disagreed with the new approach and others said they are waiting for an official church communiqué, Bishop Valentine Seane, the leader of Botswana's 70 000 Catholics, said he is open to the idea of condom use.

"The lesser evil is to use available means of protection," Seane said.

The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. Senior Vatican officials have advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the fight against Aids.

Seane said of the pope's latest comments: "The intention is very important here because it is to safeguard one from viruses such as the pandemic," and not to sanction birth control.

During a visit to Africa last year, the pope said condoms are not the answer to the Aids epidemic and even said distributing condoms "increases the problem". But in comments made public last weekend, he said using condoms could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection". The pope said there may be a basis for condom use like "when a male prostitute uses a condom".

A relaxing of blanket opposition to condoms could have a big impact in Africa, the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic church. Nearly 20% of the continent's one billion people are Catholic.

Change perceptions and save lives

Caroline Nenguke of the Treatment Action Campaign, an advocacy group for people with HIV, said the pope's words could change perceptions on condoms and therefore save lives.

"He has a wide following and there are some people who take his word as gospel truth," said Nenguke, whose group is based in Cape Town. "If condom use has more credibility, then more people will use condoms and therefore infection rates will reduce."

Sando Delaney-Kailie, a Catholic and the director of the Aids programme for the Liberia National Red Cross, said the use of condoms would reduce the level of HIV transmission in male prostitutes.

"The Catholic Church preaches and encourages abstinence, but people are still engaged in sex, so the pope is right to say what he said," she said.

Many others embraced the pope's new stance.

Melrosa Williams, a churchgoer in Sierra Leone, said: "I support what the pope has said 100% since prevention is better than a cure."

Debate

The pope sought to "kick-start a debate" when he said some condom use may be justified, Vatican insiders said on Monday.

In Nigeria, Charles Oluwarotimi, who works in the financial field, indicated that he sees the pope's statements as sanctioning condom use in other risky situations.

"I think it's good as a lifesaving device, especially for married couples when one of them has HIV and they want to continue the marriage," Oluwarotimi said. "It is also good for the youths who still indulge in sins."

But some church leaders in Uganda - which has seen a wave of anti-gay sentiment and attacks - said the pope shouldn't be granting any recognition or encouragement to homosexuals.

Rev. Venicious Reeves, a Pentecostal preacher in Monrovia, Liberia, also disagreed with the pope's position.

"The pope should instead encourage people he classifies as male prostitutes to get out of prostitution and live in morality," said Reeves.

- AP

Read more on:    tac  |  catholic church  |  pope benedict xvi  |  hiv aids
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.