Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Pope helped spread AIDS: Euroleft not happy 

Agence France-Presse reports, as only Agence France-Presse can, that some people still have not forgiven John Paul II: "AIDS campaigners sounded a jarring note today over the papacy of John Paul II, describing his ban on condom use, abhorrence of homosexuality and conservatism on women's rights as bleak failures in the fight against HIV."

The second paragraph is a pearl:
"The Pope's tenure straddled AIDS' rise from a disease first seen in a handful of American gays to a global pandemic that by last year had claimed more than 20 million lives and left nearly 40 million others infected with HIV."
Am I overly sensitive, or does this seemingly descriptive sentence very subtly tries to imply a causal relation?

As we all know the Pope was against the use of contraceptives for whatever purpose. As the report notes, "less than three weeks before he died, the Pope told Tanzanian bishops on March 11 that 'fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of AIDS infection'." It's hard to disagree with this statement on logical basis, and I'll leave theological discussions to others; for many, of course, the debate revolved not around the questions whether this stance was logical or morally right but whether it was realistic. A sort of another idealist-realist debate.
" 'Millions of people in developing countries are orphans, having lost their parents to AIDS because of the pope's anti-condom dogma,' said British gay campaigner Peter Tatchell of the group OutRage.

" 'We mourn for the eight million Catholics who have died of AIDS, and worry for the more than 10 million Catholics who are infected,' said Khalil Elouardighi of the French branch of the lobby group Act Up.

" 'It should not be forgotten that millions have died in Africa as a result of this theological rigidity,' said the British centrist daily The Independent.

" 'Blindess in the face of AIDS' was the headline in France's left-of-centre daily Liberation."
These complaints are nothing new, but I'll venture a guess that amongst the flood of commentary about John Paul II we will increasingly see "the Pope is guilty of genocide" meme, mostly because the feral left needs something to hold on to in the current debate, and there wouldn't be too many people brave enough to publicly regret the passing of the Soviet Empire.

Lastly, this reminder of that other axis of evil: "The Pope's emphasis on abstinence and fidelity is shared by evangelical American Christians, who have successfully lobbied to have those messages promoted under President George W. Bush's program to fight AIDS in Africa."


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