Jeez -- you should pardon the expression -- but writing about the wit and wisdom of Pope Dope Benedict is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.
Or is it shooting fish in a barrel?
Not content with last week's Vatican vapidity/misogyny, like telling women we should thank the Maytag man for our rights, now he is on STDs.
Pope Benedict will visit Cameroon and Angola during a seven-day visit to Africa.
"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the Pope told reporters aboard his plane to Yaounde, Cameroon. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
It's the first time the Pope has directly addressed the issue of condom use, which has been a divisive issue in the Roman Catholic Church.
While health workers — including some priests and nuns working with people with AIDS — advocate the use of condoms to curb the spread of disease during sex, the Catholic church promotes fidelity within marriage, chastity and abstinence.
More than 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to estimates from the United Nations. Since the 1980s, roughly 25 million people have died from AIDS.
Benedict's first papal trip to Africa will take him to Cameroon and Angola. Africa is the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic Church, though it competes with Islam and evangelical churches.
The Pope is already noted for his scientific pronouncements on such matters on how the Pill causes male infertility.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: More.
I get that the Catholic Church wants people to breed (or abstain) and that condoms stand in the way of that. It’s not surprising that Church leaders wouldn’t be the most vocal proponents of condom use and distribution (though they should be). But seriously? To produce such a qoutable, memorable sound-bite on the issue? In a place where gender inequities and social stigma and a lack of resources already stack the deck against condom use, and put people at the highest risk of HIV transmission in the world????
The AP notes that many nuns and priests who actually work with people living with AIDS “question the church’s opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa.”
But, those guys actually spend time with people who have the disease, instead of traipsing around the world doing photo ops and saying insane things. What do they know?
Incidentally, one of my Twitter followers is giving me an argument over this, claiming that the Pope just wants to reduce copulation, and that condom use increases copulation.
He has a funny way of showing it.
What he really wants to do is increase the number of Catholics.
Of course, if they die of AIDS, he isn't getting too far ahead, is he?
UP IN HEAVEN DATE: Of course, Dammit Janet! had to weigh in.
Is it any surprise that the word 'pontificate' has come to mean 'to express opinions or judgments in a pompous way'?
UP WITH THE FACTS DATE: Some compelling evidence that condoms work in Africa.
This is from a World Health Organization site:
The West African country of Senegal is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have succeeded in containing the spread of HIV from the outset. Since the first cases appeared in the country in the mid-1980s, infection rates have remained consistently low at under 2% -- largely due to the success of a nationwide campaign to modify sexual behaviour. This has led to a massive increase in the use of condoms and a delay in the age at which teenage girls first have sex. ...
Education campaigns were backed up by social marketing of condoms and concerted efforts to improve STI treatment services. The number of condoms distributed skyrocketed from 800 000 in 1988 to over 7 million by 1997. Condom use by men during casual sexual encounters rose from under 1% before the AIDS epidemic began to 68% by 1997. Meanwhile, in a 1998 study of condom use by sex workers, 99% reported using a condom with their most recent new client and 97% with their most recent regular client. In addition, 60% reported using condoms with men who were not clients
Of course, mere distribution alone doesn't always work by itself, depending on the context. But promotion at all levels plus distribution is the foundation of a solid anti-HIV strategy. And there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Senegal's widespread distribution of condoms "increased the problem."
Contrast Senegal's experience with that of Cameroon, where the Pope was flying when he made the statement. This is from 2004:
A study by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) recently revealed that two-thirds of teenagers in Cameroon have sex by age 16 and more than half of them shun condoms. The figures shed new light on sexual behavior in a nation where HIV/AIDS adult infection rates have risen more than twenty-fold in slightly more than a decade.
Albert Mbanfu, assistant coordinator of the survey, blamed the situation on an "inappropriate environment", including a lack of sex education in families and schools, the negative influence of peers, the media, video clubs, and poor knowledge of modern contraceptives.