Belgian Bishops Lament Government's Papal Protest

Says Lawmakers Didn't Hear Pope's Whole Message

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BRUSSELS, APRIL 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Belgium's bishops lament a government proposal to protest Benedict XVI's comment that condoms are not the solution to fighting AIDS, saying the lawmakers didn't take into account the Pope's overall message.



The Belgian Parliament passed a proposal today that asked the government to condemn the Pope's "unacceptable" comments, and to "officially protest before the Holy See."

The Holy Father said in a press conference aboard the papal plane en route to Cameroon this month that "the problem [of AIDs] cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: On the contrary, they increase it."

The bishops' conference of Belgium affirmed in a note today that they "respect the democratic character of this decision, but lament its content."

The episcopate said the resolution didn't take into account Benedict XVI's overall message, which was that "without an education in responsible education, all other methods of prevention will fall short."

"What our country and Africa need," they added, "is a calm reflection about the means that need to be put into practice to stop the AIDs pandemic."

Free speech

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, cited the Pope's democratic right to express his opinions: "It would appear to be obvious to any democratic country that the Holy Father and the Catholic Church are free to express their own positions."

"The great tradition and experience of the Church in the educational and health fields, in particular in the poorest countries, is so evident that there is no need for a demonstration or comments," he continued.

The Jesuit added: ''It also needs to be asked whether the Holy Father's position has been considered with sufficient attention and seriousness, or instead through a subjective and unbalanced filter of news items in the Western press."