Media Reports on Condoms Seen as Superficial
President of Catholic Medical Federation Offers Clarification
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BARCELONA, Spain, MARCH 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations is asserting that the media got it wrong when reporting on Benedict XVI's latest statement about condoms.
Dr. José María Simón Castellví observed that many recent newspaper articles are portraying the Church as saying that, if a person is to have relations with a prostitute, he must not use a condom.
He noted the superficiality with which some media sources have reported Benedict XVI's press conference Tuesday on the plane en route to Cameroon, when the Pope said that condoms are not the solution for AIDS.
"The Church defends faithfulness, abstinence and monogamy as the best weapons," the president told ZENIT.
However, he said, the media and even some political representatives have accused the Church of promoting AIDS in Africa. Obviously, the Church is not saying that one can have all sorts of promiscuous sexual relations, as long as one does not use a condom, he clarified.
Love without barriers
The doctor explained that, to understand what the Church says about condoms, it is necessary to understand what love is. He noted that the Pope himself explained this to journalists, although that passage of his conversation was censured by most of the media.
Simón added: "A condom is a barrier, but a barrier with limits that many times is crossed. It can be counterproductive, especially in the case of young people, from the point of view of viral transmission.
"We, Catholic doctors, are in favor of scientific knowledge. We do not say things only because of ideological obligations.
"In the same way that we say that adultery in one's thoughts does not transmit a virus but is something evil, we must say that condoms have their dangers, limited barriers."
He illustrated the Church's position by recalling a historical case that was reported by the media.
In 1993 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, he said, the 7th International AIDS Meeting was held with expert doctors and health agents. It was a meeting that brought together some 300 participants. At the end, a questionnaire was handed out asking the participants if, during the three days of the meeting, they had sexual relations outside of a stable relationship.
Of those questioned, 28% answered yes, and of these, one third said that they had not taken any "precaution" to avoid contamination, the doctor reported.
He asked, "If this happens among people who are 'aware,' what must be the case among ordinary people?"