In our own pages, Fr. Michael Czerny, S.J., director of the African Jesuits AIDS Network, has spoken in similar terms about the crisis of AIDS in Africa.  

We learn as we go along that AIDS is very complex. H.I.V. is a virus that reduces and destroys the immune system. But it’s also a cultural, familial, communal and spiritual reality. The fight against AIDS has to be carried forward on all those fronts....

 

Westerners feel very strongly that the condom is the minimal responsible thing to do. But this is to make sexuality into a very individual choice: the exercise of sexuality is not embedded in marriage, much less in the larger cultural context. It comes instead from the idea that I am the sovereign of my behavior and I can do what I want, with whom I want, when I want, as long as I don’t involve children or use violence. Within that range of choices, which is practically infinite, I am also responsible for using a condom....

In Africa, sexual expression is rarely consensual and often coerced. Also—this is very important and why I feel the condom is not the answer—much of the propagation of H.I.V. is older men giving it to younger girls. It’s not boys and girls who “can’t keep their pants on,” though today people like to project that image. It’s what we call sugar daddies, and to a certain extent sugar mommies, adults who are “buying” sex with younger people and spreading H.I.V. When you’re a very poor girl and an older man is horny, and he’ll give you a blouse or money for your cellphone, which you desperately need, what are you going to do?....

AIDS is part and parcel of a whole syndrome of injustices. Let Africa find its rightful place in the world economy, and AIDS will go away. Make international agricultural policy favorable to Africa, for example, and Africa will blossom. AIDS will fade away because people will be able to earn their living and feed themselves properly...[AIDS is] a disease of poverty and of hopelessness, of conflict, of suffering, of all the things that happen because we are countries that cannot produce, cannot export, cannot run ourselves well, are often at war and full of refugees, full of corruption. Africa’s woes are complicating factors when it comes to AIDS....

For the full article, click here.  

 

 

Comments

Anonymous | 3/19/2009 - 4:31pm
More to the point, AIDS is about treatment and the ability to get drugs to eliminate viral loads. Last time I checked, the Church owned the largest hospital system on the planet. Perhaps it is time for it to obtain drugs for Africa and send them at a loss.
Anonymous | 3/19/2009 - 3:25pm
Here we go again-- reminding the worlds' women that they are not really involved in the condom issue. The second paragraph discusses the use of condoms from the male perspective only. Of course, the trapped and desperate younger women are mentioned, but it seems there is nothing they can do--except to wait for disease or pregnancy. Surely the life of a women must be somewhat equal to the life of a man!
Anonymous | 3/19/2009 - 12:26pm
Having had a young relative die of AIDS received in a blood transfusion that was required after an accident, I find it a bit difficult to believe that AIDS will someday just go away. Diseases do not just go away. What might go away with cultural and economic change in Africa is the havoc AIDS is wreaking on African society. However, there will always be people everywhere in the world who do not have the social conscience that would prevent deadly diseases from being contracted and spread around. We cannot just wait to offer forgiveness should those fornicators finally get enough sense to mend the error of their ways. The damage they do needs to be contained. By undermining the practical efforts to prevent the spread of AIDS and only encouraging a more virtuous lifestyle, the Catholic Church is sacrificing innocent people to the idol of moral perfection.
Anonymous | 3/19/2009 - 10:16am
Benedict's comments about condoms in Africa are indefensible. Nobody is saying that condoms are the only solution. However, they are part of the solution and it is wrong for the Catholic Church to try to ignore that fact. Perhaps off topic, we need to remind ourselves that most people, including many Catholics, do not believe artificial birth control is immoral. This may be the worst of Benedict's recent insensitive actions or statements.
Anonymous | 3/22/2009 - 7:24pm
“The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.” Ralph Waldo Emerson It would be good if the Pope and his current crop of “yes men” would take the time and listen to South Africa’s Bishop Kevin Dowling about condoms. In a nutshell, he would most likely tell them: “I would say that, like him (the pope), I believe in the ideals of abstaining from sex before marriage and remaining faithful to your partner within a stable marriage relationship. My problem is that in the desperate situations where I work, the promotion of these ideals does not meet the need. We, instead, need a more realistic approach, to be consistently pro-life from conception to death. I’ve sat with vulnerable women for years in their shacks, have seen them and the babies in their arms dying of AIDS. Their hopelessness has seared my heart and spirit. I believe Jesus’s injunction to the Pharisees applies to me. He said that they are the ones who put impossible burdens on the shoulders of their people but will they lift a finger to help them carry them? Not they. I want to be the one who lifts a finger.” http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/2008/04/10/why-the-pope-is-wrong-about-condoms.html And that, sisters and brothers, is commonsense Christian compassion on the ground.