Many hackles have been raised by Pope Benedict’s statement that AIDS “is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money
alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms,
which even aggravates the problems.” Not, of course, Bill Donohue’s:
Anyone who thinks that condom distribution, education and/or research
is going to solve a problem which is mostly a function of behavioral
recklessness is positively clueless. Not only that, such persons
unwittingly contribute to the problem by diverting attention and
resources away from that which works.
For a review of the situation in Africa, based on medical reports from the field, see here. The point is that the effectiveness of condoms in preventing AIDS is an empirical question. The pope and his minions are entitled to oppose condom use on moral and/or theological grounds. What they’re not entitled to do is twist the evidence to suit their morality and theology.
And if, according to the best evidence, it turns out that condom distribution can indeed reduce HIV infection, then the stand-up thing for them to say is: “Yes, the distribution of condoms does help prevent AIDS in this fallen world. Nevertheless, we oppose it as encouraging immoral behavior and violation of natural law. We believe that the way to solve the AIDS crisis is for people to engage in sex only within marriage, and for married couples in which one of the partners is infected with AIDS to remain celibate.” It would be dishonest for them to do otherwise.