I got annoyed at a few friends the other night and I think I shot the messenger. They mentioned that they were annoyed at Pope Benedict’s statements while he was in Africa about how condoms are not a solution to the AIDS crisis.
I asked them (probably in an angry NY tone) what they thought the Pope meant. One claimed that they weren’t sure and the other said that they thought the Pope was saying that condoms are not a way to prevent the spread of AIDS–that they don’t work–that scientifically condoms don’t really prevent the AIDS virus.
What the Pope was saying was that condoms are a quick fix. That they don’t stop the real systemic problem at hand which is an unhealthy and cheapened view of sexuality–which most people in the world actually subscribe to and which many men especially in Africa have taken to an extreme.
Women are regarded in Africa by many men in that culture as disposable. They are only there to serve the sexual needs of men. We shouldn’t single out Africa in this regard as this is a widespread phenomenon.
So the Pope’s suggestion is that condoms do not create a culture change and a shift in the sexual mindset of the world–especially on a continent where AIDS and HIV is a huge problem–is what is really needed.
But what happens now? His answer is taken out of context and blown up in the media as the Pope saying that we don’t need condoms in Africa to solve the AIDS crisis with no explanation at all and most people come away thinking that the Pope just made a stupid and perhaps even an out-of-touch statement.
He did not. But now we’ll never hear him go beyond this statement because the Vatican PR department won’t field anymore questions on the subject out of fear.
The good follow up question that I suspect the Pope may even have a brilliant idea about is this:
“While it may be true that a more systemic change is needed to really solve the problem of AIDS in the world, there are many people who may not share that opinion. While we realize that you need to set the bar high by calling people to a higher standard and uphold the teachings of the Catholic faith, can you also share any ideas you may have to keep people safe in the meantime, before this culture change hopefully takes hold on the culture–or even dare we say, if it doesn’t?”
Culture change doesn’t happen overnight. And while I agree with the Pope’s point, I’d sincerely like to hear what ideas he might promote of a practical nature that will protect, especially women who are often raped by men with the AIDS virus or are forced to have sex with their husbands who may be transmitting the virus as well.
While I’m not likely to get an answer from the Holy Father on this matter, I’m wondering what y’all think about two things:
1) Is the media as well as the general public shooting us in the foot by taking questions out of context?
2) What ideas might we have for both building a change in the culture and for keeping people safe in the meantime?
Let’s say that condoms are not an option just for kicks!