Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics petitions the Pope about condoms

I received an interesting email this morning which I thought I’d pass on to you all here.  

Dear friends,

Last week, on his first visit to Africa, Pope Benedict said that “[AIDS] cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.

The Pope’s statement is at odds with the research on AIDS prevention, and a setback to decades of hard work on AIDS education and awareness. With powerful moral influence over more than 1.1 billion Catholics in the world, and 22 million HIV positive Africans, these words could dramatically affect the AIDS pandemic and put millions of lives at risk. Worldwide concern is starting to show results and a willingness by the Vatican to revise the statement – sign our urgent petition asking the Pope to take care not to undermine proven AIDS prevention strategies:


The petition is linked here.

For those of you not familiar with, “Aavaz means “voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages, and they describe themselves as

a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want.

“Avaaz” means “Voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages.

Across the world, most people want stronger protections for the environment, greater respect for human rights, and concerted efforts to end poverty, corruption and war. Yet globalization faces a huge democratic deficit as international decisions are shaped by political elites and unaccountable corporations — not the views and values of the world’s people.

Aavaz has over 3 million members world-wide and

was co-founded by Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and, an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States. Our co-founding team was also composed of a group of global social entrepreneurs from 6 countries, including our Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser, Andrea Woodhouse, Jeremy Heimans, and David Madden. Avaaz is lucky to have the founding partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz,, and many others.

The email continued:

This is not a religious dispute, but a grave public health concern. Personal beliefs of Catholics and all people should be respected, and the Pope’s advocacy for a culture of fidelity and respect could be helpful in prevention if condoms were not discouraged. The Catholic Church engages in a vast amount of social service work, including the care of those living with AIDS. But the Pope’s claim that condom distribution is not an effective AIDS prevention mechanism is not supported by research. It’s untrue, and if it diminishes condom use, it will be deadly.

The fact is, HIV and AIDS are prevented by condom use. There is no easy solution to the spread of this tragic disease, but condoms and education are the best known prevention combination and have not been found to increase risky sexual behaviour. That is why even priests and nuns working in Africa have questioned the Pope’s statements.

We may not be able to ask the Catholic Church to change its broader position, but we are asking the Pope to stop actively speaking out against prevention strategies that work. It’s important that people of all beliefs, especially Catholics, call on the Pope to exercise care in his leadership on this issue. Sign below then spread the word to your friends and family – this petition could actually save lives.

I have never forgotten a major run in with the Catholic Church a number of years ago when I was doing AIDS work in Puerto Rico.  A woman had asked for permission of her priest to use condoms with her husband who had been diagnosed as HIV poz.  She was denied.  The Catholic Church position created a furor in local papers at the time.  It was essentially “better she should get AIDS, have a baby with AIDS, die, and remain “not in sin” – than to to use condoms.”

Now that the Catholic Church has stepped up its proselytizing in Africa, and other regions of the world affected by AIDS, it becomes more important than ever to speak up and speak out.  

As one of my Catholic students commented yesterday – “how ridiculous that a group of celibate men should have the nerve to open their mouths about the sexual lives of millions of women and men”.



  1. Sigh, one regressive president out, one regressive pope in.  If this was a Muslim Imam saying the same thing the western media and blogosphere would have lost its mind…

  2. i guess my biggest problem with all religion is that it seems stuck in some archaic mindset of centuries long past.  

    for example the ritual mikveh was pure brilliance at the time whence it was set forth – now not so much.

    the sooner that the pope realizes that modern science has a method in which to prevent death and illness (rather than just preventing conception) the more credibility he’ll have.

  3. rfahey22

    This pope is retrograde, unfortunately.  The strange thing is that popes seem to have greater influence over Catholics in certain regions than others.  When I was growing up, I knew of the pope as just some guy who said things that no one listened to, but apparently they take his words seriously in other parts of the world.

  4. Thankfully I don’t really care what the pope says.  Unfortunately millions of people do.  It strikes me as odd that the Catholic Church would be concerned about genocide or death prevention in any way.  Call me cynical but that’s just how I see this.

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