When the pope visited Africa back in mid-March, a firestorm erupted when the media reported he had said “condoms spread AIDS.” Although the pope didn’t use those exact words, it was an accurate summary. Here’s what the pope did say:
I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness—even through personal sacrifice—to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.
According to the pope, “the scourge [of AIDS] cannot be resolved by distributing condoms”—in fact, doing so “risk[s] worsening the problem.” Predictably, there was a cacophony of condemnation directed at the pope. And to give just one example, ACT UP, the gay activist group, labeled him “assassin,” and threw condemns at worshippers leaving service at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
I guess activists can’t help throwing condoms—either at those who oppose their policy, or at populations dying of AIDS in Africa and around the world.
Soon after the story broke, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, released an interview with Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Here’s what Green had to say:
We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.