It's a common trope among church critics to glibly suggest that the Vatican has the blood of millions on its hands because it doesn't back condom distribution, particularly in Africa. That is as absurd as it is unprovable. The church's opposition to corruption, ethnic violence and murder are just as pronounced and resolute, and yet such maladies persist in Africa as well. Are we to believe that African male prostitutes -- no doubt devout Catholics all -- were simply following church doctrine when they declined to use condoms?
Meanwhile, the church does perhaps more than any other institution to aid the sick and feed the hungry in Africa, something you certainly can't say about many of the critics in the Fourth Estate peanut gallery.
As for the church's preferred approach -- abstinence until marriage -- it may be impractical in most parts of the world, as the critics claim. But it would undeniably save more lives than condom use if put into practice. What seems to offend many isn't the efficacy of the solution but the suggestion that such values have any place in the modern world.
The church's position is that the truest notes are those that not only celebrate life and love but cut through the whitewater racket of devouring time. As those notes become harder to hear, the answer isn't to stop playing them but to turn up the volume.
Perhaps it's the approach of yet another dad-less Thanksgiving -- a holiday during which we give thanks for whatever parts of our lives that are set to the music of those true notes -- that has set my mind in this direction. But that shouldn't surprise, for he was always the true rock in my river.
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