Pope Benedict XVI spreads HIV/AIDS

You know what? I’m just going to say it and I truly don’t care: The pope is a douche. He’s an out-of-touch figurehead whose archaic edicts have no bearing on the real world and how it works. I am so sick of the Vatican’s anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-sex stance, but this is about more than general outrage over the Vatican’s ignorance and bigotry. This is about saving lives.

While touring Africa this week and selling Catholicism to the church’s fastest-growing consumer base—whoops, I mean market—Pope Benedict XVI said this: “You can’t resolve [the HIV/AIDS crisis] with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

Inane, I know. How exactly does protecting people from the contraction of HIV and AIDS increase the spread of HIV and AIDS? Conveniently, the pope didn’t have to address this question.

His alternative? A responsible and moral attitude about sex, fidelity within marriage, and abstinence outside of marriage.

Any thinking person knows that this is utterly ridiculous. People have sex. With regard to consensual homosexual sex, it’s ignorant and delusional to think that people are going to remain virgins until they’re married. With regard to consensual homosexual sex, it’s an irrelevant point because queers aren’t allowed to get married in most parts of the world, and the Catholic Church certainly doesn’t advocate equal marriage.  And with regard to rape, the church’s stance is criminal and abusive.

I’m going to use that word “criminal” again. I think what the Vatican is doing is criminal. They are actually spreading the lie that condoms do not protect people against the sexually-transmitted diseases and infections. In El Salvador, the church encouraged a law requiring condom packages to carry a warning that they don’t protect against AIDS. Everyone knows that condoms are effective about 99% (or slightly  more) of the time. Clearly abstinence would be 100% effective. But expecting abstinence is neither realistic nor rational.

I wish it were irrelavent what the pope has to say about anything, but it’s not. Catholics all over the world feel that they have to “obey” the laws that the Vatican passes down. And because of their anti-condom campaign, people are dying. Twenty-two million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV. On that continent misinformation is rampant; men in South Africa actually believe in myths like the fact that if you rape a baby girl you’ll be cured of AIDS. Of course if people believe that, they’ll believe it when the pope tells them condoms don’t protect against AIDS.

But much as the media will have you believe otherwise, AIDS isn’t a problem to be relegated to Africa. It was revealed today week that 3% of the population of Washington DC has HIV or AIDS. Something is deemed an epidemic when 1% of the population suffers from it. This is 3%. Three times an epidemic. In Washington DC.

So it’s time for Benedict to take his head out of his ass, and it’s time for the world to realize that what the pope has to say is irrelavent at best and criminal at worst. Not only is the Vatican directly causing the death rate from AIDS to rise, but their views on women and queers incites bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and violence.

Benedict also said something about the Catholic Church being at he forefront of the fight against AIDS. I’m not sure how that’s possible when it bans the use of condoms, which directly increases the spread of HIV/AIDS, not to mention other STDs and unwanted pregnancies. But okay, let’s say it’s true that the Catholic Church at least thinks it’s on the forefront of this fight. How is one of the richest corporations in the world leading the vanguard against the spread of HIV/AIDS? No, not by offering any kind of financial help—by offering “spiritual and moral” help.

That would be like if a group led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates claimed to be at the “forefront” of the fight against AIDS, but rather than offering any economic support simply said, “Our prayers are with you.”

I know a lot of religious people—a lot of members of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations—do amazing humanitarian work throughout the world. I also know, however, that goodness, ethics, and morality existed long before religion did. And I know that people doing good work for others can and does exist exclusive of religion.

There are many people out there fighting the good fight as we speak. Among them are real Catholics who purport to live a “Christ-like” life (in the sense that Jesus was a good guy) and who know that the Vatican is wrong on this one. You can read about some of them here.

Hopefully people will continue to do the good, rational work that needs to be done and add their voices to the chorus speaking out against the Catholic Church’s archaic stances. People’s lives are at stake.

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