Bill Schuch writes:
"Some observations on several of the Bishop of Toledo's statements in the article published December 19, 2010 in the Toledo Blade: If it is true that "consistent condom use has not reached a sufficiently high level … to produce a measurable slowing of new infections in the generalized epidemics of Sub-Saharan Africa", then the Vatican's hard line against the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV within discordant couples is at least partially responsible. "
"The bishop places " condom orthodoxy" (his term) at odds with the suffering people of Africa and their values, their love for children and family. The fact is that when monogamous women are infected by their HIV-positive spouses/ partners, many, who progress to AIDS for lack of lifelong access to anti-retroviral drugs, leave behind orphans who are often abandoned by their fathers and those women who refuse the demands for sex from their infected spouses/partners are subject to violence, ostracism and destitution for themselves and their children. "
"Bishop Blair joins the numerous hierarchs who, ever since the Pope's recent interview in which he mused that condoms might play a role in HIV prevention, have been assuring us that there has been no change and will never be any change in the intrinsic evil of condom use which is synonymous with intended contraception rather than intended disease prevention in their non-pastoral orthodox minds. Not one of these men has the courage to give public consideration to the plight of these women at the mercy of their HIV-positive husbands, most of whom are not very keen on using condoms. The Vatican's hardline against the use of condoms simply reinforces their strong disinclination to use condoms. "
"The bishop points out that one in four of the 33 million AIDS patients worldwide is being cared for by the Catholic Church. That includes almost half of the total treatment efforts in Africa, where two-thirds of those afflicted with AIDS live. U.S. Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Internationalis care for Catholic and non-Catholics alike - their failure to provide condoms and instructions as to their proper and consistent use as a moral imperative if abstinence is not a realistic option for discordant couples clearly is counter-productive to the efforts of other NGOs working to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. Would it not make good Christian common sense to provide condoms where necessary to protect these innocent women? These women, Catholic and non-Catholic, are not only the victims of their male-dominated ( often polygamous) cultures but of our male-dominated Catholic church as well."
Bridget Mary's Reflection
This issue illustrates a major reason women priests are needed in the Roman Catholic Church. Women are capable moral agents and decision-makers in moral issues that impact their lives. Sometimes, I wonder what planet these male bishops live on? The Pope opens the door a crack to a more compassionate view for condom use to save lives, and here come these bishops who continue to uphold the ban on condoms. Why? Millions of women have died because their partners infected them! Protecting the lives of women should be a priority in a church that professes to be pro-life.
It is time for the bishops to affirm women's lives as much as they affirm fetal life. But, sadly, the male-dominated patriarchal mindset continues to exert a negative effect on the lives of millions of women who suffered from HIV AIDS as a result of their partners refusal to use condoms. This is insanity and has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ who treated women and men as equals and partners. The Roman Catholic community needs to challenge Bishop Blair and members of the hierarchy who support the ban on condoms. We need to stand together in solidarity with our sisters in Africa and elsewhere. They deserve our support.
Bridget Mary Meehan RCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.