The Vatican is now defending comments made by Pope Benedict XVI indicating that condoms “increase the problem” of AIDS. After arriving in Yaounde, Cameroon, Pope Benedict reportedly said “You can’t overcome this problem of AIDS with just money. It helps, but if there is no soul, the money cannot help. You cannot overcome it just by distributing condoms. You will increase it.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi defended Benedict’s remarks by saying the pope was “maintaining the position of his predecessors,” that abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage are the best ways to curb the AIDS crisis, according to Reuters. International backlash has ensued.
In a briefing, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said “France expresses its very strong concern with regard to the consequences of Benedict XVI’s comments. While it is not up to us to pass a judgment on the doctrines of the Church, we consider that such remarks put in danger public health policy and imperative needs regarding the protection of human life,” according to the Reuters.
Dr. Quentin Sattentau of Oxford University told Reuters “My reaction is that this represents a major step backwards in terms of global health education, is entirely counter-productive, and is likely to lead to increases in HIV infection in Africa and elsewhere…There is a large body of published evidence demonstrating that condom use reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection, but does not lead to increased sexual activity.”