Pitting the attitude, not necessarily Evil Captor. Personal Responsibility- extinct?

In this thread, Evil Captor puts blame for part of the African AIDS crisis at the feet of the Catholic Church.

Now, I have a number of serious problems with this.
First: the AIDS epidemic is not the fault of the Catholic Church. Not ONE case of AIDS is the fault of the Catholic Church. The Church is not running around injecting people with syringes full of the virus.

Second: the Church is teaching that premarital and extramarital sex is wrong. This is in distinct contrast to social convention in many regions of Africa, and is a very real issue in terms of containment and mutation of the human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS.

Third: The contention that a human being will engage in extramarital sex against the direct teaching of the Church and then restrict his contraceptive options in accordance with the teachings of the same church is ridiculous on its face.

Let’s be honest with each other here: Blaming the Catholic Church for not enabling its in-name-only constituents with regard to violating its basic precepts is staggeringly stupid and intellectually indefensible.
What, you want the Church to say, “All right, we get the fact thay you aren’t listening to us anyway, so we endorse the use of condoms in your extramarital and exploitative affairs?”

Hell no. The Church is going to say, and I am going to say with them: “Show a little fucking restraint, you moron.”
I’d be willing to wager that the number of African “Catholics” engaged in the furtherance of the AIDS crisis haven’t even heard of Humanae Vitae, but they sure as shit have heard of the Seventh Commandment.
And this doesn’t even get into the debate over whether having unprotected sex when you know that you are HIV-positive is a violation of the Sixth Commandment.

In short, get over yourselves, people. If you’re not listening to the Pope when he says not to fuck strangers, then blaming him for getting AIDS because you say you did listen to him when he said not to wear a condom makes you a good candidate for a Darwin.

Rarely do I agree with Evil Captor, and I don’t entirely share his outright condemnation of the Catholic Church, but in this regard I have to say he has a very good point. In a continent with wildly varying communications, education standards and all round availability of good medical advice, for a global organisation to go around teaching that a) condoms don’t prevent HIV/AIDS and b) you shouldn’t use them anyway, despite the overwhelmingly comprehensive evidence in contradiction of the former and the overwhelmingly comprehensive pragmatic argument in contradiction of the latter, is, frankly, fucking reprehensible. Blimey, that was a long sentence.

You would have a point if the Church had actually been straighforward about the choices it was presenting (“condoms will help prevent disease, but we think they’re naughty”), but they outright lied. They spread misinformation that is absolutely deadly, into perhaps one of the most vulnerable environments that they could have found. No, frankly, personal responsibility is not the be all and end all here. It is only so if one has all the information available to make an informed choice. Not only is that not the case, the Catholic Church actively took steps to prevent it from being so.

Let’s not single out the Catholic Church, however - scorn can be reserved in spades for such medical luddites as Thabo Mbeki, who only grudgingly admits that there might possibly be some sort of a link between HIV and AIDS, and that maybe some of these newfangled drug things might actually stop his people dying in droves. We might ladle some blame on colonial history, which bred an entirely advisable mistrust in the advice of apparently well-meaning foreigners. There’s one hell of a queue for blame before we get to the guy in the street who’s being told one thing by his church, another by an aid agency, completely another by his president and lord knows what else from general word of mouth.

The fight against AIDS is one of education just as much as it is one of treatment, and for a church representing more than 1 billion people worldwide to simply lie to further its “basic precepts” is outright sick. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is a damn sight more basic than “Jimmy shalt not wear a hat”.

One thing, however, that is worth pointing out is that when you have huge organizations that are against something, you wind up with abstinence only sex-ed and the like. I get what you are saying, but it is also a point worth thinking about that because of organizations like the Catholic church, many young people did not get the basic information that they need.

Uh, so kids born with the AIDS virus (who comprise most of the new cases of AIDS in Africa in the past decade) are morons?

Listen, I’m not saying the Catholic church should go against what they believe, but for people with normal beliefs it just makes common sense to supply these people with condoms. A condom’s gonna do a lot more to stop AIDS than a Bible quote, and considering how much money the Church pours into building shrines to themselves in Africa and handing out Bibles they could throw a few condoms the Africans’ way. Okay, yeah, they’re against condoms, I understand that. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking it’s a stupid belief, and I think most people (including Catholics) would agree with me. I mean, yeah, nothing wrong with trying to keep people in monogamous relationships and teaching them that abstinence is the best policy, however, you could do that and hand out condoms too. If you’re not against them, that is.

So that’s what’s wrong with the Catholics re: AIDS in Africa. The fact that they spend so much on idols and rosaries and Bibles but not one red cent on a birth control and disease prevention method that 99.99% of people have no problem with. It’s not like we’re asking them to fund abortions or start up euthanasia clinics. It’s their prerogative to donate money as they please, of course, and AIDS isn’t their fault, but I also think they could be doing more. And that “more” doesn’t include building a more expensive church.

You’re right that the Catholic Church doesn’t cause AIDS. However, I think what frustrates people is that they have the resources to educate people about condoms, and they miss the opportunity to do so because of a religious stance that many people feel is archaic and impractical.

But of course they’re free to promote their moral views, even though I may disagree with some of them.

It seems to be the nature of religious organizations, particularly the Catholic Church, to deny reality and human nature. People are going to have sex, regardless of whether or not some guy in a pointy hat says it’s right or wrong, and regardless of it being against writings in the Bible. To deny human nature is to be out of touch with reality in the extreme, and is nothing short of arrogance on the part of those practicing the denial.

A more sensible approach would be “We prefer that you are monogamous, and we prefer that you are married before having sex, but if you can’t bring yourself to be that way, for Christ’s sake use a condom.” News flash to the Vatican and all others with tunnel vision: Not all of Africa is Christian; much of it is Muslim.

It’s heartening to see that countries like Uganda have an active condum promotion program on the part of the government and that their AIDS problems have actually reversed course as a result. However, they are in the minority.

Personal responsibility and choice disappear when you start taking about a continents worth of people. That is not to say that each and every African is not responsible for their actions. It is saying however if that 30% of Africans are infected and 5% of Europeans the cause is not 25% of the population making a poor decision. A better explanation would include poverty, poor education and yes influential orginizations teaching that protection is wrong. It is very easy but ultimately wrong to sit back and nitpick other’s choices while ignoring the relative situations.

Of course, it is possible to be 100% monogamous yourself and still contract HIV. Much of the problem in Africa is due to men who consort with prostitutes or other women and then infect their wives (who may be faithful to them). The Church’s position would prohibit a wife from insisting that her husband use a condom, even when she knew he was engaging in risky behavior. Her choices, then, are to 1) refuse to have sex with her husband at all, risking that he leave her and that she lose support for her children, 2) continue to have unprotected sex, and risk her own life.

Look, Happy Scrappy, the Catholic Church is a big organization. They have a lot of money. They have a lot of power. They have a lot of influence in Africa. With that stuff comes


I’m sick of people advocating personal responsibility as the answer whenever some large org. does something sick and stupid (as the Catholic Church undeniably has wrt to condoms) so they can hold some immensely powerful group harmless.

That. Dog. Will. Not. Hunt.

Personal responsibility? Howzabout we see a little from the folks what has all the marbles, hmmm?

Tell you what, though. I’ve been meaning to lay out some issues and questions I have on the topic of personal responsibilty because of some other threads I’ve participated in, but I’m pressed for time right now. I’ll come back and lay down the smack later when chores don’t press. Be sure and bate your breath as you wait.

Which, I am sorry to say, doesn’t address the basic point.

Which is, why is it assumed that the Catholic church has all that much influence in getting people to not wear condoms, when they dont seem to have all that much influence in getting people not to have pre-marital or extra-marital sex? Especially in countries with a substantial proportion of people who are animist or Protestant or Muslim rather than Catholic?

I have no brief for the Catholic position on birth control, but I wonder why there are so many Africans who say, “By golly, the Church tells me not to wear a condom so I don’t, but only when I am having sex the Church also tells me not to have”. If you see my point.

Although I take your point about poverty and poor education. I just think the other problems of Africa - poverty, poor education, chronic shortages of practically everything, a demographically young population, endemic graft and corruption, lack of sterile procedure, etc. - have a lot more to do with AIDS in Africa than what the Pope says.

It strikes me as somewhat similar to people who condemn Ronald Reagan for not mentioning AIDS sooner. Maybe he could have - why do you think it would make all that much difference? Simply repeating a magic phrase and curing AIDS - that’s magical thinking, like that South African president whose name I can’t spell who argued in favor of traditional African “remedies” for AIDS, because they were cheaper.


You missed a point that previous posters brought up - I don’t think the issue is their message of “condoms are immoral so don’t wear them!” but rather “condoms don’t really prevent HIV!” You don’t have to believe in an institution’s moral stance/background to believe in other things they say, like health information.

Dead Badger:

I do agree that the Church should not have approached its “medical analysis” of condoms the way it did, and, in fact, it would have suited me a whole hell of a lot better had they stayed away from any such “analysis.” The Catholic Church is a spiritual organization, and I don’t think anyone would disagree when I suggest that perhaps the WHO or the CDC would be better suited than the Vatican to assess the effects of condoms on health.
**binarydrone: **

According to the Church, they are giving all the information young people (or any people) need. Is this belief inconsistent with current societal mores? Of course it is. We live in a society that has as one of its components extramarital sex. The argument of many within this society is that we should accommodate that component by reducing its impact on world health. The argument of the Church is that we should eliminate its impact on world health by eliminating that component. And it’s not an argument you can expect it to abandon, either. Nor do I believe that they should.
continuity eror:

Straw man. I’m not addressing them, I’m addressing the notion of personal responsibility. If there is fault to be assigned re: AIDS in African newborns, the fault is with the person who infected/impregnated. NOT the Church.

That’s the problem, though. The use of condoms (or any artificial means designed to eliminate the procreative act from intercourse) is against the beliefs of the Catholic Church. And again, you can’t expect them to change that.

Sure, but the Church doesn’t feel that the stance is archaic or impractical.

Again, sure. People are going to have sex. But that doesn’t make it right or moral. In fact, the Church says that it is not right, that it is immoral. The idea behind religion is to transcend human nature, to approach the divine. The Church has its interest in furthering this transcendence. So what do you think it will do?

See, there’s the issue again. You are right, treis, in saying that the cause is not 25% of the population making a poor decision. BUT, according to the Church’s stance, it just means that Europeans have access to greater means of dodging the temporal consequences of their sin. Does that make them less sinful? No.

Bringing that back to the issue of cheated-upon wive and AIDS babies, the argument that condoms or other birth-control methods prevent the suffering of these children is easily countered by the Church, simbly by noting that the incidence of such conceptions and births would be drastically lowered by adherence to Church teaching and the ready availability of blocking drugs.
Evil Captor:

I don’t want to say that you’re missing my point, but what I am saying, in a nutshell, is that the Catholic Church can not be expected to take the fall because it does not condone safety measures within an act it condemns. I am furhter saying that anyone who holds this belief should stop pretending to be Catholic, or even sane. If my mother said, “Listen, Scrappy, I know you’ve had twenty beers, just wear a seatbelt on your drive home,” I’d look at her like she was insane.

What it all comes back to is the stance of the Catholic Church against the secular stance of much of the world.

Our understandings, our morals, our sense of right and wrong, these things are temporal. The Church believes that theirs are eternal. To which side do you think they assign more value, philosophically speaking?

My point is not about this. I strongly disagree with the Church’s statement that condoms don’t necessarily prevent HIV transmission.
My point is that blaming the Catholic Church for the spread of HIV in Africa because it does not endorse the use of condoms, when it is universally accepted that the spread is caused, to the main, by other practices to which the Church objects even MORE strongly, is stupid.

I’m also with **Evil Captor ** on this. As another example I’ll bring up Mother Theresa in India. Didn’t we have enough overpopulation & STDs before she came? (Honestly I have no idea of AIDS in India, but I know it’s high, too.) Mother Teresa along with the Catholic Church went against everything the government was trying to teach about condoms & birth control and this wasn’t necesarily in extra-marital affairs, but in all sexual practices.

Besides, the abstinence-only programs in the US should show that just telling people “Don’t do it” doesn’t mean that they will, actually, not do it. Often it means they’ll find a way around, and therefore the Church *should * teach, “Don’t do it, but if you have to, use a condom.”

I think that it is an Elephant in the Corner™ sort or thing. It is not so much that Ronnie saying the word AIDS would have somehow had some positive impact on being able to cure the disease, so much as it was that he seemed to be avoiding looking at an obvious problem. Let us not forget that, at the time, there was a huge stigma surrounding AIDS because of its predominance in the gay community. So, I think that the problem was more that it seemed obvious that he simply didn’t care that a bunch of faggots and junkies were dying.

The same can be said about the Catholic Church. I don’t think for a moment that the case is that people are ignoring the Church on pre-marital non-monogamous sex and not ignoring them on birth control. It seems logical that a person of faith that decided to sin by fornicating would not be bothered by wrapping their Willie. However, the climate of suppressing information, shame and outright ignoring the causes of the problem do not have a positive effect.

I understand that. I was merely addressing the issue from the viewpoint that there may be something to the statements of “the Catholic Church helped in the spread of AIDS in Africa!” - just not in the way the speaker thinks, necessarily. It addresses the issue of why some random non-Christian African person might listen to the Catholic Church’s info about condoms when they wouldn’t listen to the message about premarital sex being wrong.

Er, Shodan, I’m sure many of the Africans would wear condoms if they could. The problem is that they don’t have access to them, maybe because they can’t afford them, or maybe because the Church owns the local stores and doesn’t sell them, and they don’t exactly have access to online pharmacies. I don’t think all these people are willfully not using a condom, given the option and a free or cheap supply of condoms, the vast majority probably would.

Except for abstinence, condoms are the cheapest method of birth and disease control out there. And like Colibri said, sometimes abstinence isn’t an option. Remember, it’s easy to talk about personal responsibility when you’re a Westerner who grew up knowing about AIDS and how it was transmitted. There are probably lots of Africans for whom it’s new information. Keeping people in the dark about the exact ways in which you can get AIDS and how you can prevent it (even if those ways aren’t Church-approved) is in my opinion cruel and evil.

You’re… you’re kidding, right?

You want the Catholic Church to abandon the Bible and instead go on your say-so?

Again- the Church is operating under the belief that its teachings are eternal and yours/ours are temporal. Saying that the Church ought to do this is way off-topic and just never gonna happen anyway.

So then what? The millions of dead people are the cost of doing business? Better to have a dead believer than living “I kinda” believer?