Monday, March 23, 2009

Harvard Researcher Backs Pope's Statements on Condoms

Well, here is an unusual and hopeful twist on the Western media's frothing attack on Pope Benedict XVI for speaking the truth. First, here is what Benedict said last week:

"I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness — even through personal sacrifice — to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress"

The Times of London, in a spasm of anti-Catholicism, was all over the story revelling in the pounding the Pope was taking so soon after the Williamson affair. One story began like this:

"The Pope is surrounded by the loyalty of the faithful," said a commentator for RAI, Italian public television, as it dutifully broadcast Pope Benedict XVI's colourful open air Mass live from Yaounde in Cameroon today, halfway through his first trip to Africa as pontiff. The Italian press, however, normally equally deferential to the pontiff, told a different story on its front pages: "Aids and condoms, Europe lines up against the Pope" ran a typical headline in La Stampa, which added: "The Church is immobile. The Pope really must pay greater attention to the political impact of the positions he takes."

The reaction to the Pope's remarks on condoms – made on the papal aircraft before he even set foot in Cameroon – has certainly been vociferous. Yesterday the French, Belgian and German governments publicly rebuked Pope Benedict, saying his assertion that condoms could make the Aids problem worse (or, in the amended Vatican version, "risked" doing so) posed a threat to decades of public health policy designed to "protect human life".

Alain Juppe, the former French Prime Minister, said: "This Pope is starting to be a real problem." In Germany, the Pope's homeland, the health and development ministers said in a joint statement that 'condoms save lives, as much in Europe as in other countries'."

Support for Benedict came, however, from an unusual source: "The AIDS PRevention Research Project" at Harvard University.

"We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’” “There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

I recommend a visit to the Harvard site. The first thing you see when you bring up the home page is a banner that proclaims: "I will not share my partner" with the tag line: "Casual sex is dangerous. HIV kills." What the Harvard researchers say confirms common sense and the traditional wisdom of all cultures in world history except modern Western culture of the past 50 years. Only those driven by an irrational ideological fervor could disagree. It is Science and the Pope against the ideology of the Sexual Revolution. Martin Ssempa has been an AIDS activist for the past 20 years in Uganda and he also supports the Pope. He says:

"Here in Uganda when AIDS came we did not think it was caused by lack of condoms. No it was the presence of promiscuity. What the Pope is saying is true. It however makes those who are determined to live in a life of promiscuity feel spotlighted," Ssempa said.

Ssempa has put his finger on the problem. In the biggest public health fight of our time the irrational ideology of sexual promiscuity is hindering efforts to bring the pandemic under control.
The reason they lash out against the Pope is because he is exposing their complicity. They accuse him of doing what they themselves are, in fact, guilty of doing. Pray for Benedict XVI; may he live to be 100! It is telling, is is not, that no Protestant leaders are being attacked by the ideologues of promiscuity? Only the Pope. Liberal Protestants ought to be ashamed of their complicity in the culture of death. Their freedom from persecution has been paid for with the price of their consciences. Although I am a Protestant, the head of the WCC and the Archbishop of Canterbury do not speak for me. When Pope Benedict XVI speaks it makes me wish I was Catholic and he can speak for me anytime.

Here is an interview in Christianity Today Online with Edward C. Green, director of the Harvard AIDS Prevention Project. He is a liberal who voted for Obama and he says the Pope (and Evangelicals who have been saying the same thing) are right to say that condoms have not been effective in stopping HIV infection in Africa.

National Review and Christianity Today got the story. What I want to know is why this is not front page news in the liberal media today if there is no ideological bias? I checked the New York Times, The Times of London, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. This is very disturbing proof that the main stream media is captive to an irrational ideology that is costing millions of people their lives.

The only mention of Edward C. Green in the NYT was an op-ed piece written by Green 5 years ago. The Times of London had a link to the National Review Online article with quotes from Green on Feb. 4, but couldn't bring itself to get an interview with Green itself. Yet The Times of London ran 4 stories on the Pope's "gaffe" and printed all kinds of negative, ill-informed letters. In addition, anti-Catholic Times blogger Ruth Gledhill literally went on an on about how awful it was for the Pope actually to say that condoms don't work, as if anybody still believed that outdated nonsense. Is there an agenda at work? You bet. The strategy is ignore, but if an opportunity presents itself attack and then never apologize or acknowledge when you were wrong. The goal is to discredit the Pope and by extension Christian orthodoxy. The promotion of the Sexual Revolution is a religion to these people.

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