While Critics Blame Catholic Church for AIDS Deaths Stats Show Just the Opposite

While Critics Blame Catholic Church for AIDS Deaths Stats Show Just the Opposite

The Catholic Church is killing “millions” because of its teaching on chastity and fidelity in marriage and needs to change its “policy” on banning condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to a popular and apparently perpetual theme in mainstream journalism.

A short examination, however, of the HIV/AIDS rates of those African countries that have a large Catholic population shows that the Church’s accusers have not done the homework or are deliberately misreporting the facts. The available statistics show that countries with a large Catholic percentage population, show significantly lower rates of HIV/AIDS infections than countries with mostly non-Catholic populations.

2003 statistics from the World Factbook of the US Central Intelligence Agency, shows Burundi at 62% Catholic with 6% AIDS infection rate. Angola’s population is 38% Roman Catholic and has 3.9% AIDS rate. Ghana is 63% Christian, with in some regions as much as 33% Catholic and has 3.1% AIDS rate. Nigeria, divided almost evenly between the strongly Muslim north and Christian and “animist” south, has 5.4% AIDS rate.

Strongly Christian Uganda continues to frustrate condom-pushing NGO’s by maintaining its abstinence and fidelity AIDS prevention programs and one of the lowest rates of AIDS in Africa, at 4.1%. Uganda’s population is listed by the CIA Factbook as 33% Roman Catholic and 33% Protestant.

Of African countries with low Catholic populations, Botswana is typical with 37.3% AIDS, one of the highest in Africa, and 5% of the total population Catholic. In 2003, Swaziland was shown to have a 38.8% AIDS infection rate and only 20% Catholic population.

This is a common myth and one that the facts just do not bear out. Catholic teaching on sexuality does not spread AIDS since Catholic teaching says to have (at most) one partner throughout your life. How would that spread AIDS? If someone is not following the Church’s teaching on sexuality by having multiple partners, how likely are they to say, “I’m going to disobey the Church by sleeping around, but I’ll make up for it by not using a condom.” That’s nonsense.

In fact, the statistics above show that a government working with the Church like Uganda has by pushing Church teaching can have a great positive effect on the spread of AIDS. Those claiming to stand up for the lives of the poor seem to speak either out of ignorance of reality or a desire to spread promiscuity no matter what the cost. Neither is very flattering when they should know better.

Forty years later, ‘Humanae Vitae’ proves prophetic

Life Will Be Victorious

If someone had predicted 40 years ago that by the Third Millennium, marriage and family life would be thriving, child abuse eliminated, abortion almost nonexistent, teenage pregnancy a thing of the past, and people in general enjoying a level of contentment and happiness unsurpassed in human history, we would not consider this person a very accurate social forecaster. A meteorologist, who was so mistaken on his predictions, would be unemployed.

On the other hand, if someone 40 years ago had predicted that in the beginning of the Third Millennium, the institution of marriage itself would be weakened as in no other moment in the history of Western civilization, sexual promiscuity and its related health problems would be rampant, abortion would be both legal and common, pornography would become culturally acceptable, and some nations would actually force their citizens to limit family size, we would have to acknowledge this person ’s wisdom and adeptness at recognizing the long-term consequences of social trends.

The argument was made that the widespread use of artificial contraception would result in every child being a wanted child, virtually eliminating child abuse and abortion. It was asserted that easy access for adolescents to contraceptives would rid society of teen pregnancy. Liberated from the repression of sexual activity, caused in part by the fear of pregnancy, advocates of “The Pill” predicted that the mental health of the general population would improve significantly.

On the other hand, Pope Paul VI, in his much-criticized 1968 encyclical letter, “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), in the process of re-articulating the church’s teaching on the nature of marriage, identifies many of the inevitable societal consequences resulting from a redefinition of the meaning of sexual intimacy that excludes its life-giving power. He specifically cites: 1) “the general lowering of morality”; 2) an increase in marital infidelity; and 3) the effect on the young, particularly young men, encouraging a disregard for the moral law and the treatment of women as “a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment.”

Pope Paul VI also anticipated China’s One-Child Policy by predicting government policies that would attempt to impose contraception on their citizens. Pope Paul VI also foresaw that the widespread use of the artificial means of contraception would lead to a cultural acceptance of both abortion and pornography.

Was “Humanae Vitae” a desperate effort to present an antiquated morality? Or was it a prophetic statement of the truth and consequences of abandoning our traditional morals? What does the experience of the past 40 years teach us? Think about it!

If you take the time to read Humane Vitae, I think you’ll be surprised by how prophetic it was and how much it just makes sense. I accepted the Church teaching on artificial contraception but didn’t really believe it until I’d read this document. It’s so clear and well thought-out, it’s hard to argue with once you open yourself to its logic.

As as Archbishop Naumann argues in the column excerpted above, it’s hard to ague that contraception has had the effect that was promised: child and spousal abuse are more common, rapes have increased, pornography is everywhere and abortion is rampant. Without the contraception revolution, society would likely be in a much better place.

Hat Tip: The Curt Jester

Emergency Contraception Doesn’t Reduce Abortion, Isn’t Contraception and Harms Women

A review of 23 studies on the different types of “emergency contraceptives,” published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds no evidence that use of the pill lowers pregnancy or abortion rates.

Another report, published Jan. 8, confirmed the failure of the morning-after pill to reduce abortion. A Spanish Web site, Forum Libertas, analyzed what had happened in the country since the pill’s introduction. In 2000, the year before the pill was introduced, there were 60,000 abortions, a rate of 7.5 abortions for every 1,000 women under 20.

By 2005, fewer than 506,000 morning-after pills were distributed. At the same time, however, the number of abortions that year had risen to 91,000, and the rate of abortion for women under 20 rose to 11.5 abortions for every 1,000 women.

Similar findings were reported in Britain last year. The Sept. 15 issue of the British Medical Journal published an editorial authored by Anna Glasier, director of a National Health Service unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Glasier wrote: “Emergency contraception has been heralded as the solution to rising abortion rates.” “Some authors have suggested that almost a million abortions could be prevented in the United States annually if every woman used emergency contraception every time she needed it.”

“Yet, despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the United Kingdom,” the article continued. In fact, wrote Glasier, they have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions) to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2004 (185,400 abortions). She added that increased use of emergency contraception in Sweden has not been associated with a reduction in abortion rates.

Concerns had already been raised over the use of the morning-after pill in Scotland. In a report published in November 2005 by the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Dr. Anne Williams observed that the morning-after pill “is wrongly and misleadingly labeled ’emergency contraception’ by medical and government bodies.”

“It is misleading because it conceals the fact that it may work, not by preventing conception, but by preventing further survival and development of an already existing embryo,” the report explained.

The term contraception is insufficient to describe the full effect of the morning-after pill, wrote Williams. In fact, the pill may act to prevent implantation (attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus), which occurs approximately seven days after conception has taken place. Contraceptives prevent conception, not implantation. “Acts which are post-conceptive cannot reasonably be included in the definition of contraception,” she stated.

The report cited evidence from seven family planning clinics, showing that more than half the women had used the morning-after pill at least once that year, and 25% had used it three or more times. Tracking health problems due to frequent use of the morning-after pill will also be problematic due to the nature of programs implemented by some governments, which include free distribution without a need for medical prescriptions.

Williams also argued that diminishing the fear of pregnancy through recourse to the morning-after pill may bring about a casual approach to entering a sexual relationship, with little excuse for a young woman to refuse. Greater sexual activity could well contribute to higher levels of sexually transmitted diseases.

Concern over the health effects of the pills were also raised by Susan Wills, associate director for education at the pro-life office of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Plan B, one brand of the morning-after pill, and other methods of “emergency contraception” are the equivalent of taking from four to 40 times the daily dose of various oral contraceptive pills in a 12-hour period, she noted in an article published Aug. 15 on the Web site National Review Online.

Read all about it

Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver, who a friend of mine and I call “The Bad-Ass Bishop” has a great article on artificial contraception and the false arguments in support of it.

A sampling:

1. Isn’t a couple’s method of family planning a matter of personal conscience?

Yes it is. Catholics, like all people, are always obligated to follow their consciences — on birth control and every other matter. But that’s not where the problem lies. The problem lies in the formation of one’s conscience. A conscientious person seeks to do good and avoid evil. Seeing the difference between good and evil, though, can sometimes be difficult….Too often, we use “conscience” as a synonym for private preference, a kind of pious alibi for doing what we want or taking the easy road. We only end up hurting others and ourselves.

3. I’m a priest. If I preach about what’s wrong with contraception, I’ll lose people.

Let me turn that around: If priests don’t preach the Church’s message about contraception, heaven loses people. Don’t be afraid. When Jesus preached the truth, He lost people. But, little by little, He gained even more people.

5. Why is the Church so obsessed with sex?

You know the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black — well, here’s a great example. Questions like this one may very well be honest, but they conceal where the real obsessions lie. American society is drowning in a sea of disordered sexuality. In such circumstances, it’s hardly an “obsession” for the Church to speak clearly and forcefully about how to swim. It’s her responsibility and mission.

God created our sexuality to be a sign in the world of His own life and love, and to reveal to us that we can only fulfill ourselves by loving as He loves. When sexuality becomes distorted, however, it’s no longer able to communicate God’s life and love. Empty of true love, life lacks meaning, and people soon seem disposable. Sex becomes a pursuit of selfish gratification at the expense of others.

Children are no longer welcomed as the natural fruit of married love, but are seen as a burden to be avoided. We don’t even shrink from killing (through abortion) thousands of innocent preborn lives a day in satisfying our convenience and appetites.

It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that disordered sexuality is the beginning of what Pope John Paul II calls “the culture of death.” In fact, we’ll never build a culture of life and love without first restoring the true meaning of human sexuality. If the Church is so concerned about sex, it’s because she seeks to defend the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the true meaning of life and love, which sexuality is meant to reveal.

The man’s on the short list of great bishops in the country, and most likely the world.