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Letters & Op-Eds - 1990s

The daily nation (Kenya)

Comdoms - Was Bishop Serious?

Frances Kissling

1 December 1999

Bishop John Njue's comment that the use of condoms is to blame for the Aids epidemic ravaging Africa (DN, Nov 2) illustrates the Catholic hierarchy's continued insensitivity to scientific fact and human suffering.

The effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of Aids is an undisputed fact. A major review of the foremost studies in the past few years on the efficacy of condoms use by Johns Hopkins University, a prestigious US teaching and researchhospital, concluded that ''condoms provide highly effective protection against HIV infection when used correctly."

Bishop Njue's attitude that only monogamy provides protection against Aids is unrealistic and morally reprehensible in a nation where the HIV infection rate is approaching 30 per cent in some areas.

This unrealistic ban on contraceptive use has been discredited by the actions of millions of Catholics around the world who use condoms and other contraceptives when they have access to them. However, in many parts of the developing world, including Africa, the Vatican uses its special position in the UN to prevent access to contraceptives and family planning services. This robs millions of the ability to plan their families and protect themselves from Aids.

Bishop Njue and the Catholic hierarchy would do well to follow the humanitarian example of the French and German bishops who have recognised the moral imperative of allowing the use of condoms to prevent the spread of Aids, and allow the Catholic faithful to make their own decisions about condom use.

Frances Kissling,
President,
Catholics For a Free Choice, USA

This letter appeared in the 1 December 1999 edition of The Daily Nation.