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Letters & Op-Eds - 2001

washington times

Catholic Bishops Share Responsibility for Spread of HIV/AIDS

Frances Kissling

29 December 2001

The response of several Roman Catholic officials to a Catholics for a Free Choice ad campaign about the dangers posed by the Catholic Church's ban on condoms is somewhat surprising ("Pro-choice poster campaign targets bishops," Dec. 24).

One anti-choice leader, the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International, states that the "bishops . . . do not ban" condoms - but they do. All 100,000 Catholic hospitals worldwide and all 200,000 Catholic schools and social service agencies are prohibited by local bishops as well as Vatican policy from teaching about or providing condoms to HIV/AIDS patients, clients or students.

The Catholic Church claims that it shows its love and compassion for those with HIV/AIDS by treating 25 percent of those infected worldwide. That means that the nearly 10 million people with HIV/AIDS who are "treated" by the Catholic Church have no direct access to condom education or condoms from their caregiver. Imagine the number of newly infected wives and children who are a result of the ban.

Another Catholic official quoted in the article, a pastoral minister for the Archdiocese of Washington, where AIDS is a major public health problem, is saddened by the ad campaign. He should instead be saddened by the unnecessary transmission of HIV/AIDS caused by a church that neither educates HIV/AIDS patients about how to save lives nor provides them with the means to do so when abstinence is not a course they choose to follow or are able to follow.

We are all human - even our priests and bishops have difficulty following church teaching on abstinence. For such people to tell ordinary people in desperate circumstances that they cannot use condoms to prevent the spread of a deadly disease is to preach a culture of death.

Catholics expect more from their bishops, and our ad campaign is one way of calling them to accountability.

Frances Kissling
President
Catholics for a Free Choice
Washington

This letter appeared in the 29 December 2001 edition of the Washington Times.