Belgium Declares Pope Public Enemy

You’ve probably heard about Pope Benedict’s announcement three weeks ago that AIDS “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.”

The comment was especially brutal and uncivilized given the timing—on a trip to Africa, which has 137 million Catholics and 60% of the world’s HIV population.

In response, the Belgian parliament passed a law ordering the government to “react strongly against any state or organization that in the future brings into doubt the benefit of using condoms to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus.” The government then lodged a formal, diplomatic protest with the Vatican over the Pope’s “unacceptable” comments.

Belgium is hardly alone in its condemnation; here are other comments on the Pope’s bizarre and self-serving belief:

* The New York Times: “The Pope deserves no credence when he distorts scientific findings about the value of condoms in slowing the spread of the AIDS virus.”

* The medical journal Lancet: This is “an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement.”

* Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe: Pope Benedict seems to be “living in a situation of total autism.” France’s Education Minister Xavier Darcos condemned the remarks as “criminal”.

* Portuguese bishop Ilidio Leandro: People with AIDS are “morally obliged” to use condoms if they have sex.

* The Philadelphia Inquirer: A cartoon showing the Pope praising a throng of sick and dying Africans: “Blessed are the sick, for they have not used condoms.”

It’s one thing for the Church to say “we don’t believe in using contraception.” That would be quirky, poignant, and pathetic. But when the Church lies and says condoms don’t work—when every scientific study in the world says they do—they go beyond religion to superstition. That puts them right alongside those in Africa and Asia who believe that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS.

Meanwhile, where are the moderate Catholics when their Pope says this dangerous stuff? We expect moderate Muslims to speak out and denounce virulent strains of Islam. I challenge moderate Catholics to do the same: It just isn’t enough to be reasonable, shaking your head in private. This is your Church. All Americans fund it via your tax exemptions, and our government gives it way too much attention when making healthcare, education, diplomatic, and communications policy. It’s time for you to step up and openly criticize your Church’s policy.

Belgium stood up—and they’re 75% Catholic.

Isn’t there a 9th Commandment against bearing false witness? At least when this same Church burned the (accurate) books of Copernicus and Galileo, the Pope could honestly say he didn’t know any better, that astronomy was a new science. Not now. When the Pope simply demands the suffering of people for no good reason—millions dying of AIDS in Africa, a raped 9-year-old in Brazil who needed an abortion to live—he just looks like a foolish old man with fancy clothes.

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