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New York condom ads raise media attention for Church

The electronic media started carrying a story last night about a spat between conservative and liberal Catholics in the New York area. The story has been running in the Pro-Life American Press for a while but appears to have escalated in the last 24 hours. The liberal Catholic group, Catholics for a Free Choice, has run provocative ads on the New York Transit system criticising the Church for not advocating the use of condoms to prevent aids. The ads, which read, "Because the bishops ban condoms, innocent people die," and "Catholic people care. Do our bishops?" have been on display at 50 bus shelters and 134 Metrorail cars in Washington since World AIDS Day Dec. 1. A similar ad appeared in the Washington Post on Nov. 30. The BBC World Service carried a report on the dispute last night.

The National Catholic Register reported on the dispute last week: "Catholic spokesmen have dismissed the ads as the latest false and misleading salvo from a non-Catholic, pro-abortion organization that has been denounced by the U.S. bishops. At the start of 2002, similar ads were introduced in several other countries, including Belgium, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Chile and Mexico."

The report continued:

"The Vatican and the world’s bishops bear significant responsibility for the death of thousands of people who have died from AIDS," Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said in a Nov. 29 press release. "For individuals who follow the Vatican policy and Catholic health care providers who are forced to deny condoms, the bishops' ban is a disaster," added Kissling, who is a former abortion clinic director. "We can no longer stand by and allow the ban to go unchallenged."

Susan Gibbs, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, said that as soon as the ads appeared, complaints began flooding in against them.

"We got so many calls asking what people could do that we put out an advocacy alert briefly explaining the Church's teaching and the claims made in the ads, as well as contact information for Metro board members and lawmakers who oversee funding for Metro," Gibbs said.

Shortly before Christmas, Gibbs called Metro authorities, who told her the transit agency would not accept ads that were "false or misleading." Gibbs said the ads are both, as "the bishops do not have the authority to 'ban' anything, as the ads claim. They do have the authority and the responsibility to teach."

SOURCE - Full Story
National Catholic Reigster