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Condoms: A correction to yesterday's report and further developments

In our haste writing the front page summary of the comments made by Mgr Les Tomlinson, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, yesterday we telescoped two separate comments he had made. One was concerning condoms and the other concerning the contraceptive pill. The detailed story would have left readers in no confusion as to what Mgr Tomlinson said. Our summary should have read

Mgr Les Tomlinson, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, says in The Age this morning the principle of double effect might apply for the use of condoms in the case of AIDS, or the pill for a women with an irregular menstrual cycle "as long as the intention was not to prevent conception it might be acceptable".

Our apologies to any readers who were upset by this error.

There are two further news stories worth reporting today:

CWN is carrying a story that the First Lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni, has warned teenagers against the use of condoms. The news agency says:

Uganda, the country acknowledged for having waged the most successful anti-AIDS battle in the world, owes most of the success of its program to President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, First Lady Janet Museveni. While "safe-sex" pushers in the West have claimed that Uganda's program has relied on condoms as a essential component, Uganda's First Lady has disagreed.

Speaking at the official opening of an annual youth conference in Kampala, she told over 2000 young people, "You do not need sex at your age. Wait until you are married. You can choose to fight AIDS by saying no and be able to stay alive."

She told the teens to ignore those who push condoms noting that companies which promote such products are after money

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, the President of a Catholic AIDS agency has praised Cardinal Daneels for his comments and draws attention to the call by the Bishops of India for HIV/AIDS testing to take place before people apply for marriage licences.

Catholic AIDS agency applauds "condoms cardinal"

The Melbourne-based AIDS care agency, The Australian AIDS Fund Incorporated both applauds and welcomes the news from Belgium that Cardinal Godfried Danneels has affirmed that someone who was HIV positive might indeed need to use a condom to protect life, thus recognising the crucial truth that condoms can indeed limit AIDS.

The condom is certainly not the sole protection against HIV infection...other answers include a comprehensive sex education, especially for young people; celibacy, abstinence, fidelity within marriage....but the condom is undeniably a lifesaver.

The Belgian cardinal's affirmation confirms the universal need to unquestionably accept the divine commandment "Thou shalt not kill."

The great tragedy is that an enormous number of women have been infected within an HIV infected partner, and in most cases never knew it until they fell ill, and a great number await the same fate.

(The Catholic Bishops of India are even now-this very week- calling on India's Federal and State governments to bring in legislation making medical certification compulsory, including HIV tests, before marriage. Bishop Yoohanan Mar Chrysostom of Marthandam said the Catholic Church was making efforts to educate young people and to have them disclose their physical condition, including HIV status, before marriage. He said that in the absence of legislation in India, the Catholic Church there has been considering annulment of those marriages in which a partner is deceived by the other in regard to a health condition.

We too would ask the Catholic Bishops of Australia...and those in other lands speak up like this. That's their role for goodness sake! Would-be brides and grooms who conceal their HIV positive status from their partners before marriage should indeed have their marriages automatically annulled)

The poverty of some impoverished countries which impel their menfolk to leave their families to seek employment in other lands to support their families is also a key point that mustn't be lost in a fog of theological debate.

While the report from Belgium doesn't make it clear whether the cardinal's remarks reflect his personal opinion, that's immaterial.

He's gone on the public record, on a Catholic radio programme, and would fully realise the ramifications of that.

Clearly, it cuts right across the Vatican position, as it should in all logic and in all charity.

The cardinal said "When someone is HIV positive and his partner says 'I want to have (sexual) relations with you' then he does not have to do it. But if he does, he has to use a condom. Otherwise he will commit a sin against a commandment on top of the one against the sixth - namely the fifth."

The sixth commandment says "You shall not commit adultery".

Last year in a controversial BBC documentary...Sex and the Holy City...a top Vatican official, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo insisted that condoms don't sufficiently protect against AIDS, saying the virus is small enough to pass through them. The Vatican was subsequently derided by world medical authorities for that.

The Catholic Church in Australia needs to make a much more meaningful response to this dreadful disease. In the Melbourne archdiocese alone, the response is virtually invisible and so low-key it's almost underground!

The Australian AIDS Fund Incorporated - a not for profit registered charity-joined the peak Catholic body - Catholic Social Services Victoria at its invitation over 15 years ago. We regard ourselves as a Catholic agency and also an agency member of Catholic Social Services Victoria. Our membership of that organisation has never been suspended or cancelled.

Brian Haill,
The Australian AIDS Fund Inc.,
PO Box 1347, Frankston,Victoria, 3199

CWN - Uganda's First Lady warns teens against condom use>

15 Jan 2004