Cardinal endorses condom use for married couples

Cameroon's cardinal has approved the use of condoms as a protective measure against HIV/Aids, provided the couples using them are married.

CLICK HERE"If a partner in a marriage is infected with HIV, the use of condoms makes sense," Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, Archbishop of Douala, said in an interview with the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Condom use would be permissible only within marriage but "possibly there can be a rethink there", said the 75-year-old cardinal.

The Tablet reports that he said he does not expect the Vatican to stray from its official line against condom use and he agrees with its view that "loyalty and abstention remain still the best protection against AIDS".

HIV infection in Cameroon grew slowly between the late 1980s and 1996, with average incidence among pregnant women in urban areas rising from below 2% to 5%. However, the latest data indicate an HIV prevalence of around 11% in all the West African country's provinces.

Close to one million adults and children are currently living with HIV/Aids in Cameroon and an estimated 210,000 children under 14 have lost one or both parents to Aids.

When the Director of the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, Dr Peter Piot, visited the country two years ago he called upon the Cameroonian Government to improve its HIV care and prevention programs, and one of its responses has been to urge condom use among high-risk groups.

At that time, Cardinal Tumi lamented the "safe-sex" campaigns that were plastered across billboards in Douala. His current view may have been influenced by the disappointing outcome of an international meeting held in Cameroon last week of scientists involved in the African Aids Vaccine Program. They announced that the prospect of developing a preventive vaccine in the near future remained bleak.

Several church leaders have broken ranks with the Vatican's position over the past two years. In February, Cardinal Georges Cottier, the theologian of the papal household, said the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" should be considered in cases where sexual activity involves a partner who is HIV-positive.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who chairs the Pontifical Council for Health, believes the use of condoms to be acceptable when abstinence is not an option. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, has said that opposition to condoms amounts to a death sentence for women who cannot insist on abstinence or fidelity.

Cardinal endorses condom use for married couples (The Tablet 5/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi (catholic-hierarchy.org)
West African cardinal has experience with tough church problems (Catholic News Service 1/4/05)

Ugandan president calls church to back condom use (CathNews 16/6/05)
Archbishop OKs condoms for HIV couples (CathNews 14/4/05)
Papal theologian weighs condom use against AIDS (CathNews 2/2/05)
Cardinal says condoms ban due to implied sexual immorality (CathNews 25/1/05)
Pope calls attention to AIDS in developing world (CathNews 24/1/05)
Priest says AIDS fight must tackle 'sex object' culture (CathNews 31/12/04)
Church in Africa continues AIDS fight without condoms (CathNews 10/10/03)
Catholic bishops back government AIDS plan (CathNews 14/8/03)
Kenyan archbishop warns condoms will not prevent AIDS (CathNews 5/8/03)

Cameroon: Catholic Cleric Pushes for Condoms (allAfrica.com 24/10/05)
Cardinal Errazuriz rejects government condom campaign (Catholic News Agency 25/10/05)
HIV/AIDS & South Africa: through a woman's eyes (Caritas Australia 4/11/05)
African cardinal says condoms in marriage OK to stop AIDS (Monsters and Critics/United Press International 22/10/05)

7 Nov 2005