PNG bishops argue condoms OK for some

Some PNG bishops are resisting the Church's strict teaching on condoms by allowing their clinics to hand out condoms to HIV/AIDS infected people.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Bishop Gilles Cote said that if one of two partners is infected and they cannot abstain from sex, then it is wise to provide condoms.

The Church bans the use of condoms outright and insists that abstinence is the best way to combat the disease.

However, some church workers on the epidemic frontline see things much differently as they deal with daily ravages of AIDS in communities where sex outside marriage and multiple sex partners are commonplace.

Explaining the discrepancy with Church teaching, Bishop Cote, a French Canadian who heads the Daru-Kiunga diocese in Western Province, said: "We also have a law - you should not kill."

"If you are infected and you have sex then you don't protect yourself, you will give the sickness to the other one," the Bishop said.

"So there's a moral responsibility that they are protected. There are many of those cases. The rule is there for the lesser evil. We don't promote (the use of condoms).

"When it's needed, OK, but we don't spread them (condoms) to everybody and distribute them. If the government wants to do it OK."

PNG has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the Pacific with heterosexual transmission the main driver. Around two per cent of the four million-strong population are feared HIV-positive.

However, within the Church in PNG, some bishops are stricter on condoms than are Cote and others.

"When we have a bishops' conference we see that not everybody agrees and even in Rome they disagree among themselves," Bishop Cote said.

This month PNG cabinet minister Puka Temu told an HIV Prevention summit in Port Moresby that church groups should put aside their "religious and moral biases" and give 100 per cent support to condom use.

His call sparked angry retorts from church leaders including Bishop Francesco Sarego, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in PNG.

PNG bishops say condoms okay for some (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 29/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Catholic Church told to 'get real' over condoms (ABC Radio PM 15/3/06)

PNG Bishop objects to condom call (CathNews 15/3/06)

Government Accused of Conducting a Policy of Indoctrination (The Universe 29/3/06)

30 Mar 2006