Vatican condom rethink could save millions, says Catholic AIDS activist

Brian Haill, President of Australian AIDS Fund, a former Church-sponsored outreach initiative, says that a possible rethink on the use of condoms by the Vatican could potentially save millions of people from death and misery.

But Mr Haill told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was not hopeful that the condom ban will be completely lifted.

"I'd have to say, if there is any hope at all, however shallow, is that maybe the Pope might at least recognise the dreadful plight of married people where a husband or wife might be HIV infected," he said.

"To be realistic, and I speak for myself as a Catholic running a Catholic AIDS agency, we don't really expect Pope Benedict and his officials to step outside their own constructed fence which separates them from a real understanding of people living with HIV."

The Australian AIDS Fund, a registered charity which operates independently of the Catholic Church, was founded as an outreach work of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

However, theologian and Vatican watcher, Paul Collins, said he would not be surprised if the Pope did act.

Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels was one of a number of Church leaders who had called for change while the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada who was only too familiar with the AIDS pandemic as former archbishop of San Francisco.

"I don't think there will be open slather on condoms for one moment," Mr Collins told the Herald. "It would be simply in the context of protecting partners within marriage.

"If he moves on condoms it proves that he has a good pastoral sense and that kind of love and care he talked about in his first encyclical will be borne out in reality."

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica says that under the doctrine of the "lesser evil" the 200-page report could result in a situation in "which it would be possible for the faithful to use prophylactics to avert fatal risks".

Campaigners press Vatican on condom use (Sydney Morning Herald, 24/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian AIDS Fund
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Pope to rule on condoms (CathNews, 23/11/06)
Jesuit says Vatican condom concession would be nothing new (CathNews, 4/5/06)
Vatican set to OK condoms for disease prevention (CathNews, 26/4/06)
PNG bishops argue condoms OK for some (CathNews, 30/3/06)
Archbishop OKs condoms for HIV couples (CathNews, 14/4/05)
Papal theologian weighs condom use against AIDS (CathNews, 2/2/05)
Ugandan president calls church to back condom use (CathNews, 16/1/05)

24 Nov 2006