Accepted Wisdom Part 3


Written on 5:56 PM by Jack B.

Following up on this post and this one, there have been many recent posts and articles elsewhere refuting the "accepted wisdom" the Catholic Church is responsible for AIDS in Africa (and elsewhere).
Fighting AIDS in Mozambique - Making a difference. By Adam Graham-Silverman in of all places Slate deals with the success of the Franciscans and the Sant'Egdio community, against at times the goverment of Mozambique itself, to reduce AIDS and help sufferers.

At Tech Central Station is the article, Was Karol Wojtyla the Greatest Mass Murderer of the 20th Century? by Michael Cook tackles that question head on and totally demolishes the accusations of the late Pope's critics.


But there is something absurdly medieval about making the Pope a scapegoat, as if the clouds would break and the sun shine if we thrust enough pins through a JP2 voodoo doll. Pinning such blame for the tragedy of African AIDS on one man is one of those ideas that is, in the words of George Orwell, "so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them."

Two doubtful ideas run through all these criticisms. The first is basically this: African Catholics are so devout that if they have sex outside of marriage, dally with prostitutes or take a third wife, they will piously refrain from using condoms because the Great White Father told them not to. Ms. Toynbee darkly invokes "the Vatican's deeper power... its personal authority over 1.3 billion worshippers, which is strongest over the poorest, most helpless devotees."

But she can't have it both ways: these benighted dark-skinned Catholics can't be both too goody-two-shoes to use condoms and too wicked to resist temptation. Journalist Brendan O'Neill -- who describes himself as an ex-Catholic who has jettisoned Catholic teaching on sexual morality -- sums up this patronising argument in the on-line journal Spiked: "The only reason you could believe the fantastically simplistic idea that Vatican edict = AIDS in Africa is if you consider Africans to be little more than automatons... who do as they are told".

Superimposing maps of prevalence of AIDS on prevalence of Catholicism is enough to sink the link between the Catholic Church and AIDS. In the hospice which is Swaziland nowadays, only about 5 per cent of the population is Catholic. In Botswana, where 37 per cent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 per cent of the population is Catholic. In South Africa, 22 per cent of the population is HIV infected, and only 6 per cent is Catholic. But in Uganda, with 43 per cent of the population Catholic, the proportion of HIV infected adults is 4 per cent.

In fact, without the Catholic Church the situation might be much worse. The AIDS disaster in Africa weighed heavily on the Pope. Ten years ago he appealed to "the world's scientists and political leaders, moved by the love and respect due to every human person, to use every means available in order to put an end to this scourge". And Catholics have responded.

About 27 per cent of health care for HIV/AIDS victims is provided by Church organisations and Catholic NGOs, as even The Lancet has acknowledged. They form a vast network of clinics which reach the poorest, most remote and most neglected people in Africa.
From Australia's Herald Sun is this column by Andrew Bolt:
Pope spoke the truth -

Spooky, how fast our intellectual class agreed on a way to damn this much-mourned Pope without actually seeming to prance on his grave.In Australia, this new slur, this fashionable falsehood, was best put by the Women's Electoral Lobby's Sarah Maddison."There is little doubt that under this Pope's leadership the Vatican's line, particularly on the use of condoms in Africa, has caused the death of thousands of people," she smirked.

The Pope. A murderer.How delicious.

So delicious, that SBS and Fairfax journalists just had to repeat it, insisting the Pope killed thousands -- wait, millions -- of Africans by banning condoms in the fight against AIDS.It's as if they read from the same manual, Chants for Leftists, now in its international truth-free edition. In Britain, same false story. The cover story of the prestigious New Statesman magazine slavered how the dead Pope "did more to spread AIDS in Africa than prostitution and the trucking industry combined".

Gay activist PeterTatchell, of Outrage, snapped: "Millions of people in developing countries areorphans, having lost their parents to AIDS because of the Pope's anti-condom dogma." Ditto The Independent: "It should not be forgotten that millions
have died in Africa as a result of this theological rigidity."
In France, the Liberation newspaper declared: "Blindness in the face of AIDS." And so on and on.

I've listed so many examples to show how common it is for the Left,particularly the Leftist press, to believe the convenient lie -- the foul smear-- even when that lie defies good sense and easy-to-find facts. Once again, the Truth is more vital than the truth to Leftists, which is why their own dogmas are so deadly.

It is a fact that Pope John Paul II opposed condoms, telling
African bishops again not long before his death that "fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of AIDS infection".

So is this the advice that killed millions? First, to believe that we must believe Africans are so obedient to the Pope that they won't wear a condom, but also so disobedient that they'll still have casual sex. We'd also have to believe that more were killed by having unprotected sex outside marriage than were saved by doing as the Pope said and zipping up. We must further believe that most or very many Africans are Catholic, and are hit hardest by AIDS.

Naturally, the truth is the very opposite.The countries with the worst HIV infection rates in the world turn out to be Swaziland and Botswana, where more than a third of adults have the virus -- but only 5 per cent are Catholic. Botswana, incidentally, is pro-condoms, not that it seems to have helped much. In contrast, Uganda, where half the people are Catholic, is the one African country that has slashed its rate of infection -- from a devastating 15 per cent of all adults to "just" 5 per cent. And, heavens, it worked this miracle by doing much as the Pope had preached.

and I think Mr. Bolt also hit on the head what really drives these accusations:
And why their anger? Because Christianity, or any philosophy that preaches restraint, responsibility and a respect for facts, threatens their freedoms, such as their freedom to have sex with whomever they choose.

So, yes, the Pope was indeed the killer they fear -- not of the poor and faithful in Africa, but of the cheaper pleasures of the faithless right here. And for those now slandering this holy man, that is by far the greater sin.

Finally, The Anchoress has a deeply moving personal post about the relationship between the Church and AIDS that must be read in full to be properly appreciated.

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