Papua New Guinea: Facing AIDS Epidemic, Bishop Says Condoms Okay for Some
March 30, 2006
In Papua New Guinea, some Catholic bishops are resisting the Vatican's ban on condoms and are allowing church clinics to distribute them to HIV-positive people. In explaining the departure from papal instruction, Bishop Gilles Cote of the Daru-Kiunga diocese 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. So there's a moral responsibility that they are protected," Cote said. "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 [condoms] to everybody and distribute them. If the government wants to do it, OK."
About 2 percent of Papua New Guinea's 4 million people are believed to be HIV-positive. At an HIV prevention summit this month in Port Moresby, Cabinet Minister Puka Temu called on churches to set aside their "religious and moral biases" and support condom use. Some leaders reacted angrily. Bishop Francesco Sarego, president of the nation's Catholic Bishops' Conference, said Temu was asking the churches to go against their consciences. "Faithfulness in marriage protects families from destruction," the bishop said.
Cote acknowledged a wide division of opinion exists in Papua New Guinea and beyond. "When we have a bishops' conference, we see that not everybody agrees, and even in Rome they disagree among themselves," he said.
Australian Associated Press
03.30.2006; Lloyd Jones
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.