Germany's Cardinal Ratzinger Elected New Pope, Known for Opposition to Contraception, Including Condoms to Prevent HIV
April 20, 2005
The Roman Catholic Church's College of Cardinals on Tuesday elected as the new pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany -- now known as Pope Benedict XVI -- who is viewed as a "strict defender of conservative Roman Catholic doctrine," AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The pope is expected to face "a clamour from within and without the church" on issues such as abortion, restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research and contraceptives, including the use of condoms to prevent HIV transmission, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News , 4/19). He also is expected to "build upon the uncompromising hard line on doctrine" that he maintained during his time as head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position he has held since 1981, including his belief that there are "absolute truths" on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, the AP/New Bedford Standard Times reports (Winfield, AP/New Bedford Standard Times, 4/20). The pope also is "expected to stress 'culture of life' issues," including opposition to human embryonic stem cell research, the Los Angeles Times reports (Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times, 4/20). In addition, he likely will face calls to break with the Catholic Church's ban on contraceptive use, including the use of condoms, to help curb the spread of HIV worldwide, especially in Africa, according to the Washington Post (Cooperman, Washington Post, 4/20).
Developing World Reaction
HIV/AIDS, Women's Rights Advocates' Reaction
HIV/AIDS and women's rights advocates said they see little hope for change in Catholic Church policies toward contraceptives, including condom, the Long Island Newsday reports. "We are possibly facing another decade or so of a ban on condoms and birth control, a blind eye to dying victims of AIDS/HIV and a Vatican run only by celibate men," Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, said, adding, "Birth control is a fundamental human right and to exclude women is profoundly flawed and discriminatory" (Voboril, Long Island Newsday, 4/20). Gay advocates in San Francisco also were "disheartened" by Ratzinger's election, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. They said it is "critical" for the Catholic Church to "preach the importance of using condoms to protect against AIDS," which Ratzinger opposes, according to Rev. Paul Fairley of the Metropolitan Community Churches. However, he said he "doubt[s]" that "there will be any move on behalf of the church to support the position that condoms should be used" (AFP/Yahoo! News , 4/19). Peter Tatchell, a gay-rights advocate with the group OutRage!, said, "He represents the hard-line fundamentalist stand of Catholicism; opposing condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, rejecting women's rights, denouncing fertility treatment for childless couples and endorsing state-sanctioned discrimination against gay people" (AFP/Yahoo! News , 4/19). "It looks like this particular cardinal will continue with the line on contraception, condoms and HIV prevention that Pope John Paul II had," Tony Kerrigan, a senior media officer with Marie Stopes International, said, adding, "It's regrettable because that will impact so terribly on the lives of millions of people, particularly in the developing world" (Agence France-Presse, 4/19).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.