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Old 03-18-2009   #21
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I'd actually hazard a guess that the majority of it goes back to internal Church politics. Funny that the Pope can come out so strongly against something like this yet remain relatively silent about the abuse scandals that did so much damage to the Church's reputation in the US.
Well, that's "accepted" ! Seriously, though, the condom / birth control issue is a key fracture line between the liberal wing (mainly US and parts of Western Europe) and the conservative wing. They've been using a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on it for quite a while now to avoid an open split with the more extreme conservatives.
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Old 03-18-2009   #22
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Well, that's "accepted" ! Seriously, though, the condom / birth control issue is a key fracture line between the liberal wing (mainly US and parts of Western Europe) and the conservative wing. They've been using a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on it for quite a while now to avoid an open split with the more extreme conservatives.
Yeah, I know. I'm sure they want to avoid some of the issues that have popped up in the past few years within the Anglican church. Still...at times I think the Church and universities have more in common than they'd care to admit. It's mostly about politics and power structures, and neither group can seem to understand how those on the outside hear what they're saying or see what they're doing.
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Old 03-18-2009   #23
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Yeah, I know. I'm sure they want to avoid some of the issues that have popped up in the past few years within the Anglican church.
Not quite sure which "issues" you're referring to: ordination of women? ordination of open homosexuals? complete lack of basic Christian theology and inclusion of Buddhist meditation in some churches?

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Still...at times I think the Church and universities have more in common than they'd care to admit. It's mostly about politics and power structures, and neither group can seem to understand how those on the outside hear what they're saying or see what they're doing.
Actually, that's really not surprising. The Western academic structures of universities come out of Church sponsored / supported education systems. There's a good, solid, historical / cultural reason why i call some of my colleagues "theologians" .
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Old 03-18-2009   #24
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I suspect that, in addition to opposing condoms, the Catholic Church endorses abstinence outside of marriage and monogamous relations within marriage. I also may be wrong here, but I don't think they have any objection to HIV medication/treatment, education about how it is spread, compassion towards the infected, etc, etc.

If this were just a policy of "keep screwing everything in sight and don't use protection" then that would be one thing. Their no-condom stance is one part of a significant lifestyle change that they advocate. I don't think there is any argument about how effective that lifestyle change would be IF achieved. But, that "IF" on the other hand...
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Old 03-19-2009   #25
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I suspect that, in addition to opposing condoms, the Catholic Church endorses abstinence outside of marriage and monogamous relations within marriage. I also may be wrong here, but I don't think they have any objection to HIV medication/treatment, education about how it is spread, compassion towards the infected, etc, etc.

If this were just a policy of "keep screwing everything in sight and don't use protection" then that would be one thing. Their no-condom stance is one part of a significant lifestyle change that they advocate. I don't think there is any argument about how effective that lifestyle change would be IF achieved. But, that "IF" on the other hand...
Somewhat true but keep in mind that policies and lifestyle programs change overtime under the influence of many factors , many of which have nothing to do with health.

In a way the policy is a defacto "keep screwing everything in sight and don't use protection" because it does not address African cultural values regarding sex. Also keep in mind that it was at one time Church policy to allow priests to take local wives as an offset for the burden of service in Africa.

As for education about how HIV is spread the policy certainly does liit education to how to prevent HIV's spread. In that regard, we the US are in the same boat as we follow a political policy that emphasizes disease but is forbidden to advocate birth control. USAID can hand out condoms but only as a disease control measure.

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Old 03-19-2009   #26
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Good points, Tom. As an add-on comment, there is also a fairly serious problem emerging about what defines "sex" (that problem is also rampant in the US teen cultures). When you also add in the fact that the infection vectors operate outside of sexual transmission as well, you have a real problem.
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Old 03-19-2009   #27
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Good points, Tom. As an add-on comment, there is also a fairly serious problem emerging about what defines "sex" (that problem is also rampant in the US teen cultures). When you also add in the fact that the infection vectors operate outside of sexual transmission as well, you have a real problem.
Wait a minute--didn't Bill Clinton settle that?
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Old 03-19-2009   #28
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Wait a minute--didn't Bill Clinton settle that?
Don't know . maybe some current USG (cabinet level) official could comment
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Old 03-19-2009   #29
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Don't know . maybe some current USG (cabinet level) official could comment
Who Gates?
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Old 03-19-2009   #30
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In a way the policy is a defacto "keep screwing everything in sight and don't use protection" because it does not address African cultural values regarding sex.
I think it's the exact opposite. This is not a single policy advocated separately from the lifestyle changes advocated and expected to function well within the current cultures in Africa. It is part of a larger call to change the culture. But I suspect we're in agreement regarding the likelihood of that occurring.

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In that regard, we the US are in the same boat as we follow a political policy that emphasizes disease but is forbidden to advocate birth control. USAID can hand out condoms but only as a disease control measure.
I wonder if that is related to calls from the Catholic Church or if it is simply a division of efforts. For example, PEPFAR has a focus on treatment of pregnant mothers to prevent transmission of HIV to their children, efforts to safeguard the blood supply, etc. It seems like a medical approach. The USAID disease prevention seems more akin to a field sanitation or social work type of effort that can occur with significantly less (or different) specialized skills.

The taboo on advocating birth control might also be part of an image adjustment. Condoms as a birth control measure can fairly easily be construed as, "America doesn't want black people to have kids." It sounds dumb, but some people would believe it. Some people (in this country!) believe that we created HIV to kill black people. When I was an undergrad in 2002, taking an upper-level course in immunology, a student actually gave a presentation that assumed we were using HIV and various birth control drugs as weapons to kill or sterilize black people. Thankfully the professor had some words to say in response - the rest of us were speechless.
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Old 03-20-2009   #31
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I think it's the exact opposite. This is not a single policy advocated separately from the lifestyle changes advocated and expected to function well within the current cultures in Africa. It is part of a larger call to change the culture. But I suspect we're in agreement regarding the likelihood of that occurring.
We will have to agree to disagree on the first part in that it does not call for a cultural change; it merely ignores the cultures at work altogether and in doing so defines cultural arrogance.

I agree changing the culture is unlikely or at least slow. The Church in Afica has always tended to dictate and the Africans have tended to follow, albeit in unorthodox ways. The classic statement about the Church in Rwanda was that Rwanda had many Catholics but not many Christians. The same could be said about the Anglicans, by the way.

As for the US taboo on birth control, it is a political issue tied to religious influences across the board as they influence Congress which controls the pusre strings. My ex once got in hot water because a CODEL was touring a packaged research center in Egypt that was in her USAID portfoilio when one member saw that there was a condom machine installed in the restroom (sideways).

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Old 03-20-2009   #32
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Has condom use in Africa been demonstrated to decrease AIDS rates of transmission? I'd like to see some good numbers on that from someone who's budget doesn't depend on showing that metric.

Since the Pope believes the soul is immortal, it is not in his interest to throw out a central issue within the church (monogamic sex within marriage) to satisfy people who ignore him and what he stands for anyway....

If he did, he would be analogous to the moronic doctor's organizations who decry the private ownership of guns every year. Like the doctors, it's really not his bailiwick.
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Old 03-20-2009   #33
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Hi 120,

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Has condom use in Africa been demonstrated to decrease AIDS rates of transmission? I'd like to see some good numbers on that from someone who's budget doesn't depend on showing that metric.
I saw some fairly decent numbers for it, but they were from 5 years back and extremely limited in their geographic spread (i.e. one small township) and, also, hadn't been published since they didn't meet the political correctness rule (the program included a kickback to prostitutes for condom use).

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Since the Pope believes the soul is immortal, it is not in his interest to throw out a central issue within the church (monogamic sex within marriage) to satisfy people who ignore him and what he stands for anyway....
That's certainly a good point, 120. At the same time, it also ignores large amounts of Catholic and Christian traditions of working with local cultures.
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Old 03-20-2009   #34
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Has condom use in Africa been demonstrated to decrease AIDS rates of transmission? I'd like to see some good numbers on that from someone who's budget doesn't depend on showing that metric.
Answer: Yes condom use reduces HIV transmission.

Is condom use a tough sell in Africa? Yes due to cultural mores

Does condom use vary according to religion? Yes

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Since the Pope believes the soul is immortal, it is not in his interest to throw out a central issue within the church (monogamic sex within marriage) to satisfy people who ignore him and what he stands for anyway....
The point being they as African Catholics do not ignore him when it comes to condom use. Many males use the pronouncement as a reason not to use condoms.

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If he did, he would be analogous to the moronic doctor's organizations who decry the private ownership of guns every year. Like the doctors, it's really not his bailiwick.
Agreed. He probably should NOT be addressing health issues as a matter of faith but he did make the pronouncement.

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Old 03-20-2009   #35
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I think the church puts itself wide open for criticism on the feasibility of its goals. But as for the motivations, I think it's not productive to spin that as arrogance or ignorance. I think it is more productive to recognize that the Catholic church is big, influential, and not amenable to compromising on what it sees as the word of God, and then attempt to work with or around the church from there. I suspect that the Catholic church, USAID, and others have more goals in common than at cross purposes.
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Old 03-20-2009   #36
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Bottom line is that the Catholic Church is not a social welfare organization. They want to make the world better for everyone but not at the expense of their core beliefs. As Schmedlap already noted, they believe that the consequences of compromising their beiliefs in order to accomidate what they see as sinful behavior is worse than the consequnces of the behavior itself. This is not arrogance, it's faith, whether you agree with it or not.

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Old 03-21-2009   #37
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Bottom line is that the Catholic Church is not a social welfare organization. They want to make the world better for everyone but not at the expense of their core beliefs. As Schmedlap already noted, they believe that the consequences of compromising their beiliefs in order to accomidate what they see as sinful behavior is worse than the consequnces of the behavior itself. This is not arrogance, it's faith, whether you agree with it or not.

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Whle it is true the Chuch is not a welfare organization, it does sell itself as such, especially in Africa. As for uncompromising beliefs the Church has made repeated moral compromises over the years. If you consider Africa and rwanda in particular, the Church closed ranks around priests and nuns who were involved in genocide.

A stance based on faith with regards to the nature of condoms as a form of birth control in the face of a pandemic that is spread in Africa's case through largely heterosexual contact is to me arrogance, whether faith based or not.

We will have to agree to disagree

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Old 03-21-2009   #38
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The point being they as African Catholics do not ignore him when it comes to condom use. Many males use the pronouncement as a reason not to use condoms.
Yet they have no compunction whatsoever to ignore the church's stance on sexual immorality.

Which is not surprising, as humans routinely shoot themselves in the foot and then bitch and moan because of all the blood on the floor.

Last edited by 120mm; 03-21-2009 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 03-21-2009   #39
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Yet they have no compunction whatsoever to ignore the church's stance on sexual immorality.

Which is not surprising, as humans routinely shoot themselves in the foot and then bitch and moan because of all the blood on the floor.
Partly true in applying that to the males....

Different matter when it comes to their wives.

Looks different when one realizes that as much as third of a population depending on the country is in the process of dying and many --HIV infected children--ignored nothing.
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Old 03-21-2009   #40
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Default Religious dogma & theology

And how many angels can stand on the point of a pin?

Of course birth control, be it condums, the pill is a sound and necessary practice, and yes, of course it reduces the spreading of AIDS which happens today we all know between men and women, not just men and men.

We all know in our own families and among our friends good folks who happen to be Catholic who limit and control by use of the condum or the birth control pill the number of children they believe they can afford to raise and educate in today's complex world.

No, I do not support widespread abortion, but I do believe it is up to the woman involved to decide if they can afford mentally, physically, and fiscally to have a child or not. No, I do not support partial birth abortion, but I do support use of the morning after pill for women to be sure that they don't get pregnant when their life plan at that time does not yet include having children, yet.

Yes, President Obama, who I did not vote for, is moving to knock down constraints on stem cell research where fertilization to create life has not occurred. No, I don't support use of fertilized eggs for the sole and specific purpose of doing medical research.

Yes, as one who suffers from diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and other annoying diseases I do support the vast range of possibilities being researched by use of stem cells in medical research. Too, I have family members who suffer from Crohn's Disease and it is possible that stem cell research can help them, too, and I am all for that.

In the Dark Ages "religion" [and I am a conservative Christian Protestant] was used both to help and to control and manage for hierarchial benefit the superstructure of the old Catholic Church. Competititon in religion, as in any other "business" is good and religious competition has helped bring an end to some absurd and false Protestant & Roman dogma while it has also helped enlighten and improve the use of more in common dogma which is sound and Biblically based and justifiable.

Many of us Protesants and Catholics prefer to live religious values by our personal witness and allow others their witness be it the same or different. We are all still Christians. Grace is the operative term in being a Christian, not "law" as was the process in the Old Testament.

The same cannot be said for Islam where the extremists will kill those who they "judge" to be wrong in their belief, understanding, and practice of Islam. Yes, I know, you can point to ancient Christian wars, but I am talking about today, 2009, and don't give a tinkers damn about a handful of idiots in Northern Ireland trying to resurrect the worst days of the old now defunct IRA. That was and is peanuts comparedn to today's religious terrorists and the killings and maiming they continue to inflict.

This discussion can go on and on, endlessly.

What works for one Christian may not always work for another, so we have freedom of religion, and the important feature of our culture, separate of church and state, which I heartily support. I oppose on religious grounds same sex marriages and in the military I oppose homosexuality as a security, health, and in the interests of good discipline threat. I am a qualfied as in limited proponent of abortion "to save the life of the mother" but in general I would like to see abotion avoided where and when possible. But still in the final analysis my belief it that the choice of abortion or not should be left up in the final analysis to the woman involved, not to any cleric or special interest group trying to impose their dogma on all others.

So AIDS is a real threat to the military, abortion while not a wholesale answer to life's problems has a place that I find best determined by the woman involved, but allowing my reservation in that I do oppose 100% partial birth abortions.

Finally, regarding celebacy and ancient church history. One of our family lines is Gillis, and descends from an early 1400s Irish Catholic priest sent from Ireland to the highlands of Scotland, where he married and had 12 children. Priests in ancient history in outlying parishes and nations often married and had families, there was and is nothing wrong with that. Celebacy is a dogma, it is not a scriptual edict. Early Popes were married. Economic considerations to keep the early church going were claimed as an excuse to start the practice of celebacy, together with misinterpretations and/or misunderstandings of the fact that St. Paul seemingly had a miserable marriage and thus advocated celebacy as his reaction to his own miserable marriage.

End of "pontifications" from a separation of church and state advocate who neverthleless is anti-homosexual as such practice is anti-Scriptual but who finds God's williness to grant his grace in circumstances where birth control (condums, the pill, etc.) are a good measure of manage one's own family finances.

Last edited by George L. Singleton; 03-21-2009 at 03:13 PM.
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