Respect me or I’ll say the devil wears a condom

Careful when talking to the Vatican. Don’t forget those 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christian – they expect respect you know.

The World Health Organisation’s head of HIV/Aids called on the Vatican yesterday to speed up a decision on the limited use of condoms in pandemic-hit countries. Kevin De Cock welcomed the news that condoms could be sanctioned for married Catholic couples where one partner has HIV. “We’re very pleased to hear this,” he said. “But our concern is that these deep theological decisions take account of the biological consequences of infection. Could we please have this debate in a hurry. Lives are at risk and time is short.”

Maybe he was being sarcastic instead of respectful. One can hope so. ‘Deep theological decisions’ indeed – what’s so deep about them, and for that matter, what’s even theological about them? Nothing. They’re just nasty human prejudices dressed up as what god wants, in the usual manner. Deep shmeep.

Faith-based organisations play a huge role in forming opinion and fighting the pandemic. In Africa, they deliver 40%-50% of care. “I think the involvement of the faith-based community in Aids is extremely important,” he said. “As with any other group that has its own special beliefs and ideas and philosophies, we have to accept that that is so and remember that there is far more that unites us than divides us in the struggle against Aids.”

No, he probably wasn’t being sarcastic then, not when he slipped the ‘faith-based community’ in there to replace the more neutral and comprehensible ‘religious people.’ Sarky people don’t do that – they refuse, and if people try to make them they lash out and swear dreadful oaths. They also don’t usually talk anodyne fluffy burble about own special beliefs and ideas and philosophies, because they know too well what a lot of ground that covers, including the stark staring mad, so they don’t invoke it in that sentimental way.

It’s not the WHO guy with the unhappy name’s fault though, it’s the horrible situation we’re all stuck in where people who believe wrong things demand fulsome honeyed respect from people who don’t, on pain of making millions more people die of AIDS because the condom is excommunicated. We have to grovel and suck up to them or they’ll carry right on killing lots of us. There’s a deep theological decision for you.

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