Everybody don’t like the pope

A roundup of replies to the pope.

The French foreign minister:

We consider that such comments are a threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life.”

German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said in a joint statement:

Condoms save lives, in Europe as well as on other continents. Modern assistance to the developing world today must make access to family planning available to the poorest of the poor – especially the use of condoms. Anything else would be irresponsible.

Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders said it was “extremely harmful and very serious” that the Pope was “forbidding people to protect themselves”.

“There is an enormous stigma surrounding the subject of Aids and Aids sufferers face serious discrimination,” he added. “The Pope is making matters worse.”

Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa:

…the Pope’s “opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans”.

[T]he UN program against HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, rebuked the pope’s comments:

“With more than 7,400 new infections each day, the world cannot stop the AIDS epidemic without stopping new HIV infections,” Geneva-based UNAIDS said. “Condoms are an essential part of combination prevention.”

German EU parliamentarian Wolfgang Wodarg, a medical doctor, also criticized the statement. He told AFP news service the pope’s “ideological unworldliness and irresponsible comments” put him “severely at fault.” Stronger words were used by German Green European deputy Daniel Cohn Bendit, who told French radio simply, “We’ve had enough of this pope.” He went on to describe Benedict’s remarks as “close to premeditated murder.”…Belgium’s Health Minister, Laurette Onkelinx, said the pope’s comments “Reflect a dangerous doctrinaire vision (that could) demolish years of prevention and education and endanger many human lives.”

The BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, on the other hand, defended the indefensible.

[T]he Church’s concern about condoms is only part of wider teaching aimed at allowing people to live better, more fulfilled lives. It believes that encouraging people to use condoms to minimise the worst effects of behaviour that in itself impoverishes their lives is to fail them…In other words, there is something at stake that is greater even than the fight against Aids – particularly as, in the Church’s view, condoms are not as effective as abstinence in combating this deadly infection. It is not as though Pope Benedict underestimates HIV, acknowledging that “the virus seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the [African] continent”.

Oh well that’s all right then – that makes it quite all right for him to tell people not to use the most effective preventive device available.

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