Today, it's the Pope's turn:
Before arriving in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, the Pope said HIV/Aids was "a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem".
The solution lies in a "spiritual and human awakening" and "friendship for those who suffer", the AFP news agency quotes him as saying.
While in Africa, the pontiff is expected to talk to young people about the Aids epidemic and explain to them why the Catholic Church recommends sexual abstinence as the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.
He gave a similar message to African bishops who visited the Vatican in 2005, when he told them that abstinence and fidelity, not condoms, were the means to tackle the epidemic.
Hmmm...let's think about this from a perspective grounded firmly in reality, shall we?
First of all, condoms are one of the few means known to prevent, or at the very least, minimize, the chances of HIV transmission. The Pope's addlepated logic that distributing condoms can make the problem worse is completely false. As the GLBT community in North America demonstrated during the 1980s and 1990s, condom use can and does reduce the rate of transmission from sexual contact.
I won't even begin to describe my revulsion with the dogma of "noble suffering". This is nothing more than a way to wash one's hands of a topic that is uncomfortable or unsettling. Instead of taking action, it becomes far too easy to simply blame the person suffering from HIV/AIDS and call their suffering "consequences" and "God's will". Intellectually speaking, this is sloppy reasoning.
Lastly, while the concept of abstinence works in theory, it completely ignores the very real and human reality that people have sex. Just as the unreasoning "abstinence only" policies of Bush II failed miserably (with evangelical teens having sex just as often - and ending up pregnant more often - as their peers.
Condoms are not a solution in and of themselves. This is true enough. However, the rabid anti-condom stance of the Pope is rooted not in reason but in dogma ... and like the dogma of the church around abortion, it is completely divorced from reality.