2 MONTROSE VOICE/DECEMBER 16. 1986
Catholic Church Rejects
Condoms in Fighting AIDS
By Aurelio Rojas
LOS ANGELES (UPI)—The nation's
largest archdiocese has withdrawn its
support from an AIDS program because
it endorses the use of condoms, prompting new charges that the Catholic
church is out of touch with the modern
"In 1986, one of the facts of life which
all Americans need to face is that any
penetrative sexual intercourse necessitates the use of prophylactics," said Eric
Rofes, executive director of The Gay &
Lesbian Community Services Center.
Despite evidence that condoms are
effective in decreasing the spread ofthe
deadly AIDS virus, Archbishop Roger
Mahony announced Dec. 6 that the Los
Angeles archdiocese would not support
the AIDS education program aimed at
Mahony withdrew his support
because the use of condoms was among
the preventive measures recommended
in a program sponsored by a consortium
of 13 service organizations.
His statement means church porperty
cannot be used for lectures that are a
part of the program.
"The Roman Caholic Church does not
approve of the use of condoms," Mahony said. "In the issue of AIDS, such use
implies either heterosexual promiscuity
or homosexual activity. The church
approves of neither."
The Los Angeles area has the third
highest number of AIDS cases in the
nation following New York and San
Francisco. County health officials sav a
total of 2360 AIDS cases have been
reported through Oct. 31, with another
172 suspected cases under investigation.
Victims of the disease are predominantly gay men. The latest controversy
comes during a period of increasingly
vocal Vatican condemnation of homosexual activity and reiteration of the
church's opposition to all contraceptives
Church officials have suggested sexual abstinence as a way to combat
AIDS, which the national Centers for
Disease Control said has claimed
nearly 16,000 victims. It says the
number of cases is doubling every 13
Sheila Briggs, a theology professor at
the University of Southern California,
said, "Abstinence is not a very viable
piece of advice for the Roman Catholic
population as it exists today."
Briggs said that despite church doctrine, there is statsistical evidence that
the nation's 52.5 million Catholics are
more "irresponsible" in their sexual
practices than non-Catholics.
"There is alos evidence to suggest
that Catholics have a higher incidence
of AIDS than the general population,"
she said, citing a survey in New Wave
Ministry, a journal produced by
Catholic lesbians and gay men.
In Los Angeles, which has the
nation's largest Hispanic population,
the archdiocese's refusal to support the
AIDS education program has been criticized by Catholic lesbians and gay
They cited statistics showing 14 percent of AIDS victims are Hispanic, more
than double the percentage of Hispanics in the total population, and said language barriers have impeded the
dissemination of information.
Mahony, who has been active in the
Hispanic community, said he would
reconsider his support of the education
program if condoms are not included in
But Judy Siegel, directorof education
and training for AIDS Project Los
Angeles, one ofthe sponsors, said, "You
can* talk about prevention if you don't
talk about condoms."
Professor Briggs, who is Catholic,
said Mahony is hamstrung by church
"To be fair to Bishop Mahony and
other U.S. bishops, they are aware ofthe
church's responsibilitv (in fighting
AIDS)," she said.
"Unfortunately, the American
bishops are in a difficult position
because the Vatican feels at the moment
that the U.S. church is too liberal in its
views on sex.
"This continuing pressure on the
bishops to reaffirm the church's teachings places the bishops in a dilemma
when presented with departing with
Earlier this year, the Rev. Charles
Curran lost his license as an official
church theologian at Catholic University in Washington, D.C, and Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle
was stripped of many of his duties
because the Vatican ws unhappy with
their liberal stands on moral issues.
Curran maintains that contraception
is not "intrinsically evil" and that
homosexual acts "in the context of a
loving relationship striving for permanency" can be "morally good."
Hunthausen, meanwhile, permitted
church affiliation with gay groups and
sterilization in Catholic hospitals.
The cases sparked a fire of revolt
among U.S. church leaders. But in
November, after an agonizing debate,
bishops decided to back the pope.
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