Friday, March 20, 2009

Pope recommends faithfulness for couples, abstinence for singles

Douala, Cameroon - Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily while celebrating mass on Thursday at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, has recommended "faithfulness" for couples and "abstinence" for the singles.

The Pontiff again criticised the use of condoms which, he said, could rather worsen the HIV/AIDS problem.

"The AIDS problem cannot be resolved by distributing condoms. Quite the contrary, the use of condoms worsens the problem," said the Pope, during his official pastoral visit to Cameroon which started Tuesday.

His comments on condom has already aroused a controversy worldwide.

For several Cameroonian Catholics, the Pope's statements were "part of his logic as Head of the Catholic Church and guardian of the Catholic temple, dogma, and ideal".

Yet, the comments were not shared by non-governmental organisations (NGO) involved in the fight against the AIDS pandemic in Cameroon, as well as HIV/AIDS-positive people.

"Preventing AIDS through the use of condoms makes populations more aware of their responsibilities," said an official of the Care International NGO, who nevertheless noted that "condoms" had not yet brought about the desired behaviour change.

For Anicet Ekane, National Chairperson of the African Movement for New Independence and Democracy (MANIDEM, opposition), "the Pope did not understand that the world was going through changes beyond the Catholic Church norms, and that he was therefore completely out of step."

Before he was named Pope in 2005, Joseph Ratzingher was responsible for the Roman Catholic Church dogmas and led the religious conservatism under Pope John Paul II whom he succeeded.