Languages
Page last updated at 01:06 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Pope 'distorting condom science'

Pope Benedict XVI in Angola (21 March 2009)
The Pope said distributing condoms was not the answer to HIV/Aids

One of the world's most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting science in his remarks on condom use.

It said the Pope's recent comments that condoms exacerbated the problem of HIV/Aids were wildly inaccurate and could have devastating consequences.

The Pope had said the "cruel epidemic" should be tackled through abstinence and fidelity rather than condom use.

A BBC correspondent says the Lancet's attack was unprecedentedly virulent.

Speaking during his first visit to Africa, 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".

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

The Pope said "the traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids".

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says the Church's view is that encouraging people to use condoms only minimises the effects of behaviour that in itself damages lives.

'Devastating'

But the London-based Lancet said the Pope had "publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue".

It said the male latex condom was the single most efficient way to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV/Aids.

People in Yaounde, Cameroon wait to see Pope Benedict XVI (18 March 2009)

"Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear," said the journal.

But it said the comment still stood and urged the Vatican to issue a retraction.

"When any influential person, be it a religious or political figure, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record," it said.

"Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/Aids worldwide."

Our correspondent says the article shows how far the Pope's attempts to justify the Vatican's position on condoms have misfired.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Pope's condom stance sparks row
18 Mar 09 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific