Two Popes, VP Leni Robredo, And Condoms

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In a previous post, Politikal Pinoy challenged Vice President Leni Robredo’s recent statement that condom distribution in public schools and health centers will only promote a “culture of promiscuity.”

We pointed out that Robredo’s assertion had no factual basis as we laid out study after study that shows condom distribution programs aimed at dealing with sexually-transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy have not increased sexual activity.

Of course, we respect Robredo’s personal opinion, especially because we know she is a devout Catholic. So let’s talk about the Catholic religion and two popes at the helm of the Catholic community.

After decades of fierce opposition to the use of all contraception, Pope Benedict, in 2010, ended the Church’s absolute ban on the use of condoms.

He said it was acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention was to “reduce the risk of infection” such as HIV/AIDS.

While Benedict restated the Catholic Church’s staunch objections to contraception because it believes that it interferes with the creation of life, he argued that using a condom to preserve life and avoid death could be a responsible act – even outside marriage.

His successor, Pope Francis, has also suggested that using artificial contraception in countries afflicted with the Zika virus would be OK for women worried with how the disease is linked to rare birth defects.

Calling it a “lesser of two evils,” Francis indicated that choosing to avoid pregnancy altogether would be the better alternative to abortion.

Abortion “is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil at its root, no? It’s a human evil,” he told reporters following his six-day visit to Catholic-heavy Latin America, which is grappling with a Zika outbreak.

“On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” he continued. “In certain cases, as in this one (Zika), such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

More recently, Pope Francis has struck a blow for “reform” within the Catholic Church by weighing in on the side of the progressives against the traditionalists in a “condom row” involving the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Both the order and the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis had accepted the “resignation” of the order’s Grand Master, Englishman Matthew Festing, who had been involved in an internal row about the distribution of condoms.

This most recent row began last December when Festing sacked the order’s No. 2, Grand Chancellor, German Abrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, arguing that the latter had been guilty of a serious breach in that he had allowed the order’s Malteser International group to become involved in the distribution of condoms via anti-HIV and family planning programmes.

So there you go Madam Leni. Both science and religion do not back you up in your opposition to condoms.

Perhaps you should concentrate on advocating for sexual education in schools and communities, but one that is based on facts and realities, not on your misguided personal opinion — especially when you are expressing it using the pulpit of the Office of the Vice President.

Maybe, we can’t make it a religious policy, but condom distribution is a proven, good public policy.

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