By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
ROME, October 19, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The belief that condoms are an effective means of stopping HIV/AIDS is "unrealistic" and groups pushing condoms in African countries are making the problem worse by encouraging promiscuity, "which leads to more infections," a Namibian bishop said last week.
The bishop also claimed that foreign experts are using the media and government funding deliberately to conceal the failure of condoms to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
Bishop Joseph Shipandeni Shikongo said at the African Synod that is currently taking place at the Vatican that while the Catholic Church has "an extensive HIV/AIDS program" in Namibia, the government's "expatriate expert advisors" have access to greater funds and access to the media of TV and radio to influence the people to use condoms. "Thus secular and relativisitc views of sexuality are propagated," he said.
"For them, the most predominant concern is to prevent infection; and the most important means is the condom ... The failures of this means is deliberately ignored or explained in dubious ways."
The AIDS rate in Namibia is 15.3 per cent of the adult population, with a total of 200,000 people living with AIDS according to 2007 statistics.
Bishop Shikongo also pointed to the practice of pharmaceutical companies that he says are using African countries as a dumping ground for drugs that "are not approved" in the countries where they are manufactured. Citing a report by the World Health Organisation, the bishop mentioned the hormonal contraceptive Depo Provera, saying that some drugs are being sent to Africa for "experiment."
"It is said that Africa is most exposed to these kinds of medicines because of the limited capacity to investigate, test or monitor as to what is happening."
The use of the mainstream media to further an anti-life and anti-family agenda in Africa has come under fire many times during the Synod.
In the Synod's "Instrumentum Laboris," or initial working document upon which the bishops' interventions and discussions have been based, the new technologies of information and communication are referred to as the "new areopaghi" of the modern world, in which the ideas of the Christian faith can be freely brought forward. "The media are in effect a place for the formation of conscience" it said.
But the Synod bishops have repeatedly warned that the "formation of conscience" being created by the mainstream media is opposed to traditional African and Christian moral values.
In the summary of the bishops' short interventions of the first ten days, Peter Turkson, the cardinal archbishop of Cape Coast Ghana, said that the laity must "learn to exercise discernment and a critical spirit when faced with the ideologies propagated by the media."
Turkson referred to the "devastating effects of globalization on their moral standards and value system."
In the 25 questions that summed up the topics for further discussion, Turkson used even harsher language to describe the media: "How do we re-establish the positive power of the word [of God] as a medium of formation in reconciliation, justice and peace, given that the word has been disfigured and devalued by abuse, lies and hate or derogatory propaganda by some media agents?"
Following Cardinal Turkson's summation, Bishop António Francisco Jaca of Caxito, Angola, warned on Wednesday of a "tacit invasion of television into family life" that has had a negative effect on the moral lives of young people.
"We cannot deny the negative influence on children and youth of certain programs broadcast by the national and international channels: soap operas, violent movies, video clips, music with improper language."
These, he said, "parade a lifestyle that is foreign to our reality," that encourages violence. Bishop Jaca warned too of the popularity of "improvised movie rooms where children and adolescents naievely devour violent movies not suitable for minors."
These movie rooms were also recently noted by Tim Samuels, a reporter writing for the UK's Guardian newspaper. Samuels wrote of an "impromptu porn cinema" set up in a remote village in Ghana in a mud hut where pornographic videos made in Los Angeles were played by local youths and were "turning some young men into rapists." Villagers, he said, had related "chilling stories of assaults taking place straight after the film's end."
On October 9, Bishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of Kilwa-Kasenga, Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke of the "imperialism of foreign media" that are "polluted by manipulation, political propaganda, non-edifying entertainment."
The African Bishops' Synod continues until October 25th.
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