By Hilary White

AMSTERDAM, September 5, 2006 ( – A Dutch Catholic bishop, Martinus (Tiny) Muskens of the diocese of Breda, travelled to Uganda to support Aids activists advocating the use of condomsÂto stopÂAIDS.ÂThe bishopÂtold Radio Netherlands that the use of condoms can be acceptable for AIDS prevention and cites the Catholic theological position of the “lesser evil” to defend his idea. Muskens is quoted saying, “It is permissible to opt for the lesser evil of condom use to prevent the greater evil of AIDS.”

Bishop Muskens was invited to make his comments by the head of an Amsterdam-based organization, Stop AIDS Now!, whose director, Sjoera Dikkers, said that while the “Vatican” is adamantly opposed to the bishop’s assertion, “there was room for manoeuvre” within that opposition.

Dikkers said that though there was room for abstinence training, condoms “must remain the main thing.” A condom, claims Dikkers, “is the only method of preventing the HIV virus being spread.”

Muskens is adding his voice to those of a number of dissenting European Catholic prelates, including Brussels’ Cardinal Daneels, who have claimed that the use of condoms could be a possible moral “option” in the fight against AIDS.

Their recourse to the “lesser evil” doctrine, however, is not supported by Catholic teaching that says the “lesser evil” involved must be one that cannot be avoided. In the case of AIDS transmission, as Pope Benedict and Uganda’s own AIDS fighters have pointed out, there is another option: abstinence.

Martin Sempa, a Ugandan minister and AIDS activist told during the Toronto International AIDS Conference in August, that the pressure by internationalist NGO’s to deconstruct the AIDS crisis to a condom campaign, has more to do with imposing a liberal and feminist ideology than actually combating the disease. The international community Sempa told, looks at the AIDS crisis and sees the problem as not enough condoms.

“Whereas, we see it is a problem of promiscuity,” Sempa said. “Teach people to abstain and to remain faithful to their husbands and wives, and AIDS will stop.”

“There is moral cowardice in western AIDS activists. They will not confront fidelity or promiscuity,” Sempa added.

Sempa’s assertion has held up to the evidence. When the government of Uganda started getting involved in an already existing abstinence and fidelity campaign begun by national Christian organizations, the AIDS/HIV infection rate plunged from 30 percent to 6 per cent. Since the imposition of the international condom campaign, however, the rate is slowly climbing again.

Decrying what he has called “abstinophobia,” Sempa told that the condom-mania of such groups has contributed enormously to the spread of AIDS. “To win the battle against HIV/AIDS, the world needs a major attitude adjustment away from a love of promiscuity to responsible sexual behaviour. Instead, all they are getting from NGO’s is more sex and more condoms.”

Commenters writing in to the Netherlands Public Radio news site were not sympathetic to the Bishop Musken’s claim. “This Bishop must be reprimanded,” wrote Matt Peters. “The only 100 percent method of keeping AIDS from spreading is abstinence, because if one isn’t having sex then it can’t spread.”

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