By Hilary White
March 31, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Lancet, one of the medical world’s most prestigious journals has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine. Responding to the pope’s comments that the use of condoms exacerbates the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Lancet called the pope’s position, “outrageous and wildly inaccurate.”
The editorial added, “By saying that condoms exacerbate the problem … the pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine. Whether the pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear.”
“When any influential person … makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record.”
However, supporters of the Pope have observed that the Lancet editorial contradicts the findings of research published in the magazine’s own pages only two years ago. In the December 2007 edition of the journal, Dr. James D. Shelton of the US Agency for International Development, wrote that one of the “ten myths” about the fight against AIDS is that condoms are the answer. “Condoms alone,” he wrote,” “have limited impact in generalised epidemics.”
A Harvard expert on AIDS prevention, Dr. Edward C. Green, who says he is an agnostic, recently told MercatorNet that the emphasis on condoms results not from the scientific evidence, but is driven by “ideology, stereotypes, and false assumptions.” Dr. Green, the author of five books and over 250 peer-reviewed articles, said, “The Pope is actually correct.”
He wrote in the journal First Things in 2008, that the determination by many in the international AIDS prevention community to push condoms results “in efforts that are at best ineffective and at worst harmful, while the AIDS epidemic continues to spread and exact a devastating toll in human lives.”
Dr. Green’s assertion coincides with the position of on-the-ground AIDS activists in Africa who have attempted to stem the flood of condoms into their countries, saying that it is sexual promiscuity that has increased AIDS in their countries. In 2008, Sam L. Ruteikara, the co-chair of Uganda’s AIDS-prevention Committee wrote in the Washington Post that in the fight against AIDS, “profiteering has trumped prevention.”
“AIDS is no longer simply a disease,” he said, “it has become a multibillion-dollar industry … Meanwhile, effective HIV prevention methods, such as urging Africans to stick to one partner, don’t qualify for lucrative universal-access status.”
The Lancet’s editorial is the latest in with what one British commentator called the “hysterical” reaction of much of the world’s secular media to nearly everything the pope says, no matter how innocent.
Kevin Myers, writing for the Belfast Telegraph, wrote, “Who would be Pope Benedict? The poor German has merely to say ‘good morning’, and the liberal tabloids are shrieking: ‘Thousands dead in Sudan; famine across the world; ecological disaster everywhere – and Hitler Youth Pontiff thinks it’s A GOOD MORNING!’”
He continued, “What is it about sex which so diminishes rational thought?”
“Look. It’s simple,” Myers writes. “As part of an anti-Aids programme, condoms are unnecessary within a sexually continent people – Loreto nuns, say, or married couples who don’t stray from the marital bed.
“But condoms will not prevent the spread of Aids amongst a general population of sexually promiscuous individuals. Even if used conscientiously (which never happens in public health programmes) the best condoms in the world have a failure rate of around 5per cent.”
The result of this is the hard calculation, he says, that “actuarially”, in every group of 20,000 people using condoms, at least 1,000 will fail.
“In time, a very large number of the condom-using group will become infected by Aids. This is not a probability: it is an epidemiological certainty.”