By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, October 31, 2005 ( – On November 10, 2005, Toronto’s St. Michael’s CathedralÂwill be holding a fundraiser for an event sponsored by St. Michael’s Catholic Hospital to provide “‘Life with Dignity’ to peopleÂaffected by HIV/AIDS in the developing world.” However, Catholics and pro-family groups are concerned that the St. Michael’s Hospital fundraising project, called “Angels in Africa”, contravenes the teaching of the Catholic Church and the best health options for people threatened with AIDS by promoting condom usage.

The Angels in Africa campaign, according to the Catholic hospital website, is to fund a joint project of “Dignitas International and St. Michael’s Hospital”. The two organizations “have launched a community care model” for dealing with AIDS in Africa. ( see the web page: )

That community care model is described in a brochure, also available on the Catholic hospital’s website, which notes that the program is based on three “key elements”, the first of which is “Treatment, Care and Support.” Under this key element, the brochure notes specifically that the program involves the distribution of condoms.“Treatment and prevention of Opportunistic Infections and Sexually Transmitted Infections, including the distribution of condoms,” it says. (see the PDF brochure online: ) spoke with Jane Fleming, the Operations Manager at the Cathedral who confirmed that a fundraising concert featuring the Toronto Welsh Male Choir would be held at the Cathedral. Fleming said that the event would raise funds for Dignitas International which she described as an arm of the Catholic hospital.

From the website of Dignitas, it appears that Dignitas is indeed an arm of the Catholic hospital since the site notes that for donations to Dignitas International, “A tax receipt will be issued by St. Michael’s Hospital”. (see: )

Fleming also admitted that she had heard that the Dignitas International program included condom distribution, however, for comment on that subject she suggested calling the hospital or the Archdiocese of Toronto. Calls to St. Michael’s Hospital and the Archdiocese of Toronto were not returned by press time.

St. Michael’s Hospital is no stranger to Catholic controversy. In 1999 the Catholic hospital was an official financial sponsor of the 1999 gay pride week in Toronto. (see coverage: )

Beyond the fact that the Catholic Church officially opposes condom distribution, observers are wondering why the Catholic organizations would be pursuing a program of condom distribution when such methods have been blamed forÂworsening the AIDS crisis in Africa rather than stemming it.ÂÂ

Dr. Margaret Ogola isÂthe executive Director of the Family Life Counselling Association of Kenya, and medical director of the Cottolenga Hospice for HIV-positive orphans.ÂAt the 1999 at the World Congress of Families in Geneva Dr. Ogola statedÂthat the distribution of millions of condoms, which she reported have a failure rate of “about 30 percent”, has not only failed to stem the spread of disease but has also broken down delicate tribal taboos against promiscuous sexual behavior. Ogola noted that Western propaganda efforts have convinced millions of young Africans that sex with condoms is “safe sex”-with devastating effects. In an interview sheÂsaid, “The disbelief and shock in the reaction of young people when I tell them they have AIDS is heart-breaking. ‘But it was SAFE sex!’, they tell me.”

Researchers have described condoms as encouraging a type of “Russian roulette” with the deadly AIDS virus. Last year, Dr. Norman Hearst of the University of California – San Francisco revealed statistics on Kenya, Botswana, and other countries, which show an increasingly alarming pattern of increased condom sale correlation with rising HIV prevalence by year. Hearst stated, we are “raising a generation of young people in Africa that believe that condoms will prevent HIV.” This is concerning, he said, because condoms are not 100% effective, even when used properly. According to Hearst, “the most recent Meta analysis came up with 80%, but even if it is 90%, over time it’s the question of when, not if.” (see the coverage: )

To respectfully express your concerns:

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic
  His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic
  Archbishop of Toronto
  Catholic Pastoral Centre
  1155 Yonge Street
  Toronto, Ontario M4T 1W2
  Phone: (416) 934-0606 Fax: (416) 934-3452
[email protected]

St. Michael’s Hospital contact info: