GENEVA, May 14, 2004 ( – A UN official in charge of AIDS prevention has denied that the Catholic Church opposes the use of condoms. Taking the dissenting views of a small number of commentators as representative of official Catholic policy, he said that there is “hot debate” in the Vatican over the use of condoms. UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot, said that he had been assured by Vatican sources that the Church had not made a definitive statement. “What I was told repeatedly is that the church has no competence on the quality of materials including the quality of latex,” he said.  The Catholic teaching on the dignity of human sexuality is clearly laid out in dozens of magisterial documents, some dating as far back as the early centuries of the Christian era. The Catholic Church has never made claims to be expert in chemical engineering or latex manufacture, it does, however claim competence in moral theology which is the central issue in its critique of the use of condoms for AIDS prevention. Catholic officials make use of scientific experts in a multitude of areas in forming their public statements. Moreover, the Catholic Church has always opposed the use of barrier methods of birth regulation, regardless of the material of which they are made.  Furthermore, Vatican officials are critical of the claims of condom manufacturers that the porous nature of latex is proof against the tiny AIDS virus. Last year Alphonso Cardinal Trujillo, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, told an interviewer, “The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” The cardinal’s comments unleashed a storm of media derision, led by the World Health Organization, accusing the Catholic Church of scientific ignorance. However, it is an easily verifiable fact that latex is a porous substance.  Attempting to prove the existence of Catholic “debate,” Piot was quoted saying, that there were clergy in the field who themselves distribute condoms and reiterated the accusation against Trujillo calling his statements “unscientific” and making the claim that the Catholic position is “putting people’s lives in danger” by encouraging abstinence over condom use.


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