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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope's comments on HIV and condoms

Pope Benedict XVI 35%

The pope's maiden voyage to Africa is in danger tonight of being overshadowed by condemnation of his rejection of condoms as a way to fight HIV/Aids, with a succession of European countries as well as Aids campaigners warning his stance could cost lives and undermine public health.

A day after Pope Benedict XVI prefaced his visit to Cameroon and Angola by saying the "scourge" of HIV could be made worse, not better, by the distribution of condoms, France, Germany and Belgium criticised his message as irresponsible. The UNAids agency said condoms were a vital part of the battle against HIV, which infects more than 7,000 people a day.

The Vatican sought to defuse the row, explaining that the pope wanted to emphasise responsible sexual conduct. It sought to tweak his original remarks in a version posted on the Holy See's website. According to journalists present, he originally said the Aids problem "cannot be overcome with the distribution of condoms which, on the contrary, increase the problem". But in the Vatican's version, his words became: "The scourge cannot be resolved with the distribution of prophylactics; on the contrary, the risk is of increasing the problem."

The pope also used his speech to voice concerns about the impact. of modernity and secularisation on the traditional African family, telling the bishops to promote the understanding that marriage is indissoluble.

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by Riazat Butt

See  Guardian


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