The Catholic bishops of the Philippines urged movie stars and artists not to endorse condoms, asking that they remain good examples who safeguard “the morality of the people.”
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Iloilo, who is the former President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), told Radio Veritas that the Church disagrees with the use of artists to promote condoms.
“That is why we are appealing to them not to allow themselves to be used by the Department of Health because as artists, they have a public image that is emulated by people,” he said, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“As public figures, they have an obligation to society to safeguard morality, especially that of the youth who admire them.”
The country’s Department of Health was reportedly planning to use celebrities to promote the use of condoms in an effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral recently reacted to the bishops’ criticism of her department’s free condom distribution campaign by blaming the Church for hindering the effort.
Philippines Health Department records say there are 629 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS in the country, out of a population of about 93 million. Experts say many cases go unreported.
Echoing Archbishop Lagdameo, Bishop of Sorsogon Arturo Bates on Radio Veritas implored celebrities to use their conscience and not be convinced by the Department of Health to support condom use.
In strong language, he described Cabral as a “stubborn woman… leading the innocents to hell.”
The Catholic Church recognizes both extra-marital sexual relations and condom use within marriage as sinful.
While many groups promote condom use to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, some researchers say that reducing the number of sexual partners and encouraging fidelity within marriage are more effective means of HIV prevention. Condom promotion may even be counter-productive insofar as it encourages more sexual activity.
The CBCP has argued that condom ads should be banned on the grounds that they desensitize the consciences of youths and “weaken their moral fiber as future parents.”