Cardinal Wilifrid Fox Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, told an Australian news program that a change in Catholic teaching on condoms would not change the rate of HIV infection in Africa. Rather, he argued, positive change would result from trusting people to take control of their lives.
"You expect that because people are hearing from bishops, `You must use a condom', that they will do what the bishops say? the cardinal asked his interviewer.
"We have already been preaching all our lives, don't have sex outside of marriage," Cardinal Napier told the SBS Dateline program, according to the Australian Associated Press.
The cardinal, who is visiting Sydney for World Youth Day, said South Africa has the highest rate of condom distribution, but still has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.
He cited the Uganda program against HIV infection as a successful model. There, he said, the HIV prevalence rate was reduced from 29 to 6 percent in ten years with a program that promoted abstinence for unmarried Ugandans and monogamy for couples. The program also issued condoms only to married people.
Cardinal Napier said the Church trusted in people’s ability to control their own lives.
"At the moment, if you go on a policy of condom distribution as the only solution to HIV and AIDS, you are telling people that they cannot take control of their own lives," he said.
"And, therefore, I think you are doing them an injustice by saying: `You are so stupid. Even though this disease is a killer, you cannot take control of your own lives'."