Despite media reports around the world that the bishops of Spain have thrown their support behind condoms as a means of preventing AIDS, the statements by the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference of Spain, which are the source of the reports, reiterate the Catholic position that abstinence and fidelity must be promoted in order to stop AIDS.
Father Juan Martinez Camino, spokesman for the bishops, held a meeting with the Health Minister, Elena Salgado, to discuss the issue of AIDS prevention. Speaking to the press, Father Martinez stated that the Church is “very concerned about and interested in” this “grave problem,” and he maintained that the position of the bishops, made know on repeated occasions, in favor of abstinence and fidelity, “is also backed up by scientific evidence.”
In this way Father Martinez referred to the so-called “ABC Strategy,” which was the subject of the medical magazine “The Lancet” last November, which revealed that 150 experts from 36 countries for the first time acknowledged that the promotion of abstinence and fidelity should be taken into account in AIDS prevention campaigns.
The ABC Strategy proposes “a common foundation” for the prevention of AIDS, with the letters standing for abstinence, be faithful, and condoms. Father Martinez was reported to have told the Health Minister that the Church is against the systematic and unilateral generalization of the condom as the only method of prevention. According to Father Martinez, the meeting was characterized by a “very extensive and cordial” dialogue that only concerned the current medical and social status of the disease.
Likewise, the said the meeting convinced him that there are certain prejudices against the position of the Church on AIDS prevention and that collaboration by “everybody from their respective areas and responsibilities is what is needed to try to solve a very serious problem such as this in Spain and in the world.”
Father Martinez explained that he requested the meeting “in order to understand well the positions (of the government) on the matter” and to find ways to collaborate. “This is our desire and I hope that the future will take us down this path,” he said.
Salgado, on the other hand, insisted that the Church should not question the validity of using condoms as AIDS prevention, because she says there are international organizations that endorse them.