Spanish bishops: Church’s teaching on condoms has not changed

The Bishops Conference of Spain issued a press release this week clarifying statements made by the body’s spokesman, Father Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, which the press interpreted as official Church support for condom use to prevent AIDS.  In their statement, the bishops maintained that, “It is not true that the teaching of the Church on condoms has changed.”

The bishops said that Father Martinez met with Health Minister Elena Salgado to “discuss the best way to work together in the prevention of the AIDS pandemic.  It’s an issue that concerns the Church, Catholics, and the ecclesial institutions that work, most especially, in Spain and in the whole world, in the area of social and health care for those affected by this disease.”

According to the statement, Father Martinez spoke with Salgado about “the prevention program known as the ABC Strategy and proposed by prestigious scientists and experts of international stature.  (See the magazine The Lancet from November 2004).  The advice of experts is that, in order for prevention policies regarding the transmission of AIDS through sexual contact to be complete and efficient, they should be based on abstinence, fidelity and condom use—in that order.  This is also affirmed by the World Health Organization.”

The statement clarifies that Salgado was told that “reports that claim that the Church, in promoting the correct use of human guided by the virtue of chastity, is going against scientific recommendations regarding the prevention of the spread of AIDS.  On the contrary, abstinence from undue sexual relations, and mutual fidelity between spouses, constitute the only universal safe conduct in the face of the danger of AIDS.  Recommendations by experts in public health agree in this sense with the moral teaching of the Church.”

Likewise, the bishops point out that at the end of their meeting, Father Martinez Camino “responded briefly to reporters who were waiting for him” that “the use of condoms has its place in the program called the ABC Strategy, which is an integral technical prevention plan against AIDS.  This statement should be understood in the sense of the Catholic teaching that maintains that the use of the condom implies immoral conduct.”

“For this reason, the Church collaborates effectively and sensibly in the prevention of AIDS, promoting the education of people in conjugal love that is faithful and open to life, trying in this sense to avoid undue and promiscuous relationships, which lead to so-called ‘risky health situations.’  Based on these principles, it is not possible to recommend the use of condoms, as it is contrary to the morality of the person.  The only thing that is truly recommendable is the responsible exercise of sexuality according to the moral law,” the statement concludes.

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