Vatican daily: Abstinence is the answer when AIDS affects a married couple

Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba
Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba


Moral theologian Father Juan Jose Perez-Soba recently stated that abstinence is the choice a married couple must make when one spouse is infected with AIDS.

The use of the condom in these cases not only poses a moral dilemma, but also an objective health risk, the priest said in a May 24 article in L'Osservatore Romano.

Fr. Juan Jose Perez-Soba is a member of the San Damaso Theology Department in Madrid, Spain and the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome.

“It’s worth noting that while the use of the condom in one sexual act could have some effectiveness in preventing AIDS infection, this does not guarantee absolute reliability, not even in the act in question, and much less over the entire sexual life of a couple,” he explained.

Consequently, the priest continued, “it is inappropriate to recommend the use (of the condom) as an effective means of preventing infection.”

“The numerous campaigns that encourage its indiscriminate use have fed the false belief that there is no danger, and they have ended up increasing the chances of infection,” Fr. Perez-Soba said.

For this reason, “Choosing to use it as a habitual practice shows a lack of responsibility towards the other person.”

Fr. Perez-Soba said the use of the condom also poses an ethical problem. “The sexual act carried out with a condom cannot be considered a fully conjugal act as it has been voluntarily deprived of its intrinsic meanings.”

He noted that according to Catholic teaching, all sexual relations between spouses have two dimensions: the unitive, which makes the spouses “one flesh,” and the procreative, which enables them to have children.

“The condom, acting as a barrier, distorts the realization of the sexual act in every way and deprives it not only of its procreative meaning, by presenting an impediment to fertilization, but also by attacking the meaning of being ‘one flesh’ in the sense of the total gift of self in the spousal union,” he explained.

Fr. Perez-Soba acknowledged the demanding nature of abstinence, but noted that the marriage vows include “the effort to respond with generosity: in this difficult situation, they should commit themselves to the effort they have undertaken and embrace the strength they need to live the truth of their vocation, trusting in God’s grace and seeking out the counsel of the Church, which is there to help them throughout their journey.”

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