Church dismisses claims it backed use of condoms
20 January 2005, MADRID-The Spanish Catholic Church moved to dismiss reports that its position on the use of condoms had changed, insisting the use of contraception was "immoral".
20 January 2005
MADRID-The Spanish Catholic Church moved to dismiss reports that its position on the use of condoms had changed, insisting the use of contraception was "immoral".
It reiterated the Vatican doctrine that sexual abstinence and fidelity were the best protection against Aids.
The move followed reports on Tuesday that it backed the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/Aids, in an apparent break with Rome.
But the Bishops Conference later issued a statement saying: "The only conduct to advise is the responsible exercise of sexuality, in line with the moral norm.
"The statement must be understood within the meaning of Catholic doctrine which says use of condoms implies immoral sexual conduct.
"The Church co-operates efficiently and rationally in the prevention of Aids by advising the education of people on married love which is faithful and open to life, with the aim of avoiding inappropriate, promiscuous relations which give rise to perceived 'risk situations'."
Earlier, the Vatican quietly also reiterated the official line.
Reports had suggested that for the first time the Spanish Roman Catholic church had accepted the use of condoms as part of an integrated strategy in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
"The preservative has its place in the context of the integral and global prevention of AIDS," said the Reverend Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, secretary-general of the Spanish conference of bishops following a meeting with Health Minister Elena Salgado.
The Socialist government in November launched a campaign to promote condom use, and at that time the bishop's conference cast doubt on the efficacy of the policy. Martinez said then that the government "was not completely truthful" about the security of condoms, provoking criticism from the government, scientists and anti-AIDS associations.
But the church, which is at loggerheads with the government over a range of other issues, including gay marriage and divorce, appeared to soften its stand in December, when Martinez wrote to Salgado offering to move toward a common position in the fight against AIDS.
After meeting the minister, Martinez said the church was willing to cooperate and seek understanding with the government to deal with such a grave problem.
However, he stressed the church's commitment to abstinence-even between married couples -and fidelity as the most important means of stopping the epidemic.
Roman Catholic teaching forbids the use of condoms because they are a form of contraception, and the Vatican has repeatedly banned their use.
In 2003, the national centre for epidemiology recorded 130,000 cases of HIV/AIDS among people aged between 15 and 49.
An opinion poll published this week by the ministry of labour indicated that condoms are regularly used by nearly 80 percent of the population.
The Spanish daily El Pais said Martinez' statement was "the first time that a representative of the Spanish church has come out so clearly in favour of the use of preservatives."
The church in Spain, which has a reputation for conservatism and strict alignment with the views of the Vatican, has vigorously criticised other government policies on ethical or moral issues, such as promotion of gay marriages, an easing of restrictions against divorce, the end of compulsory religious education in public schools or support for stem cell research.
Religious practice in Spain is in free-fall according to the labour ministry poll, with just over 14 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 29 defining themselves as practicing Catholics.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news