Monday, 23 March 2009

Religion never at fault; women's deaths are collateral damage.

Two young women were crushed to death in a crowded frenzy to enter Coqueiros Stadium in Luanda where the Pope was about to have a meeting with Angolan youths as Benedict XVI pontificated about the evils of systemic corruption, witchcraft and discrimination against women.

There's something about that in the Gospels, is there not?
... And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye, Matthew 7:1-5.

Absent a sense of irony, it seems the Pope floats in a bubble of sublime abstractions and religious ideology, isolated and protected from the harsh realities that Catholic Church followers confront every day.
... at a meeting with female Catholic groups ... He further emphasised “think about those lands where poverty abounds, zones devastated by war, in many tragic situations resulting or not from forced immigration, almost always women keep human dignity intact, they defend the family and uphold the cultural and religious values”.
Thus the top Catholic Church patriarch can patronize and deign to recognize women's contribution ... but upholds the ecclesiastical opinion that only male power reigns supreme in the clergy.

This imperious personal and Catholic Church position has deadly consequences for women in Africa.

The United Nations magazine, Africa Renewal, quotes an expert who participated in a UN survey of AIDS' impact on young African women. She described the conditions under which most young African women contract AIDS as follows:

"[They] are not in a position to abstain. They are not in a position to demand faithfulness of their partners. In many cases they are in fact faithful, but are being infected by unfaithful partners...A woman who is a victim of violence or the fear of violence is not going to negotiate anything, let alone fidelity or condom use ... Her main objective is to get through the day without being beaten up."

The Pope is correct in saying that AIDS cannot be eradicated by condom use alone. Clearly, when young women are raped or otherwise forced into sex against their will, the men abusing them will not commit to use condoms. But instead of offering these women useless verbiage, the Pope could have offered the vast resources of the Church to distribute anti-viral foam to young married women in AIDS-infested areas. Foam is the only form of AIDS prevention that young wives completely control and can use without their husbands' permission.

From here.


Chrystal Ocean said...

Excellent post.

deBeauxOs said...

Merci, Chrystal.

As one radio humourist said recently, the Pope's pronouncements regarding condom use and his other ill-informed opinions do indeed encourage abstinence - from whole-hearted support for the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

The Vatican's increasingly twisted views of what constitutes respect for life and who deserves consideration; not to mention their heightened angst about sex and homosexuality point to some kind of a crisis that is being stifled within the Vatican itself. You gotta wonder how long Catholics are gonna put up with having to deal with their spiritual leaders' personal and existential anxieties about sex and death.

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