Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 10 Mar 2013
In Nigeria, United Nations figures indicate an estimated 3.5 million people have contracted HIV/AIDS. The front line against infection, after marital fidelity, is the use of condoms to halt the spread of disease.
This presents a moral dilemma for many Catholics, since their church’s official teaching condemns artificial contraception.
But now Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan has argued that moral questions regarding the use of condoms should perhaps depend on their use. It may not be morally right to prevent conception of Catholic babies, but it may be right to use contraceptives to prevent HIV infection.
We can be fairly certain that Cardinal Onaiyekan won’t be elected by his brother Cardinals as the next pope. But he makes an important point: harm minimization and public health are vital elements of the church’s moral vision, and what is judged to be right must sometimes give way to what is known to be good.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.