Vatican Deplores Belgium's Criticism of Pontiff

Denounces Attempt to Silence Pope’s Moral Teaching

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2009 ( The Vatican Secretariat of State is expressing regret at the Belgian parliament’s protest related to Benedict XVI’s statement on his recent trip to Africa, about condoms and fighting AIDS.

On April 2, the parliament passed a proposal demanding that the government launch an official protest against the Pontiff for his comments to journalists, calling his words «unacceptable.» Frank de Coninck, the country’s ambassador to the Holy See, delivered the official condemnation on Wednesday to Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.

A communiqué released Friday by the Vatican secretariat reported: «The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium, acting under instructions from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has informed the Secretary for Relations with States of the resolution with which the House of Representatives in his country asked the Belgian Government to ‘condemn the unacceptable statements of the Pope on the occasion of his journey to Africa and to protest officially to the Holy See.’ The meeting took place on 15 April 2009.»

The statement continued: «The Secretariat of State notes with regret this action, unusual in the context of the diplomatic relations existing between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Belgium.

«It deplores the fact that a Parliamentary Assembly should have thought it appropriate to criticize the Holy Father on the basis of an isolated extract from an interview, separated from its context, and used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the Pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the Church’s doctrine.

«As is well known, the Holy Father, in answer to a question concerning the efficacy and the realistic character of the Church’s positions on combating AIDS, stated that the solution is to be sought in two directions: on the one hand through bringing out the human dimension of sexuality; and on the other, through true friendship and willingness to help persons who are suffering.

«He also emphasized the commitment of the Church in both these areas. Without this moral and educational dimension, the battle against AIDS will not be won.»

Africa’s appreciation

The statement acknowledged: «While in some European countries an unprecedented media campaign was unleashed concerning the predominant, not to say exclusive, value of prophylactics [such as condoms] in the fight against AIDS, it is consoling to note that the moral considerations articulated by the Holy Father were understood and appreciated, in particular by the Africans and the true friends of Africa, as well as by some members of the scientific community.

«As one can read in a recent statement of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa: ‘We are grateful for the message of hope which [the Holy Father] came to entrust to us in Cameroon and Angola.

«‘He came to encourage us to live in unity, reconciled with one another in justice and peace, so that the Church in Africa can herself be a burning flame of hope for the life of the entire continent. And we thank him for having restated for all, in a nuanced, clear and insightful way, the common teaching of the Church concerning the pastoral care of sufferers from AIDS.'»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation