Africa's Bishops Assure Pope of Their Support

Say He Only Reiterated Church Teaching on Condoms

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ACCRA, Ghana, MAY 12, 2009 ( Africa’s bishops are expressing their gratitude to the Pope for having spoken the truth about AIDS and condoms when he was in Africa last March.

Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, the archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the president of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa, issued a statement this week in which he seconded the Pontiff’s comment during a press conference en route to Cameroon that condoms are not the solution for fighting AIDS in Africa.

“Pope Benedict’s position on condom use is not new,” the cardinal said, reported the CISA news service. “He was only reaffirming the Church’s position with regard to the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that sexual abstinence, not condoms, was the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.”

The surest way of fighting HIV is “a responsible and moral attitude toward sex,” he continued. “The Catholic Church advocates fidelity in marriage, chastity and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the fight against AIDS.”

Cardinal Pengo attributed the debate on the Pope’s comment to “some sections of the media who for their own selfish ends will always look for an opportunity to attack the Pope or the Catholic Church.”

He expressed confidence that those who wanted to understand the meaning of the Pope’s message would, and those who did not want to would never understand it: “It is regrettable that his courageous statements have been misinterpreted as out of touch with modern day realities.

“But we members of the Family-of-God in Africa are appreciative of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. We are deeply grateful to him for his pastoral visit to our beloved continent as well as his messages to us and all the people of the continent.

“His visit has enkindled our hope in Christ and we are energized for more commitment to our Christian faith. We assure him of our solidarity and support.”

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