BY PETER KRANZ
READERS MIGHT FIND IT INFORMATIVE to learn that, with 1.28 percent of its adult population estimated by the UN to be HIV -positive in 2006, Papua New Guinea has one of the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemics in the Asia-Pacific subregion.
The figure is substantially higher six years down the track, with PNG leaders' history of promiscuity and polygamy substantially worsening the problem, as mentioned by Dame Carol Kidu in her closing address to Parliament this week.
As if the Catholic Church’s medieval prohibitions against any birth control (apart from abstinence) were not bad enough, it has again condemned the use of public sexual education promoting condom use as 'anti-Christian'.
The PNG Education Department's new HIV/AIDS policy calls for condoms to be supplied to fight a high rate of infection among students.
But the Secretary for Education with the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, says the new requirement clashes with Catholic teaching on sexuality, and the church will not obey it.
The head of the Vanimo Catholic diocese, Bishop Cesare Bonivento, has said the use of condoms is like “a gun that instead of killing the enemy, very often exploded in the hands of the one who wanted to use it for personal defence.” He said in reality the condom was not protection but a killer.
Bishop Paul Marx of the Diocese of Kerema insists that an Australian National AIDS Council campaign "is sending out the wrong message that promiscuity is the normal, ordinary way of life.… By distributing condoms all over the place it will facilitate even further that promiscuity, which is the main breeding ground of HIV/AIDS."
Then there was the laughable argument promoted by a senior Catholic official of the Department of Health a few years ago that condoms have holes which actually promote the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus - which received prominent attention in the national media, and misled thousands.
Catholics of PNG - it's time to stand up for human rights and the lives of women and children, not the blind support of ancient religious dogma (written and promoted by men 1,000 years ago seeking to retain their power).
It is time to work to save living souls instead of condemning thousands to an early grave, and tens of thousands to a repeated cycle of poverty and misery through lack of family planning.
Further reading at the Radio Australia website here