Apologetics in Charity and Truth (ACT) is a resource dedicated to providing a reasoned defence of the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church's historical record and her mission in the world with a view to answering the objections and responding to the misconceptions that many people have about the Church and the faith she professes. It is a resource aimed at helping not only Catholics to know and defend their faith but for anyone who wishes to know the truth about the Catholic Church and her teachings.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Condoms, the Church and the AIDS Crisis

Question: It has been said that the best way of preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa is through the distribution of condoms. Why then does the Catholic Church oppose this measure? Is the Church guilty of a grave 'crime against humanity' as a result of her stance?

Answer: The Catholic Church is committed to 'safe sex' and it is through chastity and not condoms that sexual safety is guaranteed. Condoms cannot guarantee 'safe sex' because they do not give total protection either against HIV/AIDS or many other STD's (sexually transmitted diseases). This is widely and openly admitted in scientific circles. In numerous studies condoms have consistently been found to fail. In 1989, a US study conducted at UCLA found that 'more than one in every 200 failed, either allowing water or air to escape, breaking in tensile strength tests or leaking the AIDS virus.' Other scientific studies have put the failure rates at higher. A study in 1992 by Carey and associates found that 'HIV particles leaked through 29 of 89 commercially purchased latex condoms in simulated intercourse.' The World Health Organisation found that 'consistent and correct' condom use reduces the risk of HIV infection by 90%. But that amounts to a 10% failure rate with the virus getting through. Another study, by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (one of the biggest providers of contraceptives and abortion in the world), gives an even higher failure rate at 30%.

On the basis of this evidence it is reasonable to conclude that the use of condoms does not guarantee that the HIV virus will not be passed on. There is therefore no such thing as 'safe sex' when a condom is used and according to Dr. Helen Singer-Kaplan of Cornell University Medical Centre: 'Counting on condoms in flirting with death.' The material from which condoms are made (latex) deteriorates with age and also when exposed to extremely hot and cold conditions. Pores are a problem in a certain percentage of condoms but the main danger with them is breakage or slippage. According to a study in 1996 by Contraceptive Technology which tested 25,184 condoms used during heterosexual intercourse, 4.64% of all condoms tested broke and 3.44% of them either partially or completely slipped off, giving a total of 8.08% or 1 in 12 condoms that failed.

It should be clear by now that it is not the Catholic Church that is irresponsible in opposing the widespread distribution of condoms to tackle the AIDS crisis, but rather it is those governmental agencies and organisations through their vigorous promotion and distribution of condoms who are acting irresponsibly. Total protection against AIDS cannot come from condoms and promoting them as if they guaranteed 'safe sex' is a dangerous lie. Condoms, at best, provide 'safer sex' but without the 100% guarantee that one will be safe. But there is a 'safe sex' programme that does guarantee total protection against all STD's. It is proposed by the Catholic Church and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is a programme that is capable of eliminating the rick of infection from HIV and other STD's. Its called chastity and I will be explaining all about it in the next blog!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


In November of last year, an important televised debate took place in the Methodist Hall in London. The motion of the debate was that 'The Catholic Church is a force for good in the World'. Over 2000 people were gathered in order to hear Ann Widdecombe (MP) and Archbishop Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, debate the issue with two well known atheists: Christopher Hitchens (author of 'God is not Great: How Religion poisons Everything') and the writer and TV personality Stephen Fry. The Catholic side was defeated and comprehensively so. They mounted a stout defence but lost the popular issues.
As a Roman Catholic, I have often been in the position that Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop Onaiyekan were that night - the losing side of the argument! Convinced of the truth of my faith, I have, however, often lost the argument because I was unable to effectively challenge the misconceptions and misinformation that deforms many people's understanding of Catholicism. But out of failure much good can come and over the years I began to study Catholic apologetics so as to be better able to provide a reasoned defence of my Catholic beliefs. I now hope to present these 'reasoned defences' on this blog, with a view to helping others, not only to defend Catholic beliefs and practices, but to be of service to those who have genuine and deep-seated difficulties in reconciling their own convicitions about moral, religious and social matters with the Catholic Church and her teachings.
As a final preliminary point, I have come to appreciate that in order for apologetics to be effective, then it must be coupled with charity. Logical arguments and rational defences are important and necessary, but if charity is absent then the power and persuasiveness of a sound argument is severely compromised. So this blog will not be about polemics but hopefully will actualise the advice of St. Paul and that is the importance of '...speaking the truth in love' (Eph 4:15).
Here ends the prologue! ACT 1 to soon follow!