Purpose of intercourse needs revision
John Fleming uses statistics to impress the negative of condom use. Breakage: Studies indicate that 93.3 per cent to 99.5 per cent of condoms do not break. This indicates that there is a need to improve quality control in some productions but most likely not all. Slippage: The figures show that from 83.4 per cent to 99.9 per cent do not slip. The slippage could be rectified by education. Penetration: The figures are very variable but Voeller et al had a non-leakage rate of 99.1 per cent to 78.2 per cent. This very strongly points to poor manufacturing standards. According to Hatcher and Hughes quoted in his paper, condom use prevented transmission of the virus in 82 per cent of cases. These figures suggest that there is a need for better supervision of manufacturing and usage to improve the disease control.
The biggest problem for the Church is its view of the purpose of intercourse. The present view is related to times when life expectancy was some 35 years, the world needed more workers and menopause was not a state reached by all women. Nowadays there is a need to control population growth and maintain and strengthen the marriage bond. The whole area needs to be reviewed to reassess the purpose of intercourse. This can only be done with a group of people approaching the problem with an open mind, something that will be difficult to achieve in a Roman controlled Church.
Anthony P. Millar MB, FRACP, Double Bay, NSW
It is all in the purpose
As a long-standing Catholic chemist, I can remember the introduction of the ‘pill’ and the ethical problem it presented to us. To dispense or not to dispense, that was the question. Fortunately, it could be used for other medical conditions (eg irregular periods), and so the church authorities told us that we could dispense so long as we did not know it was being used as a contraceptive (don’t laugh!!!) So, it was not the ‘pill’ as such that was proscribed, but the use of it as a contraceptive.
Surely this is the case with condoms as well. If married couples are using them as prevention against AIDS, there can be no moral objection as the intention is not contraception. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate. At Uni, one of my fellow Pharmacy students was apprenticed at Kings Cross, a notorious red light area. He explained to his boss that as a conscientious Catholic he could not sell contraceptives and his boss was happy to accommodate this. On one occasion an attendant in a white coat rushed into the shop and asked for three packets of condoms. My friend explained he could not supply them. As the angry attendant walked out of the shop the boss asked what the trouble was. Our CC again explained he could not sell contraceptives. “You fool,” said the boss. “He is a nurse at the local large hospital and they use the condoms over the stubs of amputees limbs to keep them dry while washing!” So you see it’s all in the proposed use.
By the way, I find it hard to take seriously an edict of the Church promulgated in the 11th century to counter a teaching of the Gnostic Dualists, which could hardly be applied to today’s world.
Bill Dunkley, Kingsgrove, NSW
The indefensible can't be defended
The indefensible can't be defended - that's the reality that Dr John Fleming, the President of Campion College Australia, needs to accept, however reluctantly. I refer to his OC Letter "Church defends AIDS condom position" of 22/3/06.
As someone much wiser than I said aeons ago: The more often you say it, the more often people will believe it… regardless of the inaccuracy that you're peddling. And that's the case with Dr Fleming's contribution. It continues, wilfully, to reiterate the inaccuracies that the Vatican has trotted out before. I would have expected much better from an academic, but I was very deeply disappointed.
Dr Fleming has also committed the cardinal sin of misquoting those people he's actually quoted to support his comments. Sadly, the weary may accept them at face value and that's very wrong. If Online Catholic readers want to browse the whole scene: who said what, and when, and in full, then I invite you to visit the Catholic AIDS Ministry page in the ABOUT US area of our www.aids.net.au website. It's all there and it's unabridged.
1.Recalling the 2003 BBC Vatican/Condom Report
2.Recalling the 2004 BBC Report "Can condoms kill?"
Brian Haill, President, The Australian AIDS Fund Inc., Frankston, Vic.
Let’s get some real work on the problem done
The use of OLC as a defacto rallying point/website of The Australian AIDS Fund Inc, is becoming a significant turnoff.
Rev. Dr Fleming's response is certainly both informative and authorative. However, the reality is that in the absence of families or societies able to reign in the sexual excesses of our population either by moral persuasion or harm minimisation - or more importantly, by reducing the economic factors associated with the exploitation of children and women - for most HIV/Aids sufferers death from this disease is not the issue, but, merely the means to the same end.
Poverty of social and economic development that facilitates rampant and irresponsible sexual expression is the problem, and condoms do not provide an answer for the psychology that trivialises sexuality as merely a recreational activity or worse still, an occasion of violence or economic necessity.
Recent reports of aid workers and military 'protectors' in the Solomon Islands and its poorer families selling their daughters should bring shame to us all. Let's start getting some work done on this issue rather than flogging flaccid ideologies on condoms.
Greg Briscoe-Hough, Mortdale, NSW
I have no problem with John Collins’ church. (Church of my dreams, OLC issue #96)
I have a great problem with "gated" communities. They say in their very structure: "We are exclusive. We do not want anyone different from us in our surroundings. Keep Out".
Catholic communities may receive criticism for being unfriendly, but our churches are still in the mainstream community, often among the marginalised. The doors are often open at least in the daytime. Besides many of our church communities do try to be inclusive even if they do not always succeed.
I have a similar problem with very large aged-care facilities, especially when they include villas. In such "facilities", older people are isolated from, or can isolate themselves from, the mainstream community. We have closed orphanages and institutions for people with mental illness and developmental difficulties (thank God) and have opened, with great fanfare, pseudo-institutions for older people and others who wish to see themselves as better than the rest of us.
Certainly we would hope that the Catholic Church would minister to everyone, but to do so by confirming exclusivity seems a little unchristian to me.
Sheelah Egan, Hughes, ACT
Could obedience be more of a hindrance than celibacy?
The article 'Obedience - a questionable virtue' (OLC issue # 96) may provide further thought about the current dearth of priestly and religious vocations in Australia. Much emphasis has been placed on celibacy as the reason for lack of enthusiasm in embracing Religious life. In speaking to several who are, or who were, or who might be Religious or Priests, and in reflecting on my own experience, I am convinced that the vow of obedience may be more of a deterrent to educated aspirants than either the vows of poverty or chastity.
While many, if not most, Bishops and Religious Superiors are men and women of wisdom and experience capable of fostering the spiritual growth and personal development of those who have vowed obedience to them, there are sufficient horror stories about the few who lack these qualities to give pause for thought about taking up a religious vocation.
When some religious superiors impose their will to infantilise, or even psychically mutilate their subordinates in the name of the powerful authority of God and the Church for their own spiritual good and the benefit of their Institutions, the experiments of Milgram which shocked those of us who first heard of them do not appear incredible. And their unfortunate subordinates who have been conditioned to believe that servile submission contrary to all common sense is synonymous with virtue and that disobedience results in damnation are powerless to act otherwise than bidden.
Anecdotes are numerous both in secular and religious experiences to show that there are times when obedience is in fact a questionable virtue.
Brian Monro, Marion, SA
An Episcopal vacancy has occurred …
I was happy to read Ann Long's response (Letters, OLC issue #96) to my item on Electing Bishops? (OLC issue #95). As a result I felt inspired to suggest a job description for Bishops.
An Episcopal vacancy has occurred in the South-east Region of Austcity. This will be filled under the protocol established by the Archdiocese. Interested priests are invited to apply.
The job description is:-
Applicants must be under the age of 70.
Applications must be submitted within 21 days, after which the Archdiocesan Committee (composed of lay people and parish clergy) will shortlist six applicants to go forward. Registered Catholics will receive ballot papers and instructions by mail. The process will be completed by the city accounting firm, Smith and Murphy, after which the result will be published as required under the protocol.
George Ripon, Hughesdale, Vic.