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The following letter is from our advisory panel member, Dr. John Shea, to the Toronto Catholic Register, re its August insert, "The Church & AIDS".

[Reporter] Michael Swan, in his article, "Church caught up in condom conundrum," in the Catholic Register insert, August 2006, states that "There is no official Church position on the use of condoms to prevent transmission of a virus, or on the use of condoms outside marriage." This statement is incorrect.

Pope John Paul II told a group of priests on March 1, 1997 that "Contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason, justified."

[Mr. Swan quotes] Father James F. Keenan, S.J., Father Jon Fuller, S.J., and Sister Mary Owens [...] as saying that the moral principle of double effect justifies the use of a condom by a married couple, one of whom is infected with HIV. This statement is also incorrect.

Any act which has a double effect may only be used if that act is either an intrinsically good act, or at least morally neutral. Contraception is intrinsically evil. Therefore the principle of double effect cannot be used to justify contraception.

Sister Owens [is] said to recommend the use of the condom by a couple, one [member] of whom is HIV positive. The efficacy of a condom for birth control is determined by probability of a pregnancy for women whose sexual partners always use a condom.

The effectiveness of a condom used for birth control refers to the probability of pregnancy under actual conditions of use including condom breakage (6.64%), slippage (3.44%), and human error. The condom is much less effective in preventing the spread of HIV than it is in preventing pregnancy. There is no such thing as "safe sex" with an HIV-positive person.

The moral and medical advice quoted in this article is incorrect and dangerous. The Catholic Register should publish a retraction of this erroneous information.

Toronto, ON
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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