The other day I had a conversation with an aid worker who had been working for a secular NGO in Angola. Janice was telling me the Angolan women were stuck with raising the kids.
"The father just supplies the seed," Janice said.
As the Pope was speaking in Anglola that day, I asked Janice how the people at her NGO had reacted to news of the impending visit of the Pontiff.
"'Why doesn't he just stay home!?' was the reaction of my colleague in the family planning department. My colleague said that the Pope was about to undo years and years of hard work trying to convince Africans to practice birth control."
Due to decades of civil war, until 2003 Angola was pretty much cut off from the outside world. One positive effect of this hellish history is that this has meant less frequent contact with foreigners, reducing the spread of AIDS (though accurate statistics on this would presumably be hard to come by, as even the actual population of Angola remains something of a mystery). Nevertheless, it would seem self-evident that the last thing war-ravaged Angola needs is more mouths to feed.
Picking up a Capetown paper today, I saw that that NGO workers' worst fears had been realized. In a speech yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI had declared:
"You can't resolve it [Aids] with the distribution of condoms," the pope said. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
According to one news source, this statement marked the first time this Pope had come out flatly against condom use. For the Pope to be against the use of condoms by impoverished Africans is bad enough, but to have claimed that condom use "increases the problem" seems simply outrageous.
It is not condoms, but busybody priests who have increased Africa's problems. The Pope should have stayed home.