Thursday, March 26, 2009

For Good Reason

Ross Douthat offers an excellent rebuttal to those trying to lay the blame for the spread of AIDs in Africa at the feet of the Pope:

In the interim, though, I would suggest that he take a step back and consider that Benedict XVI is the head of an international institution that does as much to fight disease and poverty as any NGO in the world. The Church runs hospitals, clinics, and schools; it channels hundred of millions of dollars in donations from the developed world to the wretched of the earth; it supports thousands upon thousands of priests, nuns and laypeople who work in some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions in the world.

And it does so based on the same premises--an attempt to be faithful to the commandments of Jesus Christ--that undergird the Pope's insistence on preaching chastity, rather than promoting prophylactics.

There are many other NGOs working in Africa that proceed from different premises, and take a different attitude toward matters sexual as a result, and if David Rothkopf prefers their approach that's perfectly understandable. But unless he's willing to tell the Catholic Church that it should fold up its charitable operations in the developing world and go home, I'd prefer to be spared the lectures on how the Pope is responsible for "massive death and suffering" among populations for whom Catholic institutions have provided lifelines beyond counting over the years, just because he isn't willing to to use his pulpit to preach the importance of playing it as safe as possible, health-wise, while you're committing what the Church considers mortal sin.

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