Letters to the Editor
CAFOD & Condoms
October 6, 2004
Re: Ann Smith and CAFOD’s HIV stand
Dear Ms Pepinster
In a letter to me in 2002 Bishop Rawsthorne claimed that CAFOD neither provides or promotes condoms. However, this claim is now contradicted by Ann Smith’s recently published article in The Tablet September 25, 2004, entitled ‘Where CAFOD stands, in which she states that CAFOD has been pursuing its policy on HIV and condoms, with its partner organisations, for over 20 years.
Ann Smith states that the issue of how best to deal with HIV prevention has deeply divided those working in this field yet Ms Smith’s article does not answer any of the serious concerns raised by United for Life, the Linacre Centre, the Guild of Catholic Doctors report on CAFOD’s condom policy and concerns raised by the natural family planning group NIOMI. In fact, it is CAFOD’s policy on condoms which divides the Catholic community instead of uniting it with the authentic teaching of Rome.
Ann Smith states that CAFOD believes in an "ABC" - abstain, be faithful, use a condom - approach to HIV prevention. One cannot promote both chastity and condoms. One contradicts the other and to try to force these two opposites together is schizophrenic, un-Christian and anti-Catholic. CAFOD’s article goes on to ridicule those who promote chastity only programmes as being ‘religious hijackers fuelled by prejudice’ and accuses them of being ‘simplistic’. Such accusations require an apology from both the Bishops and from CAFOD staff.
Sadly, the claim by Ann Smith to have her position supported by some moral theologians and cardinals is not evidence that CAFOD is compliant with authentic Catholic teaching. We also note that CAFOD supports the views of dissenting theologians and cardinals on the issue of the use of condoms.
We can only conclude that the Bishops of England and Wales have either lost control of policy making at CAFOD or they are complicit in its policy of condom promotion and, as a consequence, Catholics can no longer be expected to fund or support CAFOD. Such a policy on condoms calls for the immediate dismissal from CAFOD of all those responsible for this condom policy including the immediate dismissal of Ann Smith.
Chris Mason, Co-ordinator, United for Life