Spanish Archbishop Calls AIDS Campaigns Spiritually Harmful
BARCELONA (AP) -- A Spanish Roman Catholic archbishop has condemned anti-AIDS campaigns promoting condom use as contributing to the spiritual and moral ruin of the young.
The archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Ricard Maria Carles, railed against the government media campaigns in a weekly newsletter article sent to parishes in his northeastern Spanish city.
The article comes after the church in Spain elected a particularly conservative leadership at its Bishops Conference earlier in the week.
The cardinal said it was "feeble and deceptive" to promote condom use as a way to engage in safe sex, and railed against what he called authorities' failure to warn the young that this method could fail.
Dr. Francisco Parras, head of the Health Ministry department dealing with AIDS campaigns, said that while he respected the church's right to comment, this would not influence government-sponsored campaigns.
"If this was a society where people didn't have sex, then sexual relations would not be a way of transmitting the HIV virus. But Spain is not like that," Parras said.
According to official figures, there are 53,000 AIDS patients in Spain. Most of them contracted the illness through drug use, with the rate of new cases diagnosed falling sharply in recent years.
The vast majority of Spaniards consider themselves Catholic, although the influence of the church in daily life has been greatly reduced since the country's transition to democracy in the wake of the 1975 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.