08 August 2012

Catholic Bishops in Kenya Angry about Contraception Push

I take back everything bad I said about Bill Gates when I was a nerdy teenager.  His foundation does some wonderfully good things in the developing world, to include a new program to provide money for the distribution of contraceptives within Africa.  Catholic bishops in Kenya, however, are quite irate about it:

“We cannot allow our country to be part of an international agenda, driven by foreign funds and by so doing, losing our independence and our African values of the family and society,” wrote John Cardinal Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference of Bishops in a letter titled Let us Uphold Human Dignity. 
The article that the Bishops wrote against, titled “Kenya joins global birth control push”, mentioned that Kenya is among the countries that have “signed up to a new $4.2 billion (Sh356 billion) drive to promote family planning services”, adding that leaders of more than 20 developing countries made “bold commitments” to address “financing and delivery barriers” that women face who seek contraceptive services and supplies. 
“[T]he use of contraceptives […] is both dehumanizing and goes against the teaching of the church, especially in a country like Kenya where a majority of the people are Christians and God fearing. It already threatens the moral fabric of the society and is an insult to the dignity and integrity of the human person.”

The Catholic Bishops urged all Kenyans and the country’s government leaders that “any development which does not protect the human person is meaningless and in vain.”
The Bishops slammed the program for targeting millions of girls and women in Africa with contraception while “many women are dying daily due to lack of proper medical care, food and housing.”

This entire article is disgusting.  It has been the backward and dogmatic opposition on the part of the Catholic Church that has contributed to the needless misery and suffering of thousands around the developing world, to include Africa.  Kenya in particular has one of the worst HIV/AIDS problems in Africa, with 1.5 million people suffering from HIV/AIDS.  Part of that problem, as has been the case across the developing world, has been the steady opposition of the religious towards the introduction of and advocacy for contraception.   The fact that a Catholic bishop, fresh from decrying the outlaying of funds for contraception, can then turn around and bemoan the fact that nobody is doing enough to provide for women's health shows how either the church is incredibly out of touch at best or disgustingly cynical at worst.

Christopher Hitchens said it best while debating a Catholic bishop:

...I think it will one day be admitted with shame that it might have been in error to say that AIDS is bad as a disease, very bad, but not quite as bad as condoms are bad, or not as immoral in the same way. I say it in the presence of His Grace, and I say it to his face, the teachings of his church are responsible for the death and suffering and misery of his brother and sister Africans, and he should apologise for it, he should show some shame.

The fact that the Catholic Church views even the acknowledgement of human sexuality as such a threat as to require such fanatical and frequently dishonest attacks on contraception shows how morally and ethically bankrupt it is as an institution at this current time.  This is yet another example of how blind religious faith can make somebody who should be morally decent take positions that are morally indefensible.  The Church's hierarchy has the blood of millions on their hands because of their demands that people around the world should ignore reality and the mounting piles of bodies and remain loyal to the bronze-age nonsense they hold to be some divine revelation. Until the Church realizes this, concedes that the preservation of human life is more important than their bizarre hangups about sex and human sexuality, and takes active steps to right the damage they've done, I don't expect to view them as having any sort of moral legitimacy. 

In parting, Stephen Fry had the best response to how the Catholic Church responds to its critics towards the end of the debate I referenced above:
I suppose I’m slightly disappointed that Ann Widdecombe in particular should say “oh, I knew they’d bring up condoms and child rape and homosexuality.” It’s a bit like a burglar in court saying “you would bring up that burglary and that manslaughter, you never mentioned the fact that I gave my father a birthday present.” You know, yes, yes, are you getting the message? There is a reason we hammer home these issues: because they matter. It’s such an opportunity, owning a billion souls at baptism. It’s such an opportunity to do something remarkable, to make this planet better, and it’s an opportunity that is constantly and arrogantly being avoided and I’m sorry for that.

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