Published on October 2, 2007 at 4:40 PM
Comments made last week by Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Mozambique, that two European countries make condoms deliberately tainted with HIV as part of a plan "to finish quickly the African people" are "lunatic theories" and "baseless allegations," a Los Angeles Times editorial says (Los Angeles Times, 9/29).
Chimoio declined to name the countries or identify the source of the allegations and said that abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV. He added that a "new mentality" is necessary to fight HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. "It means marriage, people being faithful to their wives ... (and) young people must be abstaining from sexual relations," Chimoio said.
About 17.5% of Mozambicans are Catholic and Chimoio is well-respected in Mozambique, in part because of his work as a mediator during a 16-year civil war, which ended in 1992. More than 16% of the 19 million people living in Mozambique are HIV-positive, and about 500 new cases are recorded daily (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/28).
"Almost as stunning as the archbishop's baseless allegations, however, has been the clarion silence from the Vatican," the editorial says, adding that Chimoio's comments have been "translated, ridiculed and lambasted throughout the world. So why haven't his superiors publicly corrected the musings of this preposterous prelate?" Chimoio's "rant ... veers beyond adherence to church doctrine and into an inducement to panic, one that the Vatican should silence."
According to the Times, "European colonialism bears much of the blame for the economic, political and social evils that plague the country," which "suffered 475 years of oppression under Portuguese rule." However, "for thwarting the use of condoms to halt the spread of HIV in Africa, it's not Portugal that's the knowing author of harm, it's Vatican City," the Times concludes (Los Angeles Times, 9/29).