A dissident Catholic group told the Vatican it should reverse the Catholic Church's stance on condom use because it's been catastrophic, but the Vatican has, predictably, dismissed the allegation.
The group – made up of people from Britain, France and Canada, among others – sent an open letter to Pope Ratzinger on the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae ("On the regulation of birth").
The signatories say the effects of ban by the Vatican on artificial birth control had been "catastrophic", especially in poor countries of the world.
The letter criticises a stance it says "puts the lives of women in danger and exposes millions of people to the risk of contracting the AIDS virus".
But a spokesman for Ratzo, Father Federico Lombardi, dismissed the letter as "paid-for propaganda in favour of the use of contraceptives" and said the groups, who were "well known" to the Vatican for their views that ran contrary to church teachings, represented "nothing new".
"In addition the harshest accusation, that the Catholic position causes the spread of AIDS, and thus pain and death while obstructing enlightened health policies, is manifestly unfounded," Lombardi has told Vatican Radio.
"The spread of AIDS is completely independent from the religious faith of populations and of the influence of the clergy, while polices against AIDS based on the distribution of condoms have largely failed," Lombardi said.
This is in spite of evidence that condoms can be a protection against the passing-on of infectious diseases (as well as sperm), and in spite of the fact that those Catholics who obey the Vatican will not be using condoms. So how can it be independent from religious faith?
And "paid-for propaganda"? Is he really saying that commercial condom manufacturers are sponsoring this letter? Even if that were so, how would he know?