The war between truth and ideology has broken out again, this time in the field of management of the AIDS crisis, particularly in Africa.
The Record can quite easily, it seems, find a whole double page spread
of clear and factual information in support of Pope Benedict’s words;
but very few other papers, magazines or television news services appear
able to do so. Reading the full text of his speech, it becomes clear
that he is extremely well informed, and compassionate, and speaks out
in an attempt to cut through the ideology and get people to recognise
that pursuit of particular agendas is needlessly prolonging the
epidemic and causing avoidable suffering to millions of people.
The Holy Father seems to have a better grasp of the epidemiology of
AIDS in Africa than many other ‘experts’; it is programs focusing on
monogamy and chastity that have worked most successfully in Africa to
very significantly bring down the numbers of new AIDS victims.
These types of programs have underlying them a belief in the ability of
not necessarily highly educated people, firstly to understand the
nature of the problem they are faced with, and then to take personal
responsibility for the solution.
Unlike the ideology peddlers apparently, the Pope believes that human
beings can change their behaviour in the ways that have been proven to
significantly lessen the spread of AIDS. He is preaching nothing more
than what was, until comparatively recently, understood as very
achievable (in fact, expected in most western societies) human
behaviour – abstinence from sex until marriage, and fidelity to one’s
spouse. This was not just an expectation among religious people; it
was a generally accepted norm of social behaviour. It is only recently
that upholding fidelity and chastity has become ‘hard-line Catholicism’.
Catholic teaching and human truth are not mutually exclusive, as it
would seem many PC ideologues believe. Pope Benedict is not
necessarily preaching hard line Catholicism but a simple human truth
that monogamy and chastity are positive human goods that bring physical
as well as spiritual benefits to those who adhere to them. He is
upholding the dignity of the person as manifested in their ability to
control their own behaviour rather than give in to every physical urge
that might cross their mind.
It is a particularly appropriate message for Lent, but also for all
times and seasons, and for everybody. It is moments like these when the
Pope looks most Christ-like to me. He says nothing but the empirically
supported truth about what is happening in Africa, and is pilloried for
it by all and sundry. He stands up for the poor and helpless whose
suffering is being prolonged by heartless agenda pushers who appear to
care more for political correctness than human mercy, and rouses the
very public and vocal ire of these barrow pushers.
Just like Our Lord, he accepts that his words are hard and inevitably
will make him enemies. But when some he may have expected to support
him do not do so, that makes him REALLY Christ-like – Jesus too was
left with comparatively few who stuck with him through the
bewilderment, fear, agony and humiliation of the Crucifixion.
The Pope is the guardian of God’s truth in this world; he chooses to
tell it without spin doctoring. The world needs to hear the truth
about AIDS in Africa and about a lot of other things. Long may he keep