I assume that Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who died on Saturday, believed in an afterlife. I wonder if he’s given any thought to the millions of people he’ll meet in that afterlife who died young of AIDS because they didn’t use condoms. Some didn’t use condoms because they don’t like them, perhaps. Some because condoms weren’t easily available. Some because they have been taught that condoms are wicked. And some because they believe that condoms don’t prevent disease anyway, so what’s the point? Trujillo was, perhaps more than anyone else, responsible for three out of those last four reasons. Together, they have contributed to around 20 million preventable deaths.
The ultra-conservative Trujillo was president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and he like to poke holes in condoms. He did this most famously in a BBC interview in 2003, as I describe in the Wisdom of Whores:
The Vatican clearly believes condoms are the work of the devil. And they are perfectly willing to claim that black is white to dissuade people from using them. “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon,” Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, told the BBC’s Panorama programme in 2003. “The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” This man, who wears a dress and presides over the Family Council of a state with no women and no children, believes that sperm can pass through a condom. He may also believe that a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, but there has never been a recorded instance of either thing happening. Condoms occasionally burst — up to ten percent of the time if they have been stored badly or are used incorrectly — and then anything can get through them. But properly used, a condom holds water, it holds semen, it holds sperm and it hold viruses. Fewer than two percent of heterosexuals who are infected with HIV pass the virus on to their long-term partners if they always use condoms, compared with 10 to 18 percent of those who don’t always use condoms.
Conservative Catholics mourn for the Cardinal; some lionize his record as a book-burner. Others find less to cry over in his passing, and are even jubilant. Pope Benedict himself will, according to The New York Times, “celebrate a funeral Mass for Cardinal Trujillo after his return on Monday from a visit to the United States”.
I second the celebration.
says . While death is rarely a cause for celebration, there are many who will not mourn the passing of