Pope's comments on Africa


Madam, – When Pope Benedict XVI speaks on issues of sexual morality sections of the media go into a frenzy of disparagement. When he highlights issues of social justice, as he did when he introduced the working document for the Synod of Bishops for Africa at Mass in Yaounde, Cameroon on March 19th, the media largely ignore what he says.

That document, which grew out of an extensive consultation with all the dioceses in Africa, criticises multinational corporations that continue to “systematically invade the continent in search of natural resources”. It points out that Africa’s rights are infringed by nations seeking control of its enormous mining reserves.

It issues a strong warning against thinking that genetically modified crops will solve Africa’s food crisis. Using GM crops risks ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of sharing seeds and makes farmers dependent on production companies. Why are these important and pertinent insights ignored by the media? – Yours, etc,

Fr SEÁN McDONAGH, Navan, Co Meath.

Madam, — Vincent Twomey (Opinion, March 25th) cites prominent academics and recent scientific studies in support of the Catholic Church’s policy on Aids prevention.

Fair enough; but should we then expect the Church to modify or abandon its views if future evidence shows that condoms in fact are an effective way of reducing the prevalence of Aids?

I think not: as the article admits, the position of the Catholic Church is “immovable” and stands “irrespective of the circumstances”.

It seems that this is another example of the Church, which has an essentially ideological and dogmatic view of things, cherry-picking scientific evidence and rational argument when they fit with conclusions that have already been reached.

Such disingenuousness and intellectual dishonesty won’t help if we are seriously to address the many challenges the world faces, including the spread of Aids. – Yours, etc,

COLM KELLEHER, Glasheen, Cork.

Madam, – I rejoice with Michael P. Kelly (March 24th) at the availability of foreign-language newspapers in Dublin.

His criticism of Mary B. O’Shea (March 21st) for reporting Pope Benedict as saying condoms “increase the problem” of Aids, however, is completely unfounded, as is his assertion that the Pope said condoms “risk” making the problem worse.

The interview in question with Pope Benedict was printed in the newspaper Corriere della Seraon March 17th and the disputed sentence in the original Italian reads: “E non si può superare questo dramma con la distribuzione di preservativi, che al contrario aumentano il problema.” This translates as: “And this drama cannot be overcome with the distribution of condoms which, on the contrary, increase the problem.”

Ms O’Shea’s report was clearly accurate and Mr Kelly’s rush to criticism misguided. Vive la diversité? If only the Pope believed that. – Yours, etc,

DIEGO FASCIATI, The Coombe, Dublin 8.