Article publié, le 19 octobre 2007, dans l'édition électronique de The Tablet

Established 1840     19 October 2007
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Church in the World
20 October 2007

African church leader advocates pastoral approach on condom use

James Roberts

A ghanaian cardinal has expressed a softer line on the possible use of condoms in the fight against Aids than has been voiced by some of his fellow senior churchmen. Cardinal Peter Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast, said this week that the best way to advise married couples on whether they should use condoms, if one of them is HIV-positive, is to help the couple to make their own decision.

Asked whether condoms were ever an appropriate way of dealing with a situation where an infected man could infect his wife, or an infected wife her husband, Cardinal Turkson said: "For me, I always recognise that this ultimately is a counselling situation. In a counselling situation one does not decide for the client. You just help the client to take the decision which [he or she] will be at peace with."

The cardinal appeared to distance himself from remarks made by some African bishops that have focused on the supposed unreliability of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of HIV. "Naturally there will be people in our part of the world who try to address the situation by attacking the condom itself," Cardinal Turkson said. "So that is there."

But he pointed out that the Church's position on condom use is tied in with its position on contraception, and the question that had to be asked was whether there was a therapeutic use of the condom that could be seen as not contraceptive. The cardinal said that there were bishops' conferences in Africa seriously debating this issue.

The cardinal cautioned against issuing a hard and fast instruction. "I will never stand up in the pulpit and say, ‘Because of HIV/Aids you can resort to condom use between you and your wife'," he said. "I will only speak in person-to-person counselling, allowing those who can, to choose for love of their partner to abstain, and those who also for love of their partner may want to use this way." 

The cardinal is visiting England to highlight World Mission Sunday tomorrow.