NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Sponsors of a new condom advert that has the Kenyan Catholic Church up in arms have refused to pull it down.
The American based Catholics for Choice (CFC), maintained that the message in the advert was necessary as it would ensure that individuals were protected from contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS virus.
An article reacting to the demands by the Kenya Episcopal Conference posted on the CFC website instead accused Kenyan bishops of ‘attacking Catholics’.
“It is sad that the Kenya Episcopal Conference chose to attack Catholics rather than addressing the critical issue raised by the Condoms4Life campaign,” said CFC President Jon O’Brien.
The Catholic Church in Kenya had on Tuesday put up a spirited fight against the new ad saying it was offensive and must be pulled down by at least 7pm on the same day.
Led by Nairobi Archbishop John Njue, they said they would not take the matter lightly and reminding the sponsors that the Church had not changed its firm stand against contraceptives.
“Who are they (Catholics for Choice)? ” he asked dismissively.
“The only thing we are saying is that this is a seed that is being planted for very wrong reasons,” he argued.
Kisumu Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth maintained that it was only abstinence and faithfulness that could stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Condoms came in to control births even before HIV/AIDS came on and we already rejected that. Condoms are not the answer for that. We are pro life. Even if you get 10 children give us two to become priests,” he quipped.
O’Brien added that religious leaders should not coerce individuals into accepting and abiding by certain principles.
He argued that many Catholics endorsed the use of condoms further arguing that the Pope supported their use.
“Catholics, from the Pope in Rome to bishops and faithful laity everywhere, agree that condoms can, and even sometimes must, be used. But the Kenyan bishops reject all this wisdom, and instead order Kenyan Catholics to put their lives at risk,” he said.
He further urged Kenyan Catholic leaders not to be so rigid and to instead listen to their flock.
The group argues that its reproductive ethics are based on justice and reflect a commitment to women’s well being and their capacity to make moral decisions about their lives.
“We have a right and indeed a duty to speak up about matters that affect our lives. In the Condoms4Life campaign, we have. Our message is: Good Catholics use condoms,” he stressed.