Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The cartoon in the picture appears in a newspaper owned by a company whose chairman is a Knight Commander of The Order of St. Gregory the Great.

Notice the depiction of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's expression. It is malevolent, the image of a tortured, conflicted individual. That the Holy Father generally projects an expression of togetherness and calm which could put a Californian hippy to shame seems to have escaped the cartoonist.

Instead, they have chosen to depict Benedict XVI as something akin to Roland Rat. What's next? Cormac Murphy-O' Connor as Kevin the Gerbil? Basil Hume as Errol the Hamster?

The really intriguing thing about the cartoon is the cartoonist's ignorance of Papal history. The condom upon Benedict's XVI's head is intended to be a travesty of the Papal tiara. Pope Paul VI renounced his tiara, and all his successors have declined coronation. The cartoonist is therefore associating Pope Benedict XVI with an item of headgear he has never worn, about as absurd as depicting Barack Obama in a 'See You, Jimmy!' wig.

There is a moral for our cartoonists and satirists in this. When depicting popes wearing condoms on their heads, do not act like johnny-come-latelys.

The reason for this cartoon is that the Holy Father has once again mentioned the unmentionable, and spoken the truth that condoms are not the solution to the AIDS epidemic. All those committed internationalists who would be out of work if HIV and AIDS were ever to be brought under control in sub-Saharan Africa must have sighed and thought to themselves, 'Oh crap, the crazy old Bavarian fart's gone off on one again'; yet the fact remains that he's not wrong.

In 2004, I wrote a commentary on this very subject entitled 'The BBC's War On The Pope', concerning the very biased treatment that the state broadcaster gave it in a 'Panorama' programme entitled 'Sex and the Holy City'. If you want the science that condoms are not universally effective in reducing the rate of HIV infection, here it is, under a rather misleading title -

"This review indicates that consistent use of condoms results in 80% reduction in HIV incidence".

So, even with a consistent use of condoms, HIV infection is reduced by 80 per cent. Notice the presence of the word 'consistent'. Presumably no data exists on those victims of HIV whose partners were inconsistent. Even amongst those whose partners' concept of fidelity include insulation, as if the act of lovemaking were akin to lagging a pipe, their chances of contracting HIV still stand at one in five. Those are not good odds.

The published conclusion also presumably assumes that the condom manufacturing process adheres to the highest possible levels of quality control; a conclusion which, given the nature of the manufactured article's purpose and its intended durability, requires an enormous leap of faith. Sorry, but isn't it only crazy old Bavarian farts who do faith?

The expression 'the sex industry' is often defined all too narrowly as solely meaning the labours of 'sex workers'. However, it is surely appropriate to include the manufacture, distribution, advertising, promotion and sale of all types of contraceptives under the 'sex industry' banner. There is absolutely no reason why the grinders of pills and the hawkers of rubbers should be exempted from the contumely which still attaches to pornography and pimping. Without sex, the pornographer and the pimp goes out of business. Without sex, the grinders of pills don't get professorships, and the hawkers of rubbers don't get to run train companies.

It is difficult to formulate a riposte to this type of cartoon. That it's ineffably ugly anti-Papal, and by extension anti-Catholic, propaganda straight out of the Tudor era should be taken as read. Or seen. One can safely say that the cartoonist should be considered a propagandist.

Putting a pinpricked condom on the Pope's head also indicates to this writer that the cartoonist should be considered a pin.

The cartoonist should not feel offended; the slightly less civil ex facie competent alternative also certainly seems applicable.


Blogger Recusant said...


The argument is even simpler than that. Criticism of the Church's stance on condoms is predicated on the narrative: Pope says condoms sinful. Therefore 'unsophisticated' (to be read: not secular white liberal Europeans)men will avoid using condoms. Therefore others will get infected and die.

But the whole narrative depends on the presumption that someone will humbly, meekly and afearedly obey the Pope on this, but will gaily, and casually disobey the strongest teaching of the Church and Christ against adultery. It don't compute.

It would also be interesting to learn where in Africa condoms are banned; you know, because of that wicked, evil Pope (c.Polly Toynbee). There isn't anywhere.

So the nub of all this is that the only people who will actually put into practice the Pope's teaching are those who aren't the cause of the trouble in any case: the faithful or abstinent.

Meanwhile the whole of the mainstream press, BBC and Channel 4 charge on with their intellectually incoherent, but superficially valid, argument. 'Twas ever thus.

18 March, 2009 16:30  
Blogger Catholic Teuchtar said...

Hi Martin,

I wasnt copying. :-)

best regards

18 March, 2009 20:33  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western NGOs and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour". Huge numbers of condoms have been distributed in Botswana, and the result has been for President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die".

Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

19 March, 2009 15:53  
Blogger Thud said...

Morality to the beeb is as calculus to a cat...alien and of little use.

19 March, 2009 22:39  
Blogger Martin said...


That's a comment to which one can only reply in the tradition of Scotland's minor public schools - well said, that man.

20 March, 2009 05:16  
Blogger PJMULVEY said...

Condoms are as easily available as chewing gum in the USA. They are given out free in gay areas, universities and clubs. My daughters in their twenties now, were even given detailed instruction in middle school on how to use them! The result: abortions at an old time high and out of wedlock births over 40% of the total births in the USA. All of this evidence drives me to the conclusion that condom use and sexual education only spurs on sexual activity to a much greater degree than if they were not available. The false confidence of the condom is not 100% effective as birth control or disease preventative device. The pope is saying that condoms are a problem intrinsically and not the solution of AIDS and other diseases. The modern world does not want to hear that abstinence and self control are the only solution because in secular eyes satisfaction of the sexual and other appetites are the greater good. This current argument reminds me of the uproar of Humanae Vitae in the 1960's and the abuse given to Pope Paul VI. He has been proven right over the last 40 years and I believe that in a half century condoms will be viewed as useful a cure as castor oil.

20 March, 2009 18:42  
Blogger Sparky said...

This satirical article makes the point of how we allow attacks against the pope but not against Allah:

Catholics riot over Pope cartoon, burn cars, demand death of cartoonist

31 March, 2009 15:26  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home