2005 Mar/Cardinal Napier

Interview with Cardinal Napier here in Durban conducted by one of our very anti-Catholic secular newspapers. The questions are in bold.

As I understand it, you are saying people must not use condoms?

We’re simply saying what we’ve been saying all along.

Which is what?

That the condom is not the answer to this problem.

What is the answer?

Obviously, abstinence.

Shouldn’t you be saying, abstinence is best but if you can’t abstain then at least use a condom?

Do you say to a person, “Don’t rob a bank but if you’re going to rob a bank use an AK-47 and not a cannon?”

The reality is that most people are sexually active and this is unlikely to change. Shouldn’t you come to terms with it?

How can you come to terms with something that is opposed to what you’re supposed to be? We’re supposed to be preaching a life that is according to the Gospel, the example of Jesus Christ. He says even just to look at a woman and long after her is committing a sin. That’s the mandate we’ve got. Not to say, “Well, if you look at her through sunglasses it’s not as bad as looking at her with the naked eye.”

Isn’t your mandate out of touch with the reality of Aids?

Uganda has a different story to tell us on that one. Uganda turned around the whole Aids epidemic and they did it in 10 years, by simply preaching a message of change of life. The president right down to every leader in the community preached, “Change your life, change your life.” The condom was not a factor in that whole turnaround.

Condoms have been much in evidence in Uganda.

They are now, and the rate of infection is starting to rise.

How do you explain that?

The use of condoms is doing it. They changed back to a bad lifestyle.

So all condoms do is encourage people to sleep around?

Exactly. That’s a fact that you guys in the media need to look at as well. Don’t just say that because people are sexually active we must abandon our principles and say, “Well, sleep around but sleep around safely.” You can’t say, “Sin, but in a nice way.” We say it is sin, and therefore we’ve got to preach against it.

But the fact is that people are sexually active, and without condoms there’s a good chance they will get Aids and die.

Because people are doing what is wrong, we must just keep quiet, and encourage them, and say, “Well, at least do it nicely?” The condom is like a ski boat against a tsunami. Unless we actually take the drastic measure of saying, “Change your life. .

What about those who find it impossible to abstain?

Look, as long as they’ve got you there in the media saying, “It’s impossible, it’s impossible,” sure they’re not going to change.

The reality is that condoms reduce the chance of contracting Aids and dying, and you’re saying, don’t use condoms.

I’m saying that the campaign isn’t working.

Isn’t that partly because an influential body like the Catholic Church is telling people not to use condoms?

Before you make that allegation, find out how many people are not using condoms because the bishops have told them not to. The corollary to that is, if you’re not using a condom because the bishops have said you’re not to, why are you engaging in sex? Because the bishops say you must not engage in sex outside of marriage.

At what point should dogma give way to reality?

Are you telling me that because a thing is real, therefore we must change our teaching? Adultery is real.

Surely you have to find a way of dealing with things as they are, not as you would like them to be?

What you seem to be saying is that no possibility exists for a man or a woman to say no to sex. We’re trying to get young people to see that the safe way of avoiding getting Aids is to live a life according to the Maker’s instructions. Why is the media so persistent in overlooking the fact that most of what is going wrong in our society is coming from a way of life that is completely against our Maker’s instructions? Sex is there for the production of new life. All you seem to be saying is that it’s okay if people do it for fun. You’re saying we should lower the bar so that nobody has to make any effort whatsoever to be morally good.