Vatican sets up AIDS foundation while cardinals avoid debate on condoms

Friday, December 17th 2004, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The Vatican established a foundation Friday to fund Catholic organizations assisting AIDS victims, urging people to contribute even if they object to the Church's opposition to the use of condoms to fight the spread of the disease.

Pope John Paul II has set aside $132,000 for the Good Samaritan Foundation and is asking ``all people of good will, particularly those in the economically advanced nations, to contribute,'' said Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan.

The Catholic Church has repeatedly rebuffed campaigns for it to endorse the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS. The Vatican holds that condoms cannot be used to help prevent the spread of the disease because they are a form of artificial birth control.

The pope repeated the Vatican position in a message for the Church's World Day of the Sick in September, saying cases of AIDS spread via intercourse ``are best avoided above all through responsible conduct and the observance of the virtue of chastity.''

Barragan, head of the pontifical council on health issues, said discussions of the moral issues around AIDS should not prevent people from contributing to the fund.

``Another thing is to help those who are sick, who are dying, while one is discussing condoms yes, condoms no. I don't care, what matters to me is that people are dying and we must help them,'' he said.

There have already been signs of differences among cardinals over the question of condoms.

A Vatican cardinal, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, made headlines last year when he said condoms don't prevent AIDS and may help spread it because they create a false sense of security.

Later another cardinal, Godfried Danneels of Belgium, told a Catholic TV program that if an HIV-positive person insists on having sex, ``he has to use a condom. Otherwise he will commit a sin'' by risking transmission of a potentially fatal virus.