Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope-fest downer: Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo has died

Did you know the one about condoms not being effective against HIV because the virus is so small that it can penetrate the condom latex? (A false claim, if you're wondering).

Or the one about the recognition of same-sex partnerships as being detrimental to hetero marriages even if nobody has quite explained just how?

OK, you might not be aware of the first claim but the second one is pretty much par for the course for some of the extreme right wing organizations fighting efforts to extend partnership benefits to same-sex couples in the United States and elsewhere.

Thing is, despite the Papal love-fest being witnessed here in the United States this week, these are also the Vatican's positions. And - if you really think about it - it means that the blood of millions who have died from AIDS throughout the world is still all over the current Pope's hands.

Personally, I can care less whether the Vatican approves of same-sex partnerships or not as long as they don't get involved in policy making for those of us who are not religious (of course, reality is that the separation of church and state is most times a mirage particularly in Latin American countries).

But when it comes to HIV prevention and the use of condoms, the Vatican has been as woefully blind and irresponsible as with its failure to address the pedophile scandal that has rocked Catholic churches in recent years (and, no, don't tell me that the Pope's apology this week or his meeting with abuse survivors atones for the damage done).

Fact is that when it came to preventing HIV, right wing demagogues have always had the Vatican's backing and key among the Vatican leaders who had best carried their flag was Colombian-born Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo (briefly considered as a candidate for Pope-hood when Pope John Paul II died).

Here are some of Cardinal Trujillo's views:
  • The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom - Cardinal Trujillo as quoted by BBC News in Vatican in HIV Condom Row on October 9, 2003 (here in New York ACT UP organized a protest at the Vatican Mission to the United Nations over that one)
  • What has been done in Spain, and additionally with a very reduced majority, is the destruction of the family brick by brick - Cardinal Trujillo reacting to Spain's landmark same-sex marriage law as quoted by El Mundo in April of 2005
  • Couples made up of homosexuals claim similar rights to those reserved to husband and wife; they even claim the right to adoption. Women who live a lesbian union claim similar rights, demanding laws which give them access to . . . fertilization or embryo implantation. Moreover, it is claimed that the help of the law to form these unusual couples goes hand in hand with the help to divorce and repudiate - A passage from a 57-page document released in June of 2006 by the Pontifical Council for the Family - led by Cardinal Trujillo - on the supposed unparalleled threats against the 'traditional' family as quoted by PlanetOut.
Well, last night, Cardinal Trujillo died in Rome at the age of 72 due to natural causes and, though we don't doubt that the current Pope will nominate someone equally as conservative to his post at the Pontifical Council for the Family, I can't help but hope that his death signifies a passing of the guard and a more enligthened future.

The Pope has said that he will lead a mass in honor of Trujillo once he gets back to Rome from his rock-star mini-tour of New York. I will observe a moment of silence for those who have died of AIDS due to Trujillo's war on effective HIV prevention tools.

In the meantime, since we are writing about the Vatican I wanted to mention that my friend Brendan Fay was busy last night organizing a vigil at the site of the World Trade Center in honor of Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge, an openly gay man who died on 9/11, on the eve of the Pope's visit to ground zero. New York 1 has coverage and video here.


Elizabeth Pisani said...

Spot on. Though it's remarkable how few people are celebrating the passing of this dinosaur.

libhom said...

I'm so glad I just say no to religion.