Family life has always been a unifying characteristic of African society. In fact, it is within the "domestic Church", "built on the solid cultural pillar and noble values of the African tradition of the family", that children first learn of the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life (cf. Ecclesia in Africa, 92). It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality, all of which contribute to a breakdown in sexual morality. Brother Bishops, I share your deep concern over the devastation caused by AIDS and related diseases. I especially pray for the widows, the orphans, the young mothers and all those whose lives have been shattered by this cruel epidemic. I urge you to continue your efforts to fight this virus which not only kills but seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the Continent. The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront both in prevention and in treatment of this illness. The traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. For this reason, "the companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young" (Ecclesia in Africa, 116).It is no surprise that the MSM plays this up as merely the promotion of abstinence, an implicitly inadequate step in the face of crisis:
The Vatican's opposition to condoms has been criticized by those who advocate condom use as a way to help combat the spread of the HIV virus. However, several prelates have suggested that using condoms that could prevent a death may be the lesser of evils. ...The idea that expanding condom use will control the spread of HIV/AIDS has been credibly debunked, plus there is all the other negative consequences that arise from their use (more info here). The Church has it right. What's more is Pope Benedict is asking the bishops to lead by the example of embracing celibacy:
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 60 percent of the 40 million people infected with HIV worldwide. In March, a U.N. study predicted that more than 80 million Africans may die from AIDS by 2025 and infections could soar to 90 million - or more than 10 percent of the continent's population - if more is not done to expand prevention programs and offer better access to drugs that can control the virus.
A world filled with temptations needs priests who are totally dedicated to their mission. Accordingly, they are asked in a very special way to open themselves fully to serving others as Christ did by embracing the gift of celibacy. Bishops should assist them by ensuring that this gift never becomes a burden but always remains life-giving.