27/03/2009

Le pape est-il ignorant ou manipulateur? The Lancet

Un éditorial, publié dans le prestigieux journal médical The Lancet et intitulé Redemption for the pope, condamne les propos scandaleux tenus par le pape Benoît XVI lors de sa récente tournée africaine. Le Lancet condamne les propos du chef du Vatican sans équivoque et dans des termes particulièrement sévères.
En prétendant que l'usage des préservatifs accroît la propagation du sida, le pape a déformé ce qui est scientifiquement prouvé dans le but de promouvoir la doctrine catholique en ce domaine. Le Lancet rappelle que des gouvernements se sont alarmés des propos du pape, et que la communauté scientifique et les organismes internationaux impliqués dans la lutte contre la propagation du sida ont unanimement condamné les prises de position pontificales. Même au sein du sérail catholique, des voix se sont élevées pour essayer de tempérer ou de justifier les propos du Pontife. L'éditorialiste du Lancet s'interroge: le pape est-il ignorant ou a-t-il délibérément essayé de manipuler la science pour soutenir l'idéologie catholique? Le Lancet conclut son éditorial en demandant au pape de se rétracter, rappelant qu'une prise de position scientifiquement erronée peut être dévastatrice pour la santé de millions de personnes, lorsqu'elle est soutenue par un leader religieux de son influence.
Voici, pour ceux qui le pratiquent, l'éditorial complet en anglais: 
The Vatican felt the heat from an unprecedented amount of international condemnation last week after Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS. On his first visit to Africa, the Pope told journalists that the continent's fight against the disease is a problem that “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it”.
The Catholic Church's ethical opposition to birth control and support of marital fidelity and abstinence in HIV prevention is well known. But, by saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue.
The international community was quick to condemn the comment. The governments of Germany, France, and Belgium released statements criticising the Pope's views. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, called the comment “irresponsible and dangerous”. UNAIDS, the UN Population Fund, and WHO released an updated position statement on HIV prevention and condoms, which said that “the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV”. Amidst the fury, even the Vatican tried to alter the pontiff's wording. On the Holy See's website, the Vatican's head of media, Father Federico Lombari, quoted the Pope as having said that there was a “risk that condoms…might increase the problem”.
Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Source: The Lancet, (The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9669, Page 1054, 28 March 2009)

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