Saddled with Guilt

Those who hold the Church responsible for the AIDS epidemic
may be very anxious to avoid their own responsibility.

Reminding us yet again of the secular dogma that the Church spreads AIDS by discountenancing the condom, public-health wonks are concerned that it’s those individuals rigidly scrupulous about Catholic doctrine, like Magic Johnson, who put themselves at risk of infection. The AP reports:

The rapid spread in Latin America of the virus that causes AIDS is made worse by the Roman Catholic Church’s stand against using condoms, a UN official said on Monday.

Miss a curve in the argument? You’re not alone. The latex brigade lacks the nerve to put into blunt language the chain of reasoning by which, as they claim, Church teaching increases sexually transmitted infection. In fact, the last thing they want to make clear is the logic of the matter, since it does not reflect well on them or their cause. They are themselves aware that the Church’s insistence on chastity until marriage and fidelity thereafter is unsurpassably kind to the auto-immune system, and that those who adhere to her teaching will be overwhelmingly AIDS-free. Better to shift the focus off human decision-making entirely and engage our sympathies for innocent child victims whose infections were transmitted in the womb: “If little Pepita’s father had used a condom during her conception, she’d be alive today.” The pastoral approach.

It remains to address the perplexing question of why it’s so important for so many of the glitterati—even at the cost of talking nonsense—to make the Church into the villain of the AIDS crisis. My hunch is that the answer—or, at any rate, a large part of the answer—has to do with the guilt with which the sexually promiscuous are saddled yet nearly always unable to acknowledge. Take a look at the following testimony given by an intrepid Episcopalian some years ago at her church’s General Convention:

My name is Laura Allen, and I am the mother of a dead homosexual son. Bradford was the youngest of my six children. He was handsome, funny, gifted, and a magna cum laude university graduate. He was loved by his family and he chose to live his life as a homosexual man. Did he have a life partner? Yes, he had many of them, and each one was always the “one true love”—at that time, of course.

In the course of Bradford’s life and lifestyle he became HIV positive, after a few years the opportunistic disease of AIDS became manifest, and I asked him to move into my home so that I might care for him. During the last two and a half years of his life he had to have three painful surgical procedures as a result of the physical aspects of the practice of male homosexuality.

About three ‘o clock one morning Bradford called me to come to his room for a reality check, for he was reading his Bible. As we prayed and read, he asked me to call a priest for his confession, for he grieved that he might have infected some others with HIV, and I did. From then on he repudiated his previous life of homosexuality, received communion regularly and the last rites for the dying, and he died peacefully in my arms, “ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven.”

So how frequently have you heard profligates (hetero- or homosexual) express remorse or concern that they “might have infected some others with HIV”? I’ll wager it’s not often. And yet this unspoken anxiety (“Was I perhaps an agent of death?”) must swell like a tumor inside the memory of those who lived the lifestyle and for whom “safer sex” is less a medical precaution than an ex post facto sedative for the conscience.

That the problem of culpability in the death of others is so seldom talked about—and acknowledged more rarely still—is itself a sure sign of moral ulceration, and it’s not surprising that the guilt an entire social class finds too tender to discuss gets painted onto the schoolmarm whose eye they’re trying to avoid. “It’s the Church that kills!”

No one believes this, of course, not even the ones who shout it the loudest. Paradoxically, it’s a good sign that the Church continues to be the villainess of choice among the twittering class, inasmuch as it proves her teaching is getting through to the right spot. It’s good news, after all, even if tardy disciples like Mr. Allen above have a long road to travel before the goodness sinks in. The Church herself, shrewd schoolmarm, seems not to hear the insults.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.