RedState managing editor Erick Erickson stated that Harry Knox, a Human Rights Campaign official appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Council of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is an "insult to the Christian faith" who "cannot be trusted to fairly work with Catholics" after criticizing Pope Benedict XVI for "hurting people in the name of Jesus." But Erickson, who stated that "the basis" for Knox's "attack on the Catholic Church is its position on homosexuality," did not note that Knox's comments came in response to the Pope's statement that condom distribution "increases the problem" of AIDS, a remark for which the Pope received widespread criticism, including from ministers of several nations.
Erickson cites Knox's comment to call for his resignation
From Erickson's February 4 post:
In March, Knox began an attack on the Catholic Church during a speech before the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign.
Knox, attacking Pope Benedict XVI directly, said the Pope and, through him the Catholic Church, is "hurting people in the name of Jesus."
After his appointment, Knox was confronted with his comment and reaffirmed that he hates the Pope.
The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships' charter states that it "will work on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs." Really?
A man who is willing, even with such an appointment, to attack the head of a church with millions of active congregants , cannot be trusted to fairly work with Catholics. The Pope is called the Holy Father for a reason and attacking the Holy Father does little to prove a commitment to improving communities no matter their religious or political beliefs.
The St. Michael Society has a petition calling for this man to resign. I'm Presbyterian, but I signed it too.
This man is an insult to the Christian faith when the basis for his attack on the Catholic Church is its position on homosexuality -- position shared across denominations of Christians.
Knox's comments came in response to Pope's statement that condom distribution "increases the problem" of AIDS
AP: Pope says condom distribution "increases the problem" of AIDS. From a March 17, 2009, Associated Press article:
Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday that the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against AIDS in Africa.
Benedict has never before spoken explicitly on condom use although he has stressed that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease.
"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
Some priests and nuns working with victims of the AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa question the church's opposition to condoms.
Knox in HRC statement: Pope's statement on condoms "hurting people in the name of Jesus." From a March 17, 2009, Human Rights Campaign press release (emphasis added):
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded today to remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI while traveling to Africa, where he claimed that condoms increase HIV infections. Talking to the Associated Press, Benedict said the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the Pope said. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
"The Pope's statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus," said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion & Faith Program. "On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods. The Pope's rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further."
Knox stands by comments in National Press Club appearance. In a February 2 appearance at the National Press Club, Knox had the following exchange with a reporter from CNSNews.com:
CNSNews.com: "You put out a statement saying Pope Benedict XVI was, quote, 'hurting people in the name of Jesus' because he did not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV. And I was wondering, do you still believe the pope's position on condoms is 'hurting people in the name of Jesus'?
Knox: "I -- I do."
Contrary to Erickson's characterization, Knox did not say that he "hates the Pope."
Pope Benedict's comments widely criticized at the time as inaccurate and "dangerous"
The Lancet: Pope "publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue." In a March 28, 2009, editorial (registration required), the British medical journal The Lancet called the Pope's statement "outrageous and wildly inaccurate," and stated that "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 Lancet further wrote, "Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear," and called on Pope Benedict to "retract or correct the public record."
Belgian government condemns Pope's "unacceptable affirmations." In an April 3, 2009, article, the Italian news service ANSA reported that Belgium "is to lodge an official complaint to the Vatican over Pope Benedict's recent comments" after the Belgian parliament voted for the government to "condemn the unacceptable affirmations of the Pope during his trip to Africa and to protest officially to the Holy See.'" (accessed from the Nexis database)
French officials reportedly criticized "monstrous scientific untruth" of comments that "endanger public health policies." On March 18, 2009, the AP reported:
France "expresses its very strong concern about the consequences of the statements by Benedict XVI," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said.
"While it is not up to us to pass judgment on the doctrine of the Church, we consider that these statements endanger public health policies and the imperative to protect human life," Chevallier told an online briefing Wednesday.
"Along with information, education and testing, the condom is a fundamental element of actions to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus," he said.
France's health minister, Roselyne Bachelot, spoke more passionately against the pope's stance, saying on RTL radio that the pontiff "proffered a monstrous scientific untruth" that was a disservice to African women who have "trouble making the condom that can protect them acceptable."
On March 30, 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald reported:
A senior French minister has condemned Pope Benedict XVI's comments against the use of condoms as "criminal" while new protests have been held against the pontiff.
"To go to Africa and tell people they shouldn't use condoms is criminal," France's education minister, Xavier Darcos, told French broadcaster Radio J. AIDS "causes deaths every day", he added.
"I think the Pope's comments were a bit distorted but, all the same, to not encourage using condoms in developing countries is extremely dangerous," said Darcos, who said he is Catholic.
German health, development ministers reportedly criticize pope's comments, cite importance of condom distribution. From the March 18, 2009, AP article:
In Berlin, German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul issued a joint declaration criticizing the pope's comments and underlining the importance of condom use in developing nations.
"Condoms save lives, in Europe as well as on other continents," the ministers said. "Modern assistance to the developing world today must make access to family planning available to the poorest of the poor -- especially the use of condoms. Anything else would be irresponsible."
Spanish government reportedly sends 1 million condoms to Africa to protest comment. In a March 19, 2009, article, The Telegraph (UK) reported:
Spain's left-wing government, which has frequently clashed with the Vatican and the Spanish Catholic hierarchy over issues such as fast-track divorce and gay marriage, announced it would send a million condoms to Africa to fight Aids.
"The objective is to advance the prevention of this epidemic, which affects 33 million people all over the world, two-thirds of them in Africa," the health ministry of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government said.
"Condoms have been demonstrated to be a necessary element in prevention policies and an efficient barrier against the virus, according to laboratory studies," it said in a statement.
Dutch minister calls remark "extremely harmful," "says "the pope is making matters worse." In a March 19, 2009, article, the Bulgarian Sofia News Agency reported:
The Dutch government has condemned Pope Benedict XVI's condom policies in Africa as extremely harmful.
Pope Benedict XVI's refused Tuesday to soften Vatican's policy over condom use as a method of combating AIDS during his first visit to Africa as pontiff.
"It is extremely harmful and very serious that this pope is forbidding people from protecting themselves... There is an enormous stigma surrounding the subject of AIDS, and AIDS sufferers face serious discrimination. The pope is making matters worse", Development Minister, Bert Koenders, said Wednesday.
In Koenders words he is "truly astonished" to hear of the pope's remarks, that condoms were aggravating, rather than containing, the continent's rampant AIDS problem.
In statement day after pope's comment, UNAIDS says condoms are "an essential part of combination prevention." In a statement released March 18, 2009, UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, said:
With more than 7400 new HIV infections each day the world can not stop the AIDS epidemic without stopping new HIV infections. Countries must know their epidemic and tailor their response to it. UNAIDS advocates for and supports comprehensive approaches to HIV prevention through combination strategies.
Condoms are an essential part of combination prevention which includes among other elements: access to information about HIV, access to treatment, harm reduction measures, waiting longer to become sexually active, being faithful, reducing multiple partners and concurrent relationships, male circumcision, ensuring human rights and the reduction of stigma.
Countries need to use all available strategies and methods that are informed by evidence and grounded in human rights. As was reported in the most recent edition of the UNAIDS' Report on the global AIDS epidemic, substantial increases in HIV prevention and treatment efforts are producing results in several countries.
In response, European Commission for Humanitarian Aid calls condoms "one of the essential elements in the fight against AIDS." In a March 18, 2009, article, ANSA reported (accessed from Nexis):
A spokesman for the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid said condoms were ''one of the essential elements in the fight against AIDS''.
''The EC believes there is clear scientific proof that confirms the preventative role of the condom in the spread of AIDS, which is why it actively supports their use,'' said John Clancy.
The European Union is the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.