WARNING: The subject matter in this post deals candidly with sexually transmitted infections and diseases and their modes of transmission. Minors and persons easily upset by the nature of such discussion are advised to skip over this post.
Cretins. No other word better encompasses those who set their sights on John Cardinal O’Connor and the American Catholic Hierarchy for their refusal to advocate condom usage as a means of attenuating the impact of HIV/AIDS, especially in light of the steady news stories published in The New York Times during those years. What other word encompasses a whole movement of people who reject Apostolic Authority, distort the plain meaning of the Scriptural injunctions against homosexual and extramarital sex, and then disrupt Mass and desecrate the Blessed Sacrament and a cathedral all because the Apostolic Successors would not bend to their will?
What word better encompasses a group who divested themselves and their community of any personal responsibility for their sexual behavior and its consequences, projecting onto Rome all culpability? Narcissist describes a great deal, but is insufficient when one considers the venom spit at the Church.
As has been demonstrated conclusively in Part I, Part II and Part III, these people had it wrong. Terribly wrong. Tragically wrong. In the early days of the pandemic, gays were being told to lubricate their condoms to facilitate intercourse and reduce strain on the condom which might cause rupture.
Then they figured out that petroleum jellies dissolved the latex, presumably after more disease was transmitted through those condom ruptures.
Then, unthinking, untrained and uncritical activists led the charge for using nonoxynol-9 (N-9), the spermicide that was shown to kill HIV in test tubes (In high doses, a fact they missed), as a lubricant to back up condom efficay, should the condom slip or tear. For whatever reason, it wouldn’t be until several years later that N-9 would be shown to be completely ineffective against the virus in the low concentration used on condoms, and causes ulcerations in the vaginal and rectal mucosa, actually facilitating HIV transmission in case of condom failure.
Were all of that not enough, Part III presented CDC’s own data on condom ineffectiveness.
Seldom in the history of medicine has a movement been so vocal, so organized, and so catastrophically wrong. The public health community has done a slow walk back from those early days of ACT-UP’s message of certitude.
They have abandoned “Safe” sex for the more qualified “Safer” sex.
They have abandoned advocating N-9 as both lubricant and fail-safe.
They have all but abandoned the condom as effective against much of anything in the way of STI’s.
They have embraced the language of abstinence and long-term mutual monogamy as the surest ways of preventing STI’s, including HIV.
In presenting themselves as the true shepherds of the sexually licentious in the face of a killer disease, in establishing the corollary narrative that the Bishops were out of touch old celibates consigned to history’s dustbin, ACT-UP and their fellow travelers no doubt unwittingly led scores of thousands to HIV infection and death.
Theirs is a bitter, shameful legacy.
The Bishops for their part spared no expense in creating hospital and nursing home beds for AIDS patients and received them with compassion. One of those leaders of the desecration converted to the Catholic Church on his death bed and entered eternity sealed with the sacraments. The Bishops would not be swayed by the bad PR, and stayed faithful to their Church, their Office and their God.
It is Cardinal O’Connor’s message that the science has borne out:
“Good morality is good medicine.”
(The promised article on abstinence is itself a new series entitled, “Abstinence Education (Part I)”