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Aids and condoms

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« Previous « PreviousNext » Next »View GalleryPublished Date: 12 September 2010
By Eddie Barnes
UK ministers are expected to raise the Vatican's opposition to the use of condoms for the prevention of HIV Aids during talks this week, as the UK prepares to welcome Pope Benedict VXI for a four-day visit this Thursday.
The Pope will meet both Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg next weekend, as a visiting head of State. The UK Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, told Scotland on Sunday that the question of condom use in fighting HIV Aid
ADVERTISEMENTs is an area of "fundamental disagreement" and is likely to be discussed.

However, ministers are keen to avoid any diplomatic row between the UK and the Vatican during the visit, which takes place amid a backdrop of expected protests, and will raise any matter of controversy "respectfully".

The four-day visit will begin on Thursday when the Pope arrives in Edinburgh, where he will meet the Queen, before he celebrates an open air Mass in Glasgow's Bellahouston park. He will then travel to England where, among other events, the Pope will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Campbell, who heads up the UK's diplomatic service in the Vatican, said: "Probably the most substantial dialogue we will have will be on international development. There are some areas of tremendous co-operation and there are some areas of difference. There will be an exchange of information about the areas of difference and if you take an example, which is in the area of HIV Aids."

The Catholic Church has faced global controversy over its opposition to the use of condoms in the fight against HIV Aids. Last year, on a visit to Africa, the 83-year old Pope Benedict argued that Aids was a tragedy that "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems".

With an estimated two million people dying of Aids every year, critics argue that the epidemic in Africa is being worsened by the Church's insistence that Catholics must not use contraception. However, the Church insists that the only way to genuinely curb the spread of Aids is for people to lead responsible sex lives.

The stance on condoms is just one area of controversy likely to be raised this week, with protests also planned by equality campaigners, victims of clerical sex abuse and secular groups opposed to the £12m cost of the visit.

Yesterday victims of abuse by Catholic priests appealed to the Pope to listen to their call for a statutory inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in the UK. As many as 4,000 journalists are expected to arrive with the Pope, putting the eyes of the world on Scotland and England for four days.

Campbell said he expected people would be surprised by the Pope himself when he arrives in the UK

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