Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Answering The Non-Spanish Inquisition

Barcepundit points us to an article by Michael Cook entitled: Was Karol Wojtyla the Greatest Mass Murderer of the 20th Century? Here is the accusation:
Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, says that the Vatican's rejection of condoms has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, making it one of "its most tragic mistakes in the first two millennia of its history" (1). The influential New Statesman, in London, ran a cover story shortly after the Pope's death claiming that he "probably contributed more to the continental spread of [AIDS] than the trucking industry and prostitution combined" (2).

Rosemary Neill, of The Australian, in Sydney, opined that the intransigent Vatican "will eventually be accused of crimes against humanity" (3). Polly Toynbee, of the UK's Guardian newspaper -- who clearly had something quite vile for breakfast that morning -- compared JP2 to Lenin: "they both put extreme ideology before human life and happiness, at unimaginable human cost" (4). Even doctors chimed in. The world's leading medical journal, The Lancet, accused an ignorant and rigid Pope of presenting "insuperable obstacles to the prevention of disease" (5).
Mr. Cook establishes the serious nature of the charge:
There's no doubt that AIDS in Africa is terrifying. The latest survey of AIDS prevalence in Swaziland, a tiny kingdom of 2 million people surrounded by South Africa, has reached 42.6 per cent, the highest in the world. And climbing. Three years ago, in 2002, it was 38.6 per cent. "Swaziland will be wiped out," said one AIDS activist despairingly (6). Figures for other countries in southern Africa are almost as grim.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), two-thirds of people with HIV/AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. At the end of 2004, 25.4 million people there were infected, with about 3 million infected during the year. Life expectancy at birth has dropped below 40 in nine countries: Botswana, Central African Republic, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, life expectancy at birth was 52 years in 1990, and only 34 in 2003 (7).
Surely the evidence for this charge is conclusive and damning. On the other hand, perhaps the arguments in support of this charge are, as Mr. Cook quotes George Orwell, "so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them."