FAMILY VALUES BEFORE CONDOMS: PNG CATHOLIC CHURCH

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 24, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Boys as young as five should also be taught the benefits and joy of leading a life based on family values.

The Catholic Church said that in response to calls by health educator Dr. Glen Mola for churches to change their attitudes over the use of condoms to protect people from sexually transmitted diseases, including killer disease HIV/AIDS (see earlier report).

Dr. Mola told a health seminar in Lae this week that boys as young as five should be allowed to know about and handle condoms.

This, he said, would help them to be better prepared once they developed their sexuality and be able to use condoms without problems.

Dr. Mola challenged the churches that prohibit the use of condoms and other contraceptives, saying the churches' attitudes needed to changed now to save people’s lives.

He was talking about the threats posed by HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to the nation's economic and social fabrics.

He said PNG would soon fall into situations faced by some African countries, where the working age population, those between 20 and 35, would be wiped out.

This, he said, would leave only the older and younger people, who would not be able to do the work required to develop or maintain economies.

The Catholic Bishops Conference said yesterday that the issues raised by Dr. Mola were only addressed on one side, and that the other side needed to be stressed as well.

General Secretary Lawrence Stephens said the importance of family life, which Dr. Mola had referred to, needed to be stressed.

"We should also be teaching our children, as young as five years, to know the benefits and joy of having a permanent relationship with one wife or husband based on the family.

"Boys as young as five should know more about the permanent relationship between man and woman and the dangers of having multiple and unprotected relationships,'' Mr. Stephens said.

He said young people should know about the real joys of knowing and loving one's husband or wife.

He said the point stressed in the report in the Post-Courier also seemed to say that the churches had an attitude that they were against helping people to live better lives.

"This is wrong. The churches do not have such an attitude and remain committed to teaching people what they need to know to lead a better life,'' he said.

Mr. Stevens said the debate about contraceptives had been going on for many years and the church would not change that overnight.

He said parents need to teach their children the benefits of family life first. Then, maybe the need for using condoms to protect against deadly diseases would not be necessary.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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