... to do what and with which and to whom

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 09, 2006

[AIDS] is not stopped by our best intentions or even by marriage. Each person must take responsibility for knowing their HIV status and making sure that others who may be affected also know their status. Such honesty in relationships is a witness to the radical and self-giving love which is daily required of us.

It is too easy to assume that HIV is something which infects someone else and not us. That is the first step that leads to stigma. I pay tribute to those church leaders who have courageously brought their HIV+ status to the attention of their communities and the public and those church leaders who support them.

Make sense to you? That's the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, in his World AIDS Day address, delivered ten days after he pledged to "stand together" with the Catholic Church to "protect the sanctity of marriage."

Like all AIDS Awareness instruction, the Archbishop's statement is a specimen of disinformation. It is designed not to clarify but to open the door to falsehood by inviting misinterpretation. Study the masterfully bewildering syntax of this sentence: "AIDS is not stopped by our best intentions or even by marriage." Whaddaya mean "our," Cantuar-sabe? Whose intentions are engaged, and in what act of deliberation? Are we talking about what the grandma in the pew intends to do with her alms, or what the bureaucrat intends to do with his health policy, or rather what the man in the brothel intends to do with his sexual organs? What claim implied by the words "or even by marriage" is coherent enough to be meaningfully deniable? Clearly we're not meant to ask. The problem with AIDS is that the facts are known too well, whence the goal of AIDS Awareness is to pretend that prevention is not within the will of every sane adult not in a state of serfdom.

Or take the sentence that follows: "Each person must take responsibility for knowing their HIV status and making sure that others who may be affected also know their status." Decoded, this is a plug for the Johansson Protocol ...

"I get tested for HIV twice a year. One has to be socially aware. It's part of being a decent human to be tested for STDs. It's just disgusting behaviour when people don't. It's so irresponsible."

... but it is couched in decorously equivocal phraseology. Read at face value, Williams is urging HIV-negative dentists to hang a banner announcing the happy fact in their waiting rooms ("You don't get it from this doc, folks!"), and urging HIV-positive persons to declare their seropositivity to prospective surgeons, ear-piercers, tattoo artists, and rugby opponents ("Glove up: I got the juice."). Yet we all know Williams would join in the outcry denouncing such proposals were they advanced in public. Again, the purpose is to mystify.

"It is too easy to assume that HIV is something which infects someone else and not us." Right, Archbishop, we are all at risk -- all of us, that is, in the habit of exchanging bodily fluids with strangers. Of course the last point plays no part in AIDS Awareness because it indicates the wrong sort of awareness, i.e., how AIDS is really transmitted and how doable it is to put oneself outside the chain of transmission. That's why it's needful to pay tribute to the "courage" of those HIV-positive church leaders who presumably contracted the disease from a public baptismal font. The photo of the (Patriotic?) Chinese nuns below, cheerily doing their own modest bit for the cause, was displayed on the Church Times site to illustrate its article on Williams' statement. We all get the point: AIDS is not stopped by our best intentions, so let's wrap our worst intentions in a smile.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2010 7:30 AM ET USA

    While we may breathe a sigh of grateful relief at their passing, yet the damage that they caused and still cause to the souls of many in the Church as well as the many who left is scandalous.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 03, 2010 7:02 PM ET USA

    Nearly twenty years ago I caught (in print) this "scholar" confusing a quote by Pope St. Leo with Pope St. Gregory. It had taken me all of one minute to look it up in a computer database. All of us need to stop believing our own PR and submit ourselves to the authority of the Church.