In trouble with the pope

A Brazilian priest gets spanked by the Vatican for being pro-condom.

By Jack Boulware
July 12, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)
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Among Latin American countries, Brazil is often considered the most sexually liberated. This tropical nation of 165 million people, known for its topless beaches and butt thongs, can be a party -- and the kids often have sex before they turn 15.

Brazil is also known for its religious schizophrenia. While 80 percent of the population aligns itself with strict Roman Catholic beliefs, the local clergy is very liberal and progressive. Italian priest Valeriano Paitoni, for example, last month put himself on the Vatican's list of bad people.


Not only did Father Paitoni commit the horrible crime of handing out condoms to poor people in Sco Paulo, he gave a magazine interview in which he defended the use of prophylactics to prevent the spread of AIDS.

"If the condom protects life, there is no reason not to view it as a lesser evil ... It deals with a greater good," Paitoni said.

The good father has a legitimate point. According to a government study last year, Brazil's number of AIDS case ranks among the region's highest, with at least 540,000 HIV-infected people. That statistic can be blamed to a good degree on the fact that most Brazilians fail to use condoms during sex.


But Paitoni, who has served for 22 years, is definitely going up against the boss. Condoms are strictly forbidden by the Vatican, whether used as contraception or for fighting the spread of AIDS. And so, after the priest's public pro-condom statements, the Vatican quickly pounced in an attempt to defuse the Paitoni bomb.

Archbishop Claudio Hummus warned the priest of unspecified punishment, and told a news agency, "Considering the clear and reiterated affirmation of the Pope and the Church, which condemns the use of condoms, I declare ... that the priest's attitude is incompatible."

Hummus published an official "letter of condemnation" in the Folha de Sco Paulo newspaper, and hinted at further punishments levied by the church "to correct this regrettable situation."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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Aids Brazil Catholicism Latin America Love And Sex Religion Sex