Friday, February 01, 2008

Carnaval, Free Birth Control, and the Catholic Church

Much like last year,* the Catholic Church in Brazil is showing its reactionary views towards birth control at Carnaval. The celebration starts Saturday, and once again, health departments are giving out free condoms (and, in Recife, Pernambuco, the morning-after pill) as a way to promote safe sex and deter unwanted pregnancies. In the wake of last year's campaign (slogan: "With condoms, the good time goes on after the party," a phrase which could be seen anywhere from billboards to the metro here in Rio), the health department is promoting the condoms this year with teh slogan "Good in bed means using a condom." Despite the government's stance to try to combat AIDS and other diseases, the Church hasn't changed (not that I expected it to):

The church has nothing against having fun during the Carnival, but the banalization of human sexuality is something we cannot tolerate," Bishop Antonio Augusto Dias Duarte of the Life and Family Commission of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops said last week.

This isn't really surprising, of course, but it is still frustrating that unmarried men who've never had sex are concerned with "banalization" of the act. Still, I'm really glad to see the government (and much of the population) basically ignoring the Church** on this one, and promoting safe sex. Catholic leaders and the extremely devout can hem and haw that this will "encourage" people to have sex, but this is baloney, and the government's doing all it can to help prevent the spread of disease or unwanted pregnancies is a great idea.

*As in an interesting and fun aside, the image from the first story for last year actually shows the condoms, each with a different soccer team's symbol on it. It is probably a brilliant way to promote condom use, as Brazilian fans are dyed-in-the-wool devotees to their teams in a way that few Americans in any sport are.

**I also love the fact that, in the Catholic News Network story on this, it glossarizes the story under "excommunication". Retrograde views call for retrograde categorizations, I guess.