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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NORTH CAROLINA: Church Condom Ban Is at Issue
Yonat Shimron
January 28, 2010
News and Observer (Raleigh NC) (01.23.10) - Thursday, January

A small group of Roman Catholics is calling for a boycott of the Raleigh diocese's annual fundraiser, hoping to press local leaders to abandon the church's opposition to condoms. The repudiation of condoms is unethical and could hinder public health efforts to fight AIDS, say the half-dozen members of the Catholic Coalition for AIDS Prevention (CCAP).

"There's a low probability of success, but it's better to try and fail than not to try at all," said Thomas Zimmerman, who leads the group and previously worked with pharmaceutical firms on AIDS drugs. Some CCAP members have assisted their local church's AIDS care teams but say helping those who have the disease is not enough. The church should also promote education and prevention so fewer people get HIV, they say.

"We work in public health and are striving to be faithful Catholics," said Theresa Hoke, a researcher at Family Health International and a Durham congregant. "It doesn't feel right to not do anything." "We want to educate other Catholics about the reasons why this policy is bad and encourage them to express their disapproval financially," Zimmerman said. "If we can make an impact on this local diocese, it might make an impact elsewhere." "The consequences that result from boycotting a campaign designed to bring the compassion of Jesus Christ to those in need appears a contradictory way to address the issue," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. The Bishop's Annual Appeal raises funds for charity efforts covering 54 counties in eastern North Carolina.

In a meeting with Burbidge last month, CCAP was told Catholic teachings are divine truth and immutable. The meeting was polite, but no viewpoints were changed, CCAP members said.