P.S. The links keep coming in. Thanks, facebook & gaia.com friends! I’ll sort through them and try to contact the orgs, to see 1) if they want condoms mass mailed to them, and 2) if there’s support that’s more relevant to them. I’ll post the results ASAP!
People, people people. Dude thinks he has The One True God talking in his ear. He’s got no need to back down on anything he says. I assume we all know the action of sending millions of condoms to the Pope is to raise awareness among people who are not the Pope.
Given that, although the gimmick of mailing condoms to the Pope and asking him to distribute them in Africa is dramatic, is it worth the environmental impact of those millions of condoms being produced, shipped, wholesaled, shipped, bought, mailed, received and thrown into an Italian landfill?
I recall about twenty years ago, back in Louisville, Kentucky, when an Alderman reversed his position, deciding not to support adding “sexual orientation” to the city’s list of classes protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. We activists and supporters of the local Fairness campaign sent the alderman actual flip flops. It got a lot of press. His office was inundated with beach footwear.The alderman didn’t flip his position back again for several years. But our point was made to the city of Louisville.
Now, a prickly difference here is that we weren’t sending flip flops to a public figure who was opposed to the wearing of shoes. I assume that his staff carted them off to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Home of the Innocents, and whoever would use them. I bet that Alderman still has a few pair saved in his own size. All in good activist fun.
We know theater. But we can be dramatic and actually impactful at the same time.
I propose that we identify organizations already distributing condoms and mail our Pope prophylactics to the saints who will actually hand them out! We can send them in His Holiness’ name. And we can suggest that, if any condoms should fail, resulting in pregnancy, the child should be named Benedict…or Benedictine, if it’s a girl. Being from Kentucky, I love Benedictine. Kentucky is the state of fattening spreads–Benedictine, pimento cheese, beer cheese…Sorry, off topic!
I’m putting out some feelers to identify organizations that distribute condoms in Africa, for a start. Write me if you know of them. My guess is that money is tight for such groups and they would thank the Pope’s One True God if she would, through us, send them the condoms they need!
Or maybe they’re sitting on warehouses of donated condoms already and need some other distribution support. Can we wait a couple of news cycles and find out what is of most help?
It occurs to me that staging the activism on a bottom-up level might actually have an impact on the policies of the Catholic Church long term. What about mailing a condom to your local priest or bishop? Some of them are the future leadership of the Church, people who may be in a position to make directional shifts in the future, which are not likely for a standing Pope. A few pragmatic local priests might actually send the condoms to their local health clinic or Planned Parenthood under the table, and those could do more good before the landfill…
I’m Unitarian-Universalist and Pagan. So I imagine I have very simplified ideas about the Pope, the Catholic Church, the Vatican, and also the AIDS crisis in Africa, which I only know from the headlines, not the trenches. But I have been in the trenches of the green and simplicity movements for decades. I know how to screen for my impact in the choices I make as a consumer, an educator, an activist, an animal living on the planet. So it’s my knowledge that is sending up alarms, and sending me into brainstorming on topics out of my area. But that’s the wonderful thing about this internet: Some of you have the pieces I’m missing.
The following links were suggested by facebookers, members of the various groups that formed around the call to send the Pope condoms:
- http://www.avert.org/ I had previously found this group on my own first google search. I emailed them to ask if they were an organization who could accept and distribute donated condoms. They wrote back to say that, sadly, this is not their gig. But they gave me a list of about 10 NGO’s to contact. I’ll keep you posted.
- http://www.avaaz.org/en/pope_benedict_petition/ a gaia.com friend sent me this Avert.org link to their related petition. Thanks!!!
- http://www.nazarethhousejohennesburg.org/ I visited this site when the link was posted and emailed them as well. Another group member asked the question on my mind–Being a religious charity, do they evangelize, or make religious requirements of the people they serve? The poster of the link implied that they don’t. But the site didn’t mention the issue, so I asked in my email. I tried to be respectful. I hope it doesn’t prevent me from getting a response. The pros and cons of this issue could be their own post. But for those of us outside of organized or mainstream religion, it’s important for our giving to be without strings attached.
- http://www.mariestopes.org.uk/Home.aspx “Marie Stopes International is one of the major distributors of male and female condoms,” according to Kara Hanas, my facebook friend in Oklahoma. She posted this link to their Wikipedia article, describing their “social marketing programmes” in 17 developing countries.
- http://guttmacher.org/ Kara suggests this site “in regards to AIDS statistics, unsafe abortion, and contraceptive use in Africa.”
She adds, “I have written many a paper over abortion and contraceptive use so if you have any questions please let me know. The argument is best made if stats are looked at as primary indicator rather than ethics of such a practice. Maybe look into the Rape Condom as well, its chilling. Also Botswana I believe is a stable democracy (freedom house indicators) and has been since the 60s; however, something like 60% or 65% of their population is infected with the virus. Look that up because I can’t remember off hand the number of HIV cases and AIDS cases. Lancet has some really good articles as well over contraceptive use and unsafe abortion…”
Clearly Kara has a wealth of research to share. Unfortunately for this posting, she’s under tons of snow and without internet to send me the links and research she and I discussed. I’ll follow up with those. Hmm. I wonder if, nine months from now, Oklahoma will see a boom of snowstorm babies. Maybe Kara is busy going door to door with her tin of condoms!