AIDS: Nature carries a big stick

Anthony Zimmerman
Publication with some editing
by New Oxford Review,
December 2001
Reproduced with Permission

Trust Nature. She is not about to abandon the race to the moral nihilism of those who have different ideas about the family than she has. By imposing AIDS upon Homo Sapiens, Nature demonstrates that she is a stern mother who carries a big stick. She doesn't plead with us, doesn't cajole us, doesn't bribe us. Mother Nature says: "These are my ways. They are good. They are wise. Follow them" (Herbert Ratner, M.D., see conclusion).

The HIV virus is a gargantuan threat to the health and well-being of the human race, testing our fidelity to the Ten Commandments much as seismic whiplash shakes cities to their foundations. On the one hand, HIV wastelands already beckon health workers to care for the millions who are in misery; on the other hand it admonishes victims to shape up their lives for a premature rendevous with eternity. It slowly exposes wishful thinking about condoms - a camouflaged Trojan horse; and it blows the whistle repeatedly on theological adventurism. We will address these issues in what follows.

Human Solidarity with Victims of AIDS

Mother Teresa saw the face of Christ in people stricken by AIDS. She led her sisters to find them, lave them, and renew them with the energizing medicine of God's love. Cardinal O'Connor found time not only to prepare sermons for St. Patrick's Cathedral but also to be at the side of AIDS sufferers in New York City hospitals. When AIDS struck the race suddenly, Catholic agencies everywhere geared up for action.

AIDS is like war, said Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS, when speaking recently at a Vatican-sponsored convention. "It is a massive development catastrophe affecting many countries....AIDS now kills far more people world-wide than any other infectious disease." He celebrated the existing collaboration between the Catholic Church's organizations and UNAIDS that has been ongoing at the global, regional, and country levels. He recalled that "in 1998 a formal partnership was established between the UNAIDS Secretariat and Caritas Internationalis committing them to work together." He observed that

Each organization will do this from its own perspective. CARITAS Internationalis from the spiritual, moral, and social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and UNAIDS from its pluralistic standpoint as an organ of the United Nations (Address at the convention of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, December 9,10,11,1999. See Dolentium Hominum, No.44, pp. 8-11).

In his address Dr. Piot pointed out that the Catholic Church was the first to open her harms to people with HIV/AIDS who were rejected by their communities. She does so "regardless of past history, their sexual orientation, or their mode of infection." He quoted John Paul II: "God loves you all without distinction, without limits...He loves those who are sick, those who are suffering from AIDS. He loves the relatives and friends of the sick and those who care for them" (Piot, ibid.). Not all is well in the relations between the two parties, but both welcome mutual collaboration where possible.

Catholic health care workers are indeed responding with immense generosity to the needs of AIDS people who often suffer from a double whammy of physical distress and social rejection. Msgr. Jacques Suadueau M.D., an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, described the heroic love he saw in action in so many parts of Africa. He recalled the serene and smiling faces of so many African men and women we saw each day involved without fanfare in this harsh struggle against the devastation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic....

Since the start of the epidemic, the Catholic Church has been present with her hospitals, treatment centres, parishes, the service of men and women religious, local aid organizations for the sick and concern for their problems. In Africa she has been in the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We must remember that the Catholic Church's commitment has, as always, been discreet and effective. We must recognize, above all, the admirable dedication and extraordinary generosity of the many people we have seen - in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso - visiting AIDS patients in their homes, bringing them human assistance, medical treatment and, frequently, food and drink. To understand the reality of AIDS in these countries, one must follow the volunteer workers on their rounds, as we did, and see them entering dark houses, bending with compassion over a poor emaciated woman on the verge of death, surrounded by three or four children who will have nothing left tomorrow, not even their mother.

We must pay due respect to those women religious who have taken in so many children orphaned by AIDS and provided them with shelter, food, education and professional training by begging funds right and left and relying on a minimum of public assistance and the meagre contributions of international institutions. We must respect these lay men and women, often from other continents, who have given hope, dignity of life and food to so many women infected with AIDS and rejected by everyone as "dirty". Here we have seen Christ suffering, Christ despised, stigmatized, and rejected, Christ sick and visited by no one, Christ dying of hunger and thirst. We sensed their horrible loneliness and the terrible feeling of being given up for lost. But we also saw Christ visiting the sick, comforting the suffering, embracing AIDS victims and taking responsibility for their children who are now orphans (Osservatore Romano, Weekly edition in English, 19 April 2000).

Not only in Sub-Saharan Africa, but around the globe, where there is need, Catholic sisters, priests, and lay people are present to serve. When the virus struck in Mumbai (Bombay), India, Sr. Anne John, R.J.M. went into action. Without money but with a strong heart and trust in God, she set about finding land, building a new center, cajoling benefactors, and gathering health workers around herself. On September 1st 1999 she opened Hope Centre in the city for voluntary blood testing and pre and post test counseling .

The Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care is in the forefront of organizing the response of Catholic solidarity with the sick. The President, H.E.Mons. Javier Lozano Barragan welcomed participants to the Conference on AIDS in December 1999, and laid out plans for expanding activities: "We want to promote the creation of a credible network of selfless groups of bodies and non-governmental organizations involved in the struggle against this illness. We want to support the actions of national governments in this area; lend our weight to the initiatives of Catholic and non-Catholic non-governmental organizations; help in the acquisition of funds and financial means for projects" and much more ("Greetings and Introduction," Dolentium Hominum, No. 44). AIDS has stirred up a beautiful response of human goodness and solidarity among health workers.

Conversion of Hearts

Denial may be the first reaction when a victim learns that he or she is sero-positive. Anger may follow, and bargaining, numbness, despair, but not infrequently, a reaching out for spiritual support. Some become earnest counselors to fellow-sufferers and educators against risky behavior.

Chris Camp is a 17-year survivor of HIV infection and AIDS who now travels in Middle Atlantic states of the USA counseling HIV positive individuals about grief and other AIDS-related issues. He is chairman of the community advisory board of a research project in the Washington-Baltimore area, based at John Hopkins School of Public Health, which since 1984 has been following a group of more than 5000 homosexuals and bisexuals at four sites around the country. The MultiCenter AIDS Cohort Study is trying to determine whether and when they contract HIV, and what illnesses follow. During the two previous years Camp had to enter the hospital six times because of side effects of potent AIDS medications. For some people these can cause diarrhea and bloating, kidney stones, pancreatitis or re-distribution of body fat. Since 1982 he has lost over 400 close associates, among whom he is almost sole survivor. "Almost to a person, everybody who was significant in my dead" ("Living with HIV and AIDS" on the site

To cope with his grief, he finds himself becoming more intent on cultivating his spiritual life, and takes time to mourn for those people important to him who have passed away. He makes a point of taking his medication daily without fail, just the way it is prescribed, 100%. "HIV is ready to pounce at the slightest misstep." He advises audiences to make the most of their lives, and notes that many decide to pull their lives together after contracting the virus, to get off drugs, to become model parents, to go back to school, to write a book...." Camp, ibid.).

For victims and care takers alike, one of the more difficult burdens to deal with is neurologic complications. About 40 percent of those with the AIDS syndrome eventually experience nerve and brain damage. Fatigue, difficulty in speaking, vision problems, fever, headache, stiff neck, cognitive impairment, paralysis, convulsions, loss of consciousness are symptoms. HIV-1 also causes progressive dementia in about 30 percent of the cases, characterized by apathy, withdrawal and progressive loss of memory. About 20 percent of AIDS patients suffer from a spinal cord syndrome with progressive spastic leg weakness and lost of sensation ("Neurologic Complications of AIDS"

In Uganda young HIV victims are now trained teachers and organizers who engage effectively and eagerly in AIDS prevention efforts. "Been there - done that," makes their words all the more credible. AIDS has been made to be a blessing in disguise for no small number of victims. We all die sooner or later, but for HIV people it is sooner.

Some Aspects of the Disease

Make no mistake about it, AIDS is an epidemic of enormous magnitude today in sub-Saharan Africa, where wars, poverty, underdeveloped health care, widespread sexually transmitted diseases, malnourishment, debilitating malaria, prostitution, polygamy, multi-sexual partners, and other conditions combine to make populations vulnerable. What started in Africa, is trickling inexorably into other parts of the globe. The following figures for the end of 1999 are posted on the Internet, provides information as follows: AIDS is spread most commonly today by sexual contact with an infected partner, and to a lesser percentage by drug users sharing needles or syringes. Before 1985 it was also spread by blood transfusions, but that has been minimized by heat treating to destroy HIV in blood products. Approximately one-fourth to one-third of pregnant mothers pass it on to their children but with AZT treatment of mothers and cesarean section delivery that can be reduced to 1 percent. Studies have found no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat, tears, urine or feces. Living in the same house with infected people is not risky when ordinary precautions are taken to avoid sharing body fluids.

Many people do not develop any symptoms at all when first infected with HIV. The majority, however, experience flu-like symptoms within the first week after infection, which most patients and doctors dismiss as a routine cold or flu. The symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month. People are highly infectious during this early period because HIV is present in large quantities in genital secretions. Infection is not detectable during this early period by current blood tests, ELISA and Western Blot. Only after one to three months, and sometimes as long as six months, do tests indicate infection by HIV. .

Persistent or severe symptoms may not be experienced for even up to ten years after infection, a condition which was once interpreted falsely as a period of dormancy. Now it is known that this is not the case, because from the day of first infection the virus multiplies and continues to do so steadily. It attacks and kills CD4+ T cells (also called T4 cells) which are the body's key fighters of infections. They are a group of white blood cells that normally attack invading bacteria and viruses and other germs by coordinating the immune system. The normal count of these cells is about 1,000 or more in healthy people. When the virus has steadily brought down their number to fewer than 200, the person is said to have AIDS, a definition made by the CDC in 1993.

Once the virus enters a T4 cell, it uses the cell's genetic material to multiply billions of viral copies. Then after cannibalizing the cell's contents, the virus scythes through the cell's enclosing membrane, migrates into the blood stream and seeks entry into other T4 cells. As these immuno-defenders decline in number, the person becomes more and more vulnerable to various opportunistic illnesses which normal people can fight off with their intact immune system. Because there is currently no cure, HIV infection is a lifelong and terminal illness.

The interval between the first entrance of the virus and arrival at full-blown AIDS varies, but averages 10-11 years [USA data]. From this stage of full-blown AIDS until death, duration and conditions vary greatly from one patient to another. Some die very soon, whereas others have lived 12 years or more. Drug treatment enables patients to survive longer, to fight off diseases, to reduce times of hospitalization, but until now there is no cure. Such is the picture of HIV/AIDS provided on the Internet site, which describes conditions as they are in the USA.

AIDS is Nature's Compass Pointing to Moral Standards

AIDS is Nature's lever nudging humanity back into its wonted pattern of abstaining from sexual intercourse before marriage, and faithfulness within marriage. "Do it my way," she says, "or die." There is no recourse from the death sentence.

When I visited the national hospital in Nairobi some six years ago it was already crowded with AIDS patients. Conditions have since gone from bad to worse. By 1999, 2,100,000 adults and children had the virus in Kenya's population of 29,507,000. A total of 180,000 died from AIDS in 1999, an average of 490 per day. Most are young, in the prime of life, who should contribute to the nation's economic and social welfare. Catholics in Kenya number 7,000,000 in 612 parishes. One Bishop reported that some parishes in his diocese may have six or eight funerals in a single day.

Sister Doctor Birgitta Schnell, O.S.B. sends annual hospital reports from St. Benedict's Hospital, Ndanda, Tanzania. Blood tests from donors reveal a dramatic increase of infections during the past decade:

Year 1989 1990 1991 1992 1996 1999 2000
% HIV positive 0.9 2.1 3.8 6.8 9.4 7.9 8.1

The Internet site 1999 reports a rate of 8.09% for all Tanzania, with 1,200,000 infected people, and 140,000 deaths in 1999. 1,100,000 children are AIDS orphans among its population of 32,800,000.

Among the 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 17 have an infection rate exceeding 10%:

Country % infected with HIV/AIDS

All of the infected will die prematurely. We weep with Africans.

From 1981 onwards, 18,800,000 have died from AIDs around the globe, including 7,700,000 women, 7,300,000 men, and 3,800,000 children. 14,000 new infections occur per day. AIDs orphans who lost one or both parents during these years number 13,200,000. Currently 34,300,000 are infected with HIV/AIDS (UN Report, end of 1999). For each it is a death sentence.

Whispering "Abstinence" but Shouting "Condoms"

To battle the epidemic, public administrators and some NGO's tend to whisper the word, "abstinence" but to shout the word "CONDOMS!" For example, this passage is found in a bulletin posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "We know now that abstaining from sex is the only foolproof protection from the sexual passage of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We know, too, that for those who choose to have sex with someone who has any chance of being infected, using a latex condom during every sexual encounter can significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases while protecting against pregnancy." This single mention of abstinence is on page one. The rest of that page, and pages two, three, four are about condoms, condoms, and more condoms. There is not another word about abstinence (see posting on . "Increase condom use" is the constant mantra repeated on the "aidsline"site in the seven country reports that I happened to select from among many more.

When visiting Dar es Salaam in Tanzania six years ago, together with Fr. Matthew Habiger, O.S.B., we learned that 49,000,000 condoms lay on the pier in the harbor, baking in the tropical sun. On the 600 kilometer drive by jeep from Paramiho in the west near Lake Tanganyika to Dar Es Salaam on the east coast, our driver Father Julian Kangalawe pointed out truck stops. Each restaurant displays condoms, he said, under pain of closure by government officials. He had buried five parishioners who returned to their homes to die after contracting AIDS in the city. Father Habiger writes about his more recent trip to Tanzania:

KING CONDOM II: In Sub-Sahara Africa there is an exaggerated reliance upon, and false assurance offered by the condom. This is very dangerous. And yet at every major center we visited, there were signs promoting the condom: on billboards, railway overpasses, markets and elsewhere. Population controllers like International Planned Parenthood Federation...USAID, UNFPA, and Marie Stopes are among the strongest advocates of the condom. They know the failure rates of the condom. They know that the condom encourages promiscuity, and that promiscuity simply increases the risk of contracting diseases. In spite of this, these groups do not get behind abstinence which is the only guaranteed means of prevention. Rather, they advance the idea that even more condoms are needed...

In Q&A sessions following our presentations in secondary schools promoting chastity, invariably someone would ask: "Why does our government allow the NGO's and UN agencies to promote the condom so aggressively?" Our only answer was that their government has swallowed the argument that Tanzanian youth cannot practice total abstinence before marriage, and that the bribes and perks provided the government by the NGO's were too persuasive to be refused (Human Life International, Special Report No. 190, October 2000).

The rhetoric about condoms, however, may be directed more to funding agencies in the galleries than to national audiences vulnerable to AIDS. Applications for funds are made persuasive with statistics: "We supplied _____ millions of condoms, we conducted ____ guidance sessions, we prevented _____ pregnancies, _____STD's and _____HIV infections." Population control, now teamed up with HIV/AIDS control, is a huge industry which provides a living for hundreds of thousands of employees. Funding is lavish, by USAID, UNFPA, major tax-privileged Foundations, and various national governments.

Use of the condom among the masses in sub-Saharan Africa, however, appears to less than the high decibel promotion might lead us to think. A large gap is noted between knowing about condoms and using them. "Most condom-promotion strategies for preventing the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa have targeted female sex workers and truck drivers" ( Studies in Family Planning, 31,1, September 2000, p.203). "Recent surveys have shown inconsistent and low use of condoms as well as a reluctance to use them for STD prevention among adult men and women and among adolescents in Nigeria" (op. cit. p.206). In the tabulation provided by, the column "condom access, %" has data for only five of the forty five listed countries: Congo: 3% (1996); Ethiopia 80% (1994); Guinea 1% (1996); Uganda 50% (1995); and Tanzania 3% (1996). Truck drivers and female sex workers appear to be the populations where access and use are concentrated.

Condoms, Imperfect Protection Against AIDS

Too much wishful thinking still keeps out of focus the mortal danger of relying on condoms to prevent HIV infection. They are not 100% proof, and sex workers and their frequent clients will likely become failure statistics in the course of time. If the typical failure rate of condom use to prevent pregnancy is 15% per year, we should expect equal or higher rates of failure when condoms are used to prevent transmission of HIV.

Latex condoms become brittle as they age and when exposed to heat or cold. Condoms can slip, break, leak, spill over the rim. Seminal fluid migrates up and over the rim. No condom is tight enough to hold back the seepage. (A correspondent confided that their center advises using two condoms instead of only one, as physicians use two pairs of gloves folded into each other when exposed to contaminated blood during surgery. In irony she added that her advice would be to also use grout.) Men do not always withdraw immediately after climax while holding on to the condom lest is slip off. One piece of advice is to withdraw before the climax to prevent spillage. Fluids attach to the outside of the condom before it is put on. Often users simply prefer to do without them.

The HIV virus is 450 times smaller than semen, therefore more likely to get through or around the condom. Infection with HIV is possible on all days, in contrast to pregnancy which is possible only during one-third of the days of a cycle. HIV finds entrance into the blood stream via lesions caused by STD's, a route not open to semen. In real life we deal with failure rates of typical usage, not with controlled tests. We expect that 15% or more of condom-user-populations are infected by HIV per year in infested areas. All will meet an early death. Air lines would not advertise that 85% of their flights do not crash within a year.

Promotion of condoms cuts two ways: on the one hand it may contain AIDS to some extent and temporarily. On the other hand, it provides a false sense of security, inducing individual users to abandon caution and begin even more risky behavior. Risky behavior explodes into larger populations because condoms are there to use, and respected public figures urge their usage. More risks, more people courting risks, more HIV infection. Promoting condoms is cutting off heads of Hydra, which sprouts two heads from each severed stump. Promoting condoms is peddling Russian Roulette with six chambers empty, and one loaded. Condoms are a Trojan horse that crashes city gates and brings nations to their knees.

Nature Reserves Sex for Monogamous Marriage

But condoms are short of what nature is demanding. Her prescriptions are the common sense perceptions we all know: 1) abstain before marriage; 2) if you marry, do so publicly, with one person, and "until death do us part;" and 3) keep the act open to children. So has it been since God brought Eve to Adam; so has nature insisted through all generations, so has generation after generation lived, by and large, before the year 2000 A.D.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) explained that the manner of using sex which is not in agreement with reason is against the common good of the human race. To avoid abuse is "most necessary for the common good, namely the preservation of the human race. Wherefore there is the greatest necessity for observing the order of reason in this matter, so that if anything be done in this connection against the dictate of reason's ordering, it will be a sin" (Summa Theologica, II,II, 153,3. He names various offenses in their ascending hierarchical degree of malice, beginning with fornication and adultery which remain open to conception, and ending with the worst abuse of all, "not observing the natural manner of copulation" because from it generation cannot follow (op. cit. 154,11). He would therefore list the use of condoms to avoid conception as more malicious than fornication and adultery from which generation may follow.

A celebrated controversy arose when America Magazine sent advance notice to the news media on 20 September 2000 about a coming article titled "Tolerant Signals: The Vatican's new insights on condoms for HIV prevention" by Jon D. Fuller and James F. Keenan, America, September 23, 2000. The article claims that the Roman curia is tolerant on the use of condoms to contain the spread of AIDS. It cites as evidence an article written by Msgr. Dr. Jacques Suaudeau an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and published in Osservatore Romano (see Weekly Edition in English, 19 April 2000). The September 20th notice to the media had claimed that "Bishops from the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa and Papua New Guinea have argued that the use of condoms to prevent HIV transmission is a lesser evil, and the same language was used by Monsignor Suaudeau in L'Osservatore Romano."

But Zenit News responded swiftly that America had misinterpreted that article, and that there is no change in the Vatican position:


Misleading Article in International Press

ROME, SEPT. 19, 2000 ( Headlines around the world last weekend trumpeted a "change" in Vatican attitudes about the use of condoms. Those headlines, however, twist the content of the very article they claim to be citing."

Msgr. Suaudeau responded that American had misinterpreted his meaning and there is no change in the Vatican stance on the subject:

The following should be clearly pointed out:

1. Any interpretation of my article as claiming to attempt to cast doubt on the Church's official teaching on this point has absolutely no foundation. I have already published many articles in this regard against the use of condoms in the prevention of HIV/AIDS in scientific and moral publications which can attest, beyond any doubt, to my attitude on this issue, on which I have been working for many years.

2. The use of condoms, as I state in my article, "cannotbe proposed as amodel of humanization and development", because it is always an intrinsic objective moral disorder" (Oss. Rom. 27 Sept. 2000.)

The Vatican position cannot change because it is never licit to do evil - to use contraception - in order to achieve good. Doing evil to achieve good is as logical as burning down a house to prevent arson. To expect the Church to change her teaching on the matter is unrealistic - as unreal as expecting Gibralter to turn into butter, and horses to fly. Thus the AIDS challenge has become an occasion for the Church to once more affirm the principle that contraception is intrinsically evil.

Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it guarantees freedom from AIDS. Condoms do not. We should hold public agencies responsible for shouting "CONDOMS" and only whispering "abstinence." The America article gained a great deal of notoriety for the magazine, but life-saving it is not. If as a result of that article even one person in a densely infected area uses a condom instead of abstaining, his life is at risk. America is Cain saying to his African brother "Let us go out into the field." And after the deed is done the Lord will say to America: "Where is your brother Abel?" This is not a parlor game of Trivia. Lives are at stake. Perhaps two thirds of some national populations will die from AIDS. Only the chaste will survive, not the condom users.

Beginnings of Change

Condom propaganda has one great silencer: death. Death of a close friend or family member opens eyes. When young people in Africa attend funerals, they can see the hand writing on the wall. Some of them join the "Club of 25." Its youthful members meet for socials and mutual affirmation. Each pledges to donate blood 25 times, once every three months. If their blood is not clean, they are rejected. Their aim is to remain clean for 25 donations, over a span of six years.

Monsignor Suaudeau tells about willingness of young Africans to modify their sexual conduct:

In Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria groups of young people have been organized by Catholic women religious, priests and lay people who are concerned for them. These groups are dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDSand are called by the significant names: "Youth Alive"and "Youth for Life".In these informal groups, which are independent of any government or state organization, boys and girls of 16 to 18 years of age are involved in fighting HIV/AIDS among their classmates and companions, with a commitment to sexual continence until marriage and to conjugal chastity after marriage.

These groups are not theoretical projects. They really exist and have existed for years, discreetly and effectively. We had an opportunity to meet them and to talk with young people who are "normal", smiling, happy, interested in music and football, lovers of life but not of prophylactics. These groups do not ask for money: they ask for love, patience, time, dedication and faith from those who guide them.

Undeniably, this is the model to be followed: it is certainly not an easy model, but it is fully human, based on faith and hope and not on something made of latex to be distributed. With the millions of dollars spent on the prophylactic industry, far more could have been done for the young people of Africa, for their education, for their support and for effective prevention of contracting HIV/AIDS.

He reports that young men and women in Uganda are increasingly waiting with sexual intercourse until marriage. Responses to surveys in Kampala indicate that among boys age 15-19, those who had had no sexual relations were 31% in 1989, but had risen to 56% by 1995. Among girls the rate rose from 26% to 46%. Among married men, sexual relations outside of marriage dropped from 22.6% to 18.1%. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases dropped in the meantime from 45% to 35% among men examined at clinics participating in surveys. Among pregnant women in Jinja the rate of HIV infection dropped from 21% to 5% between 1990 and 1996 (see Suaudeau, April 19). Admittedly there was a simultaneous rise in the percentage of those using prophylactics, but Msgr. Suaudeau considers that the change in sexual behavior was the more important factor.


From the time of Adam and Eve, Nature had in place a standard deterrent to discourage extramarital sex. The stumbling block was extramarital pregnancy and duties attached to it. Only recently has mankind bulldozed the barrier aside by resorting to contraceptives, abortion, and sterilization. Nature has responded: with a back-up deterrent: AIDS. And with the dread disease, a premature death. Youth today, staring into the grim face of AIDS, must decide whether to die prematurely or to accept Nature's standard code of sexual behavior. I conclude with wise words spoken by Dr. Herbert Ratner, former public health official in the Oak Park District of Chicago. Ever since I first heard him providing pithy wisdom about family life during my seminary days at Techny, Illinois, I absorbed his writings and enjoyed his precious company at conventions. He always saved a spicy joke for me.

When the Pill came into use in the USA Dr. Ratner used to send valid information to me in Japan about this "chemical war on women". I should take it to the Welfare Ministry which I did. With that information at hand, the Ministry refused to approve the birth control pill for the four following decades. And even now after it is approved in 1999, very few use it. Dr. Ratner also warned that AIDS is spread especially by way of sodomy, because the semen is immuno-depressive, and the anal tissue is vulnerable. This same guardian of public health - may he rest in peace - addresses these wise words to mankind to keep good company with nature:

It is no surprise, then, that the traditional family is one of the most enduring and resilient realities of human history. Aberrations and deviations, innovations of one sort or another, come and go, but they never thrive or last. The traditional family has a habit of burying its undertakers. For example, the decade of the 1960's saw the rise of communes and communal family life with their sharing of sex partners and children. But this was short-lived. By the late Seventies, monogamy and traditional family life were making a comeback in these very same communes.

Nature has a vested interest in the traditional or monogamous family: the reproductive mode of her highest creature, man. Though we think of nature as Mother Nature and credit her with all that motherhood implies, she has an inescapable shortcoming that circumscribes and limits her merciful motherhood. She is a stern teacher and disciplinarian who expects us to heed what she says or suffer the consequences. Mother Nature doesn't plead with us, doesn't cajole us, doesn't bribe us. Mother Nature says: "These are my ways. They are good. They are wise. Follow them." When nature is ignored or transgressed by free wheeling man, she fights back....(Address delivered at the tenth convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, 1987 titled: "The Natural Institution of the Family." Doctor Ratner passed away on Dec. 6, 1997.)