Benedict XVI Is Smarter Than Conventional Wisdom

Outrageous papal quotation of the week. In response to a question from a French reporter, Pope Benedict XVI said condoms won't cure AIDS.
I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.

Therefore, I would say that our double effort is to renew the human person internally, to give spiritual and human strength to a way of behaving that is just towards our own body and the other person’s body; and this capacity of suffering with those who suffer, to remain present in trying situations.

I believe that this is the first response [to AIDS] and that this is what the Church does, and thus, she offers a great and important contribution. And we are grateful to those that do this.

Cue the usual anti-Catholic bigots denouncing this rational and humane statement as backwards and malicious. An academic calls for the Pope's impeachment in WaPo. Bonnie Erbe calls the pope "horrifically ignorant." Yadda-yadda. Lookee here though, Smartie-pantses. The head of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project just said:

We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.
Even folks who support condom use believe that behavior change rather than condom distribution is the key to AIDS prevention. Even Planned Parenthood's research arm acknowledges this --the only African countries to reduce infection rates are those promoting behavior change through ABC programs: Abstain, Be monogamous, Condoms --with the former two being much more important than the latter.