Catholic churches in Switzerland launch campaign to distribute condoms, neighboring diocese calls move ’gravely irresponsible’

As part of an AIDS awareness campaign, Catholic churches in Lucerne, Switzerland started giving condoms to teenagers earlier this week, reports Telegraph. The 3,000 condoms reportedly bear the slogan "protect thy neighbour as thyself."

Targeted at teenagers as young as 14, the campaign includes talks about the effect of AIDS in Africa. "It’s not about promoting promiscuous activity at all. We’re using the condoms to prompt people to think about HIV and AIDS," spokesman Florian Flohr told the AP.

Flohr said the reaction to the campaign has been mostly positive. However, the neighboring diocese of Chur has called it "gravely irresponsible," according to the Catholic News Agency. Father Christoph Casetti, a spokesman of the diocese, said, "It sends the wrong message (about AIDS prevention). From a medical point of view, it is wrong because we now know that condoms do not offer adequate protection."

Telegraph reports, "A Vatican spokesman said he has not heard about (the campaign) but recalled the church’s position opposing artificial contraception and said the use of condoms doesn’t correspond to it." Last year, Pope Benedict XVI said the AIDS crisis in Africa "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems."

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