Obama Adviser Stands by Assertion That Pope Benedict XVI Is 'Hurting People in the Name of Jesus'
February 3, 2010 - 5:28 AMHarry Knox, an adviser to President Obama's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is standing by a statement he made last March that Pope Benedict XVI is "hurting people in the name of Jesus" because the pope does not support the use of condoms to control the spread of HIV.
When asked on Tuesday whether he still holds that view that the pope "is hurting people in the name of Jesus," Knox said, “I do.” (See video below.)
In addition to advising President Obama on the government's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership programs, Knox is the director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a homosexual activist group.
At the National Press Club on Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked Knox, “You put out a statement saying Pope Benedict XVI was—quote—‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’ because he did not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV. And I was wondering, do you still believe the pope’s position on condoms is ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’?”
Knox answered, “I—I do.”
In a follow-up question, CNSNews.com asked Knox: “So, even in light of—Edward Green, a Harvard researcher in AIDS prevention said the pope was correct in that condom use aggravates HIV, the spread of it, in Africa. So, in light of that statement, do you still hold to that position?
Knox answered, “He is simply incorrect in his assertion. All the other evidence of science shows otherwise.”
On March 17, 2009, Pope Benedict flew to Africa to visit Cameroon and Angola. During the flight, he answered several questions from reporters, including one concerning AIDS in Africa: Given that the Catholic Church’s position in fighting AIDS “is often considered unrealistic and ineffective,” would the pope “address this theme during the journey?”
Pope Benedict gave a lengthy response, detailing many of the Church’s humanitarian efforts to help people with AIDS in Africa. “I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is,” he said. “If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behavior], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.”
In response to the pope’s remarks, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a statement. It quoted Harry Knox as follows: “The Pope’s statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus.”
“On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods,” said Knox in the statement. “The Pope’s rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further.”
Senior Harvard AIDS Prevention Researcher Edward Green, who describes himself as a liberal, says that science backs the pope’s message.
“We just cannot find an association between more condom use and lower HIV-reduction rates” in Africa, Green told the Catholic News Agency in March 2009. The news agency further reported: “According to Green, the Catholic Church should continue to ‘do what it is already doing,’ avoid ‘arguing about the diameter of viruses’ and cite scientific evidence in connection with scripture and moral theology.”
Harry Knox spoke with CNSNews.com at a press conference about the “American Prayer Hour,” a new, multi-city event designed to "affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."
Other speakers at the press conference included the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and Ninth Bishop in New Hampshire; Bishop Carleton Pearson, senior minister at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago; Frank Schaeffer, author and journalist; Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, pastor at Metropolitan Community Church; Rev. Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and Moses, a Ugandan citizen seeking asylum in the United States to escape abuse in his own country based on his sexual orientation.
A transcript of the exchange between CNSNews.com and Harry Knox follows below:
CNSNews.com: “You put out a statement saying Pope Benedict XVI was, quote, ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’ because he did not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV. And I was wondering, do you still believe the pope’s position on condoms is ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’?”
Knox: “I—I do.”
CNSNews.com: “All right. So, even in light of—Edward Green, a Harvard researcher in AIDS Prevention said the pope was correct in that condom use aggravates HIV, the spread of it, in Africa. So, in light of that statement, do you still hold to that position?”
Knox: “He is simply incorrect in his assertion. All the other evidence of science shows otherwise.” (Listen to audio clip below.)