Within the framework of an AIDS prevention campaign, the Catholic Church in Lucerne has been distributing condoms in front of the train station of Lucerne (Switzerland) starting today. It risks drawing fire from the Vatican.
Some 3,000 condoms were ordered for the well-publicized action, which should last three days. Under the slogan: "Forgetting is contagious. Protect your neighbor as yourself", the Catholic Church in Lucerne wants to draw attention to the risks of unprotected sex.
"Condoms are not a miracle solution in the prevention of AIDS, but they're one possibility among many," Florian Flohr, head of communications for the Catholic Church in Lucerne said Monday to ATS [Agence télégraphique suisse]. "Whoever doesn't talk about it while discussing the subject of AIDS is acting unethically."
This distribution is only one element of a prevention campaign being waged these days. It includes a roaming bus with information aimed primarily at young people.
"Our action is not provocation," church community leader Alois Metz explained to the news program "10 vor 10" on German language TV. "We must protect life. And we protect it by using condoms." He didn't conceal the fact that he also wanted to show that the Catholic Church is not "in the Dark Ages".
The Diocese of Basel, of which the Catholic Church in Lucerne is part, has not intervened, but wants to get information from the parish about the background of this campaign which will not be to the Vatican's liking. Contacted by ATS, the Swiss Bishops' Conference didn't want to take a position: "This pastoral issue concerns the Diocese of Basel," spokesman Walter Müller stated.
The campaign has already drawn fire from the Diocese of Chur and the anti-abortion organization Human Life, which have condemned it vehemently, calling it "irresponsible". On the other hand, Aide Suisse Contre le SIDA, a Swiss AIDS action group, has applauded the initiative.