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Press Release

Media Contact:
Michelle Ringuette,
+1 202 986 6093

For Immediate Release
19 August 2005

Condoms4Life Message an Outstanding Success at Catholic World Youth Day

"Good Catholics Use Condoms" Resonates with Pilgrims, Nuns and Clergy

COLOGNE—“If only one thing became more clear this week it is that we know we are pushing at an open door on HIV/AIDS prevention in the Catholic church. The church hierarchy will change its position and lift the ban on condoms—it is inevitable. The urgent question that we ask the cardinals and bishops to address is how many more people must die needlessly before common sense and decency prevails in the leadership of the church on the question of the use of condoms,” said Andrea Ramírez, a member of “World Youth Day 4 All” (WYD4All, an independent coalition of progressive youth from around the globe), representing Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir in Bolivia. “How long will it take for the bishops and cardinals to admit that they got it wrong when it comes to the ban on condoms?”

At the end of the Catholic World Youth Day festival in Cologne, Germany, WYD4All celebrated the widespread support and endorsement the Condoms4Life public education campaign and the international group of progressive youth received this week from fellow pilgrims, nuns and clergy.

WYD4All encountered overwhelming enthusiasm in Cologne and from around the world as they distributed safer sex advice and information concerning the bishops’ ban on condoms. “This demonstrates that young people are behind those bishops around the world who have already stood up and told the Vatican that it is moral to use condoms to prevent the transmission of death and that condoms are for life,” WYD4All posted on its official blog.

This week in Cologne at the Youth Hearing (a Catholic World Youth Day event), WYD4All coalition member Adam Qvist of Denmark asked the bishops, “How can you ban condoms when people are dying of AIDS?” The audience applauded him for over a minute until silenced by the moderator. Then, every bishop there endorsed condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ozzie Warwick, of Trinidad and Tobago and a member of the steering committee for the WYD4ALL coalition, stated that the emergence of the coalition represented an unprecedented new step forward in global activism, “a powerful force that will live on in the struggle long after this week.”

“For the first time ever, both Catholic and sexual health and rights activists have joined hands in creating a 16-country coalition using 11 languages to challenge what is a great injustice: the Vatican’s ban on the use of condoms,” continued Warwick. “We have said it loudly so that it rings around the world. Last year, there were 39.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Almost 60,000 people died of AIDS this week as we waited for the pope. We will not accept the Vatican’s lobbying at forums like the United Nations and the European Union to stop Catholics and non-Catholics gaining access to life saving condoms.”

“We had fantastic reactions from most people we approached,” said Ramírez. “Much as we feel frustrated with the head-in-the-sand approach of the hierarchy to condoms, our coalition knows the winds of change are blowing through the Catholic church now more than ever on the question of safer sex and condoms. The young pilgrims were glad we were there spreading the word about HIV and condoms. One African nun was especially happy to see us telling the pilgrims that condoms save lives. She told me that the youth must do the responsible thing and use condoms.”

Catholic World Youth Day Successes:

  • Pilgrims welcomed and cheered the World Youth Day 4 All coalition, complimenting the giant Condoms4Life billboards and posters that plastered the Cologne mass transit system.
  • WYD4All handed out thousands of stickers and postcards proclaiming “Condoms prevent HIV/AIDS” and “Good Catholics Use Condoms” in German, Spanish and English. Pilgrims not affiliated with the group even joined in to spread the word.
  • Young progressive activists from all over the world working on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues came together for the first time to advocate for the Vatican to lift the ban on condoms and to promote a compassionate and just position on HIV/AIDS prevention.
  • The international media kept the issues of HIV/AIDS prevention and the unjust ban on condoms central to its coverage of Catholic World Youth Day.
  • Supporters from all over the world sent messages of encouragement and thanks to the World Youth Day 4 All coalition on its blog.

Gute KatholikInnen verwenden Kondome • Buenos católicos y católicas usan condones • Good Catholics Use Condoms

Read about the progress the group made this week on the WYD4All blog.

See the Condoms4Life campaign advertisements placed throughout the Cologne metro system.

The WYD4All youth coalition will finish distribution this weekend and will be available for media comment through Sunday.

—end—

The World Youth Day 4 All Coalition (WYD4All) is an international youth coalition dedicated to promoting church reform, sexual and reproductive health and rights and youth activism. WYD4All will be in Cologne for the duration of Catholic World Youth Day in support of the Condoms4Life campaign to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms. The Condoms4Life ad campaign and informational brochure can be found at www.condoms4life.org

World Youth Day 4 All are: Wir sind Kirche-JUGEND / We Are Church-YOUTH . * YouACT / European Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights * Catholics for a Free Choice * CDD Bolivia/Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir * Homosexuelle und Kirche / Homosexuals and Church