Dr. John Kinkel

Professor John Kinkel to Present on Catholic Church, AIDS Prevention at New York Conference

Author will share the results of a four-year study on the evolution of policies within the church to allow for condom use in certain circumstances


New York, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/27/2015 --Dr. John Kinkel, an Oakland University professor, will present the results of a four-year study on the previous and current AIDS policies of the Catholic Church.

The presentation, which will take place February 28 at a meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society in New York, will focus on Kinkel's in-depth examination of the objections of more than 35 bishops and cardinals from 1987 to 2009. These church officials regularly advocated for the use of condoms to help fight the spread of AIDS across the globe, an effort that eventually paid off with changes to overall church policy.

"After years of debate and pressing Vatican leaders for change, a remarkably small group of cardinals and bishops were able to convince church bureaucrats that it was wise to alter their views on condom use, especially as it relates to AIDS prevention," said Kinkel. "These officials' advocacy led to now-retired Pope Benedict XVI altering his teaching, which had previously involved staunch opposition to using condoms under any circumstances. This was an incredible movement within the church that resulted in real change, even though it took more than two decades to take hold."

For many years, the Catholic Church remained firmly opposed to the use of condoms and other forms of birth control, a policy that impeded efforts to battle the spread of AIDS from the 1980s to now. The group of cardinals and bishops featured in the study were able to convince "old theology" clerics at the Vatican to realize that condom use could be viewed as a contraceptive, or "contra-virus." They successfully argued that using a condom to help prevent a deadly disease was a morally just action—and one that should actually be commended rather than condemned."

According to Dr. Kinkel, the tragedy of this story lies in the fact that for nearly 30 years, some Catholic priests and their faithful followers dutifully avoided the use of condoms, following papal directives. Many Catholics died because of these policies.

"In my paper, I argue that the current Pope Francis should officially apologize for church failings," said Kinkel. "Many individuals and families suffered greatly over the years, and a large number of people died simply because they were following a flawed church policy."

About Dr. Kinkel
Dr. Kinkel is the author of the book "Papal Paralysis: How the Vatican dealt with the AIDS Crisis," published by Lexington Books. The February 28 presentation will take place at the New York Broadway Millennium Hotel in Manhattan.