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Letter: Sexual imperialism

Sir: As a Catholic, I do not feel offended by Clare Short's remarks about the Vatican's position on contraception. However, I write to indicate an aspect of the Catholic Church's view.

The Church's teachings on contraception are in the context of marriage. Outside marriage, it says unequivocally that casual sex is wrong because it shows a lack of respect for the other person; wrong because it shows a lack of respect for the sexual act, which expresses a total giving of one's whole self and by which human life is transmitted.

To suggest that the Catholic position on contraception is affecting the spread of Aids is odd if it implies that those who engage in casual sex will become scrupulous at the suggestion of using condoms. To suggest that the Vatican should not discourage contraception being made available in poor countries in order to control population sounds odd coming from us, each of whom uses something between 40 and 80 times more of the earth's resources than an individual in the poor countries. To suggest that their poverty would be alleviated by smaller families, sounds odd coming from us who have crippled their economies with debt.

What women in poor countries need is clean water, adequate food, a basic education service and health service for themselves and their children. When we start treating them with justice and recognise their human dignity, then, if we dare, we might lecture them on how they should conduct their personal lives.