Sir, I was appalled at the tasteless cartoon depicting Pope Benedict XVI. No newspaper should show such disrespect to a person who is held in high esteem by a large proportion of Christians in the world. To pillory the Pope in this way is totally unacceptable. As to what Pope Benedict said, it would be wiser for people to look at the issues that he was raising in his remarks. It is certainly true that the widespread distribution of condoms can run the risk of greater promiscuity and that the best way to combat the Aids epidemic is by healthcare, education and fidelity in married life. Even if people do not accept the Church’s teaching in this matter, it is a well-known fact that the greatest contribution to health care for those living with Aids in Africa is given by the Catholic Church. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor Archbishop of Westminster
As it happens, I support the pope's freedom of speech. For example, I do not want him jailed for a crime against humanity for urging that condoms not be used in Africa to combat the AIDS crisis. Still, I can definitely see the problem with this, given the enormous loss of life that may follow if the Pope's advice is taken seriously.
I defend freedom of speech consistently, partly on the basis that there are many ways to respond to bad speech other than by simply suppressing it. One such way is by treating it - and its perpetrators - to ridicule. There are other ways, too, such as (in this case) pressing for renewed efforts to provide condoms in Africa. All in all, though, the ridicule of ridiculous doctrines is one very good response to them. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor should be grateful that he lives in a liberal democracy where free speech is protected, and that free speech still has some acceptance as an international norm, despite the best efforts of the Vatican to undermine it.