In spite of the troubled times we are living in, there are still people who choose to be pragmatic and sensible, as a way of fighting the reigning hypocrisy of Catholic environments, when it comes to the battle against AIDS. Such is the case of Kevin Dowling, who, after being appointed a Catholic Bishop for the Rustenberg Diocese, 16 years ago, has visited the clandestine housing camps that are home to 100 000 people near the border between South Africa and Botswana.
Almost exclusively inhabited by immigrant men from Lesoto, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, this mining community of scarce financial resources, who works in the platinum mines of the area, has a very small number of women, half of which are HIV-positive, driven to prostitution as the only means to survive.
The extension of overlapping relationships in this community makes it a playground for the spreading of HIV. The Bishop, conscious of this fact, and risking, in the very least, his job, seen as the Vatican, aside from forbidding the use of condoms under any circumstance, also claims it to be permeable to the HIV virus, decided to build, in 1996, a Clinic, that, aside from incorporating a school and a day care centre, also hands out free condoms, AIDS medicine and counselling on how to prevent the infection.
"Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within a marriage are out of the question here" he said. "The issue at hand is to protect life. And that should be our main goal". "They have to wear condoms and that's it.", Kevin says to whoever will hear him.