by Rex Wockner
ACT UP/Paris demonstrated at Paris' famous Sacre-Coeur church Sept. 13 as Pope Benedict XVI staged a mass for more than a quarter of a million people on the Esplanade des Invalides.
The protesters erected a large banner at the top of the church's stairs which read, "The condom is life," and laid a 150-foot (45-meter) black-and-pink carpet down the stairs "to denounce the obscenity of the red carpet deployed in Paris by (President) Nicolas Sarkozy for Benedict XVI and his reactionary theses."
In a French-language statement, ACT UP said: "The chief of the Vatican has affirmed … that 'only marriage can permit a morally correct sexual practice; to seek to prevent the spread of AIDS by use of a condom amounts to facilitation of evil.'"
"The lethal positions of the Catholic Church on condom use implicate it in the deaths of millions of men, women and children," the group said. "Indeed, the AIDS epidemic already has killed more than 40 million, and UNAIDS estimates that a quarter of the HIV-positive people on the planet are Catholic."