Lives In The Balance

In 1998, when Bishop Kevin Dowling first got involved in setting up a health clinic in Freedom Park, one of the massive shack settlements in his diocese of Rustenburg, South Africa, the suffering shocked him. He watched countless young women — many of them driven to prostitution by poverty — die of aids. He knew that condoms could have prevented most of these deaths.

The dilemma has placed him at odds with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on contraception. Four years ago, he became the first African bishop to call on the church to consider lifting its absolute...

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