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France’s First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has criticized Pope Benedict’s comments on Aids in Africa:

“I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular. I find that the controversy coming from the Pope’s message—albeit distorted by the media—is very damaging. In Africa it’s often Church people who look after sick people. It’s astonishing to see the difference between the theory and the reality. I think the Church should evolve on this issue. It presents the condom as a contraceptive which, incidentally, it forbids, although it is the only existing protection,” [Bruni-Sarkozy] told Femme Actuelle , the women’s magazine.

At the Telegraph , Gerald Warner asks the pressing question: Can the Catholic Church survive?

Nostradamus might have had the decency to warn us about this. Can the Catholic Church survive without La Bruni? The prognosis cannot be good. The loss of this deeply devout single mother who married President Sarkozy as his third wife—the President displays a commendable support for marriage—could have demoralising repercussions. Will this disillusionment mean that Bruni’s Brussels lace mantilla will no longer grace Vespers at St Nicolas-du-Chardonnet? Will she be absent from the Chartres pilgrimage this year?

Now Catholics know how Anglicans felt when Newman fled the coop. “I think the Church should evolve on this issue,” said Bruni, echoing the words of the Rev Tony Blair on a similar issue not long ago. So there is unanimity within the Airhead Tendency: evolution is the answer—Darwinian Catholicism.

Even from a secular viewpoint, if we did not have the wise words of Carla Bruni to guide us we might have lent credence to the Catholic abstinence campaign in Uganda which reduced the 18 per cent HIV infection rate among adults in 1992 to 5 per cent in 2007. Without Bruni, we might be tempted to listen to uninformed commentators such as the director of the AIDS Prevention Center at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies who said: “The best evidence we have supports the Pope’s comments.”

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