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Vatican bans
singer who supports condom use

Vatican bans
singer who supports condom use

The Vatican on Friday defended its decision to exclude Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury from its Christmas concert, saying she had threatened to promote the use of condoms to fight HIV during the show.

"The Vatican decided to exclude Daniela Mercury from the cast not because of her convictions about contraceptives, even if they are not in agreement those of the Catholic Church," said Father Giuseppe Bellucci, a priest who organized the show. "She was excluded because she had announced that at the concert she would openly promote the use of condoms to fight the plague of AIDS," Bellucci told a news conference presenting the benefit concert, to be held on Saturday night. "The convictions of a person are one thing, but making statements like these are another."

Mercury, who is an ambassador for UNICEF, had been invited to sing several songs as part of an international cast that includes South African singer Miriam Makeba and Ireland's Dolores O'Riordan.

The concert is a traditional fund-raiser for charities. It is not attended by the pope but is attended by dozens of cardinals and other top Vatican officials. It is then broadcast on Italian television on Christmas Eve. At the 2003 concert, U.S. hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill shocked Catholic officials by telling them to "repent" and alluding to sexual abuse of children by U.S. priests. Her comments were cut from the recording and not broadcast on Christmas Eve.

Mercury said in a statement last week that she regretted the decision but had the right to disagree with the Catholic Church's opposition to using contraceptives as a way of stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The Vatican opposes the use of condoms except in the rarest of circumstances because they are a form of contraception. It says that fidelity within heterosexual marriage, chastity, and abstinence are the best ways to stop the spread of HIV and that promoting condoms to fight the spread of HIV fosters what the Church sees as immoral and hedonistic lifestyles and behavior that will only contribute to its spread. (Reuters)

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