Catholics Call for Obama Aide to Resign

Petition drive seeks to unseat Obama aide who criticized the pope’s comments on condoms and AIDS.

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Vatican defenders are calling for the resignation of a religious adviser to President Obama who this week reiterated a charge made last March that Pope Benedict XVI hurt people "in the name of Jesus" when the pontiff suggested that condom use increases the spread of AIDS in Africa.

The St. Michael Society, devoted to defending the pope, is distributing a petition calling for the resignation of Harry Knox from the president's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House had no immediate comment.

Knox was asked this week if he still felt that Benedict was wrong to suggest that the use of condoms can help spread AIDS. "I do," he said.

That sparked a renewed recall effort by the St. Michael Society. Director Pat Looby told Whispers: "It is astonishing that someone who is appointed by the president to serve on an Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships would perpetuate two all-out attacks on the pope, saying he was harming people in the name of Jesus.

"These comments demonstrate Mr. Knox's prejudice and open hostility towards Catholics and their religious leader and should disqualify him from public service in an organization that 'will work on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs.' These extreme and outrageous anti-Catholic statements not only undercut the idea of this council, they also call into question the president's views about Catholics, since he appointed Mr. Knox."

Last March, the pope flew to Africa and told reporters that halting the spread of AIDS requires more than money. He added: "If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behavior], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: On the contrary, they increase it."

The Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights group for which Knox works, quoted him at the time as saying, "The pope's statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus."

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