How the Catholic Church dealt with the AIDS Crisis

Dr. John Kinkel Publishes New Book, Papal Paralysis: How the Vatican Dealt with the AIDS Crisis

Contraceptives and the AIDS pandemic through the eyes of a Catholic scholar

ROCHESTER, Mich. – Dr. John Kinkel,  a medical sociologist at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, has published a new book entitled “Papal Paralysis: How the Vatican Dealt with the AIDS Crisis.” The book, which was released in December, begins the scholarly four-year study  with a review of Catholic Church teachings on contraceptives.

“Papal Paralysis” utilizes a historical case study method to juxtapose the moral and ethical dilemmas of Catholic Church officials when asked to help fight the worldwide spread of AIDS through the use of condoms. Dr. Kinkel’s research explores the teachings of  Pope John Paul II and his opposition to artificial birth control in the early 1980’s.  At first the Catholic Church outlined a plan to combat  the spread of AIDS through abstinence and fidelity; the policies of Pope Benedict XVI  for dealing with the AIDS pandemic were more of the same.

Dr. Kinkel’s book culminates in a critical review of the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the use of condoms and the decision to acknowledge the moral superiority of condom use to save lives after some 30 Cardinals and bishops objected to papal policy. The book concludes that the church’s failure to  deal with the AIDS crisis in a timely fashion was its greatest modern scandal, with the end result that thousands of lives were lost.

“Papal Paralysis” is being heralded as a breakthrough by scholars who have dedicated themselves to seeking explanations for the horrendous failure of religious leaders to lessen the spread of AIDS in the 1990’s. Professor Kent Schwirian of Ohio State University states that, “the book is very well-written, eschews professional jargon and will be of great interest to all concerned with the ‘intractable nature of human institutions and those who run them.’”

The idea for “Papal Paralysis” came to Dr. Kinkel while teaching  a class on medical sociology. The questions of his students, who were appalled that a major religion could be so insensitive to human needs, spurred Dr. Kinkel to take a refined approach to examining the history of contraceptives and their taboo within the Catholic Church.

“Papal Paralysis” is now available for purchase through the publisher, Lexington Books. For more information on the book, Dr. Kinkel, or to purchase a copy of the text, please visit or call toll free, 1-800-462-6420.

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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7391-7684-9, 130 pages

E-book ISBN: 978-0-7391-7685-6, 130 pages


R. John Kinkel


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