The powerful Catholic Church in Brazil is angry that the city authorities of Recife in the northeastern part are planning to hand out morning-after pills to participants in the Carnival.
The Brazilian Carnival is an annual festival in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat.
AdvertisementThe Carnival can thus be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.
Every Brazilian city chooses its own celebratory traditions such as masquerades, parades, feasts, social gatherings, and dancing.
Pills will be given out at public health centres throughout four days of wild partying that begin Feb. 2, according to Mayor Joao Paulo Lima e Silva of Recife in northeastern Brazil
The city, with a population of about 1.4 million, hosts one of the country's most colourful and frenzied carnivals.
It is wild, highly erotic and hence attracts thousands of youth, never mind it is considered the world's largest Roman Catholic country.
The Church doesn't seem to have had any problem with the Carnival itself, but the move to distribute the pills has been roundly denounced as unacceptable.
"The church has nothing against having fun during Carnival, but the banalization of human sexuality is something we cannot tolerate," said Bishop Antonio Augusto Dias Duarte of the Life and Family Commission of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.
He added it "will only serve to diminish inhibitions and encourage orgiastic behaviour."
Though the pill is marketed as a contraceptive, critics say it prompts abortion. The church opposes both.
Bishop Duarte also criticized the federal government's plan to distribute millions of condoms nationwide during the festivities to fight AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in Latin America's largest country.
"The church's position is an extremely unhelpful one," Silva retorted politely. "We will maintain our position of providing the pills to citizens. The church has enough of its own problems to worry about."