(Photo: REUTERS/ANTHONY BOLANTE)
American philanthropist Melinda Gates talked about her Roman Catholic faith and funding contraceptives in the global fight against AIDS, noting that many Catholics disagree with official church doctrine on the contraception issue.
"Even though I am Catholic I believe in contraceptives, just like the majority of Catholic women in the United States who report using contraceptives, and I shouldn't let that controversy be the thing that holds us back," Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shared at the TED 2014 conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, The Vancouver Sun reported.
The Catholic Church teaches against the use of contraception, defining it as "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act (sexual intercourse), or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible." This includes sterilization, condoms and the birth control pill.
Results of a far-reaching poll of Roman Catholics around the world commissioned by Univision were released in February and showed that contraception is the issue Catholics disagree with the most when it comes to doctrine. Seventy-eight percent of respondents to the poll of 12,048 Roman Catholics across five continents said that they support the use of contraceptives, with support as high as 91 percent in Latin America.
Gates noted that women in developing countries have been asking for years for contraceptives as a means to fight AIDS and other transmittable diseases.
"We have backed away from contraceptives as a global community. We knew that 210 million women were saying they wanted access to contraceptives. And we weren't providing them because of the political controversy in our country," Gates said, sharing that she has been able to raise $2.6 billion to help provide contraceptives for women.
Last week, her husband Bill, the Microsoft founder who recently regained his spot as the richest man in the world, revealed that his family goes to a Roman Catholic Church, and credited their philanthropic endeavors to religion and morality.
"The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief," Bill Gates said in an interview with Rolling Stone in its March 27 issue.
The Gates Foundation, founded in 2000, funds programs for various causes around the world, including advancing science and technology to save lives in developing countries, developing agriculture, water and sanitation, financial services for the poor, and education programs in the U.S., to name a few.