Catholic University in Ottawa opposes free condoms

Offering free condoms to students breaks a statute at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, according to a letter from school administration to its student association.

A Catholic university in Ottawa is under fire from its students after it prevented the student association from offering free condoms.

The student group at Saint Paul University, which is connected to the University of Ottawa, recently received a letter from the school administration demanding it remove a bowl of condoms from the main office.

Saint Paul University statute

The Association seeks to conform its spirit to the message of the Good News proclaimed by Jesus, the Christ. The Association, in the same spirit of Christian faith, hope and charity, endeavours to serve its members.

The letter reads, "It is evident that the distribution of condoms must cease and the use of the name 'university' needs to be completely abandoned from your sign, especially when it contravenes with the Statutes."

Condoms were first offered last year.

The student association believes the administration is putting ideology before practicality.

"I was shocked that it's 2012 and we're still having this conversation of science versus ideology," said Zach Zimmel, who wrote an open letter to the university about the issue this week.

More than 100 students have supported Zimmel so far.

"Moving forward, conversations need to be had about how we can meet the needs of all of these students," he added.

Catholic mandate at odds with condom use

Saint Paul University has a Catholic mandate, but students of all religions and ethnicities now study at the school.

The administration told CBC News the students are expected to abide by and uphold the Catholic values.

Offering free condoms to students does not fall within the statutes of Saint Paul University, the administration says. (iStock)

"We never said that it was not a good idea to use condoms, it's only because we're talking about Saint Paul," said Danielle Tessier, the school's vice-rector, who also wrote the letter to the student association.

"We have to stand behind what is Saint Paul."

The students also say the school has complained about a "Pride centre" it opened on campus for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual students.

The student association and the school administration began what are expected to be several days of talks Wednesday to determine a solution to the issue.