12/01/2004, 00.00
WORLD AIDS DAY - VATICAN
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The Vatican on Aids: "Chastity and fidelity, means to defeat the fatal virus"

A message from the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. Special care for women struck by the disease. More than 25% of centres for victims of AIDS in the world are Catholic.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Aids: a "pathology of the spirit" which can be fought against "in a responsible way through prevention" and "education in respect for the sacred value of life and formation as regards the correct practice of sexuality". This assertion is at the heart of a message by the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care for World Aids Day, marked today by the United Nations (UN).

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, drawing attention to the focus chosen this year by the UN – women afflicted by AIDS – said the "Church has always defended women and their very great dignity with especial vigour and is struggling to fight those examples of discrimination which still today in a great deal of our society". In particular, continued the Cardinal, "the impact of HIV/AIDS on women aggravates inequality and hinders progress towards the universality of rights. The more this infection advances amongst women – described by Barragán as "columns of families and communities, the more the danger of social breakdown increases."

The message of Cardinal Barragán referred to the teaching of the Pope about the "drama of Aids", which John Paul describes as a "pathology of the spirit" in his message for the World Day of the Sick 2005. In this message, the Pope upholds a recommendation made by African Bishops in the Synod for Africa held in 1994, bearing in mind that irresponsible sexual behaviour contributes to the spread of the virus. The Bishops said this trend could be countered by Christian love, a model which emerges as an immensely effective weapon in the fight against AIDS. "The affection, the joy, the happiness and the peace procured through Christian marriage and faithfulness, like the safety conferred by chastity," the Bishops had emphasised, "must be continually presented to the faithful, and especially to the young."

Finally, the Vatican representative put forward a list of proposals to destroy this contagious and terrible illness: "Calling on industrialised countries to support those countries who need help in the campaign against AIDS, while avoiding all forms of colonialism"; "reduction to the utmost of prices of anti-retroviral drugs necessary to treat people with AIDS"; "an intensification of information campaigns to avoid transmission of the virus from mothers to their unborn children." (LF)
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