Kirjoittanut Isä Raimo Goyarrola | maaliskuu 11, 2010

Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, ”Message for the World AIDS Day”


Message for the World AIDS Day

1 de diciembre de 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. As the International Community prepares to celebrate also this year the World AIDS Day, I as the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, wish to join the efforts and initiatives that will take place around the world in both the area of prevention and assistance to the sick. On behalf of the Catholic Church I would like to send to the international organisations and institutions, governments, non-governmental organisations, as well as to all agencies and catholic associations working in the field to stem the dreadful scourge, a Message of love and hope for the families and people who are afflicted by the terrible evil.

2. On behalf of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, I exhort you dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and all you men and women of good will, not to let this opportune moment pass in vain; grab the favourable circumstance to study and search together new ways and ideal means of helping the people and especially the youth to adopt morals and a style of life that respects the authentic values of life and love. We have to present this as the main way for the effective prevention of infection and spread of HIV/AIDS, since the phenomenon of AIDS is a pathology of the spirit, which besides the body involves also the whole person, their interpersonal relationships, their social and family life and is often accompanied by a crisis of moral values. In this regard the Holy Father, John Paul II therefore affirms: “certainly not far from the truth is the affirmation that, parallel to the spread of AIDS, there is a kind of immunodeficiency in existential values that cannot but be identified as a real pathology of the spirit. (John Paul II, “Address to the participants in the IV International Conference: To Live?: Why AIDS,” 13-15 November 1989, in Dolentium Hominum 13 (1990) n.4, p. 7).

3. Statistics reveal a perturbing escalation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic:

At the end of 2002, according to the official statistics of UNAIDS, there were,

· 42 million people (both adults and children) living with HIV/AIDS, of whom 19,2 million women and 3,2 children under 15 years;

· 5 million new HIV/AIDS infections of whom 2 million women and 800 thousand children under 15 years;

· 3,1 million deaths due to AIDS of whom 1,2 million women and 610 thousand children under 15 years;

4. In response to the appeal of the Holy Father, John Paul II, who asked for a major mobilisation of forces and resources, and a concrete commitment of the Church both in prevention and assistance in various ways to the AIDS patients, the Holy See, Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, Religious Congregations, Hospitals and social-health Centres, catholic Organisations and Associations have since the outbreak of this terrible disease, promoted activities, and incisive and widespread initiatives in order to curb this phenomenon; above all reminding the Christian community and society in general of the importance of respecting the religious and moral values of sexuality and matrimony, namely fidelity, chastity and abstinence, and also offering through her many structures valuable human, social, medical and spiritual assistance to the sick people.

5. The commitment and action of the Church in the different continents involves prevention, education and multiform assistance to patients and families.

In Africa (for example in Angola, Burundi, Cameron, Ivory Cost, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia), the Church promotes educational and pastoral programmes of formation for social, pastoral and heath care workers, prevention and awareness programmes for the general public, and provides humanitarian aid, hospital and home based health care for the sick people.

In America (for example in Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil), the Church promotes awareness campaigns, formation programmes with appropriate publications, and offers treatment and care to the patients and orphans in hospitals and hospices.

In Asia (for example in India, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia), the Church awakens public opinion on the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS, its causes and risks, by using both traditional and modern means of communication, and organising related courses; besides, it provides treatment and care to the patients in health centres and hospitals, as well as home based health care and assistance to orphans.

In Europe (for example in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Italy Croatia, Ex-Yugoslavia) the Church uses news papers, radio, television and internet to extend the various programmes of the national commissions, which aim at prevention, education of the population as well as offering social, human and pastoral assistance to the sick people in hospitals and specialised centres for the treatment of AIDS.

In Oceania (for example in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea), the Church offers specific formation to the social, pastoral and health care workers and assists the AIDS patients in hospices and health centres.

There are many religious institutions and lay associations that collaborate in the pastoral care for the AIDS patients in the centres of care. Widespread important projects and activities are being promoted by the Camillians in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, India, Kenya, Thailand, Haiti, Poland, and Burkina Faso; by the Brothers of St. John of God in Spain, Poland, Germany and Austria; by the Association of St. Vincent in India, Ireland, and Holland; by the Community of St. Egidio in Mozambique; by the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation (AVSI) in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria and Romania; by Caritas in the Philippines, Bolivia and Australia; by the Sisters of Mother Theresa in Kazakhstan; by the Paediatric Hospital Bambin Gesù of Rome in Romania; and by the Catholic Pharmacists in different parts of the world.

6. The pastoral action of the Church mainly involves training or formation of the health care workers, priests, families and the youth; prevention through health education, publication of Church documents and brochures, organising conferences, theological reflection and sharing of experiences; health care and assistance through the help and support of chaplains, doctors and nurses who with diagnosis, counselling, medication, the sacrament of reconciliation and charity towards the patients in hospitals and health centres, contribute to the improvement of the physical, psychological and spiritual conditions of the patients; taking care of and pastoral accompanying of the sick people and their families, which is done through the specific programmes for psycho-social and health care assistance, caring for orphans, widows, people in institutions of detention and social reintegration.

If the main risk behaviours are pan-sexualism and drug addiction, then poverty, urbanisation, unemployment, mobility, immigration and mass media are major contributing factors in the spread of the disease.

7. The teaching of John Paul II treats the nature of the phenomenon (pathology of the spirit); prevention based on the sacredness of life and responsible sexuality, on transcendency and education to chastity, on the love of God, the conduct of the patient, the sexual conduct, mother to child transmission, the offering of suffering in relation to the mystery of the cross and the hope of resurrection. The teaching of the Holy Father is particularly addressed to: health professionals, who in the figure of the Good Samaritan find a paradigm of merciful love that overcomes all human barriers; to civil authorities who have to provide correct information to the population and aid to the poor; and to scientists and researchers who are called to a renewed solidarity with the AIDS patients, doing all they can to advance their biomedical research on HIV/AIDS, so that they may discover new effective medications that are capable of stemming the phenomenon.

8. On the personal level the Church invites each and every one to step up prevention according to the doctrine of the Church, to practice the virtue of chastity in a pan-sexualist society, to revisit the sacrament of reconciliation, to reawaken in the patients the Christian sense of life with hope in the resurrection, to offer necessary formation to health care workers and provide special care and assistance to the terminally ill patients.

On the community level, the following actions are suggested: to support the parish activities or initiatives in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the creation of new centres and hospices for AIDS patients, the co-ordination both at the diocesan and national level of all pastoral initiatives and activities concerning the phenomenon of AIDS, attention to the government policies on AIDS in order to influence them positively, positive use of the means of social communication, the diffusion of the pastoral handbook on the AIDS phenomenon that is about to be published by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, and giving financial support to the initiatives and projects on AIDS.

On the whole, the average contribution made by Church bodies on the social level is 12% and by Catholic NGOs is 13%; this totals up to 25%, something that makes the Church the first partner of the state in the social field. When it comes to the provision of health care, the Church’s contribution comes up to 19%, a figure which represents a third of the state contributions and doubles the contribution of the non-Catholic NGOs (10%) and private individuals or bodies (11%).

9. I invite the international community and all governments as well as the Church in particular to: promote the campaign for sensitising and educating the population, one that is based on sure and authentic human and spiritual values, capable of establishing relevant education in favour of the culture of life and responsible love, and not one based on policies that foster immoral and hedonistic lifestyles and behaviour, favouring the spread of the evil; the virtue of chastity is of paramount importance for the effective prevention of HIV/AIDS;

– take care of the humanitarian, social, and health needs of the orphans whose number progressively increases with the spread of the pandemic;

– commitment to the globalisation of the universal common good of health:

– avoid every form of exclusion, discrimination and stigmatisation of people who are HIV positive or AIDS patients, accepting them fraternally in the families, society, and the Church community of which they are full members with rights.

– facilitate the patients’ access to general medicine for opportunistic diseases and as much as possible to antiretroviral medicine, so as to stop the scandalous death rate in poor countries that cries to God for vengeance.

– pastorally and spiritually assist and accompany those afflicted by HIV/AIDS and their families, especially those in institutions of forced detention, so that they do not lack the spiritual support and especially the sacraments that they need in this particular moment of their life.

– see in the sick people the face of Christ, doctor of the body and the soul.

10. While I renew to you all: bishops, priests, religious, social, pastoral and health care workers, and volunteers the esteem and appreciation of the Church for your priceless service to our brothers and sisters who are afflicted both physically and spiritually by the AIDS scourge, I would like to assure you I will in my prayers entrust your well-deserving work as well as the suffering of the patients and the families to Our Lady, Salus Infirmorum, e Consolatrix Afflictorum.

Vatican City, 1 December 2003.

+ Javier Cardinal Lozano Barragán



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