Friday, June 17, 2011

Holy See opposes condoms, needle-exchange programs in fight against AIDS

Speaking at the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, offered a strongly worded reaction to the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS adopted by the UN General Assembly.

“The Holy See rejects references to terms such as ‘populations at risk’ and ‘populations at higher risk’ because they treat persons as objects and can give the false impression that certain types of irresponsible behavior are somehow morally acceptable,” he said.

“The Holy See does not endorse the use of condoms as part of HIV and AIDS prevention programs or classes/programs of education in sex/sexuality. Prevention programs or classes/programs of education in human sexuality should focus not on trying to convince the world that risky and dangerous behavior forms part of an acceptable lifestyle, but rather should focus on risk avoidance, which is ethically and empirically sound. The only safe and completely reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is abstinence before marriage and respect and mutual fidelity within marriage, which is and must always be the foundation of any discussion of prevention and support.”

“The Holy See does not accept so-called ‘harm reduction’ efforts related to drug use,” he added, referring to measures such as needle-exchange programs. “Such efforts do not respect the dignity of those who are suffering from drug addiction as they do not treat or cure the sick person, but instead falsely suggest that they cannot break free from the cycle of addiction. Such persons must be provided the necessary spiritual, psychological and familial support to break free from the addictive behavior in order to restore their dignity and encourage social inclusion.”

“During negotiations, the Holy See rejected the characterization of persons who engage in prostitution as ‘sex workers’ as this can give the false impression that prostitution could somehow be a legitimate form of work,” he continued. “Prostitution cannot be separated from the issue of the status and dignity of persons; governments and society must not accept such a dehumanization and objectification of persons.”

“The Holy See understands that, when referring to ‘young people,’ the definition of which enjoying no international consensus, States must always respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents to provide appropriate direction and guidance to their children, which includes having primary responsibility for the upbringing, development, and education of their children,” Archbishop Chullikatt noted. “States must acknowledge that the family, based on marriage being the equal partnership between one man and one woman and the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is indispensable in the fight against HIV and AIDS for the family is where children learn moral values to help them live in a responsible manner and where the greater part of care and support is provided.”

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