Pope Focuses on HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Annual World Day of the Sick Message
Pope John Paul II in his message for the upcoming World Day of the Sick -- which will be hosted in Cameroon on Feb. 11, 2005 -- focused on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to the text of his speech that was released on Wednesday, CWNews.com reports (CWNews.com, 9/29). The pope said, "To combat [HIV/AIDS] in a responsible way, its prevention must be fostered through education in the respect for the sacred value of life and through formation in the proper practice of sexuality." Although he acknowledged that some HIV-positive people contract the disease in ways other than sexual transmission, he said that sexual transmission of HIV "can be avoided above all through responsible behavior and the observance of the virtue of chastity" (Thavis, Catholic News Service, 9/29). The pope also praised the pharmaceutical industry, the Associated Press reports. "Heartfelt applause is due the pharmaceutical industries, which have committed themselves to keeping at low costs medicine useful in AIDS therapy," he said, adding, "Certainly you need economic resources for scientific research in the health field and other resources are also necessary to market the discovered drugs, but when faced with an emergency like AIDS, safeguarding of human life must come before any other form of consideration" (Associated Press, 9/29).
No Condom Mention
The pope in his speech did not mention the use of condoms as a way to prevent HIV transmission, the Catholic News Service reports. Some Catholic officials in the Vatican have opposed anti-AIDS campaigns that encourage condom use because the officials say they encourage "sexual promiscuity" and do not provide complete protection from HIV, according to the Catholic News Service (Catholic News Service, 9/29). Despite publicly stated views of cardinals and the church's official opposition to artificial contraception, the Vatican has not issued an encyclical -- its most authoritative type of teaching -- about condom use and HIV prevention. The Vatican in 1968 issued an encyclical in which Pope Paul VI stated the "inseparable link between the unifying and reproductive dimensions of sexual intercourse for husband and wife" but that teaching and others have specifically addressed condom use as contraception and not as a means to protect oneself or others from potentially deadly diseases. Some bishops' conferences worldwide have suggested exceptions to the Vatican's opposition to the use of condoms (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report 3/22).