Vatican Attributes AIDS Pandemic to ‘Immunodeficiency’ of Moral Values; Condoms4Life Campaign Honors Bishops
The Vatican on Tuesday said the HIV/AIDS pandemic can be attributed to an "immunodeficiency" of moral and spiritual values and called for increased education and access to medications to treat the disease, Reuters/Houston Chronicle reports. Pope John Paul II called HIV/AIDS a "pathology of the spirit" that should be fought with "correct sexual practice" and "education of sacred values," according to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan (Reuters/Houston Chronicle, 11/30). The Vatican also reiterated its call for "chastity" and "responsible sexual behavior" as the best ways to prevent HIV infection, upholding its "controversia[l]" position that condoms do not protect against HIV, despite significant scientific consensus that condoms, when used correctly and consistently, do reduce the risk of HIV transmission, AFP/24News.com reports. Barragan said that education, lower-cost antiretroviral drugs and the "elimination" of stigma and discrimination associated with people living with HIV/AIDS should be the focus of the fight against the disease, according to AFP/News24.com (AFP/News24.com, 11/30).
The Condoms4Life campaign, a project of Catholics for a Free Choice, on Tuesday announced two different types of awards for Catholic bishops, according to a Condoms4Life release. "[T]he Catholic Church has been both a positive and negative influence on stemming the pandemic and promoting a responsible policy on HIV/AIDS prevention," CFFC President Frances Kissling said. The group gave Good Shephard Awards to bishops who showed "sanity, compassion and justice when confronted with HIV/AIDS" and promoted condom use as an effective prevention method, according to the release. In addition, the campaign "call[ed] attention" to bishops "whose actions are harmful" to people at risk of contracting HIV and bishops who have promoted the Vatican's "appalling misstatement" about condoms' inability to help prevent HIV transmission, according to the release. In those bishops' names, Condoms4Life plans to issue Lost Sheep Grants to organizations that promote HIV/AIDS prevention strategies, including condom use (Condoms4Life release, 11/30).