AIDS Conference Excludes Vatican

VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2002 ( The Catholic Church looks after one out of every four people suffering from AIDS, yet the 14th International Conference on AIDS, held this week in Barcelona, Spain, excluded the Vatican’s participation.

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«We do not understand why the Vatican was not invited,» Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán told the Roman agency I Media. He added that 26% of all AIDS-treatment centers in the world are Catholic facilities.

The Church should be recognized as «the most important partner» among U.N. members in terms of response to AIDS, the archbishop said. As such, the Vatican «has the right to have its opinions heard,» he added.

[ZENIT on Wednesday reported on comments by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva, regarding the document prepared for the conference. In fact, he made his comments outside the official context of the conference.]

Archbishop Lozano Barragán lamented that the conference was focusing on the erroneously called «safe sex» — that is, the distribution of condoms — as a response to the AIDS epidemic.

U.N. officials «have been saying the same thing constantly for the past dozen years,» despite the fact that their approach has produced «no visible results,» the archbishop said. On the contrary, the «number of AIDS victims is rising, in a terribly important trend,» he added.

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