African Bishops Promise Concerted Action on AIDS

Message on a World Day

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ACCRA, Ghana, DEC. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On World AIDS Day, all the Catholic bishops of Africa promised concerted action in the struggle against the HIV virus and in care of the sick.

The bishops’ commitment was expressed in a message entitled “Our Prayer Is Always Full of Hope” and made public by the Symposium of the Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

Since 1987, Catholic bishops in Africa have spoken over 60 times about HIV/AIDS. But for the first time — today’s World AIDS Day — they spoke out openly and with a collective voice on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The message, given in the name of over 600 bishops of the continent, was prepared and approved at a two-day seminar during the plenary assembly of SECAM, held in Senegal from Sept. 30 to Oct. 13.

The 2003 message underlines the seriousness of the threat posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A two-page action plan outlines more than 20 objectives and strategies of the Church in its struggle against HIV/AIDS.

“The bishops commit the Church’s resources to combating HIV/AIDS and declare their resolve to educate appropriately in affective and sexual education for life,” the presentation statement affirms.

“They decry both the poverty and the violence that go hand in hand with HIV and AIDS,” it adds.

With regard to preventing the spread of HIV, the bishops reaffirm that “abstinence for those who are single and fidelity for those who are married are the best ways to avoid becoming infected by HIV or infecting others.”

The bishops’ message may be read in RTF format at http://users.online.be/~sj.eur.news/doc2/secam-aids2003e.doc.

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