VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The fight against AIDS and its prevention requires formation in correct sexual behavior, says John Paul II.
The Pope expresses this in his Message for the World Day of the Sick, whose main celebrations will be held in Yaounde, Cameroon, on Feb. 11.
Although there are different ways of contracting AIDS, in the majority of cases the virus is sexually transmitted, “which can be avoided first and foremost through responsible behavior and the observance of chastity,” the Holy Father observes.
“In order to fight AIDS in a responsible way, its prevention should be increased through education in respect to the sacred value of life and through formation in the correct practice of sexuality,” he adds.
The main of the papal message is concern for the scourge of AIDS, which has hit hard in Africa.
The papal message refers to the proposal of the first Synod of Bishops for Africa, held in Rome in 1994, which stated: “The companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young.”
“Everyone should feel involved in the fight against AIDS,” the Pontiff stresses.
John Paul II addresses “those in government and the civil authorities” who must provide “clear and correct information at the service of citizens,” and “devote sufficient resources to the education of young people and to health care.”
“I encourage international organizations to promote initiatives in this field that are inspired by wisdom and solidarity, always seeking to defend human dignity and uphold the inviolable right to life,” he writes.
The Pope also addresses the pharmaceutical industries, encouraging them to keep “down the price of drugs and medicines used in the treatment of AIDS,” and reminds them that “the safeguarding of human life must come before any other assessment,” including the desire for profit.
The Holy Father urges scientists and political leaders worldwide, “moved by the love and respect due to every human person, to use every means available in order to put an end to this scourge.”
Lastly, the text appeals to Catholics, asking them “to bring to their brothers and sisters affected by AIDS all possible material, moral and spiritual comfort.”
In this connection, the Holy Father encourages the efforts of the Church in its care of AIDS patients, working “at times in a heroic way” to assist “those in Africa who are afflicted by every sort of infirmity, in particular by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.”
In a U.N. address on June 27, 2001, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, said that 25% of AIDS patients in the world are treated in Catholic institutions: 12% in Church institutions and 13% in Catholic nongovernmental organizations.