Education Needed to Fight Aids, Says Symposium

World Day of Sick Held in Cameroon

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon, FEB. 11, 2005 ( Papal envoy Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, observed the 13th World Day of the Sick with visits to hospitals where 5.5% of all patients are infected with AIDS.

The theme chosen by John Paul II for the event taking place this year in Yaounde, Cameroon, is «Jesus Christ, Hope for Africa. Youth, Health, and AIDS.»

Cardinal Barragán also presided over the solemn concelebrated Mass at the Marian Shrine of Mvolye, which included the anointing of the sick.

The Pope wrote a message for the occasion in which he said that «all should feel involved in the struggle against AIDS.»

To combat AIDS «responsibly,» the Holy Father added it «is necessary to increase prevention through education that respects the sacred value of life and formation in the correct practice of sexuality.»

«Indeed, if there are numerous infections by contagion through the blood especially during pregnancy — infections that must be combated with bold commitment — much more so are those that take place through sex and which can be avoided especially through responsible conduct and observance of the virtue of chastity,» stated the papal message.

Two symposiums were held on Wednesday and Thursday to analyze the situation of health pastoral care in Africa and the doctrinal and scientific aspects of the AIDS illness.

«From the addresses of the 26 African countries represented and of the 21 episcopal conferences present, it emerges that poverty is one of the causes that aggravates the impact of the AIDS illness in Africa,» explained Father Joseph Ballong who summarized the event for Vatican Radio.

«The Church has put herself at the service of the poor and those who suffer through health centers that offer treatment, advice, support, and moral and spiritual assistance to patients,» he indicated.

«The great challenge that must be addressed is the lack of financial means and of qualified personnel, as well as the lack itself of health centers,» he added.

In regard to the doctrinal and scientific aspects, emphasis was placed on the urgency of education in the prevention of AIDS, a task that can form part of «a new way of evangelizing and proclaiming Jesus Christ on the part of the Church, above all to young people,» he concluded.

John Paul II instituted the World Day of the Sick in 1992. It is celebrated in a different location each year on Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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