VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Fidelity and chastity are fail-safe ways to prevent the spread of AIDS, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope received in audience today the bishops of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho, and commented on the “devastation caused by AIDS and related diseases.” The prelates were on their five-yearly visit to Rome.
In his English-language address, the Pontiff said that he shares the bishops’ “deep concern” for the situation.
“I especially pray for the widows, the orphans, the young mothers and all those whose lives have been shattered by this cruel epidemic,” he added.
At the same time, the Holy Father encouraged the bishops in their efforts “to fight this virus, which not only kills, but seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the continent.”
“The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront both in prevention and in treatment of this illness,” he noted. Catholic institutions treat 25% of all AIDS sufferers in the world.
The Church plays an important role in offering care for AIDS patients in southern Africa, despite the fact that Catholics are a minority in the area: 7% in South Africa, 5.1% in Botswana, 5.4% in Swaziland, 20.1% in Namibia and 41.3% in Lesotho.
Benedict XVI assured the bishops that “the traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
“For this reason, 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,” he said.
The Holy Father added: “It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality, all of which contribute to a breakdown in sexual morality.”