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Holy See at UN: Discouraging Risky Behavior Isn't Same as Discrimination

Nuncio voices reservations on terms used in Political Declaration on Combatting HIV/AIDS

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Archbishop Bernardino Auza reminded UN officials last week that there is a difference between discrimination and  discouragement of risk-taking behaviors.

The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations said this in the context of a June 8 statement that explained the position of the Holy See on the Political Declaration, “On the Fast-Track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2030.”

Here is the text of the statement:

Mr. President,
My delegation is wholeheartedly in support of efforts to intensify our collective commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and to accelerate and scale up the fight against HIV internationally, which is the primary aim of this declaration. We recognize that this goal will not be achieved without meeting the needs of those most vulnerable to infection and especially of those that continue to lack access to prevention, treatment and health care services due to discrimination, stigmatization, and poverty.
However, while discrimination and stigmatization must be combatted, it is of vital importance to distinguish between policies that discriminate and stigmatize unjustly and those put in place to discourage risk-taking behaviors and to encourage responsible and healthy relationships, especially among youth. In this regard, the Holy See continues to call attention to the undeniable fact that the only safe and completely reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is abstinence before marriage and respect and mutual fidelity within marriage.
The Holy See, in conformity with its nature and particular mission, especially keeping in mind the work of the Catholic Church in the field confronting HIV and the AIDS epidemic, wishes to make the following reservations on some of the concepts used in this Political Declaration:

  1. Regarding the terms “sexual and reproductive health”, “sexual and reproductive health-care services”, and “reproductive rights”, the Holy See considers these terms as applying to a holistic concept of health. The Holy See does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of these terms.
  2. With reference to the terms “contraception”, “commodities”, “condom use” and any other terms regarding family-planning services and regulation of fertility concepts in the document, the Holy See reaffirms its well-known position concerning those family-planning methods which the Catholic Church considers morally acceptable and, on the other hand, family-planning services which do not respect the freedom of spouses, human dignity and the human rights of those concerned.
  3. In relation to paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Statement of Position, the Holy See reiterates its statement and reservations as set out clearly and more fully in the Report of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and the Report of the 1995 Fourth World Conference and their respective follow-up Conferences. In particular, my delegation understands, in accordance with the ICPD 1.15, that no new rights or human rights were created, that recourse to abortion may never to be had for purposes of family planning (7.24), and that abortion is a matter to be determined in accordance with national legislation (8.25).
  4. With reference to “gender”, the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in the biological sexual identity and difference that is male or female. Regarding the concept of “gender norms” the Holy See does not recognize the idea that gender is socially constructed, rather gender recognizes the objective identity of the human person as born male or female.
  5. With respect to “comprehensive education” or “information” on sexual and reproductive health, the Holy See reiterates the “primary responsibility” and the “prior rights” of parents when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In that sense, the Holy See wishes to underline the centrality of the family, as well as the role and rights and duties of parents to educate their children.

The Holy See would kindly request that these reservations be made particularly in relation to paragraphs 14, 15, 33, 39, 41, 47, 60 (e) and (f), 61(c), (d), (j), and (l), 62 (a) and (c).

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