VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Regarding the recent media debate concerning the Church and AIDS, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán says that the central message of the Church goes much deeper than whether or not condoms are to be used.
In this interview with ZENIT, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers articulates — from the fullness of its perspective — the Church’s pastoral proposal to prevent and combat AIDS.
Q: There is the impression in the media that the only message the Church can give today is whether or not condoms may be used. Is this so?
Cardinal Lozano: Let’s expand the topic. We, especially in this Pontifical council, have the obligation to combat AIDS, because the Pope appointed us to address the emerging sicknesses pastorally. The question we face is how can we, from this dicastery, address the pastoral care of AIDS?
The answer is with the Commandments. In particular, this challenge affects two specific Commandments: one is the fifth, “Thou shalt not kill,” which is an unfolding of the first two: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. The other is the sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
By the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” we are obliged not to kill anyone but at the same time, not to let ourselves be killed, that is, to protect our life. So much so, that it is a traditional doctrine of the Church, which has never changed, that to defend one’s own innocent life, one can even kill an aggressor. If the aggressor has the Ebola virus, flu, or AIDS and wants to kill me, I must defend myself. If he wants to kill me with AIDS, I must defend myself form AIDS. How do I defend myself? With the most appropriate means. I must decide. If it is a club, with a club. If it is a pistol, with a pistol. And with a condom? Yes, if it is effective in defending me, in this case of unjust aggression.
Q: What do you suggest for the prevention of AIDS?
Cardinal Lozano: We must see what ways there are to contract AIDS. There are three: blood, maternal-filial transmission and sex.
In regard to blood, we say: “Be careful with transfusions! Be careful with drug needles!”
In regard to maternal-filial transmission, we say: “Mothers, be careful about transmission to the children!” Thank God there are already very effective pills. “Be careful with the birth itself! Be careful when it comes to nursing the children, as it can be very dangerous!”
In the third place is sex, for which the remedy is abstinence and faithfulness. Why? Because the Sixth Commandment is the most sublime expression of love that God has given us. And it means vital love and life is total giving. Which means that sex between man and woman exacts that nothing is left over for a third.
Therefore, to really live out one’s sexuality, one must do so only in a marriage that is one and permanent for life. To defend the preciousness of sex, God gave an absolute Commandment, enunciated in a negative way: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” He did not say, “Do not have sexual relations.” Sexual relations are precisely the greatest expression of human love, which is fulfilled in marriage. Celibacy is still greater, but it is about divine love.
By keeping these two Commandments –“Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” life is protected. How do we defend ourselves from AIDS? By protecting life, in its sexual excellence and from its vicious aggression. If we are opposed to its vicious aggression, if we don’t break that finest of crystals that is sex, we do not get AIDS.
Q: So the Church does not give recipes, but proclaims the Ten Commandments?
Cardinal Lozano: Let us be clear that in that sense, we are talking about the essence of Christianity, as it is about loving God above all things, and one’s neighbor as oneself. What matters is abstinence, faithfulness and “Thou shalt not kill.”