Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference, which he gave Friday morning at the Vatican.
I am happy to meet with you at the end of the International Drug Enforcement Conference. I thank you for your visit and I express to you my appreciation for the work you carry out, addressing such a grave and complex problem of our time. I hope that these Roman days will mark a profitable stage in your commitment. In particular, I hope that you will be able to attain the objectives that you set out for yourselves, to coordinate anti-drug policies, to share related information and to develop an operational strategy geared to checking drug trafficking. Perhaps the shares in the drug traffic are those that render more money in the market. And this is tragic.
The scourge of drugs continues to rage in impressive ways and dimensions, fueling a shameful market, which jumps over national and continental boundaries. So the danger continues to grow for young people and adolescents. In face of this phenomenon, I feel the need to express my grief and concern.
I would like to say with great clarity: drugs are not defeated with drugs! Drugs are an evil, and there cannot be a giving-in or compromises. To think that the damage can be reduced by agreeing to the use of psycho-drugs for persons who continue to use drugs, does not in fact resolve the problem. The legalization of so-called “light drugs,” even partial, beyond being less debatable on the legislative plane, do not produce the effects fixed beforehand. Substitutive drugs, then, are not a sufficient therapy but a veiled way of surrendering to the phenomenon. I intend to confirm what I already said on another occasion: no to every type of drug; simply no to any type of drug (cf. General Audience, May 7, 2014). However, to say this no, it is necessary to say yes to life, yes to love, yes to others, yes to education, yes to sport, yes to work, yes to more work opportunities. Let us think of a youth who has no work. I believe the figure is 75 million in Europe. I think, I’m not sure, I don’t want to say something that isn’t. But let us think of a youth: not, not; he does not study and he does not work. He enters into this lack of a horizon, of hope, and the first offer is dependencies, among which are drugs. This … The opportunity of work, education, sport, healthy life: this is the way for the prevention of drugs. If we realize these “Yes’s,” there is no place for drugs, there is no place for the abuse of alcohol and for other dependencies.
The Church, faithful to Jesus’ mandate to go wherever there is a suffering, thirsty, hungry human being, in prison (cf. Matthew 25:31-46), has not abandoned those who have fallen into the spiral of drugs, but with her creative love has gone to meet them. She has taken them by the hand, through the work of so many workers and volunteers, so that they can rediscover their dignity, helping them to resurrect those resources, those personal talents that drugs buried, but could not cancel, from the moment that every man is created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26). However, this work of recovery is very limited, it’s not sufficient. There is need to work on prevention. This will do much good.
The example of so many young people who, desirous to come out of their dependence on drugs, commit themselves to reconstruct their life, is a stimulus to look to henceforth with confidence.
Distinguished gentlemen, I encourage you to continue your work with ever greater hope. I wish you the best and bless you from my heart. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]