Interview: Beyond Condoms to Truth in the AIDS Debate
In this interview, Monsignor Vitillo shares what he sees as the Church's role in fighting the spread of the AIDS virus, and the role of faith-based organizations.
Monsignor Robert Vitillo, who will participate in the XVII International AIDS Conference, to be held Aug. 3-8 in Mexico City, adds that unfortunately, abstinence and infidelity are not given the attention they deserve among experts and researchers.
Some 25,000 experts, physicians, activists and decision-makers from around the world are expected to attend the conference organized by the International AIDS Society, which has at its theme "Universal Action Now."
Caritas Internationalis sponsored a pre-conference seminar Wednesday for Caritas participants from Latin America, and on Aug. 5, together with the Jesuits of Mexico and the Catholic HIV and AIDS Network, it will host delegates from Catholic organizations in an evening of prayer and discussion.
In this interview, Monsignor Vitillo shares what he sees as the Church's role in fighting the spread of the AIDS virus, and the role of faith-based organizations at the conference.
Q: You say a major challenge the Church faces with regards to AIDS is ignorance of what the Church is doing to fight it. What is the Church doing? What is unique about the Church's approach?
Monsignor Vitillo: As I have been privileged to witness the response of the Catholic Church to the HIV pandemic on literally every continent, I have noted that the Church's response is very consistent with its overall mission:
-- To teach people both about the facts related to this pandemic, and about the permanent values that should be the foundation of our response. This includes both how to prevent the further spread of HIV -- by observing sexual abstinence outside marriage and life-long, mutual fidelity within marriage -- and how we should respond to those already living with or affected by the virus -- with acceptance, love, and solidarity, and without discrimination, rejection, or stigmatization.
-- To serve people. Here the Caritas organizations at the regional, national, diocesan and parish levels have played -- and continue to do so -- an important role in organizing and replicating health care, social services, emotional support, income-generation activities, orphan care, advocacy and self-help programs for and with persons living with or affected by HIV.
In addition to Caritas, there are many other Catholic organizations working to help those affected by HIV.
-- To provide pastoral care to persons living with or affected by HIV.
Many people who know firsthand the impact of the virus are searching to deepen their relationship with God, especially as they face the challenge which HIV has posed to them and/or to their loved ones.
They also desperately want to understand that this virus has not been sent as a "punishment from God" -- a number of bishops' conferences, as well as Pope John Paul II, addressed this issue very clearly by explaining that, according to Catholic doctrine, God does not "punish" people by sending them illnesses.
Q: Last week 50 Catholic groups asked Benedict XVI to lift the Church's ban on artificial contraception, and accused the Church's stance of having "catastrophic effects" in the spread of AIDS. Does the Church's position against condoms constitute an obstacle against fighting AIDS?
Monsignor Vitillo: I would like to slightly transpose this question in order to emphasize my strong conviction that the Church's teaching, which insists on sexual abstinence outside marriage and lifelong, mutual fidelity within marriage, is indeed scientifically valid and has offered evidence-based proof that people who observe such behavior have been able to prevent the spread of HIV.
Studies in countries where the HIV prevalence rate has been decreased in recent years, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Thailand, indicate that people in these countries were more disposed to reduce the number of their sexual partners and/or to delay the onset of sexual activity than to adopt the use of condoms.
Such behaviors -- reduction of sexual partners and delay of onset of sexual activity -- are much closer to the Church's teaching on sexuality and on prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections than is an exclusive focus on condom promotion.
Regrettably, however, many scientists, HIV prevention educators, and AIDS activists are so fixed on condom promotion that they do not give due attention to the risk avoidance that is possible to achieve through abstinence outside marriage and mutual, lifelong fidelity within marriage.
I believe that the Church does a great service to HIV prevention efforts by focusing on risk avoidance ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Africa News
- Movement afoot to unseat President Morsi of Egypt
- U.S. diplomat says that Special Ops were Halted in Benghazi Attacks
- After the revolution - Starvation and regret become commonplace in Egypt
- More than 60 people killed in unlicensed Darfur gold mine collapse
- U.N.: Somalia famine of 2010 - 2012 killed more than a quarter million people
- The first 'techopolis' - Hope City - to be built in Africa sooner than you think
- Real-life Atlantis uncovered in Egyptian coastline
- Egyptian Muslims murdering Christians with impunity
- New discovery: Egypt's oldest harbor, collection of papyrus uncovered
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?