Belarusian Christians Join Forces Against AIDS

Sign Declaration of Cooperation Among Churches

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By Victor Khroul

MINSK, Belarus, NOV. 30, 2007 (<A href="http://www.zenit.org">Zenit.org</A>).- Christian leaders in Belarus have joined forces to work toward preventing the spread of AIDS in the nation, which has taken the lives of 484 people in the last 20 years.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev and Orthodox Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Sluzk were among the various Christian leaders who signed on Tuesday the Declaration of Social Partnership Between the Christian Churches of Belarus on HIV/AIDS.

Before signing the declaration, the signatories prayed together and watched a documentary of the Orthodox Church on the activity of Christian Churches and communities in the struggle against AIDS.

Metropolitan Filaret spoke afterward of the necessity of unified Christian action to address current problems in society, especially among the youth. "Our aim is to warn those who do not know, and to help those who suffer," he said.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz noted that the Catholic Church defends the dignity of every human being, "lends a helping hand to those relegated to the margins of society, it prays for them, and mercifully consoles the sick and dying."

Other signatories commented on three areas in the work against AIDS: prevention, care for the infected and accompanying the dying. They emphasized that it is important to learn how to treat with charity those who have been diagnosed with AIDS.

The director of the interfaith mission Christian Social Service, Nikolay Matrunchik, added that Christian principles must be applied in working against the advance of the virus.

He said, "The signing of this declaration demonstrates the interest of Christians in a moral societal environment."

According to the most recent official statistics in Belarus, 8,557 individuals have been tested HIV-positive, most of whom fall in the age bracket 15-29. About 484 persons have died of AIDS since 1987 in the country.