Challenge for Drug Addicts Is to Rediscover Their Dignity, Says Vatican Official

Requires a Triple Confrontation, Including With Oneself, He Tells Conference

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church helps drug addicts to rediscover their dignity through the Gospel and renewed contact with their families, says a Vatican official.



Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, explained the Church's position on the matter today when addressing a congress organized by the Italian Federation of Therapeutic Communities. The gathering is entitled "To Care for the Other -- Drug Addiction: Between Experience and Morality."

The archbishop explained that "the Holy See proposes a three-point program, based on prevention, repression and recovery in the light of values such as solidarity, love and transcendence."

"These elements in some way must be integrated in a policy of the stages of education for life and in a plan of a less depersonalized society for the new generations," he added.

Archbishop Barragán later told Vatican Radio that the purpose of caring for drug addicts is to help them "rediscover their own dignity."

To achieve this, "it is necessary to confront the Gospel, oneself and one's own family," the archbishop said. "It is there where one can rediscover one's dignity. As the Pope says, drugs are contrary to Christian morality because they destroy life."

The archbishop pointed out the need to overcome the prejudice that describes drug-producing countries as "underdeveloped, of the Third World, and poor, which provide for the consumption of the rich and industrialized."

"If it is true that Bolivia, Peru and Colombia annually produce 800 tons of heroine and cocaine, and that Africa is in the first place for its production of marijuana, it is also true that in the modern and civilized West, the production of amphetamines becomes a rival in quantity to that of more traditional drugs."