Church Asserts Solidarity with AIDS Patients

Cardinal Carles' Message to International Conference in Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain, JULY 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- One out of every four AIDS sufferers in the world is cared for by the Catholic Church, a sign of its love and solidarity with those patients, a cardinal says.



Cardinal Ricardo Carles, archbishop of Barcelona, conveyed this message in his letter to the International Conference on AIDS under way in Barcelona. The eight-day event ends Sunday.

"Despite the complexity of the medicine, of nature itself and of the laws, God says to all those sick people: 'I love you, trust me,'" the cardinal wrote. "The Church also loves and is in solidarity with AIDS patients."

The cardinal also addressed the question of AIDS prevention. "Inasmuch as AIDS is transmitted through sex, the best prevention and at the same time the most effective, is formation in authentic values of life, love and sexuality," he stated.

Cardinal Carles drew attention to the contrast between clinical and pharmaceutical research between developed countries and those of the Third World.

"Because of lack of solidarity and distribution of medical and pharmacological resources, how many people are relegated to a lack of quality of life and to imminent death," the cardinal contended.

"These patients, when they are in the terminal phase, must always be the object of palliative care, a privileged form of human and Christian solidarity," he added.

Bernhard Schwartlaender, director of the HIV/AIDS Department of the World Health Organization, said that more than 20% of adults in seven sub-Saharan countries suffer from the AIDS virus. In Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe the average is one out of three.

The scientist warned that the loss of workers due to AIDS might undermine key sectors of countries hardest hit by the affliction.

"More than 25% of the work force in some countries could be lost by 2020 due to AIDS," Schwartlaender said.

His agency warned last week that the AIDS epidemic might kill 70 million people in the next 20 years, given its spread in Asia and Eastern Europe.