Vatican: Don't Fight Drugs With Drugs

Says Answer Is Finding Meaning of Life

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VIENNA, Austria, MARCH 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Drawing on the experience of Catholic health institutions worldwide, the Holy See warned the international community that it is not possible to combat drugs with drugs.

Bishop José Luis Redrado Marchite, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, affirmed this in an address on behalf of the Holy See to the U.N. Anti-Drugs Commission. The committee is meeting in the Austrian capital until Friday.

The prelate said, "The network activity of the Catholic Church's organizations and institutions that work in this sector tell us that replacing drugs with drugs has aggravated the situation even more over the years, making dependency chronic, and is not answering the question of the meaning of life that, in our view, is at the heart of the problem."
 
He spoke about campaigns against drugs launched in several countries, which have been based on the distribution of light drugs, at times even subsidized, in an attempt to replace more serious narcotics.

Reaching the goal
 
He affirmed that the goal of "a society free of drugs demands of States the strong political will to definitively extirpate this phenomenon that some consider a reality that already is part of our daily living, and for which the damage must simply be limited."
 
The Church believes that the fight against drugs must be based on a "strategy of recovery of respect for life and the dignity of the person of the drug addict," explained Bishop Redrado.
 
He affirmed that this calls for "the involvement of the family as primary educational cell and the positive and multi-form contribution of the forces, institutions and associations involved in the society to support drug addicts, and which are inspired in the noble principles and values of love and solidarity."
 
The prelate mentioned that the Church's programs to combat and prevent drug addiction have been particularly successful in Spain, France, Ireland and Portugal.
 
The key to the success, he said, is based on "an intense activity of prevention and assistance through sensitizing campaigns, seminars, specific courses and congresses on the subject, physical curing of drug addiction, and the rehabilitation of young people in the family and social realms."
 
The bishop added that it is necessary to ensure "both medical and psychological intervention, and the promotion among young adolescents of a lifestyle and life conduct that is a favorable assurance for their health."
 
However, he concluded, "the will to free the social fabric of this insidious threat that generates crime and violence and contributes to the physical and moral destruction of numerous persons and families, calls for firm political resolution, international cooperation and the help of the whole community."