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Brazilian bishops issue clarification on use of contraception to fight AIDS

.- In statements to the Catholic News Agency, the Secretary General of the Bishops Conference of Brazil, Bishop Odilio Scherer, clarified the position of the Conference on the issue of AIDS, saying the bishops are “in completely agreement with the Holy See” and that they do not support the use of condoms. The bishop denied reports by the director of the UN AIDS Program, Peter Piot, who said this week that “the Brazilian Church is more open to issues related to AIDS than the Church in other countries of Latin America, such as Argentina and Chile.  In other countries the Church is more rigid regarding, for example, issues such as the use of condoms.”

Piot also said he asked “Brazilian Catholic leaders to speak with their colleagues in other countries” and he said that “Bishop Odilio Scherer promised us that the issue of AIDS would be discussed at the upcoming Latin America Bishops Conference in Bogota.”

Bishop Schere told CNA that Piot only made a courtesy visit the Bishops Conference on August 31, during which he asked about the Church’s collaboration in the prevention of AIDS.

“The Bishops Conference does not take part in government programs, but only in those that do not conflict with the ethical convictions of the Church, and of course do not involve the use of condoms,” the bishop stated.

The bishop lamented the “undue interpretation” that was made of Piot’s statements and reiterated that “the position of the Conference is perfectly coherent with that of the Holy See” in all areas.

Regarding the “commitment” to address the subject of AIDS at the next meeting of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), Bishop Scherer stated that it was only a hypothesis discussed in the conversations with Piot and that it will be proposed if it is so decided.

In December of 2003, the Bishops Conference of Brazil issued a strong statement calling on the Ministries of Health and of Education to discontinue a plan to flood schools with condoms, proposing instead that the government promote a more integral education emphasizing the importance of chastity as a way for young people to fight AIDS.

In their statement the bishops recalled that the Church in Brazil “works for prevention by spreading the values of the Gospel and by being a presence of mercy and promoting life as the highest good."

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