In his recent pastoral letter entitled, “The fight against AIDS and the Catholic Church,” Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona in Spain said that while the condom is only a “cork,” the Church proposes a comprehensive and more effective approach to confronting the AIDS pandemic.
On the occasion of the 17th International AIDS Conference that just concluded in Mexico, Bishop Fernandez recalled that the disease “has reached alarming numbers—more than 33 million infected—and more than 2 million have died from the disease in 2007, and during that same year 2.5 million new individuals have contracted it. There has never been such an extreme epidemic that has threatened the entire world.”
Bishop Fernandez proposed that the Church’s response to the epidemic be “first of all, caring for the sick.” “It cannot be said,” he noted, “that the Catholic Church neglects this issue. As with other infirmities, even contagious ones, the love of Christ has led those who care for those affected to even risk their own lives.” “The Church loves AIDS patients too, and cares for them with love,” he said.
However, the bishop stressed, “the battle lies in preventing infection.”
“The most common position is that of providing for ‘safe sex’ through the use of condoms. The Catholic Church, however, proposes other, more positive ways. And that puts her against the tide in seeking the comprehensive good of persons. The condom is a cork, it’s not always effective. Proposals should lead to educating people in true love,” the bishop said.
“Sexuality is not a toy. Sexuality is the carnal expression of human love, which God has placed in the human heart,” he added. Therefore, “in this field of AIDS, as in all fields that include the proper use of sexuality, the Church presents the proposal of true love, which brings with it a proper education in the virtue of chastity.”
Bishop Fernandez stressed that young people cannot be encouraged to “make unbridled use of their own sexuality, in the name of greater freedom. At first this sounds good, but going down this path man becomes a slave of his own selfishness and he will never learn to truly love.”
“Curiously, the statistics on AIDS infection fly in the face of these proposals. By going down this road we head toward moral ruin,” he warned.
The bishop recalled that “concrete experiences such as that of Uganda, where this proposal has been put in practice at Catholic hospitals, have reduced AIDS infections from 80% to 10%. No other program has achieved such drastic reductions,” he said.
“The solution to AIDS will come by adhering to God’s plan, who has given to man (man/woman) the gift of sexuality in order to express true love. To learn to love is true education,” the bishop said in conclusion.