In a message for an international conference on enforcing drug laws, Pope Francis denounced the trend of offering addicts narcotics as a substitute for hard drugs, stating that it only worsens the problem.
“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise” the Pope declared in his June 20 message to the conference participants.
“To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem” he said, adding that “Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”
Pope Francis made his declaration during the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference, which took place in the convention center of Rome’s Cavalieri Hotel June 17 – 19, and gathered together the heads of anti-drug agencies worldwide.
Opening his address, the pontiff thanked participants for their presence and work “in combating this most serious and complex problem of our time.”
He expressed his hope that those gathered would accomplish their goals of discovering more effective policies on anti-narcotic drugs as well as finding better methods to share information and developing a working strategy to fight the ongoing drug trade.
Referring to the trade as a “scourge” on society, the Bishop of Rome explained that it “continues to spread inexorably,” and is “fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders.”
“As a result, the lives of more and more young people and adolescents are in danger” he said. “Faced with this reality, I can only manifest my grief and concern.”
Going on, the Roman Pontiff condemned the efforts of some who seek to legalize milder drugs in order to lure addicts away from the hard stuff, saying that the legalization of “recreational drugs” is both questionable from a legal point of view, and fails to solve the problem.
“Substitute drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon” he went on.
“Here I would reaffirm what I have stated on another occasion: No to every type of drug use. It is as simple as that. No to any kind of drug use.”
But in order to say this no, “one has to say ‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities” the Pope explained, adding that “If we say ‘yes’ to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.”
Observing how the Church follows Jesus’ command to go out and meet those who are suffering, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned, Pope Francis emphasized that it “does not abandon those who have fallen into the trap of drug addiction,” but rather “goes out to meet them with creative love.”
“She takes them by the hand, thanks to the efforts of countless workers and volunteers, and helps them to rediscover their dignity and to revive those inner strengths, those personal talents, which drug use had buried but can never obliterate, since every man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God.”
Those who are already in the process of overcoming drug addiction and working to re-build their lives serve as a powerful example and help us to have hope for the future