Cardinal speaks to UN on AIDS fight

.- Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, delivered an address to the United Nations Friday, detailing the Catholic Church’s work against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Barragán told the assembly that the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS since the beginning and will continue to provide increased service in this area.

Noting the work of groups such as Caritas Internationalis, the Vincentians, the St. Egidio Community, The Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli), the Jesuits, and the Missionaries of Charity (Sisters of Mother Theresa), Barragán said that, “26.7% of the centers that treat people infected with HIV and affected by AIDS in the world are Catholic-based.”  Catholic-based assistance is present, he said, in at least 62 countries.

Turning his focus to the work done by Catholic organizations, Barragán said, the goal “is to strongly promote and strengthen the required sense of ownership and responsibility that each country must develop in each phase of the answer to the pandemic.”  The Church’s organizations have a wide range, focusing, “on the training of health care professionals, as well as prevention, treatment, care and assistance.   In all of these stages,” the Cardinal said, “we accompany the sick and their respective families.”

In closing Barragán spoke of the work of the Good Samaritan Foundation, which Pope John Paul II founded to support the poorest of the world.  Through the Foundation, Barragán said, “we have facilitated the acquisition of antiretrovirals for centers in 18 countries: 13 in Africa, 3 in the Americas and 2 in Asia. The funds given to these centers came from the contributions of Catholics in 19 countries, from the Americas, Asia, Europe and some from Africa itself.”