AIDS is about more than numbers – says Vatican conference

Last week was the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the HIV virus. A conference at the Vatican marked the occasion, where the Church reminded the wider world that care at every level and for every sufferer at every stage was needed.

The two-day conference showed that the Church runs 117,000 health organizations ranging from centres in jungles to ultramodern polyclinics in large cities. But at the same time, the Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone reminded those present that helping those with AIDS is about more than numbers:

“It would be ridiculous to limit ourselves to consider the ‘numerical’ aspects — though they are important — in the work of care. An essential part of the contribution offered by the Church in this struggle is, in fact, on the plane of the construction of that ‘invisible capital,’ without which the struggle would be deprived of lasting efficacy and of the best networks of health care.”

An “invisible capital” – that has as its basis a moral judgement of the situation – is clearly explained by Matthew Hanley in the Catholic Truth Society’s report, The Catholic Church and the Global AIDS Crisis.

“The Church holds that there is objective truth, that there are things which are objectively good. Human beings have the capacity to recognise and aspire to what is good; this cannot be understated given our topic of AIDS prevention. Indeed, one of the most basic imperatives of the Christian life is that we are called to choose what is good and avoid what is evil – an imperative which gives humanity a noble dimension. We are called to be holy. This takes discipline, and involves struggle. We need encouragement and God’s grace along the way.”

He also stressed that science cannot tell us how to act, and it often sidelines the human person.

“The Church, like all of us, must rely on what science tells us to inform our judgments about what is effective or not. But science cannot tell us about the morality of an action. It is here, in the area of morality, particularly in matters relating to human sexuality, the Church stands at odds with the predominant strains of thought in modern Western culture. The crucial point to stress is that the Church differs from modern secular culture not so much over questions of science, but as John Paul II put it in his 1981 encyclical Familiaris Consortio, over ‘irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.’”

The conference remembered the story of the Good Samaritan, as an example of being moved to care for someone else with suitable instruments, to the best of our ability.

The Catholic Church and the global AIDS crisis is available from CTS priced £2.50

Of related interest:

The Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis – This excellently researched booklet sets out the nature and extent of clerical sexual abuse, its prevalence, likely causes and consequences. Its robust analysis of the crisis and its handling by Church authorities is both illuminating and balanced. The position, teaching and pastoral response to the crisis of the Catholic Church are rigorously assessed.
Do798 25 Tough Questions on the Catholic Faith – Written by experts familiar with the varied contexts in which Catholics are called on to explain what they believe in and why, it covers sexuality, abortion, contraception, divorce, women priests, married priests, war, environment, purgatory, the pope, scripture, Catholic Mass, confessions, and suffering, just to name a few.
DO750 Questions & Answers about Sex and Marriage – Dr Charlie O’Donnell answers 24 of the most common questions put to him by couples at marriage preparation classes. The beauty, practicality and advantages of the Church’s teachings on these issues are explained in this easy to read booklet.

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