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Punishment from G-d
Sep 28, 1998

Dear Father,Your answers are so compassionate and so moving. How do you come to terms with the Roman Catholic Church's inability to face the issues of prevention. In many inner city public schools it is the Roman Catholic church that prevents the distribution of condoms to students who are at greatest risk. How does someone so caring as yourself remain within a system that cares only about people once they are infected, yet refuses to be involved in steps to stop infections?With Affection,Carol

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Carol, First of all my apologies for the delay in responding. I have been "on the road" a great deal and, until today, unable to spend quality time to respond to your very challenging question. I am also very grateful for your comments about the quality of my responses on TheBody--I really do respect and value each person who, like you, takes time to share their concerns with me in this forum.My own involvement in HIV/AIDS has been from the perspective and "prejudice" of an educator who has spent many years in high school settings. I have always maintained that education should enlighten and help people make positive and healthy choices. In my own teaching on the pandemic, I have always maintained that education should include accurate information about ALL forms of prevention, including the risks associated with those forms that are not abstinence and monogamy. I believe however, that condom availability for teens or anyone can be like the "just say no" approach---looking for a quick fix to a very complex issue.I think that the Catholic Church, all churches and society need to help young people and all people to learn and practice respect and care in their relationships, making choices about themselves as sexual and spiritual persons in a healthy and affirming manner. This requires a lot of support from significant adults, modeling by teachers and parents and an invitation to bring questions and feelings about sex to a safe, caring and positive place. My challenge to the Church is to be willing to talk about prevention and help young people understand how its teaching about sexuality is not only about the mechanics but the value of sexuality as a gift to be used with care and respect.Finally I hope that all educators, including parents will always want to insure that health and safety of their children--that they will never leave it to chance to struggle with the complexities of our sexual selves -- especially in relation to this pandemic.Blessings, Fr. Rod

World AIDs epidemic, condoms, Catholic Church
Catholic high school teacher

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