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Archbishop Cardinal McCarrick Issues Call to Arms on AIDS

May 27, 2003

In a pastoral letter last Thursday, Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick urged Roman Catholics to develop a "culture of solidarity" with HIV/AIDS patients and to address the "crisis of values" that facilitates HIV's spread. The letter, titled "The Fullness of Life," also said that Catholics should "affirm the right to healthcare for every person," promote "the availability of early testing" for the disease, and press the federal government to address the global HIV/AIDS "catastrophe" by eliminating poverty and making affordable medicine available to all infected with HIV.

McCarrick asserted that policies advocating "safe sex" through condom use "are not solutions, but myths." The letter added that "condoms too often fail in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV... while giving their users a false sense of security." Moreover, condom use "contradicts our faith's understanding of sexual union as an expression of spousal love" in marriage, he wrote.

"Condoms do not often fail," said Frances Kissling, president of the liberal group Catholics for a Free Choice, responding to McCarrick's spiritual advice. "They sometimes fail.... It is one thing to say that the institutional church is opposed to condoms because they violate the sexual teachings of the church," Kissling said. "It's another to give incorrect medical information."

Susan Gibbs, McCarrick's spokesperson, said the letter lays the groundwork for future initiatives that likely will include more parish-based ministries for those sick with the virus and an increased availability of testing in Catholic hospitals and service agencies. The District's rate of reported AIDS cases in 2001, McCarrick noted, "was more than ten times the national rate on a per capita basis;" Maryland "ranked second among all states in the rate of reported AIDS cases;" and Prince George County "has the second-largest number of AIDS cases in the state." McCarrick described the international epidemic as having reached "apocalyptic proportions."

Back to other CDC news for May 27, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Washington Post
05.23.03; Caryle Murphy

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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