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CATHOLICS ADMIT PERSECUTION OF AIDS VICTIMS
By Nicholas Pyke
November 24, 2002
The Catholic Church's official programme for international development has
issued an extraordinary apology on behalf of Catholics worldwide, saying
they have colluded in the persecution of HIV and Aids victims in the
Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella organisation representing around 150
Catholic relief agencies worldwide, has put itself at odds with senior
figures in the Catholic hierarchy by issuing a statement of "regret".
Drawn up in advance of World Aids Day, a week today, the statement says
church members including bishops and priests silently condoned
discrimination against people struggling with the virus.
"We acknowledge with deep regret that Caritas members have not always acted
promptly or positively to respond to the challenges posed by HIV/Aids," says
the statement drawn up on behalf of Caritas by the Catholic Agency for
Overseas Development (Cafod), based in Britain.
The HIV infection rate is now running at 15,000 a day, according to Caritas.
"The virus tapped into dark fears and secrecy that surround sex, making it
easy to falsely tag HIV as a physical manifestation of sin," said Ann Smith,
one of the statement's authors and HIV adviser to Cafod.
Although the statement avoids mentioning contraception, last week the
Catholic Institute for International Relations joined calls for the Church
to permit the use of condoms to fight Aids.
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