Catholics need compassion, communion, conscience in AIDS work
19 July 2010
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight says that the Catholic approach to HIV and AIDS must be underpinned by compassion, communion, and conscience.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight during the 17th International AIDS Conference in Vienna
Dr Knight was speaking to participants at a Catholic networking session on HIV Friday 16 July in Kardinal Haus, Vienna.
The meeting took place in the run up to the 17th International AIDS Conference, which opened Sunday in Vienna.
Dr Knight told the more than 100 participants from Catholic organisations from 23 countries that the conference offered opportunities for development, innovation and collaboration.
She said, “The three Cs - compassion, communion, and conscience should underline a Catholic approach that fosters dialogue, cooperation, and an openness on how best to respond to the AIDS pandemic.
“Our compassion needs to extend to people who are marginalised by society: to groups such as injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers, and prison populations.
“This presents us with the challenge of coming to terms with the realities of life for people within these groups. We need to be able to feel their suffering too and develop realistic solutions that will be effective in these diverse, difficult and complex contexts.
“As Catholics we have much to share, but we also have an opportunity to listen and to learn. We don’t hold all the answers. We should participate in conferences such as this with open minds and hearts, seeking information to develop new solutions rather than reinforce entrenched ideas.
“If we are to end the stigma of HIV infection and promote effective prevention strategies, we need to be able to enter into frank and honest dialogue about what are sometimes difficult issues for us to talk about.
“HIV/AIDS presents many moral dilemmas. Listening to our conscience is not always easy; it often requires us to confront uncomfortable truths, to challenge our prejudices, to accept criticism, to move out of our comfort zones.”
The full speech is available for download here.
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