THE FULLNESS OF LIFE
On April 27, 2003, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (Washington, D.C.) wrote a pastoral letter on "The Fullness of Life" on the subject of HIV/AIDS. Using the Gospel text "I came that they might have life and have it to the full." [John l0:l0] the Cardinal described how HIV/AIDS infects men, women and children and how new drugs permit sufferers to lead longer and more productive lives.
Sub-Saharan Africa now has 30 million people infected, of whom 3 million are children under age 15. In Botswana and Zimbabwe 33% of adults are infected. The resulting sickness and deaths create orphans and homelessness and cause enormous social, economic and political devastation.
We [the affluent developed nations] must be in solidarity with the sufferers. Cardinal McCarrick quotes Pope John Paul II on solidarity: "Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and to each individual, because we are really responsible to all."
Our efforts must both treat and prevent. The Catholic Church worldwide provides 25% of all AIDS care. The Church encourages chastity, fidelity and sexual abstinence outside marriage This Church stance is counter-cultural and reflects a crisis of values. Here the Cardinal cites St. Thomas Aquinas: "The great kindness we can render to any man consists in leading him to the truth," and quotes St. Paul's Letter to the Romans [12:2], "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing and perfect."
Both counselling and early testing are required, along with CHEAP DRUGS [emphasis supplied]. [Parishioners will recall that our parish Human Concerns Committee has provided letter-writing opportunities to Congress urging maximum funding for African disease and hunger relief.]
Faced with this need for affordable drugs "There is a social mortgage on all private property." The law of profit does not apply.
[For the full text see Origins,6/l9/03.]
Footnote: In 2004 a total of 510,000 children died from AIDS - 450,000 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In developed nations 300 died.