Media Watch

Vatican Has Moral Message on AIDS Day

REUTERS, Dec. 1—As a group claiming to be Catholic voiced support for condom use as a way of fighting AIDS, the Vatican reasserted its opposition to such use, calling instead for a greater commitment to fidelity, chastity and abstinence.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Dec. 1 called for new ways to help people change their dangerous lifestyles.

Cardinal Lozano's message spoke of the “importance of respecting the religious and moral values of sexuality and matrimony, namely fidelity, chastity and abstinence.”

“We have to present this as the main way for the effective prevention of infection and spread of HIV/AIDS, since the phenomenon of AIDS is a pathology of the spirit,” Cardinal Lozano said in a five-page statement to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Reuters explained that the Church opposes contraception, including condoms, “which it says promote promiscuity.” The British news service did not explain the basis for the Church teaching—that contraceptives cause a divide between the unitive and procreative purposes of marriage.

Cardinal Lozano's message stood in stark contrast to a new ad campaign by Catholics for a Free Choice, announced the same day in Washington, D.C., supporting condom use as a means to fighting AIDS. “We believe in God, we believe that sex is sacred; we believe in caring for each other; we believe in using condoms,” the ad's slogan runs.

Cardinal Lozano said AIDS campaigns should be based on “sure and authentic human and spiritual values, capable of establishing relevant education in favor of the culture of life and responsible love.”

Vatican Lauds Iran for Protecting Christian Heritage

MEHR NEWS AGENCY/TEHERAN TIMES, Nov. 18—Meeting with Iran's ambassador to the Holy See, Mostafa Boroujerdi, a delegation of the Association of Christian Art lauded the government of Iran for protecting and restoring the cultural heritage of Christians—a tiny minority in that Muslim country.

According to the Iranian media outlets, the art association noted after its recent trip to Iran that Teheran was making major efforts to save historic Christian churches threatened with decay, such as St. Mary's Church in Isfahan.

The same delegation also said Christians in Iran live in relative freedom, unhindered by the Islamic republic's theocratic government.

Patriarch Rules Out Meeting With Pope

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, Nov. 20—Pope John Paul II's hopes for an ecumenical meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II appear to have been dashed, according to Independent Catholic News.

“A meeting in front of the TV cameras will not yield the desired results,” the Russian cleric said Nov. 20. “What is essential is to sign specific documents on new relations.”

The relations sought by the Russian Orthodox Church include an end to any evangelization in Russia by Catholics and severe restrictions imposed on millions of Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine —the victims of Soviet-sponsored persecution over decades, often with the cooperation of Orthodox clergy, who seized their churches and have refused to return them.

Patriarch Alexei also objected to the appointment of bishops by the Holy See to serve the needs of hundreds of thousands of Latin-rite Catholics throughout the former Soviet Union.