MANILA, Nov. 16, 2012—The spread of the dreaded HIV virus is but an indication of a greater spiritual and moral problem plaguing today’s society, a Catholic bishop said.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called on all dioceses to declare audaciously the way to prevent HIV is to practice premarital abstinence because true love waits and mutual fidelity between the spouses in marriage.
“In many cases, the spread of HIV is a symptom of deeper spiritual and moral maladies of society. To stop the virus, there must be a conversion of hearts through deeper friendship with Jesus Christ, the “One who gives life, and life in abundance” (Porta Fidei 2) as exemplified in the life of the young St. Pedro Calungsod,” the bishop said.
Pabillo, who is also the National Director of CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action said that parishioners can get inspiration from the Pope’s proclamation of the Year of Faith and the sainthood of Pedro Calungsod.
He added that it remains relevant as 9 Filipinos are infected daily with HIV.
“Already there are over 10,000 cases of HIV in our land with young Filipinos aged 15-24 comprising around one third of the new infections; 80% of new cases were acquired through males having sex with other males; and 1 out of 10 cases are overseas Filipino workers. The number of HIV cases among injecting drug users is also on the rise,” he explained.
He added that the Church is faced with the greater challenge of reaching out to these vulnerable groups and to find appropriate response to widespread prostitution and human trafficking, poverty, and corruption of morals due to easy access to pornography and a daily dosage of evocative images on TV.
Pabillo made the statement as the Catholic Church prepares for the nationwide observance of the 2nd National AIDS Sunday on December 2 with the theme “Getting to Zero. Be true. Stay True.”
On December 2 at 6 p.m., he will celebrate a Holy Mass at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Senora de Guia Parish, in Ermita.
Fr. Sanny de Claro, the parish priest, is inviting all members of the Philippine Catholic HIV & AIDS Network, the HIV-positive community and other support groups to join the event.
Red HIV ribbons will also be distributed to symbolize everybody’s commitment to stop the spread of the virus and to eliminate stigma through correct information.
As part of the campaign, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has produced an 8-minute HIV informative video which is downloadable from the website of CBCP-NASSA, www.nassa.org.ph. (Jandel Posion/CBCPNews)