Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, who serves as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, has approved a proposal by diocesan Catholic Charities to distribute free needles to drug abusers in the hope of preventing the spread of AIDS.
“I understand there will be questions, but this is common sense,” said Sister Maureen Joyce, CEO of Catholic Charities. “I strongly believe in this. It will save lives.”
“From a theological standpoint, we’re not being faithful to our mission if we don’t reach out to people addicted to drugs, too,” Sister Joyce added.
An $83,000 van filled with syringes will be parked in two neighborhoods and serve as the focal point of Catholic Charities’ needle distribution efforts.
“This is a proven method used around the country, but there has been a huge gap in this area that nobody was stepping up to fill,” said Angela Keller, executive director of AIDS services for Catholic Charities, whose web site links to the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council. The council’s mission is “to promote the well being of all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer identified people and those affected by discrimination based on gender identity and expression.”
In a 2003 address, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, then president of the Pontifical Council of the Family, urged abstinence from drugs to prevent the spread of AIDS. In doing so, he cited a 1987 statement of the bishops of the United States:
Even earlier, the bishops of the United States of America affirmed in their 1987 statement: “abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage as well as the avoidance of intravenous drug abuse are the only morally correct and medically sure ways to prevent the spread of AIDS” …
Prof. Lino Ciccone adds: “Therefore a true and effective prevention is above all the set of initiatives that aim at putting an end to whatever promotes sexual laxity, presented as a triumph of liberty and civilization – similar to what is being done to help youth not to fall into the slavery of drugs or to free them from them. In other words: true prevention takes place only through a serious educational effort. An education free from equivocations and widespread reductive concepts, which leads to the discovery, or rediscovery, of the values of sexuality and a correct scale of values in human life.
“Any other option that excludes such ways, or worse, that implies an ulterior push towards sexual promiscuity and/or the use of drugs, is anything but prevention, and to promote the same is tragically deceitful.”
During its 2007-8 fiscal year, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, Inc., received $17,973,859 in government grants $3,875,773 in direct public support (i.e., contributions, gifts, and grants), and $474,538 in indirect public support, according to its tax return. It also received $16,358,929 in program service revenue, including government contracts. Other revenue sources such as special events and investment income brought total revenue to $40,093,321.
Expenses for 2007-8 totaled $39,998,856, including $5,986,659 for management and general expenses and $231,234 for fundraising. The highest-paid employee was Joseph Pofit, director of long-term care, who received compensation of $148,526.
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