IOWA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON AIDS
A CALL FOR COMPASSION FOR PERSONS
WITH AIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES
March 1991

During the past ten years, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS/HIV) has progressed from a little-known virus affecting a small population of the world into a medical concern verging on epidemic proportions. The HIV infection has now reached to every corner of our world–including the towns and neighborhoods of Iowa.

We, the Catholic Bishops of the State of Iowa, are deeply concerned about the HIV/AIDS crisis and address ourselves to all men and women of good will in this time of crisis and perplexity. As incidents of this difficult disease increasingly occur in our communities, the Church must be ready to respond with the healing and compassion of Jesus, as well as offer guidance for good decision-making in an atmosphere of confusion.

  • In our role as spiritual leaders, we are clear about our beliefs and how the gospel leads people of faith to love. We call people to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, and we encourage each person to make and follow responsible choices based on gospel values.
  • The Church commitment to justice calls all Christians to stand against the bigotry, prejudice and stereotyping that makes AIDS a debilitating condition socially as well as biologically. The Church abandons none of its teachings on sexual ethics by standing for, and insisting upon, the full rights, protection and respect due people with AIDS by virtue of their being children of a loving God.
  • Our commitment calls for the support of public policy proposals which insure the rights and dignity of persons with the AIDS virus. Public and private policies that prohibit discrimination against persons with AIDS must be approved in order to protect civil and human rights.
  • Education is an important element in preventing the spread of AIDS. Accurate, timely and morally informed programs are effective means to help people learn about AIDS. Information should reflect the gospel call to care and have concern for all. This education must be consistent with Catholic teaching and respect for human dignity with emphasis on responsibility for one’s own health and the health of others.
  • It is important that persons with AIDS and their families are not excluded from the pastoral ministries of the Church. Informed and sensitive clergy, religious, pastoral assistants, chaplains and others in each diocese should respond to the spiritual and emotional needs of persons affected by AIDS.
  • Church organizations will find it beneficial to provide educational programs for personnel in order to familiarize them with the problem of AIDS.
  • The Church as employer should not discriminate against persons with AIDS.
  • The Church in society is the visible sign of Jesus Christ–healing, reaching out in the form of prayer, service and understanding for those who suffer. As a faith community we pray for all who are affected by HIV/AIDS– not only those infected, but their families and the health professionals who minister to them. Persons with HIV/AIDS are struggling, hurting and as a people committed to the gospel we are called to minister to the needs of those who suffer.

CONCLUSION

There are no easy answers to the difficulties raised by the HIV/AIDS crisis that is upon us. Yet there is hope because Jesus Christ is Lord, and He will never abandon His people. We as a people of faith must never lose sight of this truth nor our ability to spread the hope that Jesus extends to us. To those infected with HIV/AIDS and their families we offer our commitment of prayer, compassion and support. To the Community at large, we offer our encouragement to love one another and to come to the aid of the suffering.

To all people we offer this call to continue the struggle against all forms of oppression, discrimination, bias and hatred that bind people and keep them from experiencing the freedom and dignity that God bestowed on them in their human nature.

May God continue to bless us all.