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Cameroon Bishops Support Pope's Words on AIDS. Express Astonishment At Media's Misrepresentation
YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Cameroonian bishops are joining Benedict XVI in emphasizing the importance of God's plan for sexuality in order to fight AIDS, while affirming the Church's role in combating this sickness.

The country's bishops' conference published a statement today through Fides agency, in response to the Pontiff's words to journalists during his flight to Africa, in which he stated that AIDS cannot be solved only by the distribution of condoms.

The conference president, Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonyé Bakot of Yaoundé, spoke on behalf of all the prelates, observing that the press "continues to label the Pope's position on the use of condoms as irresponsible, and leads one to understand that his statements on this subject had a negative effect and affected his visit to Cameroon negatively."

The bishops were "astonished" that the journalists ignored the complete statement of the Holy Father, focusing only on his "opposition to condoms, concealing the whole action of the Church in the fight against AIDS and the care of the sick."

They also expressed astonishment at "the press attempts to make people believe that there is unease in Cameroonian opinion on the Holy Father's visit, as a consequence of his statements."

The statement underlined "very strongly that Cameroonians welcomed Pope Benedict XVI with joy and enthusiasm, thus confirming their legendary hospitality."

Archbishop Bakot noted, "The Holy Father has put man at the center of his concern and has reminded us of the teaching of Christ and of the Church."

He stated that the "Catholic Church everywhere is committed daily in the fight against AIDS," and provides "moral, psychological, nutritional, medical and spiritual" assistance to those who suffer from the illness.

He continued: "Together with this multi-faceted and constant action, the Church, as moral force, has the imperative duty to remind Christians that all disordered sexual practice outside of marriage is dangerous and favors the spread of AIDS.

"This is why she preaches abstinence for single people and fidelity within the couple. It is her duty. She cannot subtract herself from it."

The statement noted that the "bishops of Cameroon lament that the Western media have clearly forgotten other essential aspects of the Holy Father's African message on poverty, reconciliation, justice and peace."

"This is very serious," it added, "knowing the number of dead that other sicknesses cause in Africa, and on which there is no true publicity; knowing the number of dead that fratricidal fights cause in Africa due to injustice and poverty."

The bishops joined with the Pope in stating that "sexual relations have as their first end the procreation desired by God himself at the beginning of creation."

"Marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal framework willed by God for this procreation," they added.

The statement clarified:
"The Catholic Church does not reject AIDS patients and in no way encourages the spread of the sickness as certain media lead one to believe. She is and will always be active in the multi-faceted fight against the sickness."