The Holy See
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Wednesday, 27 June 2001


Mr. President: 

The Holy See welcomes the consensus decision of the Special Session and the adoption of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and offers the following statement of interpretation. I would ask that the text of this statement, that includes the official position of the Holy See, as follows, be included in the report of the Twenty-sixth special Session of the General Assembly.

As demonstrated by the calling of this Special Session, and revealed by the due attention given to the pandemic, the Family of Nations has stated their resolve to address the needs of those whose lives have been ravaged by this horrible disease. The Holy See, in taking part in these discussions joins in that resolve and commitment.

The Holy See, in conformity with its nature and particular mission, reaffirms all of the reservations that it has previously expressed at the conclusion of the various United Nations Conferences and Summits, as well as the Special Sessions of the General Assembly for the review of those meetings.
Nothing that the Holy See has done during the discussions leading up to the adoption of the Declaration of the Commitment on HIV/AIDS should be understood or interpreted as an endorsement of concepts that it cannot support for moral reasons.

Regarding the term "sexual health", "reproductive health" and "sexual and reproductive health", the Holy See considers these terms as applying to a holistic concept of health, which embraces the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body, and which fosters the achievement of personal maturity in sexuality and in mutual love and decision-making that characterize the conjugal relationship in accordance with moral norms.

The Holy See wishes to emphasize that, with regard to the use of condoms as a means of preventing HIV infection, it has in no way changed its moral position.

The Holy See regrets that not enough emphasis has been given to an understanding of the relationship between the promotion and protection of human rights based upon the recognition of the human dignity in which all human beings share, and the ability to be protected from the irresponsible behaviour of others. It is only through respect and mutual understanding that people can truly be empowered to protect themselves and others from HIV infection.

The Holy See also regrets that irresponsible, unsafe and high-risk or risky behaviour were not adequately discussed and addressed in preparing this Declaration.

Finally, the Holy See continues to call attention to the undeniable fact that the only safe and completely reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is abstinence before marriage and respect and mutual fidelity within marriage. The Holy see believes that this is and must always be the foundation of any discussion of prevention and support.

The Holy See asks that this statement of interpretation be included in the report of this Special Session.

Thank you, Mr. President