To the editor:
I am still reeling a bit after reading July’s article by Rob Cullivan, “AIDS and Catholic Morality.” The article states that “it’s virtually impossible for someone who follows the Catholic Church’s moral teachings on sexuality to contract HIV… unless he or she gets a tainted blood transfusion; uses dirty needles that contain the virus; or contracts it from an HIV-positive mother before or at the time of birth.”
To add to my shock and dismay, these statements were made in the first two paragraphs of the lead article on the cover of the Courier.
I was under the impression that a person was still considered to be morally upright in the eyes of the Catholic Church when a spouse had sexual relations with someone outside the marriage. I even thought that such a person was considered to be acting morally upon learning about the transgression, staying in the marriage and trying to resolve any problems. A person in these situations might be exposed to HIV.
There are health care providers, police officers and sanitation workers who might find themselves exposed to the virus. Even hotel employees have been known to come across a hazard when cleaning rooms.
Finally, what about people who have been molested, raped or incested? Are we to believe that these survivors, should they contract HIV, were not following the Church’s moral teachings? Jesus taught us a long time ago that sin does not cause every misfortune that befalls us. It seems like such a simple oversight, but put yourself in the shoes of an innocent person who has had their life turned upside down by some other horror, add HIV or AIDS to it, and then be called morally unethical by your faith community. It’s a lot to bear.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The story’s reference to following church teaching on sexuality was assumed to apply to both parties in a marriage; if one spouse does not adhere to such teachings, the other spouse certainly could be infected despite his or her own adherence to them. The same would be true of those exposed via sexual abuse. So the article should not be interpreted as impugning the victims of other people’s actions.
Tainted transfusions, dirty needles and the gestation/birth process are probably the most common ways in which HIV/AIDS is transmitted without sexual contact. However, the Courier regrets creating the impression that these examples constitute an exhaustive list.